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Looking for help to start up your clothing factory?

In the current economic climate, the greatest hurdle to starting your own clothing factory may in-fact be a lack of confidence, not money. Just tune into SAFM daily and you will hear the Incentives SA ad announcing that our government wants to fuel job creation. They are eager to fund your business, especially if your in the manufacturing sector.
So why the lack of confidence?……
You may be scared that you won’t have enough work to sustain your business- you may feel that you do not have enough knowledge about all aspects of the business- you may feel that the risk is too great because clothing companies have been in decline over last few years – you may feel that the unions make it tough to run a successful business. These feelings are warranted because you have realised that the forest has burnt down and all that remains are little pockets of shrubbery in this environment that we call the clothing industry.

However there is great hope to be found within a space called the Technology Station in Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) – a place where amazing things are happening.

The Technology Station in Clothing and Textiles (TSCT) is located in the Faculty of Engineering at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville Campus. The TSCT was established to provide innovation support to the clothing and textile industry to become more competitive. This would directly provide feedback into the teaching, learning and research at the University of Technology (UoT) by engaging staff and students in its programmes and thus UoTs become responsive to industry needs. The main sponsor of the TSCT is the Technology Innovation Agency. ( )

In 2004 with support from GTZ (German Agency for Technical Cooperation) the TSCT undertook an analysis of the Clothing and Textiles value chain using a methodology known as RALIS (Rapid Appraisal of Local Innovation Systems). This was done to understand the issues that hamper the industries competitiveness. Ten key proposals were established which the TSCT used as a guideline to determine its strategic focus.   The following range of specific services is provided to the clothing, textiles and related sectors:

• Manufacturing advisory services

• Technology platform

• Production testing and analysis

• Human capital development

• Product development

• Smart organisation

• Reasarch

Taken from

  Here are 5 reasons why I say that the TSCT is truly amazing if you need help and guidance:

1. It is an incubator for start-up clothing companies where manufacturing equipment,facilities and advice are provided .

2. It is a place where you can learn everything on how to be a successful clothing manufacturer due to a variety of certified short courses as well as a full time diploma and degree course.

3. All the technology (available for business use) are cutting edge- such as 3d body scanners, automated jet pocket machines, sonic welding for swimwear and even a fully equipped testing lab, to mention a few.

4.If  you have secured funding for your business, the TSCT will help you make the correct decision about machinery and equipment that should be purchased as well as help you with your plant layout and set-up.

5. Small businesses are partly subsidised by the TSCT for many of the training courses, product testing, pattern development and product development.


The Rand’s value has dropped and things are in favour of local manufacturing due to retailers feeling the squeeze of importing. Imports are becoming more expensive and when problems occur, very difficult to return as the transportation alone is 3 months. So retailers are forced to take poor quality clothing when it comes to imports.

The time is now to rebuild this industry. If you’re thinking of starting your own CMT, the TSCT is a great place to get some hand-holding for you to do it right the first time.

The ground is more fertile after the forest has burnt down – so lets germinate.

PS. We fully support the Buy Back SA initiative.

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Our new blog format, it’s all about manufacturing!

Is it ever too late to redefine oneself or does first impressions last?

Lavaink has been alive for about seven years now and our blog posts mainly consists of arb bits of information about the jobs we’ve done and some theoretical advice about clothing and branding.
Mostly to reassure our client that we knew what we were doing and that it was safe to buy from our business that is located in virtual reality. This format will now be changed because the confidence is there and South Africans know that websites are businesses that can be trusted.

It is also an exciting time for our clothing industry as the US highlight’s its disapproval to the slave labour conditions in Asia after multiple tragedies in the Bangladeshi clothing industry which forced the breaking of trade agreements between the two countries . This move will cause repercussions as the EU will have to follow suit due to the fact that the major clothing labels in the EU, actually originate from the US. The same trade agreements governs our economy so it is likely that South Africa will be affected by this move. Which is great for our industry as it means that the Asian continent will have to improve on working conditions which means that prices will increase, which in turn gives our clothing industry a chance to recover. We wish to be a part of this change through providing information that can help this recovery.

The Lavaink blog will now become a hub of information about everything that influences our clothing industry. It will give a load of theoretical knowledge about textiles from fibre to finished product. We will also start mapping out the clothing industry to make it accessible for everyone who wants to start a clothing label.We also offer free consultations and advise for small to medium clothing factories or CMT’s.

If you would like to contribute on the lavaink blog feel free to contact us.

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Quality control for the clothing manufacturer.

Quality means that  customer needs are to be satisfied. Failure to maintain an adequate quality standard can therefore be unsuccessful. But maintaining an adequate standard of quality also costs effort. From the first investigation to find out what the potential customer for a new product really wants, through the processes of design, specification, controlled manufacture and sale.

There are a number of factors on which quality fitness of garment industry is based such as – performance, reliability, durability, visual and perceived quality of the garment. Quality needs to be defined in terms of a particular framework of cost.

In the garment industry quality control is practiced right from the initial stage of sourcing raw materials to the stage of final finished garment. For textile and apparel industry product quality is calculated in terms of quality and standard of fibres, yarns, fabric construction, colour fastness, surface designs and the final finished garment products. However quality expectations for export are related to the type of customer segments and the retail outlets.


To maximize the production of goods within the specified tolerances correctly the first time. To achieve a satisfactory design of the fabric or garment in relation to the level of choice in design, styles, colours, suitability of components and fitness of product for the market.


The Quality System Requirements are based on the principle of PDCA Cycle.

Process Cycle

1. Understanding the customers’ quality requirements.

2. Organizing & training quality control department.
3. Ensuring proper flow of quality requirements to the QC department.
4. Ensuring proper flow of quality requirements to the Production Department.
5. Establishing quality plans, parameters, inspection systems, frequency, sampling techniques, etc..
6. Inspection, testing, measurements as per plan.
7. Record deviations
8. Feed back to Production Department.
9. Plan for further improvement.

Establishing the Quality Requirements

The first step for quality control is to understand, establish & accept the customers’ quality requirements. This involves the following steps.

1. Getting customers specifications regarding the quality

2. Referring to our past performance
3. Discussing with the Quality Control Department
4. Discussing with the Production Department
5. Giving the Feed Back to the customers
6. Receiving the revised quality requirements from the customers

7. Accepting the quality parameters

Various Steps of Inspection & Quality Control

The following levels are discussed at the Garment Making Department assuming that this department is receiving the ready to cut dyed & finished fabrics from the Dyeing & Finishing Department.

Before or Pre Production Inspection

The following parameters & defects are checked prior to cutting.

1. Shade Matching

2. Fabric Construction
3. GSM (grams per square metre)
4. ( whales & courses if required)
5. Diameter
6. Dyeing Levelness
7. Ecological parameters if required
8. Softness
9. Shrinkage
10. Matching of Rib, Collars & Cuffs
11. Fabric Holes
12. Vertical & Horizontal Stripes
13. Knitting defects such as missing loops, sinker lines, etc.
14. Bowing
15. Skewing
16. Yarn defects such as thick & thin places

17. Dirts & Stains

During Production Inspection

1. Verify cutting patterns
2. Cut components measurements
3. Cutting shapes
4. Fabric defects
5. Other specific parameters as required by the customers Rib, Collars & Cuffs matching
6. Stitching defects

7. Sewing threads matching
8. Dirts & Stains
10. Labels
11. Trims & Accessories

Before Production Inspection

Many of the important parameters of Pre-productions, During productions & Final inspection parameters. This is to ensure that wrong or major defective garments are not packed.

Final Inspection


1. Wrong Model

2. Wrong Quantity
3. Missing labels & tags
4. Wrong Size & Colour assortment
5. Wrong Folding


1. Wrong Shade
2. Uneven dyeing
3. Holes
4. Knitting stripes
5. Thick & Thin places

6. Dirt & Stains
7. Oil stains

8. Sinker line
9. Poor softness
10. Higher Shrinkage
11. Crease Marks


1. Open seam
2. Puckering
3. Needle holes & marks
4. Unbalanced sleeve edge
5. Unbalanced placket
6. Insecure shoulder stitch
7. Incorrect side shape
8. Bottom hem bowing

9. Uneven neck shape
10. Cross labels
11. Broken & Missing stitch
12. Insecured buttons
13. Untrimmed threads & fabrics
14. Poor Ironing
15. Double stitch


1. Shade variation within the garment parts
2. Shade variation between the garments
3. Defective printing

4. Defective embroidery
5. Defective buttons


Compare the garment measurements against the Customers’ Measurement Charts.
Following are the some of the important garments’ measurement aspects to be considered.

1. Garment length
2. Body width
3. Shoulder length
4. Arm hole
5. Arm Opening
6. Sleeve length
7. Placket length
8. Placket width
9. Neck width
10. Neck opening

11. Hemming width
12.Rib or Collar width

AQL ( Acceptable Quality Level )

A certain proportion of defective will always occur in any manufacturing process. If the percentage does not exceed a certain limit, it will be economical to allow the defective to go through instead of screening the entire lot. This limit is called the “Acceptable Quality Level” ( AQL )

Considering the practical & economic aspects, Sampling Techniques are adopted to Accept or Reject a Lot on the basis of the Samples drawn at Random from the lot. It has been found and accepted that a scientifically designed sampling & inspection plan protects a Manufacturer as well as the Buyer economically.

Ecological Parameters:

Now all the Customers are asking for Ecological Parameters. Now European Buyers are stressing this. Following are main Ecological Parameters to be considered.

1. pH range
2. Formaldehyde levels
3. Extractable heavy metals

4. Chlorinated phenols ( PCP, TeCP)
5. Forbidden Amines of MAK III A1& A2 categories
6. Pesticides
7. Chlorinated Organic carriers
8. Biocide finishes
9. Flame retardant finishes
10. Colour fastness to Water
11. Colour fastness to acid & alkali perspiration
12. Colour fastness to wet & dry rubbing
13. Colour fastness to saliva
14. Emission of volatile chemicals
15. Other specific parameters as required by the customers



Taken from Textile Learner

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Yuck Clothing….Define yourself!

This is one of our clients who GIVE LOVE to our smaller CMTs and printers here in Cape Town. This is what it’s all about- these guys are showing that even though there have been so many retrenchments, liquidations and short-time, a spark exists in our youth, which is an entrepreneurial spirit which cannot be doused. Their products are  local through all its stages of manufacturing, so YUCK CLOTHING is feeding South Africans, please support and define yourself! Awe!!!!



Our Mission:

To become Cape Town’s most recognised street-wear clothing brand, help with job creation, and supply our customers with a unique product inspired by Cape Town.

Our Vision:

We envision a brand defined by the colourful, vibrant, multi-cultured lifestyle unique to Cape Town, creating and designing apparel, that meets the need of our unique lifestyle and our desire to express and define ourselves through clothing.

Unisex Red Ltd SlantMens' Navy Blue Hoodie

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The best of the vest!

Filmsoc Vest

These vests are for the  FilmSoc guys at UCT who take their muscle bulging seriously, even in the heart of Autumn. Cape Town weather rocks even when it shouldn’t (they know it) and that’s why I love this place.

Made of all-feeder cotton-lycra, these can be classified as unisex because they’re really snug, comfy and stretchy. So the girls love them as well.

A great addition is the custom woven labels by Labels SA.


Everything made from scratch at LavaInk via the LavaLab design studio!

We work by appointments only and provide samples at an elevated cost (which can be reimbursed..conditions apply). 

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How to add perceived quality to your clothing product

There are different ways to create brand recognition for clothing products….if the aim is to achieve a clothing label like those represented by the swoosh/tick  or 3 stripes.

You can get a famous person to wear your product and give it instant fame and recognition.

You can advertise like crazy through the various types of media, including social. This will help you keep your label on the minds and tongues of your target market

..or you can provide a product that has a unique identity and which convey’s a sense of quality, which is designed into your product through fabrics, styling and trims. This option makes your product memorable because it portrays value.

Many clients who come to us know exactly what they want for there label but they always seem to leave out the trims part, which ultimately takes a product from a promotional-type product to a retail-type product,

Here are a few types of trim ideas which could add lots of perceived value to your product.

Images taken from

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St John’s College : Generation Earth

St Johns:

Tried calling you today to say that our overalls finally arrived this morning and they are fantastic!
The guys loved them and they asked me to pass on a big thank you to you.
They definitely went off as a big hit! We may end up wearing them to the annual summit in February next year!

It was like a breath of fresh air to actually get prompt replies to my e-mails for a change and I thank you for that. A positive mark has definitely been made and I have already recommended you to a teacher at my school looking to do a similar thing.

Continue reading St John’s College : Generation Earth

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Garment Labelling

Printed Clothing Labels

printed labels


Printed labels are normally used to highlight your brand on a product.

What Information goes on these labels?

It’s up to you to decide but usually it will have your logo and if your wish, washing/care instructions and size indication.

The wash/care instructions and size indication may also be attached separately.

These labels are also used for other applications besides clothing such as towels, bedding, headwear etc.

Woven Clothing Labels

Woven Clothing Labels


Woven logo labels are normally used to highlight your brand on a product. It gives an expensive feel to a garment.

What Information goes on these labels?

Like printed labels, it’s up to you to decide but usually it will have your logo and if your wish, washing/care instructions and size indication. The wash/care instructions and size indication may also be attached separately.

These labels are also used for other applications besides clothing such as towels, bedding, headwear etc.

Swing Tags



Swing tags are used for branding, decorative and informational purposes  If designed properly, a swing tag can add “perceived value” to your product. Customise your swing tags by using various types of and thickness and colours for your substrates which are made of paper/cardboard. You may even want to die-cut your swing tags into shapes.