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January 29, 2021

Relabelling Services: Everything You Need To Know

By: Peter Gregory

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Want to put your own label on garments that you bought wholesale? The apparel industry has a name for that: relabelling!

Relabelling (also known as private labelling) is a great way to streamline your business, save yourself some time and offer a higher standard of product to your consumers. 

If you’re in merchandising or if you’re starting up your own online fashion business, then private labelling is something you should at least consider.  

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of what relabelling actually is, how best to use it to grow your business and the pitfalls you need to avoid. 

What is relabelling?

Relabelling is a ‘trade finishing’ procedure where the label of one fashion business is stitched onto a garment that was actually made by another company. 

Many garment manufacturers are talented ‘makers’, but they lack the skills and contacts to sell their goods directly to retailers and consumers. Most fashion startups have the exact opposite problem: they might have a great eye for design and strong commercial instincts, but they don’t have the commercial tailoring expertise and machinery necessary to produce their garments in high volumes. Relabelling is all about bridging that gap, so that factories and fashion houses can both make a living focusing on what they do best. 

Which businesses relabel their garments? 

Relabelling (private labelling) is very common in the apparel and workwear industries, where the garment itself is fairly standard but the finished design that is applied to that garment is something bespoke and valuable. 

For example, if you run a t-shirt design business, you might buy blank shirts from a wholesaler or manufacturer, then screen-print your designs onto those blank garments before selling the finished item on to your customer. You want the t-shirts you sell to have your own brand’s label on the neck, so you’ll need to replace the manufacturer’s label with your own. You can either hire a relabelling company to  attach those labels, or you can sometimes ask the factory making your goods to do the relabelling work at source.

How much does private labelling cost?

You’d be surprised at how affordable the relabelling process is. It’s very good value, given the manual work involved in stitching each label to each item, and it gives your stock a premium finish and a style all of its own. 

The costs you are quoted by a relabelling service will go up and down slightly depending on three main factors:

  • Order Size: if you want to relabel just 12 garments, for instance, you should expect to pay more per-unit than if you were relabelling 1,200. As a rule of thumb, the bigger your relabelling order, the better your price quote.
  • Timelines: If you’re urgently trying to get products ready (perhaps for a trade exhibition or to meet a big retailer’s deadline), you should expect to pay more for expedited service. 
  • Bagging: A lot of relabelling firms can individually bag each garment for you after they have attached your private label. There’s a small additional cost if you want them to do this, but it can work out much cheaper to get each item relabelled and bagged at the same time. It also ‘cuts out a step’ in terms of what you have to do before your goods are ready for general sale.

Pricing will also change depending on the number of steps you’re asking a relabelling company to carry out for you. It’s much simpler and faster, for instance, to stitch a branded border label directly on top of a manufacturer’s label, because there’s no work involved in snipping and unpicking seam-stitched labels. The same goes for any ‘extra bagging’ work, like buttoning up trouser buttons, folding shirts over card inserts and so on. 

Quality Control (QC) is another job that a relabeller can do for you (for a fee). When you buy a Quality Control service from your relabeller, you both agree up-front what counts as a ‘quality’ item and what counts as a ‘reject’ (fraying seams, dirty sleeves etc). The relabeller will carry out a quick inspection of each garment as they work on it, and goods that don’t meet your standards can be kept back. It’s a great way to minimise your customer returns and keep your standards high.

Private Labelling: The Pitfalls

There are a few mistakes that new apparel startups need to watch out for when working with a relabeller. Relabellers aren’t legal experts, nor are they customer service specialists — it’s always the job of the business owner, i.e. you, to stay compliant with the law and deliver the very best experience you can for your buyers.

  • Copyright Infringement: Relabelling is only allowed on certain garments. You can’t just put your own label on a Gucci bag, for instance, because Gucci own the copyright to their designs and don’t want to expose their brand to third-party alterations. You need to make sure that the garments you buy are meant to be relabelled (sometimes known as ‘white label’). If in doubt, just ask the garment manufacturer. They’ll normally have no problem with you relabelling their work. They may even be able to offer an in-house relabelling service.
  • Customer Service: Relabellers can do a huge amount for you but they’re not offering a ‘dropshipping’ service. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility to quality-control your own product, to make sure you have enough stock on hand, and to make sure that the goods you sell meet or beat your customer’s expectations.

Don’t settle for anything less than perfection!

Here at GB Labels we’re label makers — not label attachers — but we can still help you find a good relabelling service that suits your needs.

Our customers have hired relabelling companies and freelance stitchers all over the world, so we’ve heard a lot of good and bad stories about how people were treated and the experience they had when private labelling.

We’ll be happy to tell you which companies our clients tend to use — just get in touch

Thanks for reading!

Pete

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