Small-order apparel manufacturing models signal growing market

The recent launch of two new apparel manufacturing start-ups catering to small and medium-sized fashion businesses signals a growing demand for low minimum order quantities, says GlobalData.

Launched just six months ago, Runway Kit is the digital arm of Sri Lankan apparel and fabric conglomerate MAS Holdings. It supports fashion firms by providing design services, sample making and manufacturing in low minimum order quantities (MOQs).

Michelle Russell, apparel correspondent at GlobalData, says many clothing manufacturers producing for large brands set MOQs at the hundreds of thousands of units. Often a small business will only require product in the hundreds, but new emerging models are catering to this need, along with speed and flexibility.”

With Runway Kit, customers can choose any one (or all three) of its services, with products produced in a sustainable and ethical manner.

While still in its infancy, the team behind the unit is confident there is a sizeable enough gap in the market for quantities of just 100 pieces per style for swimwear.

Meanwhile, 22 Factor is a knitwear lifestyle start-up powered by Fung Group-owned Cobalt Fashion, which offers an on-demand 3D knitting service targeting designers and brands that want to produce garments in smaller quantities and minimise excessive production.

The service gives designers the tools and flexibility to produce the exact quantity of stock based on their actual needs in a shorter period of time, without needing to worry about excess stock or markdowns.


“Sourcing from manufacturing bases like Bangladesh and China often entails large orders and huge investments, preventing many small businesses from getting off the ground,” adds Russell. “With the backing of a manufacturing powerhouse, low MOQ services with ethical working practices and sustainability built into the offering will be appealing for many start-ups. The growth of these new models may also go some way to answering the huge problem that exists in the fashion industry of clothing waste.”

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