- Wah Lung
Building an Empire: How to Start a Clothing Line
Starting a fashion label is no easy task, but these tips will improve your experience by a wide margin.
These days it seems each celebrity has a clothing line. From Sean Combs and Beyonce to Melissa McCarthy and Justin Timberlake.
And of course, these products sell because the celebs have a huge following and an established brand.
But you don't have to be famous to succeed in clothing design. Read on for the ultimate guide on how to start a clothing line.
Begin with a Concept
The first step in how to start a clothing brand is to focus on the fashion. Your designs and concepts are the most important thing.
You can get help with the business aspect. But your inspiration and ideas are what is going to drive you to see this through to the end.
Before you move forward, you should have a decent number of sketches, designs, and swatches.
Set Up Your Business Plan
Each and every startup should have a business plan. This will help you laser into your priorities and goals. And it can help you get funding and get investors on board.
Your business plan must include your proven expertise in fashion. A strong understanding of your competitors and the market are also key to writing a well-thought-out business plan.
How will you make your money? Explain that in your business plan.
Fashion, not business, is probably your forte. That means trying to get funding for your clothing brand can seem overwhelming and intimidation.
But there are many options to help you secure startup funds. You can look at loans, lines of credit and credit cards.
You might consider doing pre-orders for your designs to allow you to get some revenue coming in up front. That way you can pay for production without borrowed funds.
Decide How You'll Sell
Next, think about how and where you want to sell your clothing designs. Will you have an e-commerce website or sell in a storefront? Perhaps your goal is to wholesale your clothes to other retailers.
Decide now how you want to start. Of course, you can always add options down the line. But for now, the way you plan to sell your clothing will impact your pricing model which we'll talk about next.
Find a Manufacturer
Choosing where to produce your clothing line will make a big impact on your profits. The quality of your clothing designs will directly impact your reputation.
Manufacturing is also where the biggest expense comes in for your clothing brand. Choosing the right manufacturer is key. First, you need to decide whether you will source domestically or internationally.
Start by researching reputable manufacturers through your fashion industry network. You might also want to hire a consultant who can put you in contact with a rebuttable one.
Always get references from potential manufacturers and follow up on them. This stage of starting a clothing brand is the one that takes the most legwork and research.
Establish A Pricing Model
You need to make a profit if you're going to keep your clothing line in business. Profit means that you are bringing in more revenue than your costs (both the fixed and variable ones).
You need to create a pricing model that is has a profit margin anywhere from 30 to 50% higher than all your expenses.
Establishing a pricing model requires you to understand what you'll pay for manufacturing for each item. Deciding the terms with the manufacturers will help solidify your pricing structure.
Design Garment Labels
The designs of your clothes are not the only thing you have to create. You'll also need to create custom clothing labels.
Your garment labels can be ironed on to the inside of the item, or a tag can be sewn onto the seam of the fabric.
There are certain things that must be provided on a custom clothing label. This includes the fabric content. You must list the exact percentage of each fabric for blended fabrics.
Also, include washing instructions. Don't just take your fabric vendors word for it. Always test the washing instructions yourself before making the garment labels.
You'll also need to include your RN number. A RN number is a Registration Number which is legally required on all care labels. You can apply for an RN number for free.
It’s there so your customers can identify you if they need to contact you.
Lastly, your garment care label needs to state which country your garment was cut and sewn in.
Marketing Your Clothing Line
Once your products are in the production process, you need to switch gears and focus on selling your clothing designs.
First, that means building your brand. By now you should have a company name and logo. You can have a custom logo on Fiverr.
You should have a clear idea of your target audience is. This is vital for any successful marketing plan. Clothing lines for active women need to target active women.
To promote your brand, it's imperative that you create an online presence. The online marketplace has quickly risen to become more important than a brick-and-mortar location.
Don't neglect your social media presence either. Facebook, for example, lets you target your audience with incredible precision. And you'll pay just pennies for those that click on your ads.
Without marketing, your customers can't find you nevermind shop from you.
Outsourcing or Hiring
Part of learning how to start your own clothing line is realizing that you don't have to do it all yourself.
You can choose to outsource aspects of the work or hire an expert in one of the areas you aren't strong in such as marketing.
The wise entrepreneur hires an accountant. Your business can't survive without someone who can keep the money situation under control.
You may also consider hiring a product manager. In this role, someone will help with various aspects of manufacturing. Filing, delivery dates, POs, line sheets and so on.
You might not have the funds to hire on a whole team at this point. So start with the roles that are crucial to your success and build from there.
Final Word on How to Start a Clothing Line
Thanks for reading! We hope this guide has given you a good overview of how to start a clothing line from scratch.
Before you go, read more about how to choose the right fabric for your woven labels.