The Women of Textile Sourcing and Product Branding

Uber of textile-sourcing, a mission to save fabric from landfills, and creative empathy fuels these three women in textile sourcing and product branding

By Daniella Platt

Taking an honest look at the Uber and AirBnB “sharing economy,” fashions impact on filling landfills and giving fabric a second life, and passion for branding to feel like a “family photo album,” these three unshakable Los Angeles entrepreneurial women make it their mission to offer full-service textile sourcing and branding solutions.

BFF Fabric Studio
After 18 years of developing and sourcing fabrics and prints, Betsy Franjola founded BFF Fabric Studio to serve as a direct portal to the mills. Individual mills hire BFF Studio as their sales representative, not their agent via commission alone. “From the mill perspective, they don’t get enough feedback from brands and customers and do not have first-hand insight to the American fashion market.”

Franjola believes the “sharing economy” of companies like UBER and AirBnB has proven the power of group “share.” BFF Studio has taken elements of this to help leverage the individual mills. The ability for a mill to rent and manage their own office space is cost prohibitive, but by sharing showroom cost, each mill has a location in which they can store their seasonal collections and use for customer meetings.

BFF launched a seasonal trend and fabric show, PREFACE NYC with this same “sharing economy” idea. “Exhibitors share the cost of the space and trend development. We connect other talented & unique exhibitors for vintage, print and even present a speaker series. When we all share resources, it benefits everyone in a whole new way!” BFF also hires three interns per year from the University of Cincinnati Fashion Design program.

Studio 93
We caught up with Mariel Choo, founder of Studio 93 in Los Angeles, to talk about her textile business, a mix of new fabrications and the impact of salvaging dead-stock for the environment.

Choo is the 3rd generation of her family in the fashion industry. She attended FIDM and worked as a buyer, yet she felt her choices for high-quality fabrics were limited. This gap in the market inspired her to open Studio 93 textiles and co-relates to her father’s manufacturing facility in China for extended full-service production overseas.

“When I learned about fashions impact on our landfills, I decided to tap into not just regular fabrics, but to also focus on dead stock, left-over fabrics. Price points are more affordable with 10-15% cheaper than your average fabric, fabric is high quality, and gives a repurposed value for these fabrics, a second life rather than being destined for the landfills.” Dead stock gives designers the ability to manufacturer environmentally responsible clothing rather than having to produce.

What’s the best way for designers to use dead stock? Choo suggests to buy the entire lot upfront at a discount, and use for exclusive pieces you know you won’t need to repeat.

When a designer approaches Studio 93, Choo services provide sourcing for all fabrics for new and deadstock, swatches, samples from 2 to 6 yards, before a production run.

What advice to you share with new and veteran designers? Choo advises young labels to produce locally, to allow “you to step into the production, approve samples, save costs of shipping, be more attentive to the entire process and figure out what to adjust.” A 500 piece minimum per style/unit with varying color waves is needed before producing overseas.

California Label Products
California Label Products provides labels and tags for product branding and identification to customers around the globe. “I love when brands come in with a logo, we instantly start to get creative,” Tasha Garfield, creative director and co-founder said of the firm she owned for 20 years. “I have empathy and excitement for new ideas.”

New brands bring their logo, product images, their story and a clear idea of what stores they want to be in. “Each branding development is like family pictures and used for inspiration,” she shared. “Then we create their family albums!”

To showcase their diversity of product, CLP offers eco-friendly firms recycled papers, canvas labels and tags and many natural fiber products. For children’s clothing line, Garfield suggests woven labels in soft satin with pastel colors or colorful patches to go on the outside of the garment. For a denim line, CLP can make hangtags with heavy paper, die cut shapes, glossy finish, spot UV on the logo and died to match strings.

Established brands are serviced with meeting the specific guidelines required from artwork, to pricing, to ETA’s for production. In partnership, CLP offers advisement and any ways to help a designer or manufacturer with faster deliveries and better pricing for larger quantities.