Apparel Private Label Vs Collection “Brand” Development

Most companies segregate private label and collection development for good reason; the process is different.  Private label may feed off product from the collection, but nearly always there needs to be redevelopment.  Understanding the different types of product delivery methods in your business are critical in establishing business solutions that drive value to your brand’s customers.

Let’s look at the differences.

Collection Development for Brand “XYZ”; will work to a predefined brand calendar ensuring key brand milestones are achieved, the calendar will be 100% brand centric.  The range plan will dictate the number of products, type and price point that will meet sales budget either from a wholesale or retail perspective depending on the brand owner.

Designers work to strict timelines to achieve calendar milestones.  If a collection consists of 100 products the entire design stage must be completed in a relatively short window to ensure development has time to complete their objectives.  Design, fabric and product development must work on overlapping goals to minimise total development lead-time so the product can reach the market before competitor’s product releases.

Collections consist of various product types with varying levels of intricacy and technical skills to make it a reality, complicated yarn true knits will take longer to develop than a plain cotton t-shirt placing more pressure on teamwork and prioritisation to create successful outcomes.

Collections require salesman samples; this creates a substantial amount of additional sampling putting demands on raw material needs to sample room capacity to achieve sales opening deadlines.  Depending on the size of the collection and intricacy of the product, milestone, capacity and margin planning is critical to success.

Through the course of selling, either through the buyers selection or selling through distributors, there will be product winners and losers with possible attrition rates of greater than 30%.  From development to production, capacity planning is of high importance ensuring vendor allocation based on product technical ability, historical and budgeted sales vs. capacity.  But, procurement can only occur once the final buy quantity is calculated.  Example there were 100 products development and allocated to 5 vendors, there is a possibility that one supplier will get production volume greater than their capacity due to minimal attrition and higher than budgeted sales.  Likewise, another supplier may have had a high attrition rate with poor sales resulting in the reverse; the vendor capacity reservation cannot be met.

Technical, fitting and social compliance are all part of the “XYZ” brand standard before the final product enters production it must be sealed as “Ready for Production” and that the product meets all brand quality standards.

Price must meet the range plan margin with all teams working together through the development process to ensure margin is achieved while bringing to market the best possible product that maintains the highest level of brand integrity.

All milestones must be completed on time providing “Ready to Production” and Purchase orders are released on time as to not limit the production lead-time.  All production reallocation, due to capacity challenges must be managed, maintaining vital shipment dates that reach global distribution centre timely to achieve retail in-store is on time.

Private Label Development for Retailer “ABC”; will work to the retailers predefined calendar outlining critical season buying periods, the calendar will be 100% retail category centric.  A category will indicate the product type and price point that will achieve sales budget from the retail perspective.

Business Managers will work with buyers on trend direction, use the product created in the brand collection development phase and design to meet the trend direction to find sales options to market through the category buying periods.  Buyers will work with the business manager on what they’re looking for, and business managers will share insight into what they believe high sell through options might be.

Speed is imperative as buyers may select several options including those from competitors, sample quality visually and technically, speed to market and price is critical.

Private label teams must source raw material options that meet the retailers technical and compliance requirements, design and develop the product to the retailers technical and fit specifications.  Samples produced will be fit approved by house models at the retailers.

Individual retailers will commit at different times through the development process, but some retailers will not issue a purchase order until the “Ready to Production” sample is approved by the buyer’s technical team.  However, most will still make the buying commitment at the beginning of the development process.

Total lead-time for sample development is significantly faster than collection development. Product uptake that translates to a purchase order is much lower than that from a collection other than when buyers are looking for injection product due to high sell through to boost turnover.  Been able to develop the buyers needs within days will win the short turn business and longer turn category open to buy.

Vendors used to produce for the retailer will need to meet social and ethical compliance requirements which may be higher than those for smaller boutique customers.  Ensuring a flexible vendor matrix that can meet the private label retailers sampling and lead-time demands for both development and production is critical.

As with Collections there are predetermined key milestones that need to be achieved seasonally, but as you are dealing with different retailers, each retailer will have a different plan increasing the complexity.  This is simplified with no sample salesman process but further complicated by multiple fit and technical needs from the various retails that may fall under one business manager.

Due to overall open to buy planning from the buyer, the stage in which purchase orders are received, makes it easier to manage capacity needs other than market trend shifts.

Summary, Private label and collection development are different; both are very much milestone critical, with Collection development having a comprehensive critical path process with a lot of product due at one time, whereas Private label will have many smaller time critical events that may conflict requiring a greater level of flexibility.

Private Label

– Positives

  • Fast Development Period
  • Purchase Order Quantity is known before development completion

– Negatives

  • Managing the needs for multiple retail buyers and technical specifications


– Positives

  • Well planned single calendar with a single brand collection deadline

– Negatives

  • Purchase Order Quantity is only known at the end of the process

It is ID Global Concepts job to understand your customer and business to establish the best fit supply chain. We can add value to your sourcing operation either through consultancy or management contract to ensure your business is using a vendor that is the right fit for your business and meets your value expectations.

Below are the retailer’s ID Global Concepts have delivered quality apparel and accessories to over the last ten years;

Macy’s, Urban, Sears, Marks & Spencer, Myer, Kmart US & Kmart Australia, Dunnes Stores, Debenhams Monsoon Accessorize, Asos, Witchery, Brown Sugar, RM Williams, Coles, Chloe, John Lewis, Disney, Next, Firetrap, Lonsdale, Postie, ASDA, Harris Scarf, River Island, Tesco, Woolworths, Walmart, Glassons, Babies’R’Us, New Look, Target US & Australia, Primark, David Jones, Best & Less, Sophie, Yakka, Top Shop, BHS, Burlington, BigW, Oasis, JayJays, Blue Illusion, Driza-Bone, Just Jeans, Volcom, House of Fraser, Pumpkin Patch, Suzanne Grae, Pelaco, Laura Ashley, Sportsgirl, Ted Baker, Truetex, TableEight, French Connection

If you would like to learn more or wish to discuss other supply chain opportunities, please email us at

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