Manufacturing

The  word  manufacture means to make  by hand, but  long  ago it lost that  connotation,  meaning now to create  many  goods  as part  of a large-scale operation. In the beauty  and apparel  industry, the manufacturing of products must be timed to coincide with specific seasons and created to appeal  to the appropriate target  market.

Timing is an important element in the  manufacturing of any beauty  product, including apparel. Within each year, there  are seasons that demand different types of clothes and  cosmetics. In the  winter, warm  clothing is necessary and,  due  to dry skin  conditions caused by heaters and  cold weather, people  also tend  to buy more  moisturizers, lip balm,  and  other health-related cosmetics. In the  summer, lightweight clothes and  swimsuits are needed and  sunscreens are required. Besides the temperature changes, colors  are seasonal as well. Dark  colors  and  deep jewel tones  are popular for fall and  winter, while in the  spring  and  summer customers prefer  lighter  and sheer  shades.

Apparel Industry

In  the  apparel-manufacturing world,  the  two  main  seasons are  fall and  spring. Clothing for fall is usually  sold in stores  beginning in July, although the actual  fall season is quite  some  time  away. Spring  styles begin  to be sold  in stores  as early as late  December to  coincide with  a rush of holiday  shoppers. The  design  and manufacturing of these  items  are done  far in advance, often  beginning a full calendar year before  the projected date of sale. But fashion is a constantly changing market and manufacturing firms must maintain enough flexibility to keep up with consumer demand. A garment that  is the  wrong  color  or comes  to market even just days too late can be completely unsalable.

Each  garment sold  in a retail  store  has a vast history behind it. First, the  raw materials to make it are gathered: cotton, linen, wool, silk, polyester, nylon, acrylic, and rayon  are commonly used  textile fibers. The  fibers are converted to yarns in a mill, going  through a variety of processes that  include carding, combing, bleaching, dyeing, crimping, stuffing, straightening, or any number of steps to create  the desired look and  feel in the finished yarn. Yarns are then sent  to another plant  to be woven into  fabric. Looms of all kinds  exist to facilitate  various  types of special weaves  from  a plain  1×1 weave to satin  to jacquard, dobby, brocade, matelasse, and  other specialty  and  pictorial weaves. Yarns  can  also be knit  to achieve  a fabric with  natural stretch and  a soft drape.  The  newly woven  fabric  is still considered unfinished and  is known as greige or gray goods.  Greige  goods  can then be bleached, dyed, printed, embossed, flocked,  calendered, embroidered, pleated, or just starched with sizing before  being sold to an apparel  manufacturer to be made into  clothing.

Apparel manufacturers have many fabric choices available to them  in any given season, but  there  is always  the  option for  custom orders. Most  manufacturers work  from  a variety  of sources including textile,  trim,  and  notions vendors and companies that  specialize  in  custom work.  The  goal  of the  manufacturer is to keep the cost of goods,  that  is, the price of the materials and  labor  that  goes into each  garment, in line with the  intended price  level of the  garment, which  is anywhere  from  budget (inexpensive) to  designer (costly).  Another  challenge faced by manufacturers is not  only  to deliver  a product on  time,  but  to fabricate that product exactly to the desired quality  and price point.

Manufacturers usually  have a workforce of sewing  operators and  finishers inhouse. They  primarily  work assembly-line style with individual operators responsible for a single step in the  construction process. This  allows for fast-paced and reasonably accurate work as each  operator becomes an expert  on his or her  step in  the  process. For  higher-end garments such  as designer lines  and  men’s  fine suits,  one sewing operator might  be responsible for the entire  garment from start to  finish.  Men’s  fine suits  are  some  of the  most  labor-intensive items  of clothing made.  Men’s  shirts, however, are some  of the  least,  due  to standardized sizing  of cuffs,  collars,  pockets, and  sleeves.  This  allows  for  the  mass  production of these  standard components and  streamlines the  process. Most  women and children’s wear, as well as men’s  sportswear, active wear, and  intimate apparel, is created using  the piecework system. Items such  as children’s sleepwear are tightly regulated and  must be treated with a flame retardant. Strict  rules  also govern,  for example,  the  use  and  type of closures on  newborn and  infant  apparel  as well as sizing. Manufacturers working in the children’s clothing industry must be aware of the regulations surrounding their  products.

Contractors are used for specialized work like creative endeavors such  as beading  and  embroidery and  more  industrial needs  such  as pleating, covering buttons,  and making belts. Contractors allow for manufacturers to utilize these  more specialized services  without employing a full-time employee that  might  not  have work every day. The  end result  is a finished garment that  is ready to be shipped to a retail outlet for purchase by the consumer.

Cosmetics Industry

In the  cosmetics industry, the  manufacturing process is more  like that  of a plant that  makes  food  or  drugs. Compounds are  tested  to  ensure safety  and  quality.

The  raw materials needed for cosmetics will vary widely depending on what kind of item  is being  made.  Ingredients for lotion, lipstick,  eye shadow, and  concealer are all very different but  have similar  purposes. A base  is the  foundation for the product—in liquid,  solid,  gel, or  powder form.  For  purely  cosmetic items,  the next most  important factor  is the pigment. Pigments are highly concentrated and closely  monitored by government agencies to  ensure that  they  are  made  from nontoxic, hypoallergenic ingredients. Some  coloring agents  that  create  a frosted look can make a lipstick  very hard. Using  real crushed pearl or mica gives a high-quality  shimmering appearance to lipsticks  and  eye shadows, but  these  have  to be handled carefully,  as these  ingredients are fragile and  can  be destroyed in the manufacturing process. Additives  such  as  fragrance, flavoring  agents, moisturizers, conditioners, and  the like can also be included in the product. Often, these are considered a selling  point, for example,  making a lipstick  longer  wearing  or with  a moisturizing capability. In lotions, vitamins and  specialty  ingredients like collagen, green  tea, shea  butter, silk protein, and  the  like are what  create  market appeal.

Batches  of each product can be made from small or sample  scales up to quantities large enough to serve a multinational market. Many  cosmetic manufacturers are also responding to a trend that  demands smaller  batches with higher quality made  with  organic and  eco-friendly ingredients. With  an ever-changing market, manufacturers of both fashion and  cosmetics have  to  keep  up  with  customer demand or risk losing their  edge.

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