Did you realize that manufacturers are right now choosing fabrics for the clothing you will wear in a year? The entire process begins with the fabric.

When I was little, my mother, sisters and I would go to the markets in Vietnam and the Philippines to find fabric that a seamstress would transform into our designs. Every piece of fabric that I touched conjured a vision of a finished garment and the setting in which I would wear it. A pale blue cotton flower print? Me in a sundress at a picnic laughing with my friends while the boy of my dreams snuck glances at me from the baseball game where he was pitching. A deep burgundy velvet? Me in a strapless gown with long train, hair piled high, slowly descending a grand staircase into the ballroom.

Fabric-shopping is perfect for dreamers. Unfortunately, reality has a hard time keeping up.

At the Texworld show on Wednesday, I found some great wrinkle-free cotton and cotton/spandex blends from mills in Brazil, China and Korea. The reality is that it will be a while before I can meet the minimums that will make it cost effective to work with them. I also found some gorgeous fabrics for when I move beyond basic solid work shirts. Of course, I still need to get my first shirt on the market! But dreams keep us moving forward to realize them.

(On a side note, I realize that some manufacturers like Zara and H&M are known for a much shorter design-to-production timeline, but I’ve been fascinated, as I talk to other independent designers, at how far ahead they must plan a product that they will sell in an unknowable future.)