New York City is home to a vast supply of the cheap, hard-to-find high-end fabric items that can help you make your living as a designer.
And with a burgeoning e-commerce scene, it’s easy to find them online.
Here are some tips for finding the best online vendors and buying the most popular items.
Look for the “buy it now” prices and promotions, not the “sell it later” price and promotions.
Most high-quality fabric items are $10 or less, so if you want the best price, check the price at the time of purchase.
A higher-end item is often $15 or more, so it might be worth checking the listing at the exact time you make the purchase.
And if you see an advertised “buy now” or “sell later” discount, don’t let it deter you from buying it.
Some companies also offer a “buy as you go” option that allows you to save on the item, while still paying the full price.
If you’re buying from a retailer like Hanes or Nordstrom, you’ll usually see a $25 “Buy Now” discount.
Check the quality.
Fabric is expensive.
You’re paying the price of the fabric, not its quality.
If it’s not very durable, the price tag might be inflated.
For example, a 3-D printed fabric shirt that looks great on a shelf, but only comes with a zipper, a zipper and a hood, but has a 3D print and a 3M logo on it, will probably be more expensive.
Look closely at the item.
Don’t be afraid to look at the items you’re considering buying, especially if you’re a designer who wants to try a new fabric and find out what the pros and cons are.
“There’s always something different about a fabric, and when you go through a lot of different fabric brands, you get a really good sense of what they have in common,” says Lisa A. Gartner, a designer and product owner in Santa Cruz, Calif.
“I’m more comfortable spending money on things that have been used in the past, so I think that makes me more likely to pick the fabric that I like.”
Look up the seller’s reputation.
You can see who’s a high-profile seller in an online search engine, and they’ll often have a listing for their fabric items.
But don’t be surprised if the seller has a lot more to say about the fabric itself.
“It’s always important to make sure that you’re getting a good deal when you’re shopping online, but it’s important to look past the words and the pictures and the product name,” says Gartners co-founder Stephanie Smith.
Don´t just look at how much it costs, but also the quality and quality of the item as a whole.
Quality is more important than price, so don’t get discouraged if the price doesn’t justify the quality of your fabric.
“In general, fabric quality and fit are not what people will pay more money for, but the quality can also really matter,” says Smith.
Buy from a trustworthy source.
For instance, check to see if the fabric is manufactured in the United States or internationally, because there are many retailers that are not.
Some brands offer free returns if you find a bad-fitting item, but if it’s the wrong color or size, you can return the item to the seller and receive a full refund.
“If you see something that looks like it’s made in China or Korea or Japan or India, that’s not the fabric you want,” says Sarah L. Houghton, owner of Houghtons Fabric Supply, which has been in the business for more than 30 years.
Ask the seller for a quote.
It’s not uncommon to see online sellers offer a price-per-gauge, or per-gib, deal, where the seller will give you a percentage of the total price of an item.
But if you don’t see a deal, try to get a quote from a reputable company.
“People who are in the garment industry often do have a lot to lose, so they may offer discounts on fabrics that they don’t sell,” says L.A. Reid, an apparel designer and author of The Designer’s Dilemma: How to Get the Most from Your Craft.
“That’s the best thing to do: Ask for a price quote.”
Look at the size of the bag.
The longer the bag, the bigger the bag will need to be.
Larger bags are usually a better choice for those who are taller or heavier.
If possible, ask for a return label.
If a garment has a manufacturer’s return label, it indicates that the fabric was originally produced by the manufacturer.
For brands like Hane, which makes high-performance fabric, a return labels will often indicate the manufacturer