Mill: A weaving or knitting company that manufactures fabrics and textile products. The word mill also refers to the actual building that the spinning, weaving, knitting, etc takes place in. It is doubtful that you will work with a mill at this point, as mills typically have minimums of at least 1,000 yards in Europe, 3,000 yards in Asia & 5,000 yards in the U.S.
Converter: A person or company that purchases woven or knitted greige goods directly from a fabric mill, and then proceeds to dye, finish, print and/or wash the goods into a full line of finished fabrics. Converters are beneficial since they offer many new, fashion colors, print designs, novelty finishes and the latest effects on fabrics. Their minimums are lower than dealing directly with a mill. Occasionally a converter will take a 500-yard or less order.
Jobber: A person or company that purchases large quantities of excess finished fabrics from mills, converters, importers or apparel manufacturers. Jobbers generally sell their fabrics wholesale, and in smaller quantities, to small design companies, manufacturers and retail fabric stores. Jobbers typically sell the fabrics they carry below the original wholesale price and are a great source of supply for the smaller manufacturer that does not need continuity of product.
Agent/Rep: A sales representative is an agent that shows fabrics from one or more mills and works directly, in their predetermined territory, with manufacturers and other textile customers. Often this is the best way to work with overseas mills, but again usually the minimums are higher than what you would be working with at this point.
Broker: A Textile Broker is an individual who puts a buyer and a seller of immediately available and/or off-price fabrics together. Brokers sell immediately available leftover fabrics from fashion designers, garment manufacturers, fabric converters, jobbers or importers. A Fabric Broker never owns any fabric inventory, and works on a commission basis. Either the buyer or the seller pays the commission, which is a percentage of the total sale or a pre-set amount per yard sold. Since a broker works with many companies nationwide, they are a good source to call when looking for a specific fabric.
Wholesalers: A general term for all other secondary fabric sources, this includes any other person or company that purchases excess finished fabrics from mills, converters, jobbers and large apparel, accessory & home furnishings manufacturers and sells direct to small manufacturers and small retail fabric stores.