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Vietnam Clothing Suppliers: Quick Guide 2024

Vietnam clothing suppliers are many and varied, producing any number of items of clothing from shoes to hats and everything in between. This is off the back of low labour costs and a long history of making clothing, both bespoke and mass manufactured. This has also seen this burgeoning Southeast Asian nation become a well known clothing manufacturing hub, making clothing for big name brands like Nike, Adidas, and Puma.

But the big multinationals aside, smaller lesser well known brands have also been able to utilise Vietnam clothing suppliers to bring down costs while ensuring their products are still good quality. Normally done through contract manufacturing, these smaller brands negotiate with already established clothing manufacturers in Vietnam that can take care of everything from sourcing the raw materials, to making the clothing, to getting goods packed and shipped and through Vietnam customs.

Many clothing suppliers in Vietnam are well experienced and work like well oiled machines. However, brands that are endeavouring to get clothing made in Vietnam for the first time, should keep in mind that doing business in Vietnam is not always 100 percent straight forward. In this light, here’s what you should keep in mind when engaging one of Vietnam’s many clothing suppliers, in order to ensure you ask the right questions.

Vietnam factory visits

Before engaging the services of a clothing supplier in Vietnam it is common to conduct factory visits. This allows the buyer to get a feel for the supplier’s operations, to ensure everything is above board, and also to establish personal relationships with Vietnamese managers and business owners. This is often crucial to ensuring clear communication and the smooth flow of operations as the relationship develops.

To ensure a factory visit is as successful and productive, there are a few things visitors should keep in mind.

Etiquette

Most Vietnamese clothing suppliers will have worked with foreign firms before and likely will not expect any special treatment. That said, there are a few little Vietnam specific, cultural nuances that can help to build and strengthen relationships. For example, it is still common to use business cards in Vietnam, but perhaps more important is to hand over a business card with two hands. Also, a little bit of Vietnamese can go a long way. A simple Xin Chao greeting is generally taken as a sign of respect.

The point being, at the end of the day Vietnamese business persons won’t care if you don’t do it, but if you do, they will generally like you more. 

Connections

Cold calling Vietnamese businesses is unlikely to yield results. In fact, it’s quite common for phones to go unanswered and for Vietnamese businesses not to respond to emails. Instead, business in Vietnam is generally done through connections. This can be both good and bad. On the one hand, working local connections can result in better deals. On the other, it can result in good suppliers not being considered because they simply don’t know the right people.

Getting around

A solid number of clothing suppliers in Vietnam are located in industrial clusters. With this in mind, buyers can usually visit a few factories in relatively quick succession.

Note that, the bulk of Vietnam’s clothing suppliers are located in southern Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City and neighbouring provinces Dong Nai and Binh Duong are key hubs for clothing manufacturing. All three provinces are well connected with about an hour or two travel time between them. 

ESG in production

Environmental social governance principles in  production are becoming more and more prominent in international manufacturing supply chains. In Vietnam’s clothing manufacturing industry, this is largely being driven by legislation in key export markets. Brands looking to export to these key markets should bear these regulations in mind. More so, they should make sure the Vietnam clothing supplier they choose to work with is aware of these regulations and that the products they produce are compliant.

EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles (EUSSCT)

The EUSSCT is a strategy that has been adopted by the European Union to reduce waste in the clothing and apparel sector. Through regulation on things like design and minimum recycled material requirement, the strategy aims to limit the volume of clothing going into landfill.

It also introduces Extended Producer Responsibility (ERP) to fashion items consumed in the EU. This means that any cost to the environment in Vietnam must be factored into the retail price of the item in the EU.

Brands using clothing suppliers in Vietnam and exporting products to the EU should ensure they are aware of their suppliers green credentials and aware of any additional costs they may incur related to ERP.

Furthermore, a number of jurisdictions are considering introducing similar requirements amid a rising trend to reducing waste. With this in mind, foreign buyers may want to ensure that their Vietnam clothing supplier or suppliers have a roadmap for a transition to greening their operations if they have not done so already.

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

The EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) mandates that large firms and firms that are listed on EU stock exchanges need to produce ESG supply chain reports. These reports must outline any environmental or social risks that a firm may face in its supply chain.

Uyghur Forced Labor Protection Act (UFLPA)

The UFLPA essentially bans imports into the USA that are linked to forced labour in China’s Xinjiang province. Of note, this piece of legislation assumes all imports from Xinjiang are made using forced labour unless the importer can prove otherwise.

Understanding this law is particularly important for brands looking to manufacture clothing in Vietnam in that a large portion of raw materials used in the production of clothing in Vietnam come from China. They have also been known to sometimes contain material from Xinjiang. In fact, by the end of November 2023, 1,197 shipments from Vietnam, valued at US$220 million had been prevented from entering the US under the UFLPA.

Intellectual property protection

Intellectual property protection in Vietnam can be a challenge. Counterfeit goods are common on the streets of most major cities. That said, Vietnam is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and has signed up to most international intellectual property agreements.

Raids on stores selling counterfeit goods are common and widely reported, but almost as quickly as one store is shut down another pops-up. There has, however, been concerted efforts in recent years to crackdown on the practice and some progress has been made although it is mostly piecemeal.

There is also a risk that intellectual property may make its way online ahead of schedule. For example, unboxing videos of the Samsung Galaxy A54 and A34 were leaked online from Vietnam where they are manufactured in March of 2023 before their official release date. It was a similar story for Google’s Pixel 8 too, images of which were released in September, one week early.

All of that said, it’s worth keeping in mind other parts of the world in which clothing is manufactured at similar prices, also face the same challenges. Moreover, well-established clothing suppliers in Vietnam are likely to be mindful of their reputations among foreign brands and generally take measures to ensure their client’s intellectual property is protected.

Import and export

Free trade agreements

Vietnam has signed free trade agreements with a broad number of its key export markets. These have reduced the import tariffs in member states considerably or altogether. That said, these agreements are often very detailed and products can often be broken down into incredibly nuanced categories that have their own unique tariff rates. These tariff rates are assigned by Harmonised System (HS) codes.

HS codes, tariffs

Whereas HS codes can be broken down into sometimes hundreds tariff lines, here are some of the most common under Chapter 64 in the Harmonized Tariffs system.

Import tariffs, HS Code: 610120 – apparel made of cotton, current as of 2021

Free Trade AgreementTariff (%)
Most Favoured Nation Tariff20
ASEAN Free Trade Area0
ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand0
ASEAN-China0
ASEAN-Hong Kong12
ASEAN-India8
ASEAN-Japan FTA3
ASEAN-Korea0
CPTPP0
EU-Vietnam*13.3
Vietnam-Japan0
Vietnam-Chile5
Vietnam-Korea0
Vietnam-Eurasian Economic Union0

Source: World Trade Organization Tariff Line Duties

Import tariffs, HS Code 64041100 – sports shoes, current as of 2021

AgreementTariff (%)
WTO Most Favoured Nation30
ASEAN Free-trade area0
ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand0
ASEAN-China0
ASEAN-India0
ASEAN-Japan FTA5
ASEAN-Korea0
CPTPP0
EU-Vietnam0
Vietnam-Chile10
Vietnam-Eurasian Economic Union0
Vietnam-Japan7.5
Vietnam-Korea0

Source: World Trade Organization Tariff Line Duties

Key export markets, 2023

DestinationValue US$
United States of America14,466,739,620
Japan4,056,155,452
Korea (Republic)3,046,574,921
China1,119,615,163
Canada1,096,429,368
Netherlands976,737,543
Germany839,555,732
Cambodia808,852,731
United Kingdom668,564,864
Spain542,810,000

Source: Vietnam General Department of Customs

Key clothing exports, itemised, 2022

HS CodeDescriptionValue (US$000s)
6110Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, waistcoats and similar articles, knitted or crocheted (excl. wadded waistcoats)4,203,249
6104Women’s or girls’ suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, dresses, skirts, divided skirts, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts, knitted or crocheted (excl. wind-jackets and similar articles, slips, petticoats and panties, tracksuits, ski suits and swimwear)3,299,118
6109T-shirts, singlets and other vests, knitted or crocheted2,672,693
6103Men’s or boys’ suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (excl. wind-jackets and similar articles, separate waistcoats, tracksuits, ski suits and swimwear)1,317,535
6108Women’s or girls’ slips, petticoats, briefs, panties, nightdresses, pyjamas, négligés, bathrobes, dressing gowns, housecoats and similar articles, knitted or crocheted (excl. T-shirts, vests, brassieres, girdles, corsets and similar articles)902,378
6105Men’s or boys’ shirts, knitted or crocheted (excl. nightshirts, T-shirts, singlets and other vests)781,694
6107Men’s or boys’ underpants, briefs, nightshirts, pyjamas, bathrobes, dressing gowns and similar articles, knitted or crocheted (excl. vests and singlets)617,588
6112Track-suits, ski-suits and swimwear, knitted or crocheted576,099
6114Special garments for professional, sporting or other purposes, n.e.s., knitted or crocheted501,404
6111Babies’ garments and clothing accessories, knitted or crocheted (excl. hats)457,661

Soure: Trade Map

What’s next?

Finding the right Vietnam clothing supplier can be difficult, however, there are a myriad of professionals out there that can assist. That said, foreign brands should make sure they are fully aware of any tariffs or trade barriers they may face and that the items they buy meet international regulations, specifically in the field of sustainable production.

To keep abreast of what’s happening in Vietnam’s clothing manufacturing sector, make sure to subscribe to the-shiv.

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