Counting Every Penny: Clothing Manufacturing Startup Costs

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The garment manufacturing industry is one of the biggest businesses in the world and growing exponentially. According to reports, the global apparel manufacturing industry has been growing at 4.2% annually since the year 2017 and the revenue of this industry is expected to reach .7 trillion by 2028.

For business owners interested in the apparel manufacturing industry, there are a wealth of resources available to them to start a successful business. However, with capital investments, there are several start-up expenses to consider before commissioning your manufacturing operation. This blog post explores the cost of starting a clothing manufacturing business.


start-up costs

The typical cost to start or launch apparel manufacturing ranges from ,000 to 0,000 or more. Exact costs will depend on the size and scale of the business, as well as location, material costs, labor costs and other factors.

Typical costs involved in opening such a business include:

  • Acquisition of building / installation
  • Industrial machinery / equipment
  • Raw materials
  • Shipping/Freight Charges
  • Cost of labor / rental / subcontracting
  • Insurance
  • Licenses / registrations
  • Accounting / Professional Services
  • Advertising Marketing

Costs Amount (USD)
Acquisition of building / installation ,000 – 0,000
Industrial machinery / equipment ,000 – ,000
Raw materials ,000 – ,000
Shipping/freight charges ,000 – 10,000
Cost of labor / rental / subcontracting ,000 – ,000
Insurance 0 – ,000
Licenses / registrations 0 – ,000
Accounting / Professional Services 0 – ,000
Advertising Marketing ,000 – ,000
Total ,000 – 5,000

Acquisition of building / installation

When it comes to opening a clothing manufacturing business, the costs of building acquisition/installation can quickly add up. The amount you will need to invest in the construction process depends on the size and scale of your manufacturing plant, as well as the type of construction you are interested in. According to Statista, in 2020 the average cost per square foot to build a commercial or industrial facility in the United States was 7 . This means that for a 1,000 square foot installation, you could be looking at a total cost of 7,000 . This cost can be higher if you opt for more expensive building materials and techniques, such as energy-efficient building solutions or environmentally friendly methods.

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In addition to construction costs, it is important to consider operational costs, such as maintenance and overhead, when calculating the total cost of acquiring a building/facility for your manufacturing business. clothing. These costs can vary greatly depending on the size of your facility, the type of equipment used, and the amount of staff needed to run the business. According to the US Small Business Administration, the average overhead for running a business is ,000 or more per year. This cost should be considered when calculating the total cost of acquiring a building/facility for your apparel manufacturing business.

When budgeting for the cost of building/installing your apparel manufacturing business acquisition, it is also important to consider any potential legal or business expenses associated with acquiring and operating the business. business. These costs may include fees such as licenses, taxes, permits and insurance. These costs can vary widely, depending on the location of the installation and specific local government policies. These fees should also be considered when estimating the total cost of acquiring a building/facility for your apparel manufacturing business.

Industrial machinery / equipment

When starting a garment manufacturing business, the cost of purchasing industrial machinery and equipment is a major factor in the initial investment. Purchasing industrial machinery will require a significant amount of money as well as making sure there is enough space and proper electrical/mechanical connections to fit the items. Some of the costs associated with the purchase of industrial machinery and equipment are:

  • Computer equipment: ,000-,000
  • Sewing machines: ,000-,000
  • Cutting room equipment: ,000-,000
  • Cloth Carrier Systems: ,000-,000
  • Finishing machines: ,000-,000

The cost of industrial machinery and equipment can vary greatly depending on what is needed, the quality and size of the machine, and the type and number of items needed to run the business. It is important to research different companies in order to find the most profitable options. Investing in better quality machinery and equipment can save you money in the long run by avoiding costly repairs and maintenance.

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It is important to remember that when starting a garment manufacturing business, the cost of purchasing industrial machinery and equipment should be included in the overall start-up budget. Manufacturing companies often require large investments in the form of machinery purchases and other associated costs. Investing in the necessary equipment will be an important factor in the success of the business.

Raw materials

The cost of raw materials for a apparel manufacturing business is often the largest initial expense. Depending on the type of garments and materials used, the costs of these raw materials vary considerably. Data from 2019 shows that the cost of raw materials for garment production in US dollars could range from 3 per kilogram for wool up to per kilogram for cotton or polyester. Other materials, such as linen, jute, silk or sequins, are even more expensive.

As a clothing company, it is important to research the cost of raw materials before deciding which fabrics to manufacture. A great source of information is textile factories. They usually have websites where they post prices and encourage inquiries. Some fashion start-ups prefer to source fabric directly from independent spinners and yarn weavers.

In addition to fabric costs, many companies are also responsible for bleaching and dyeing fabrics before sewing. This cost should also be factored into any budgeting. Other materials such as threads, linings, and buttons can also add up over time and should be considered when budgeting for raw materials.

Shipping/Freight Charges

Shipping goods around the world is an expensive business. As a clothing manufacturing business owner, you will need to determine the costs associated with shipping your goods to the local, national and international market. The cost of ship goods can vary significantly depending on order size and shipping requirements. A apparel manufacturer must understand the costs associated with shipping products to determine their overall product cost.

The average international freight cost for garments in 2020 was around .50/kg. This applies to freight transported in forty foot ocean freight containers and will vary for smaller orders. For example, a 20′ container might cost 2.5 times more than a forty foot container, due to different loading charges and other costs.

The type of freight delivery service chosen can also impact the cost of shipping. AirFreight is usually the most expensive option, but it also usually offers the fastest delivery times. Sea freight can offer significant savings over airfreight, but delivery times are often much slower. Additionally, ocean freight requires more complex documentation to eliminate customs, which increases administrative costs.

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Additionally, packaging and palletizing can also affect shipping costs. Costs for packaging materials and additional services such as shrink wrapping, banding and labeling should also be considered. Likewise, the type of pallet used can have a huge impact on the cost of freight, with wooden and plastic pallets often costing significantly more than reusable cardboard alternatives.

Apparel manufacturers need to understand the various costs associated with shipping their goods in order to accurately price their products and keep their business profitable. By researching different types of delivery services, understanding the weight and volume of goods being sent, and finding less expensive packaging options, apparel manufacturers can keep their shipping costs to a minimum.

Cost of labor / rental / outside

When setting up a clothing manufacturing business, one of the most important costs to consider is the cost of labor. There are some options for labor, including hiring full-time and/or part-time employees, outsourcing services, or using independent contractors. The cost of labor will depend on the number of staff needed, their qualifications and experience and their working hours.

Hiring full-time employees is big business and requires investments in salaries, benefits, and taxes. Pay for full-time employees is usually between ,500 and ,500 per month, depending on position, benefits, and individual experience. Additionally, employers should also consider additional costs, such as insurance, professional fees, and operating expenses.

Part-time labor is also an option as it usually costs less. However, salaries and benefits can still be important. For part-time employees, pay usually starts between and an hour, and they often receive no benefits. In addition, employers will have to pay payroll taxes and possibly incur additional reporting costs.

Outsourcing services to entrepreneurs and freelancers are often a popular option in the apparel manufacturing industry. Contractors and freelancers can provide custom project solutions for your apparel business and will charge for services on an hourly or project basis. Independent contractors are usually paid on an hourly basis and generally require between and 0 per hour, depending on the project.

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In the United States, the overall labor cost for the garment manufacturing industry for the year 2020 was estimated to be around 2 billion. Labor costs for US-manufactured apparel products accounted for approximately 4.7% of total labor costs.


When opening a clothing manufacturing business, it is important to consider all potential expenses, including insurance costs. Depending on the type of insurance coverage, insurance for this type of business can range from around 0 to over ,500. The types of insurance you need can also vary from region to region.

Since apparel manufacturing businesses involve the production of materials and chemicals, many industrial liability policies are needed to protect the business owner and their assets. These policies include: Product Liability Insurance, Commercial Property Insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance, Product Recall Insurance, and Vehicle Insurance.

Product liability insurance protects both the clothing company and its customers in cases where a product could cause damage or injury. This type of insurance typically costs 0 to ,500 per year. Business property insurance, on the other hand, covers the business owner and their assets in cases where damage or loss may occur due to fire, flood, theft or other disasters. Depending on the coverage and desired deductible amount, this type of insurance can cost anywhere from 0 to ,500 per year.

Workers’ compensation insurance is mandatory by most states and covers the business owner for any workplace accident or injury that may occur. This type of insurance typically costs 0 to ,500 per year. Product recall insurance is required to cover the expenses associated with a product recall, including the costs of disposing of the product and replacing it with a new one. This type of insurance costs around 0 to ,500 per year.

Finally, vehicle insurance is necessary to protect company vehicles in the event of an accident. This type of insurance typically costs 0 to ,500 per year. To ensure that all potential expenses are taken into account, it is important to speak with an experienced insurance broker to assess the needs of the company.

Licenses / registrations

When starting a clothing manufacturing business, you will need to register with the government and obtain a handful of permits and licenses in order to operate legally. Registration costs will vary from state to state, as regulations and fees could be different. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration , you typically have to pay for things like the following:

  • Trade Licenses: This may include a general trade license, wholesaler license, general manufacturer license, or major or exporter license.
  • A Federal or State Tax ID or Employer Identification Number (EIN): The cost of obtaining an EIN is free.
  • State Incorporation Fees: It can cost over 0 to incorporate your business in your state.
  • UCC Filing: It can cost between and 0 to file UCC-1 (Uniform Commercial Code).
  • Sales Tax Permit: Depending on the state in which you operate, the cost to obtain a sales tax permit can range from FREE to up to 0.
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You may also need to be stuck and obtain additional licenses depending on the type of product you are making. Surety companies usually charge a fee and the cost of the bond itself. To get an estimate of what you will need to pay, contact the appropriate government office or agencies in your state.

Accounting / Professional Services

Starting a clothing manufacturing business can initially be an expensive undertaking, and developing an accurate budget to cover the costs of bookkeeping and professional services is an important part of the initial planning. According to statistics compiled by IBIS World, the average cost to open a apparel manufacturing business in the United States is an estimated 7,410 . Of this amount, ,325 is estimated to be spent on accounting and professional services, depending on the size and complexity of the business. These services may include:

  • Accounting / payroll services
  • Tax Defends / Withholding / Organizational Services
  • Audit and Regulatory Services
  • Financial advice / advice
  • Accounting software

It is important to note that these estimates can vary significantly depending on the size and sophistication of the business, and any specialist services required, such as legal and management advice. Working with a reputable accountant with experience in the apparel manufacturing industry or creative industries is essential for owners to create a comprehensive budget that accurately represents the costs associated with their business.

Advertising Marketing

Establishing your clothing brand in the competitive industry is never easy. You need to think of creative and effective ways to market and advertise your clothing line.

According to Statista, the US advertising spend market reached 8,703 million in 2019 . Developing an advertising budget is an essential step in ensuring that you have enough funds to promote your business. Typically, marketing and advertising costs should be 10% of your revenue .

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It’s important to review your resources and create a realistic budget that allows you to realistically achieve your goals. To maximize your resources, you need an advertising plan tailored to your desired target audience and your clothing style.

You can consider the following components of your advertising plan:

  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Social media and digital advertising
  • Print or billboards, or other out-of-home (OOH) options,
  • Content marketing

Each of the above components will require a different amount of resources and different times to be effective. It is therefore important to carefully consider what form of marketing and advertising is best for your clothing business.

For example, social media and content marketing can be relatively inexpensive with many free services available such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. These platforms offer many opportunities for marketing and dialogue with your customers. Alternatively, PR and OOH strategies may require more budget, but can be powerful ways to build brand awareness and loyalty.


The cost of starting a clothing manufacturing business can vary greatly depending on the type of clothing you produce, the number of units you plan to produce, and the quality of your output. To correctly estimate the cost of your business, you need to consider expenses related to the acquisition of buildings, machinery/equipment, raw materials, shipping/freight, labor, insurance, licensing/registration, accounting/professional services and marketing/advertising.

At a minimum, you can expect to invest ,000 – 0,000 for a small business setup which includes renting a warehouse, purchasing the minimum equipment and materials needed, hiring basic labor and advertising of the clothing line. As the business grows, so does the cost of production, material and labor.

The clothing manufacturing business is not for everyone. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to do your research and develop an understanding of the market as well as the production process in order to run a successful clothing line. With the right business plan, capital, and resources, you can start a clothing manufacturing business that will surely make a mark on the fashion industry.