Discover 9 Easy Steps On Sourcing Activewear Manufacturers For Startups

Trying to navigate the world of activewear manufacturers for startups can feel overwhelming. The sector is enormous, and there are so many manufacturers, each with unique services and production capabilities. But don’t worry! With the right guidance, finding the perfect manufacturing partner can be pretty straightforward and enjoyable.

In this blog post, I will walk you through nine practical steps to help you source reliable activewear manufacturers for your startup. So whether you’re a budding entrepreneur in the fitness industry or an established brand looking to expand your product line, this guide is here to help pave your way to a successful activewear venture.

activewear manufacturers for startups

What Are the Categories of Activewear?

Activewear can be categorized into various types based on their intended purpose and design. These categories include:

#1. Performance Activewear: 

This activewear category is designed for high-intensity activities such as running, cycling, and weightlifting. Clothes in this category are made of technical fabrics that provide comfort, support, and durability. They are breathable, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying, allowing the wearer to stay cool and comfortable during intense exercise. Performance activewear includes sports bras, compression tights, running shorts, and leggings.

#2. Lifestyle Activewear: 

Lifestyle activewear is designed for everyday wear and has a more casual style. It is made of comfortable fabrics such as cotton and spandex, which provide flexibility and ease of movement. Clothes in this category can be worn for activities such as yoga, walking, or just running errands. They are often styled to be trendy and fashionable, making them versatile enough for both exercise and casual wear. Lifestyle activewear includes joggers, hoodies, crop tops, and graphic tees.

#3. Outdoor Activewear: 

This activewear category is designed for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and other adventure sports. Clothes in this category are made of durable fabrics that provide protection against the elements, such as wind, rain, and sun. They are often designed with functional features such as zip-off pants, detachable sleeves, and pockets for storage. Outdoor activewear includes hiking boots, rain jackets, and thermal layers.

#4. Swimwear Activewear: 

Swimwear activewear is designed for swimming and water-based activities. Clothes in this category are made of waterproof and quick-drying materials that are resistant to chlorine and saltwater. They provide support and coverage while allowing ease of movement in the water. Swimwear activewear includes one-piece swimsuits, bikinis, and board shorts.

#5. Accessories: 

Accessories are essential to activewear and are designed to provide additional support, comfort, and convenience. Sports accessories include hats, sports watches, water bottles, and backpacks. They are designed to be lightweight, durable, and functional, making them ideal for sports, exercise, and outdoor activities.

Discover 9 Easy Steps on Sourcing Activewear Manufacturers for Startups

It is no secret that the demand for activewear is skyrocketing by the day. Whether you run a fitness center or a yoga studio or simply love athleisure, sourcing activewear manufacturers for your startup is essential. As you grow, you will need reliable and affordable sources for quality activewear.

Here are nine easy steps for sourcing activewear manufacturers for startups:

#1. Research and Identify Your Needs: 

The first step in finding a suitable manufacturer for your activewear is identifying and analyzing your needs. You need to consider factors such as fabric type, material quality, design requirements, production capacity, turnaround time, MOQs (Minimum Order Quantity), and delivery time. Knowing what you need will help you narrow down your options and focus on the right ones.

Additionally, you should consider the type of activewear that you need. Activewear includes sports bras, leggings, shorts, jackets, and tank tops. Understanding your needs will also help you find a manufacturer who is capable of producing the type of activewear you need. Industry expert suggests always looking for the small quantity clothing manufacturers.

#2. Analyze Your Budget:

Once you know what you need, analyze your budget to determine how much you can spend on activewear manufacturers. Remember that quality comes with a price tag, so investing in the best possible materials and production methods is wise. 

For example, if you’re looking for a specific type of fabric, then consider the cost associated with that particular material. You should also factor in the cost of labor and shipping costs when deciding on a budget. 

#3. Research Manufacturers:

Once you understand your needs and have an idea of your budget, it is time to start researching manufacturers. You can use the internet to search for potential manufacturers in your area or even overseas. There are also trade shows and websites, such as Alibaba that can help you find potential manufacturers quickly and easily. 

It is advisable to thoroughly review and request references before finalizing a manufacturer. This practice will help guarantee the procurement of superior-quality products at competitive prices. Verify the manufacturer’s certification for quality standards, such as ISO or OHSAS, to ensure the received activewear meets the required quality benchmarks.

#4. Consider Your Timelines: 

When selecting an activewear manufacturer, consider your timelines as well. You need to make sure that they can meet your delivery deadlines and understand the importance of timely product delivery. Your specific timeline should be communicated clearly before signing any contracts with manufacturers. 

Also, factor in any additional time needed for customizations or alterations. Most quality activewear manufacturers will have a lead time of at least 4-6 weeks, so plan accordingly. Some manufacturers may also offer rush orders for an additional fee, so make sure to discuss all of your options. 

#5. Negotiate Terms and Prices: 

Once you have selected a manufacturer, negotiate the terms and prices of the products with them. You should look for discounts or other incentives that they may provide and try to get the most competitive terms and prices. Consider asking for a discount on the first order or negotiating a long-term agreement for better pricing. 

Also, consider payment terms, such as net 30, 50/50 payment, retainer agreements, etc. Be sure to discuss these details with your manufacturer before signing any contracts. Finally, always make sure that all terms and conditions are clearly documented in the contract to avoid any potential misunderstandings. 

#6. Inspect and Test the Product: 

When you receive the samples from your activewear manufacturer, inspect them to make sure they meet all the required specifications. If any defects are found, communicate this with your manufacturer and get it corrected before placing a bulk order. Also, test the product for quality assurance to ensure it meets all industry standards and customer requirements. This will give you the confidence that the final product will be of high quality. 

Document all findings and tests in writing so you can refer back to them later if needed. This will also give you more leverage when negotiating with your manufacturer if any issues arise during production or shipping. 

#7. Place Your Order: 

Once you are satisfied with the product, it is time to place your order. Ensure you provide all the necessary documents and payment information to your manufacturer. Also, be sure to provide clear instructions on how they should ship the products and when they should arrive at their destination. This will help keep everything on track and reduce any delays in receiving your orders. 

As a startup, ask for discounts and offers from your manufacturer. Most activewear manufacturers are open to negotiating on the price if you purchase in large quantities or have a long-term partnership. This can help you save significantly in the long run and allow your business to grow faster. 

#8. Ensure Quality Control: 

Once you receive the final product, check that all quality standards have been met and there are no defects in the finished product. If any issues arise during production, ask your manufacturer to resolve them quickly, or you can return the items and get a refund. Similarly, if there is a delay in delivery dates due to unforeseen circumstances, make sure your manufacturer pays for this extra cost. 

Go through customer reviews of similar activewear products from your manufacturer and check if the feedback is positive or negative. This will help you get an idea of their overall quality standards and customer service. Make sure to voice any concerns with your manufacturer before signing off on the product so you can rest assured that you are getting a quality product for your brand. 

#9. Stay in Touch with Your Manufacturer: 

Once you have established a partnership, staying in touch with your activewear manufacturer is essential. This will help you keep track of any new products or updates they are making. It will also help you build a better relationship for the future and make sure all orders and requests are handled on time. 

By staying in touch with your activewear manufacturer, you can also ask for recommendations and advice on the best materials, designs, and other factors to consider when creating a product. This will give you added insights into the industry and help ensure that your products are top-notch. 

Always make sure to thank your manufacturer for their hard work. Showing appreciation and respect will go a long way in keeping the relationship strong for years to come. 

For more details check out the below video content on how to find a activewear clothing manufacturers.

Which Country Is Best for Activewear Manufacturers?

When evaluating which country is best for activewear manufacturers, a number of factors need to be considered. These might include factors such as cost of labor and materials, infrastructure and logistics, political stability, legal and regulatory environment, and cultural factors that influence design and consumer preferences.

Among the countries listed, China stands out as a leader in the manufacturing industry, with a long history of producing high-quality athletic clothing and sporting goods. The country’s large population provides a ready source of skilled labor, while its extensive transportation networks and export-oriented economy make it easy to source and transport materials and finished products.

However, recent economic and political tensions have made China a less attractive destination for some businesses. These conditions have led many companies to look for alternative locations that offer similar advantages while minimizing associated risks. Bangladesh and Vietnam, for example, have emerged as popular alternatives due to their low labor costs and growing manufacturing capabilities. 

After Vietnam, India is also a significant player in the global textile industry and has extensively invested in modernizing its factories and improving labor standards. However, the country’s complex bureaucracy and sometimes unpredictable regulatory environment can create challenges for some businesses.

Italy and Turkey are known for their high-quality fabrics and sophisticated design aesthetic, making them popular sources for high-end luxury activewear and athleisure wear. However, high production costs and export restrictions may limit their appeal to some manufacturers.

Germany and the United States, while not typically considered major manufacturing centers for athletic clothing, are home to several innovative companies developing new materials and technologies for the industry. These companies may find value in keeping production close to their research and development facilities, while others may prefer to offshore their manufacturing to lower-cost destinations.


Finding the right activewear manufacturer for your startup can be a difficult and time-consuming process. But by following these tips, you can make sure that you find the perfect partner to help bring your vision to life. Set clear expectations, assess customer service standards, and stay in touch with your manufacturer to make your partnership successful! 

By doing all of this research upfront, you can ensure that your activewear products are of the highest quality and meet your brand’s standards. With the right manufacturer, you will be well on your way to creating a successful business.

Tamim Shikder
Tamim Shikder

Head of the editorial team of I have been working as a merchandiser in the apparel-sourcing industry for the last seven years. Over the years, I have gained a strong understanding of the clothing business and have developed skills in product development, quality control, pricing negotiation and customer service. I am also well versed in the latest trends of fashion and retail industry. For any clothing manufacturing needs, please email me at

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