The Ultimate guide: how to design & source your fashion products

Please click here to download a pdf copy of our “Design & Source Your Products” guide.
Please click here to download a pdf copy of our “Company Profile”
  • Should the links not work for any reason, please email us to request a copy.


Whether you are an established brand or retailer, or whether you are just starting up and looking for information regarding the process of designing, sampling & producing your products, we are here to help.
This document outlines the fundamentals of everything you will need to consider when developing your products.
From the stages you will need to go through, to the likely lead times, to the likely costs.
This document is a summary overview and generic to most situations however, your project is bespoke and therefore may vary slightly from these general stages.
We are on hand to discuss your project in detail & tailor the process & budgets to fit your requirements.
If you have any questions please contact us and we’ll guide you through the process.


There are several stages we will working through when creating your products; from design through sampling & ultimately production.
  • Stage 1 – Range Planning
  • Stage 2 – Design
  • Stage 3 – Costing
  • Stage 4 – Sampling
  • Stage 5 – Bulk Order
  • Stage 6 – Bulk Production
  • Stage 7 – Shipment & Delivery
There are no obligations to use us for the full supply chain. For example;
  • If you just require design, then we can provide only those services.
  • If you already have design, then we can just provide the production
  • We offer discounts based on the number of services we provide each customer.
Right from the outset we will estimate your likely costs ahead so you can make informed decisions on how your collection will take shape.
At each stage we will work with you to get your comments and approvals before moving onto the next stage.
Therefore, at every stage you remain in control & in knowledge of the next stage & any likely associated costs. Nothing moves forward without your prior approval to do so.


We must first understand your Range Plan of products (the total number of products & which product types your collection might consist of).
  • Some customers come to us knowing exactly how many garments & what garment types they want.
  • Others are more ambiguous & not sure how many styles they should have in their collection.
If you are unsure of what Range Plan you might want or how much the likely costs might be to design, sample & produce a collection, we suggest using our Range Plan Calculator.
  • Should the link to our Range Plan Calculator not work for any reason, please email us to request a copy.
Once opened, our Range Plan Calculator ask’s several questions for you to answer. i.e.
  • How many total styles do you think you might like in your collection?
  • What average quantity per style might you intend to produce?
  • How many years has you brand been trading?
  • Which season will you be launching your collection?
  • What % of your collection will be men’s or women’s?
Subject to the answers you provide, the Range Plan Calculator will then estimate;
  • Which product types you should likely include in your collection.
  • Based on average prices, the likely cost of design, sampling & production budgets.
The Range Plan Calculator is only meant to provide you with an example split of product types & budgets. Your final collection can be amended as you see fit. Please note;
  • The design, sampling & production budgets provided in the Range Plan Calculator are based on rough averages and only meant for ballpark figures.
  • All final design, sampling & production values will be quoted to you based on your specific collection and are subject to increase or discount base on your bespoke project.
  • The Range Plan Calculator values are only to give you a ballpark estimate so you can roughly see how far your budget might stretch & so you can amend your collection size based on your budgets.
The idea of the Range Plan Calculator is so that you can work out what your collection size might be and what split of product types you might want in your collection so that you can roughly work out either;
  • How many garments you might get for your budget, or;
  • How much it might cost based on the number of styles you’re looking to produce.
What we are trying to achieve during the range planning stage is to understand your total collection size & the split of product types in your collection before moving to the design stage.


Once we have your Range Plan confirmed we then require a design brief from you.
  • Some clients are very specific over what they want & just require us to professionally draw their ideas & make them factory ready.
  • Other clients have vague ideas or ’sketches on the back of napkins’ & looking for us to develop those ideas further.
  • Other customers are completely ambiguous & look to us to supply trend, colour or consumer forecasting & develop a design direction for them.
However the brief comes, once you know your collection size (see Stage 1), we then need to ascertain your design brief.
  • Some clients provide basic sketches.
  • Some clients send photos.
  • Some clients provide written briefs
  • Some clients provide example brought samples.
However you feel most comfortable presenting your design brief is up to you, we can work with anything you might supply.
The Range Plan Calculator (see Stage 1) will estimate a ballpark figure for design work however once we have your final Range Plan & Design Brief, we’ll then formalise a bespoke design quote for you.
Please note the Range Plan Calculator estimates the design budget based on averages & prior to any further discounts (see Likely Costs – Design) and therefore your design budget will often stretch further than the Range Plan Calculator might first estimate).
We will then start the design process & send the designs to you for approval.
  • Initially, we’ll usually start by designing the front, back & detailed construction drawings of each style.
  • Any logo’s, labels, trims or graphics would also be designed.
  • These will be sent to you for comment & approval.
  • Once the collection is approved, we will then move onto developing the factory technical specification packs (Tech Packs) for each style.
  • The Tech Packs gives the factory all the information they will need to produce your initial samples. i.e.
  • Fabric type & compositions
  • Garment colours
  • Print positions
  • Fit & construction references
  • Measurement specifications
Once you’ve approved your collection design & the Tech Packs have been produced we can then move forward to the Costing stage


Whilst you will already have a ballpark production budget from the Range Plan Calculator (see Stage 1), this will only have been provided as an estimate.

Once the designs stage is complete, all of your Tech Packs will then sent to our suppliers for 1to1 costing.
  • When sending your designs for costing we will consider things such as; the product type, likely production quantity, likely production lead time, likely average regional unit costs, as well as other specific factors specific to your project when deciding which suppliers & likely country of manufacture is most suitable.
  • We have a large network of established & trusted suppliers for all product types across multiple production countries.
  • If you would like further information which country of manufacture might be most suitable & the pro’s & con’s to each region, we can discuss this with you.
Once unit prices are returned, we will then advise you of the exact unit prices for your bespoke designs.
  • We will help you estimate not only the individual unit prices of each style, but any other possible additional charges such as Freight, Duties or Taxes to deliver your products.
  • Most of the time, due to average prices being used, the estimated production budget in the Range Plan Calculator is an over-estimate & normally the final overall budget usually come back cheaper (subject to your bespoke designs) and therefore usually your production budget will stretch slightly further than the Range Plan Calculator might first estimate.
Assuming you are still happy in principle (subject to seeing samples) with the total budget, we can then proceed to the sampling stage.


Once your bespoke garment prices are approved in principle (subject to samples), we will move forward to sampling stage.
Initial samples of your designs will be produced. Please note;
  • As no official bulk order has yet been placed, initial samples will be made without any labels or trims.
  • The majority of the time your designs will be sampled using the correct fabrics however, on occasion, if the fabrics is specialised or not available then a substitute similar fabric might be used.
  • During initial sampling not every style in every colour might be produced. On occasion one sample of one colour way might be sampled & additional dyed colour swatches might be supplied for the alternative colour ways. Other elements such as prints or embroideries might be supplied on fabric swatches.
  • The idea of initial sampling is to turn your 2D designs into the 1st 3D sample for you to fit & comment upon.
  • Think of initial sampling as a recipe of elements, a fit sample, a colour swatch, fabric swatches, print or embroidery swatches, etc. All the elements which will make up your bespoke designs.
  • Any brought samples that you might supply us for references (i.e. fits, fabrics, constructions) we will endeavour to return you however we are afraid that we cannot guarantee their safe return. Due to the volume of reference samples going through our factories & the fact reference samples are often sent out to other 3rd parties (such as fabric mills, embroidery & print houses) that reference sample can, on occasion, get misplaced. Also, on occasion, reference samples are required to be cut or defaced in some way to allow the factories to test fabric compositions, weights & pattern pieces. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the safe return of reference samples however we do endeavour to return reference samples where possible.
  • We strive, where possible, to ensure your initial samples are as close to your bespoke design as possible but without order commitment it’s not always possible.
Once your initial samples are delivered to you, we will then work with you to help comment on your samples and provide the factory with industry standard terms & definitions they require to proceed into the order stage.


Once your initial samples have been commented upon it will be time to place your bulk order.
  • Placing the bulk order allows our factories to produce your bespoke fabric, dye your bespoke colours & produce your bespoke labels & trims.
Once your fabrics, label & trims arrive in-house a further 2nd sample will be produced of your styles. This is called a ‘Pre-Production’ (or ‘PP’) sample.
  • Your PP samples will have any comment changes from your initial sample, be in the exact fabric, colours & have all labels & trims attached.
  • A PP sample is supposed to be representative of your final bulk production.
Once your PP samples have been received, we will again work with you on your comments. Please note;
  • As bulk fabrics will be in-house & dyed + labels & trims already produced, at PP sample stage you are more limited to the comments you can make than during initial sampling.
  • You can still of course comment on things such as fit & styling and other elements however changes to fabrics, colours, labels or trims may incur further costs.
  • On occasion, if you wanted to make a styling change or there’s been a mistake in the PP sample & you are not confident enough to approve the style into physical bulk production, then a re-submit PP sample may be required.
  • Re-submit samples are possible but may result in production delays.
Once you have given your approvals on your PP samples, the physical bulk production can begin.


Once you have given approval to do so, the physical bulk production can start.
  • During production, in-line quality control checks will take place. In-line quality control checks are undertaken at random throughout the different stages of the production process to try to eliminate or rectify any possible issues as they occur.
Once your bulk production is complete your products will go to the pressing & packing stage ready for shipment.
  • During the packing stage, once your products are in sealed boxes ready for shipment, an end-of-line quality control check will take place. An end-of-line control means that boxes will be opened at random to check a reasonable % of your finished goods. Only if these checks are OK is an order approved to ship. Should the quality control fail for any reason, then further checks will take place including but not limited to a 100% quality control.
A further & final sample will be sent to you. This is called a ‘Shipment Sample’. This sample is pulled from random from your bulk production.
  • Due to Shipment Samples being provided from finish bulk production, no comments or changes can be made.
  • The purpose of a Shipment Sample is for you to confirm the final production matches your expectations & for you to give the approval to ship.
Once you have approved your Shipment Sample, we can move to the shipment stage.


We can arrange the shipment, customs clearance & delivery of your products for you through our network of trusted freight forwarders or if you have your own nominated forwarder, we can deliver your goods for them to arrange the shipment & delivery.
Subject to the country of manufacture, qty of goods to be shipped & cost considerations, we can ship via Road, Sea or Air.
Once your goods arrive at port they will be customs cleared & the delivery instructions will be arranged with you prior to final delivery of your products.
We also provide warehousing & order fulfilment, therefore if you don’t have the ability to warehouse your goods yourself we can do this for you. For more information please contact us to request details.


The lead times for design through sample development, from bulk production through finally delivery are subject to many factors & each project is unique. Factors include;
  • Size of collection
  • Product types
  • Number of comment changes
  • Number of sample rounds
  • Fabric lead times
  • Production lead time
  • Freight lead times
As a general rule of thumb however please allow roughly the following lead times;
  • Design – 2-3 weeks (subject to collection size)
  • Sample Development – 3-4 weeks (per sample round, there wil be a minimum of x2 samples rounds for the initial & PP sample stages)
  • Physical Bulk Production – 4-6 weeks (once approval into bulk production has been given)
  • Shipment – 1-4 weeks (subject to country of manufacture & freight method)
Therefore, please estimate on average C.3-6 months lead time from design through to delivery of product.
We have a handy Production Calendar we’re happy to share with customers which outlines the lead times you will need to consider when producing a collection to ensure your products arrive in line with the fashion season selling windows. Please click the link above to request access to this calendar to help with your planning (please note this is a Google Calendar & you will require a Google Account to access it).
Every project we work on is unique & bespoke. Therefore, it is impossible to give accurate figures until we know more about your project.
A good place to start however is with our handy Range Plan Calculator.
  • This calculator will estimate the likely design, sampling & production costs for your collection based on questions it will ask you to answer.
  • Please see above in “Stage 1 – Range Planning” for further details.
  • Should the link to our Range Plan Calculator not work for any reason, please email us to request a copy.
Alternatively, if you know more specifically what size of collection & what split of product types your collection will consist of, please e-mail us and we can give you a quote on the estimated value of design, sampling & sourcing of your collection.
Although providing accurate prices without knowing more about your project isn’t possible, please see below some further information of some of the likely costs for each stage:


Garment Design;
  • Estimate x2-3hrs work per style.
  • This includes all the front, back & construction drawings, any labels & trims, the approval process to refine your designs & a factory technical speciation pack (Tech Pack).
  • A Tech Pack provides the factory with everything they need to produce the samples including fabric type & compositions, colours or washes, fit or construction references, graphic dimensions & positions, labels & trims.


Logo Design:
  • Estimate x3-6hrs work per logo.
  • During logo design we will usually start by designing several completely different logo concepts. These will be submitted to you for comment.
  • Subject to the comments received we will tend to go through further development round, each time refining your chosen logo options until you are happy with a final logo concept.


Graphic Design:
  • Estimate x2-8hrs work per graphic.
  • Subject to the complexity of the graphics required the time to design them can vary considerably.
  • We can discuss your graphic ideas and estimate a more accurate quote of time.
  • During the graphic development stage, we will usually design the desired graphic, send this to you for comment & refine the graphic until you are happy with the final concept.


  • Our base rate design services are charged at £50/hr.
  • Discounts off our base rates are applicable subject to taking other services with us. For example;
  • If you intend to take sourcing services with us, we discount our base rates by 20% to £40/hr.
  • If you also take additional services with us (for example website build, marketing or warehousing) we discount our base rates by 30% to £35/hr.
  • Prices are quoted in £GBP & exclude any taxes.
  • To estimate your design budget please do the following;
  • Garment Design: Number of styles x 2-3hrs per style x £35-£50/hr
  • Logo Design: Number of logos x 3-6hrs per logo x £35-£50/hr
  • Graphic Design: Number of graphics x 2-8hrs per graphic x £35-50/hr


Due to no physical order commitment at the initial sampling stage (see Stage 4 – Sampling) there is a charge of, on average, £100-£200 per initial sample produced (subject to product type, fabrics, etc.)
  • Apparel samples are usually £100 per sample.
  • Accessory samples are usually £100 per sample.
  • Footwear samples are usually £200 per sample.
  • Prices are quoted in £GBP & exclude any taxes.
Sampling charges are refundable off your subsequent bulk production order (subject to the order volume produced). For example, order volumes of;
  • >501pcs per style = 100% refund on sampling charges.
  • 401-500pcs per style = 80% refund on sampling charges.
  • 301-400pcs per style = 60% refund on sampling charges.
  • 201-300pcs per style = 40% refund on sampling charges.
  • 101-200pcs per style = 20% refund on sampling charges.
  • <100pcs per style = 0% refund on sampling charges.
To estimate your sample budget please do the following;
  • Number of samples required x £100-£200 per sample.
  • Sampling will then be refunded based on bulk order qty placed (subject to order volumes outlined above).


Unit prices of garments vary significantly based on your bespoke designs, qty produced & country of manufacture. Freight, duties & taxes also vary subject to country of manufacture.
The main thing that effects the unit price of the garment however is the quantity produced. During the costing stage (see Stage 3 – Costing) we will confirm to you the exact unit prices of each of your products (including estimates on any freight, duty & taxes which might be applicable) Below is a general chart of likely average unit prices based on product type & quantity produced however these are only averages and subject to many factors outlined above):


Scroll to see more.
PRODUCT TYPE<500499-400399-300299-200199-10099-50>49
T-Shirts & Tops£6.00£6.50£7.00£8.50£10.00£14.00£17.50
Shirts & Blouses£14.00£15.00£16.00£19.00£22.50£32.00£40.00
High Heel£13.00£14.50£15.00£18.00£21.00£30.00£37.50
Flip Flops£6.50£7.00£7.50£9.00£10.50£15.00£19.00
  • Prices are estimate averages only & subject to your bespoke design & country of manufacture.
  • Prices are in £GBP & exclude and freight, duties or taxes.
  • If your product type is not on the above list, please email us to request further information.
As you can see prices vary considerably based on the quantity produced per design. You can therefore weigh up the pro’s & con’s to ordering a larger volume at a lower unit price vs. ordering a lower volume at a higher unit price. Prices are quoted per style per colour. Therefore, even if you have exactly the same design but in two separate colour ways, then they are considered two separate styles. Similarly, if you have the same design in the same colour but with different graphics on the garment, these are also considered two separate styles. The reason is that during production there are different minimums throughout the process (i.e. fabric minimums, cutting minimums, dying minimums, printing minimums, etc.) Therefore, pricing is quoted per style, per colour.
To estimate your likely production budget please do the following;
  • Product type unit price based on quantity to product x quantity.


Freight, Duties & Taxes vary considerably based on product type and country of manufacture.
The below examples are based on shipping into the United Kingdom, if your products are delivering outside of the UK, then different charges may apply.
  • Freight:
  • Freight is based on weight, volume & shipment method (i.e. Road, Sea or Air)
  • Therefore, freight costs cannot be accurately calculated until your production is complete & ready to ship.
  • We do however estimate freight charges for customers so they can budget. We usually estimate;
  • Road freight = 8% of the total production value.
  • Sea freight = 10% of the total production value.
  • Air freight = 12% of the total production value.
  • To estimate the likely freight costs please do as follows;
  • Total production value x % of freight method.
  • Duties:
  • Duties are subject to product type & country of manufacture.
  • Duty rates can vary from 0% through to 20% of the product unit price. As a rough guide,
  • if your products are being produced inside the EU then the duty rate will be 0%,
  • if producing outside of the EU please estimate an average of 12% duties.
  • To estimate the likely duty costs please do as follows;
  • Total production value x 12%
  • Taxes:
  • Taxes are subject to product gender & country of import.
  • Children’s wear carries a 0% tax rate.
  • All other genders carry a 20% VAT tax rate.
  • If you are VAT registered, you can re-claim any import taxes via HMRC.
  • To estimate the likely tax costs please do as follows;
  • Total production value x 20%


There are different payment terms on the different stages of design, sampling & production as follows;
  • Design = 100% proforma
  • Sampling = 100% proforma
  • Production = 50% deposit upon bulk order placement / 50% prior to shipment.
In special circumstances we will consider offering payment terms to customers, but this is subject to the value of the project, credit checks & whether security can be obtained in the form of a Bank Draft or Letter of Credit.


We love our job! Each project we work on is new and different. With years of experience in the fashion industry & in particular in the supply chain, we understand the process from start to finish.
We design & sourcing products from a huge verity of genres; from men’s to women’s, from adults to children’s, from couture to fast fashion & across all sorts of product types.
We’re yet to find a customer that we’ve not be able to service!
Therefore, no matter the size of your collection or scale of your ambitions, we are here to help with the entire supply chain.
We’re not your average supplier either, we don’t just understand product, we understand everything from web design through online marketing (details can be found on our sister division Rag-Creative). Even warehousing, fulfilment & distribution can be handled in house (details can be found on our sister division Rag-Wholesale).
We are uniquely positioned not only to understand design & sourcing but the whole chain in how to operate a successful brand.
We approach things differently to others by focusing not only on your product but the bigger picture of what’s likely to make for a successful brand launch.
We look forward to discussing the requirements of your project and helping bring your collections to like!

Product Types

T-shirt designers

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that understands t-shirt product as we do. Quick Fact: it currently makes up nearly 60% of our production business. That’s why our jersey and sweat product is everything you want it to be. From high-end couture to fast fashion production – we’re second to none.

From promotional garments to highest quality fashion t-shirts and sweatshirts, use Rag Sourcing and your jersey & sweat samples can be turned around within 2-3 weeks.  Bulk production will take us just 4 weeks from approved sample to shipment. With a covetable 3 short weeks for repeats, we’re here to make sure you get product in-store and online to meet demand.

Minimum order quantities may apply depending on product type & requirements

Knitwear Designers

With everything from lightweight 14-gauge to chunky 4-gauge, our specialised Fair Isle and Intarsia machines are at your disposal to create any knitwear look. Catch a price point and use acrylic or acrylic mix yarns, or invest in the highest quality angora or cashmere, we’re here to make knit a reality.

Lead times for Rag-Sourcing wovens will vary depending on the time of year and availability of booked machines. With a sample turn around of 3-4 weeks, bulk production will be turned around in only 6 weeks from the approved sample – with just 4 weeks for repeats.

Minimum order quantities may apply depending on product type & requirements.

Shirt Designers

From formal wear to the finest couture-led casual wear styles, we produce shirts that fit every tailored look. With a vast selection of stock fabric bases and patterns to chose from, our clients trust in our reliable and flexible production capabilities.

With a sample turn around of 2-3 weeks and bulk production in only 6 weeks from an approved sample, you’ll have repeated orders in just 4 weeks.

Minimum order quantities apply depending on product type & requirements.

Woven Pants & Denim

A product category unlike any other, it’s all about development rather than design. Tailoring the right fit, selecting the right fabric base, playing with the latest in-wash and dye techniques, Rag-Sourcing has your wovens, pants and denim covered.

With a product manager who has worked with the best in the business, our denim experience is second to none. Our sample turn around of 2-3 weeks and bulk production in only 6 weeks from approved sample, you’ll have repeats in just 4 weeks.

Minimum order quantities apply depending on product type & requirements.

Fashion Quality Control

We have our dedicated Merchandise & roaming QC team. Our QC staff are on-hand to monitor your production to ensure only the highest 1st quality goods are shipped. With stringent QC checks in addition to our factories own QC procedures, quality control is our top priority.


– All fabric/yarn entering the production facility is checked, evaluated then graded on a 4.0 system. 100% inspections are also carried out if required

– In-line QC’s are present at every stage of production who sign off the first part of each process to ensure continuity

– There are also separate AQL QC’s who sign off the final inspection separately to the in line QC’s

– A full final inspection will be completed if needed for any reason

– A special team of ‘audit section’ inspectors work directly under the supervision of senior management and control the entire production area. The team performs random checks and keeps daily records. Goods are only forwarded for packing if they pass their approval.

– Daily records are handed to the quality control manager; this manager, in turn, compiles the records and reports daily to senior management

– 2.5 AQL (SGS or ITS)

– 100% QC if required

– QC accredited to BS6001

Labels and Trims

Work with Rag Sourcing to develop labels and trims, or let us work alongside your nominated labels & trims supplier, whichever you choose we make it our business to work how you need us to. From simple woven labels to complex swing tickets, branded buttons to the whole POS kit and caboodle, we have it covered.

Nominated labels & trims supplier:

– All labels & trims are stored in a locked room.

– Labels and trims are counted in and out (reports on stock levels can be requested at any time)

– To avoid any possibility of your labels & trims falling into the wrong hands and being used for black market products.

In-house developed labels & trims:

– We use a separate labels & trims supplier to our factories.

– This gives us more control over the development process and to reduce unit costs per item.

– It also allows for multi-product, multi-supplier sourcing where we provide the labels & trims for your brand to avoid any subtle differences between labels and trims between each supplier.

– Stocks can be stored with us for call-off if you have multiple supply bases or shipped directly to you or your own distribution.