How To Start A Successful Clothing Brand or Label
Published 5th August 2020
Starting a successful clothing brand isn’t just about the clothing; it’s also about passion and business. When you set out on this journey, you want to make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Do you want to start a fashion brand for more than the design element? Do you understand the potential business challenges that you’re undertaking? All of these are components that should factor into learning how to start a clothing brand.
Starting a clothing line, without any large amounts of capital, and turning into a multi-million dollar empire is not something new either. Just take a look at the Gymshark story, and how 19-year old Ben Francis was able to take a simple idea and vision and turn it into a $500M clothing empire:
Step 1. Do Your Own Research
You can’t expect to start a business without having any knowledge on the subject. Developing your clothing brands starts with understanding how the industry works overall. As you do this, you should look for a niche that hasn’t been filled. How can you create a product that serves people in a new or exciting way? What is a need in the market right now or something you’ve always wanted in your closet but that you don’t have? Researching and brainstorming along these lines is one way that fashion designers have brought popular and innovative clothing brands to the market over the years.
Step 2. Develop A Business Plan
After you’ve done the research and identified the type of line or product you may want to create, you should develop a business plan. A business plan tells you the vitally important details of starting and running a clothing company.
You’ll have to choose a business’s legal structure and identify a number of other elements. This is also where you’ll crunch the numbers for your start-up costs and brainstorm how you’ll obtain those funds (if you need any)
Here are some important factors you should include in your business plan.
- Your basic business concept + company description
- Your strategy and the specific actions you plan to take to implement it
- The markets you’ll pursue
- Your products/services and their competitive advantages
- Background of your management team and employees
- Your financing needs
When you identify costs for financing needs, you’ll need to factor in all of the following.
- Your branding
- License or permit fees
- Deposit and rent for a physical work location (if applicable)
- Basic infrastructural costs (i.e. phone, internet, invoicing software, etc.)
- Marketing and advertising costs
- Sewing or design tools
- Materials for your first collection
- Hourly wages
Step 3. Start Designing
Up until this point, there’s been a lot of paperwork. Perhaps you want to start a clothing line because you’re naturally creative. Maybe it’s because you dream of running a fashion empire. Either way, it’s hard to get excited about any clothing brand when you’re staring at a business plan. Step #3 is where your company comes to life! Start planning your first collection and get designing.
Your first collection will likely reflect the core of your clothing line. It’s your big introduction, and you want to make a splash in the market. Refer back to your brand concept and stay true to yourself as a designer. It’s okay to stand out and be unique. In fact, it’s encouraged!
Step 4. Find A Clothing Manufacturer
Some designers start businesses where they personally sew every garment. Yet, these business models are impossible to scale, which means finding a manufacturer is your best bet in learning how to start a clothing brand. Reach out to manufacturers with the following in mind.
- Have a realistic budget. When you start your fashion brand, you may not have a surplus of funds. Don’t overcommit resources.
- Learn about the manufacturing timeline. This can help you with planning.
- Prepare your design resources. You’ll want to provide your clothing manufacturer with fabric swatches, sewn samples, etc.
Step 5. Build A Website And An Online Platform
Nowadays, most transactions in the retail and apparel world happen online. It is important you get in on that. Launching a website and controlling your online presence can sometimes be tricky. With so many different platforms like Wix, Shopify and WordPress out there, launching a website is not that hard. Things get tricky when you begin tracking orders, sales, emails, and begin to expand. Enter Krepling.
Krepling’s platform allows you to build, grow, and scale all of your company’s data and performance, websites, staff, emails, and more on one centralized interface right from the start, with a price you can afford. And of course, most importantly, we allow you to build a website and begin taking orders without any code required. Check out our plans here.
Step 6. Create A Sales Plan
Your sales and marketing plan is key to learning how to start a fashion brand. In your business plan, you likely outlined whether you were an online shop, a brick and mortar clothing store, or selling in local boutiques. There are advantages and disadvantages to each but doing the proper market research before getting started can only help you when trying to market for each. Before you launch, be sure you have a clear understanding of how you will attract customers. This may include a website, press releases to blogs, PPC ads, social networking, etc.
Step 7. Find Partners or Investors
One common obstacle that every new startup – regardless of industry – is saving enough capital to sustain and grow the business once it gets started. Unfortunately, most people don’t have enough on their own to fund it entirely. Thus, you must actively look for partners and investors.
When you go through this process, put some thought into it. Partners and investors can do more than just provide capital. You can form strategic relationships or gain more exposure simply by partnering with someone.
Spend time brainstorming the types of people and established brands you’d like to partner with given the chance. You know what’s most useful for your business. Reflect on key relationship goals before taking any meetings. And when you do take meetings, remember that not every single one needs to result in a partnership on the spot. Sometimes just expanding your network can be a solid move.
Step 8. Keep At It
When you start a fashion brand, understand that there will be frequent obstacles and setbacks. You shouldn’t quit because you don’t see sales your first day or because you get constructive criticism on your designs. Success and progress aren’t linear. Learning how to start a clothing brand isn’t for the faint of heart. Put passion into it and have fun.
So, what do you think? Do you think you know how to start a fashion brand? There’s only one way to find out! Get out there and go for it.
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