There’s so much more to starting your own clothing brand than just the creative part. From making a business plan to marketing, here’s your basic guide to starting a fashion line.
Starting a clothing line has many components to consider for it to be successful. There is more to a clothing line than the glamour of the style of clothes you will market. This can be an intimidating, especially when you don’t have any prior experience in this very competitive industry.
There are some things you can do to get you on the right track. Knowing a few basic steps will allow you to get a better idea of what to expect as you develop and grow your brand.
Here are a few things you can do now to get things started.
How to Start a Clothing Brand
Establishing your idea
The industry is already saturated with independent brands aiming for product sales. It is going to be important to take time and come up with an original concept, message and style idea that will catch the customer’s attention. What’ll set you apart from the competition? You have to be unique and original in your creative process to stand out from other clothing brands, if not it can be harder to be seen.
Having a logo
Part of what makes an attractive clothing line is the logo you assign to it. Your brand aesthetic is the first thing a potential customer will see and resonate with. Create a simple, eye-catching logo that will convey your brand idea as easily as possible. Your logo should be something memorable and unique. Also consider doing your research regarding intellectual property and protect yourself from infringement by properly trademarking your design. There are many websites like Legalzoom that provide detailed information on the subject.
Setting up a business plan
Aesthetics aside, you will need to have a business plan for your clothing brand. Should you not have the ability to come up with the necessary capital to fund your endeavor, you can pitch interested investors to come up with the money for you. Having a well thought out business plan will give a solid outlook to your potential investors on what you plan to do with your clothing line and to foresee how profitable it can be.
Along with the plan itself, you have to demonstrate a critical level of expertise in the field of fashion. You should assess the competition, your targeted market as previously mentioned and project the expansion of the brand. Your business plan should give an idea of how you will make income, when and how much, and how much you will invest.
Using social media platforms
To succeed, your clothing line is going to need customers. But even before people see your product, they need to hear your voice. Having a social media presence and establishing a connection with others will help generate interest. Building a community around your brand can target your niche audience. According to Fitsmallbusiness, “Your best sales source is going to be word of mouth.”
Media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest will boost your online presence and it is a good way to showcase your talent. It’s a good idea to start making a social presence before your brand even launches, so you can understand your audience. And don’t hesitate to make your social feeds authentic by posting about your unique fashion mantra or personal style.
Finding a manufacturer
You may want to make the garments for your clothing line yourself. But should you not have any sewing skills like pattern-making, sample making or production, it would help to attend fashion trade shows (check out some great ones I found here). There, you will network and find everything you need like factories, printers, source fabrics, and more. You will find tools, training and people available to steer you in the right direction. This can help you make considerable progress in your fashion business.
However, although we mentioned looking for manufacturers and the like, you have to be realistic with where you are in the process of starting and developing your clothing line. In his article in Entrepreneur Platform, Sewport CEO Boris Hodakel said to, “Start small because there’s no reason to rush everything. You’ll still find manufacturers that accept a smaller amount of orders from business owners.” It is eventually an important aspect to consider in your process.
Building a team
As your clothing brand grows, you will not be able to do everything yourself. The creative side of your business alone will keep you busy. Hiring help to handle other responsibilities such as clerical duties, an accountant to oversee your finance records or a branding manager, to name a few examples, will give you more wiggle room to develop your clothing line without burning out. Having a good team will make things run smoothly and let you focus on what matters to you.
You could also consider to have a partner for your clothing brand ultimately, if you did not start out with one. It is important to know that whoever you decide to share your business ventures with should be well vetted and understand the vision for your brand to avoid conflict. Finding a business partner is like finding a spouse, so be very careful who you choose!
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Create, build your clothing brand but have fun along the way. Be positive, but don’t hesitate to mold or bend your business plan as required. And most importantly, believe in yourself.
All the best!
Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion.
Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That’s how it evolved over centuries and that’s how it’s been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]