Many of us don’t realise what processes a sample has to go through before it reaches our office. It sounds simple – idea, drawing, specification sheet, emails with factory and final sample. But there is lot more we don’t see.
Main focus of Grant International are accessories, mainly bags. One bag on its own has many trims to think about (zip, zip puller, webbing, plastic clips and buckles, etc.) not even including fabrications (body fabric, lining, interlining) or printing. All these small components are made by other suppliers, which need to arrive to factory so it all can be put together into one product. That still sounds quite easy, right? Many of the small trims have to made and sourced, screens have to be open and fabric have to ordered, so behind one sample can be more than 50 people involved and trims can travel many miles before will even get to factory.
In November we have visited our bag factory as well many suppliers who are working along with our factories. It really opened my eyes, about how much does really take to make one sample. Because this time we have visited actually suppliers, it really made appreciate a work of our merchandizers as well people working on our developments.
I really enjoyed going to screen printers and left me speechless, where some prints are made by hand, one by one. I always knew the process of screen printing, but never made me think ‘This is how it is done’. A worker goes around very long table with screen and paint, where panels for printing are ready (on top of the table, there is a sticky solution, which keep the panels on place). What if they have to make a high build print? High build print is basically screen print where print has been applied multiple times to create the thickness, also each layer has to be dry for another layer is going to applied.
We have also visited footwear and outsole factories on our trip.
Footwear factory has very similar process to bag factory, many components are made elsewhere.
Main component is an outsole, which can be made from different materials like Rubber, PU, EVA. This also depends what construction of the shoe we are after. If we are talking about simple cemented construction (upper is glued to outsole), outsole being made require excess to be cut off rubber plates to be glued, some parts of outsoles being paint. That is only small part before sample is made. Last and outsole are the main part on shoe. Without the right shape, shoe will never look right no matter how well designed and constructed upper is.
Most suppliers are very happy to have us over and walk us around factory no matter what time of the day it is.
Each time we are travelling in Far East, it’s always a different experience and we never know what new things we will see and learn about.