Designing to a Target Cost

Updated: Feb 10

Once you have a target cost from your product manager, there are several ways to reverse engineer your design into their pricing structure. Considering the cost for every garment detail one-by-one is one of the best practices I’ve ever seen executed in the apparel industry. The designers who spend time with their developers and production managers to do these exercises in initial design stages are by far the best at their craft.


Let’s look at a pretend example brief, where your product manager is asking for a casual jacket design. They want to sell the garment for $150.00 to several wholesale accounts and directly to consumers. Their target total garment cost is set at $30.00, and they’ve asked that $10.00 of that cost be considered for trims and construction details. (The remaining $20.00 will go toward fabric and factory costs).


As a designer working to create a unique piece, $10.00 for trims and details can be difficult to stick to. It will require some teamwork to make sure that goal is met. First, you’ll want to meet with your production manager, who can give you a list of trim costs that have been sourced with nominated suppliers. Once that list is in hand, it will start to become clear which trims you can afford. From there, you can decide if buttons should be used instead of snaps or if certain zipper qualities should be used over others.


So let’s now say that the designer has chosen to go with eight $0.50 buttons for the jacket’s center front closure. The quality and appearance of the buttons is very nice and it only cost $4.00 out of the $10.00 budget for this detail’s trims. This leaves $6.00 to maybe now add zippered hand pockets or a drawcord detail. It could also leave an extra $6.00 in the budget for a higher quality fabric, which might be the bigger priority for the garment.


From there, meeting with the development team members can help to further hone in on a target cost. If perhaps the designer proposed to add a hem drawcord detail to the jacket, the developers can now make suggestions on cost-effective ways to insert the drawcord, finish the drawcord ends and cinch the drawcord tight. Oftentimes, the development team is full of experts in these areas of garment construction, and they can help to make sure that each dollar spent on sewing the garment is maximized for quality.


If the team comes together to scrutinize fabric cost, trim cost and construction cost before a request is ever sent out to the factory, they have a much better chance of receiving a successful first prototype. Being on target in these early stages will allow timelines and processes to run smoothly, and will ensure that the business goals of the department are met with ease.


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