Have you ever dreamed of becoming a fashion designer?
Maybe you didn’t like the styles on display, so you started to make your own clothes, or maybe you just have unique fashion ideas and want to bring them to life. Maybe you think you can make cuter clothing for the kids than those available at the shops!
Whatever the reason that has inspired you on this journey, know that your dreams have the potential of being a successful fashion brand.
The fashion industry is just as hard to break into as any other. While other sectors enjoy a 50% or higher business success rate after three years, the manufacturing industry is pegged at 49%. And I don’t want you to get down about this figure, but it is one you should know about before starting out. One primary reason for this high rate of business failure is bad planning and lack of business insight.
New fashion designers are abundant, and today’s in-demand trend will be tomorrow’s forgotten look. The competition, brand, market, and management are some of the reasons fashion businesses have lower success rates. As a potential fashion designer or entrepreneur, you must be committed for your clothing label to succeed. Whatever time and money estimate you have planned for, do not be surprised if it doubles during the process of building the business.
Many people who launch a clothing line do so because they have an artistic flair for fashion, yet they are not entrepreneurs and don’t understand how businesses should be operated. Before starting your fashion line, you must follow certain guidelines and abide by some industry standards to have a fighting chance of success.
Below is a step-by-step instructions on how to start your own clothing label from scratch.
Step 1. Plan, Plan — Research and Plan
Creating a business plan is the first step and will help you think realistically, objectively and unemotionally about your business. A business plan is important because it will highlight how much money you will need to design, plan and market your clothing. The plan needs to take into account the cost of production, marketing, business mission, and vision. You don’t need anything fancy, a good spreadsheet outlining all your plans and research is a really good start.
Each page should outline the following:
- Who is your target market (who will actually buy your product)
- What sort of material will you be using?
- Where will you run the business from?
- Branding, logos, website, social media handles
- How much will it cost to start?
- Where will you be sourcing these materials?
- Who will make the pattern?
- Who will manufacture the product?
- How many pieces will you be launching with?
- How will you market your clothing line?
- Postage and packaging
It is always a good idea to have a few chats with a consultant or seek advice from people you know in the fashion industry. Gather all the information you need at this stage to decide whether or not a fashion line is what you want and if you can commit to the hard work and financial investment required to make the business successful.
Step 2. Finance
Now that you have a business plan, you can see precisely how much money is needed to start your clothing label. If the projected cost is too high, then you need to revise your plan and take on a new perspective. Can you do most of it yourself? Can you procure the materials cheaper? These and many more questions will help you cut down costs and may change your business scope. You can also try getting investors, use a credit card, get a loan, or try crowdfunding your startup.
Raising the money you need to launch your clothing label can be tricky. Financial institutions regard fashion-related businesses as high-risk ventures and will only loan out money if there is collateral such as a real estate property to put up. However, if money is not an object, all you need to do is figure out how many lines and pieces you want to include in your collection based on your budget and get started.
Step 3. Materials and Equipment
The decision to produce or not to produce is one that has plagued many new labels. There are pros and cons for each choice, and what you choose will depend on your circumstances and business plan.
If you decide to produce your own clothing, you’ll likely do some serious legwork to find equipment and fabric stock that will fit your budget and creative needs. You’ll only need some basic equipment to get started and will spend less overall. This is the best option if you have financial constraints or styles that are too complex. The downside is that you can only produce in limited quantities.
If you decide to outsource, then you will spend more money and can produce in larger quantities. To get this right, you must be precise about what you want from the manufacturer. Quality control may also be a problem if you don’t monitor the finished apparels closely.
No matter your production choice, the equipment you need will depend on what you’ll be producing. Most clothing lines start off with the basics and progress with time. Some of the basics are:
- Sewing machine
- Measuring Tape
- Thread, needles, chalk and other accessories
- Iron and board
- Tags and tagging supplies
Otherwise, you will need to see out a manufacturer.