Have you ever dreamed of becoming a fashion designer or have your very own fashion store?
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 – here are the steps to go about launching your own clothing label!
Table of Contents:
|1. Know the Statistics of the Fashion Industry|
|2. Research and Create a Business Plan|
|3. Finding Finance|
|4. Material and Equipment|
|5. Find a Fashion Wholesaler|
|6. Where to Sell Your Fashion Online|
|7. Marketing Your New Fashion Store|
|8. Keep to Your Strategy|
1. Know the Statistics of the Fashion Industry
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 instruction on how to start your own clothing label from scratch.
2. Research and Create Your Business 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.
3. Finding Finance for Your Fashion Start-up
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.
Other ideas to get funding for your new fashion store include:
- Get a loan
- Get investors
- Use your credit card balance
- Apply for Small Business Grants
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.
4. 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.
5. Find a Fashion Wholesaler
If you aren’t planning on actually creating your clothing from scratch, you are going to need to find stock – and that means finding a fashion wholesaler.
Lucky – we have lots of free resources for you:
6. Or Create your First Clothing Line.
Diane von Furstenberg created her brand with the now ubiquitous wrap dress. Tory Burch had the Reva flats. What will yours be?
As you design and create your first line, think outside the box. The fashion industry is bursting at the seams with many second-rate designers and a lot of copycat designs. If you want your brand to stand out, then create a unique clothing line to launch with. It might help to take inspiration from your environment as you will be marketing to those around you first.
Creating apparels for women and babies is the niche that most designers choose first. This is because women’s clothes and baby apparel sets are among the highest sold fashion items in the industry. You should take into consideration the fashion trends when designing your line. You don’t want to create a line with styles that are from last season. It is a good idea to start off with simple and timeless designs.
That way, your line will still be fashionable even if you launch later than you originally planned. The same rule applies to baby clothes. Rompers and sleepsuits are basic wear that’s influenced by their prints and patterns. So keep it simple to make sure your line is fashionable.
You don’t need a degree from Parsons to create your designs. Simply sketch your thoughts on paper or get an artistic friend to draw your idea. Not every fashion entrepreneur is a great seamstress, so it is vital that your vision is interpreted by your manufacturer.
When production starts, you must ensure that you only accept quality items. The reputation of your brand is at stake, and your buyers will expect the consistent quality to become repeat buyers and spread the word. If your clothing is not of high quality, your buyers will not return.
Step 6. Where to Sell Your Fashion Online
Once your line is ready, you need people to see it. To access a wider market share, you have several options:
A. You could build a website.
The easiest way to start a clothing line is to create a website and sell your items online. If you have a huge budget, then hire a professional to create a website that reflects the quality of your brand. You can also create one if you are by building with a CMS like Magento or even Woocommerce.
Shopify is another excellent choice for people who want an easy-to-launch website. The key here is to ensure that the site is professional and easy to add and remove products as they become available or sold out.
For more information on E-commerce solutions – read our article on the Best E-Commerce platforms to consider for startups.
B. Use Social Media.
Selling your clothes on social media is the simplest option and will enable you to sell to your friends and family first. Even when you build a website, you will still need social media for word of mouth publicity. Social media communities can make or break any business at this age, so even before you launch your brand, start to talk about your line and gather as many followers as possible before your official launch. Give your clothing label a human face and make suggestions directly from prospective buyers.
C. Join an Online Marketplace.
With a website, a lot of people will learn about your brand, but on a marketplace, your targeted audience will buy from your line. The easiest way to convert your products to cash is to sell them on a marketplace.
There are some great options such as Amazon, eBay or Etsy. Riding the coattails of established marketplaces is not all you should do, you must create your own website, to grow your brand.
D. Sell offline.
The choice to sell offline is one that most people dread these days. The overhead can be huge, and it limits your market share. You might want to consider this when your clothing line has gained some traction. However, a brick-and-mortar is necessary to show that you are a serious fashion designer.
If you can afford this from the start, then you will be targeting and grabbing a local market share from the onset. You can also sell at trade fairs, markets, and at any other event that will help promote your brand and business.
Step 7. Marketing Your New Fashion Store
Congratulations! You now own a clothing label! You must think of innovative ways to market your brand, and your clothing line must be firmly defined. As you market online to get buyers for your products, you should also present your line to clothing retailers. It is important that you give vendors and store owners a reason to adopt your line. This is one of the goals of every clothing line. Imagine major brands like Macy’s, Walmart, etc. carrying your clothing line.
To get your brand into retail stores, you will need to show that you are reliable and can meet up with high demands. This simply means that your track record selling online or offline will greatly sway the minds of vendors. Getting your line in local stores is a good way to learn how things work before you move your sights to national distribution.
Get influencers to talk about your brand, attend exhibitions and much more. There is a lot that you can do to promote your brand and the more people that patronise you, the more popular your brand will get.
Marketing is an indispensable step on this list because people must know you exist before they can buy your clothes. Word of mouth is the best way to get buyers talking about your line. This organic hyping is cheaper than spending thousands of dollars on advertising. So be strategic in your marketing efforts.
8. Keep To Your Strategy
All great fashion brands started somewhere. Ralph Lauren sold ties before he became a fashion legend. His ability to adapt and think big is probably what got him far. You must think big and see the larger picture. Creating a fashion label is not a walk in the park. You will need to work hard to stay relevant in the industry.
Money management should also be one of your key skills. When your business starts to grow, it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of your orders, stock levels, delivery and everything else that concerns your ordering process. An excel spreadsheet will not cut it, and you will need to use an advanced accounting and stock tracking system to manage production, inventory, costing, orders, and more.
One of the important things you should do is to develop a solid strategy to grow your fashion line and create new apparel with an emphasis on trends. Forecasting trends will ensure that you are not behind the times and can keep you ahead of the competition and fashionistas.
Starting a clothing label requires a lot of passion for fashion. You will sleep, eat and breathe fashion. It may be hard at first, but when you see others wearing your creations, you will finally feel that satisfaction and self-fulfilment that only a few have felt before you. Making money off these creations will feel even better!
Are you now ready to launch your own clothing label?
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