Are You Ordering Suits or Suiting Separates?
There is a common misconception in the uniform industry that suits and suiting separates are the same. They may appear the same but uniform suppliers want you to know that there is a big difference. Distributors who know the difference help their clients make better choices in their uniform programs.
A suit is a combination of garments that may include a matching jacket and pant or a skirt, and is sold as an outfit. No matter how many matching articles there are, it is a sold as a complete outfit. A suit maker cuts all the pieces of each suit from the same roll of fabric. Suiting separates are different.
Suiting Separates are Different than Suits
Separates are articles of clothing like jackets, pants and skirts that may match. They can look exactly like a suit. The difference is that suiting separates are not always manufactured at the same time or from the same roll of fabric. Uniform suppliers almost never make actual suits—they manufacture separates. It is the only way to fight the fast turnover of popular items. Uniform suppliers want you to know that some days everyone orders pants and some days everyone orders blazers! It is a challenge to maintain even stock in each item because it is impossible to predict what buyers may need. So in this fast-paced industry, uniform suppliers are always ordering new cuttings to fill in pieces that are low. Each time a new cutting is ordered it may be cut from a different roll of fabric. This can present a minor problem with color shade differences.
About Separates Fabric and Dye Lots
Skilled fabric makers use precise recipes to match their original dye lot. The original dye lot serves as the control color for all dye lots. Mass market production has a system of checks and balances to see if each lot is within tolerance. Tolerances apply to measurements between patterns and finished garments, shrinkage and color differences. Quality control inspectors review each lot before it leaves the factory. They approve or reject it based on the tolerance.
Tolerance issues for color rarely pose a problem in the uniform industry although sometimes it happens. Many events can cause a lot color to be out of tolerance. Changing the composition of the fabric may affect the color. Some thread types accept color differently than others. Changing factories can present a problem for a supplier also. Uniform suppliers always try to improve their sourcing. When they work with a new factory to improve products there can be a learning curve that affects many variables.
Uniform Suppliers Choose Separates Over Suits
When a buyer wants garments for retail buyers differences in dye lots may go unnoticed but when a buyer needs uniforms that must match on many people—it matters! A smart distributor will discuss dye lots with uniform suppliers and determine if there is cause for concern. They can ask if past lots have been consistent and if any changes are expected in the future.
A good bet is to recommend custom uniform programs with contrasting or complimentary separates. An interesting contrasting ensemble can suit your client’s brand perfectly. Consult the internet for color guides that show complimentary and contrasting fashion colors. Pinterest has thousands of posts on color matching for fashion if you need ideas. Start a custom board for your client before you meet with them for inspiration.
Buying uniform separates can remedy difficult size problems. A program for bodyguards may require very large blazers and smaller pants. And anyone buying for women knows that we don’t always (never) have perfectly proportional bodies like models. It is convenient for us to have a choice of different sizes for tops and bottoms. Your buyer will spend less on tailoring when they buy separates. That can really add up for large programs!