How to Start a Clothing Brand: The Ultimate Guide
Have you ever dreamed of starting your own clothing brand? It’s a popular dream – after all, what could be more stylish than having your own line of clothes? But how to start a clothing brand is harder than it looks. There are a lot of things to consider, from developing your concept to marketing your products. And then there are the legal aspects of starting a business to think about. Luckily, we’re here to help. In this ultimate guide, we’ll show you how to start a clothing brand step by step. We’ll cover everything from coming up with an idea for your brand to finding partners or investors. So if you’ve been wondering how to turn your fashion dreams into reality, read on!
How to Start a Clothing Brand
The first step to starting a fashion line or fashion brand is to develop your branding.
We have previously discussed…
…your brand is your company’s public identity. Ideally, your brand should embody the best (and most essential) attributes of your company.
People choose the clothes they wear to define themselves and their identity. The clothes they wear communicate something about them to the world.
Our clothes brand and label choices reflect who we are and how we want others to see us.
Millennials have been shown to desire an authentic connection with their clothing brands. Fabrizio Moreira writes that “millennials have been shown” to desire this connection.
They don’t want a generic, scripted sales pitch. They want to be spoken to like human beings.
It is essential to have a message that resonates with consumers and staying authentic to that message is one of the best ways to break into the fashion industry. Staying true to your brand will allow you to stand out amongst the competition.
Before you start your clothing company, you need to answer some essential questions.
- What identity do you want your clothing brand or line to project?
- Who will want to wear your clothes? What is your target demographic?
- How saturated is the target market for your clothes?
- What makes your clothing line unique?
- Is it high-end?
- Is there a price point that hits a pricing sweet spot in your target market?
- What is the most critical part of my customer’s experience?
These are all important factors to consider before starting any business, especially a clothing company.
Your answers to these (and similar) questions will help build the core of your brand identity. Your future brand strategies should build on these answers.
Your business name, company logo, and website design should all be based on the concepts you laid out here.
Moreira points to BadAFFashion.com as an example of a company that’s doing it the right way.
Essentially, successful branding comes down to having a clear and consistent identity that customers can connect with, being true to that business identity, and effectively communicating it to customers.
The fashion industry is an exciting, fast-paced industry that requires a lot of thought when it comes to branding.
You may have a lot of ideas for your clothing brand, but you need to narrow it down to just one.
Fill in the business blanks
There’s a lot to think about when starting a clothing company. After you have determined your brand, you can start focusing on the key components of launching and running a successful clothing business. This includes selecting the right business model, pricing products correctly, acquiring the necessary licenses and permits, and creating a comprehensive business plan. These are just some of the many factors to consider when starting a clothing company.
Starting a clothing line is a lot of work.
Incorporate or register a partnership? The first step in starting a clothing company is to decide which business structure best suits your needs. Are you looking for a sole proprietorship, LLC, or partnership? Each option has its own set of pros and cons that you’ll need to consider before making a decision.
Consider incorporating or registering a partnership with another company.
When starting your own fashion line, you should hire an attorney to help you with the legal aspects of your business. But here are the basics of what you should cover.
A sole proprietorship is a business that is owned and operated by a single individual. This is the most basic type of business to establish and is the easiest to set up.
As the sole owner of your business, you are responsible for all assets and liabilities incurred by the business. This includes keeping track of inventory, accounts receivable and payable, and other financial obligations.
This may be just the right solution for your brand new, baby crafting business as it is also the easiest to set up.
If you’re looking to protect your personal assets, an LCC (or Limited Corporation) might be a better option. The LCC provides the same liability protections as a corporation.
The SBA has all of the details on these business structures and even more.
After you’ve determined the legal structure of your company, you will need to file the appropriate documents.
Almost every new business will need to obtain some form of license or permit in order to operate legally.
Remember to register your new business if the name under which you conduct business is different than the registered company name.
If your company is an LLC named Three Brothers, LLC, you cannot operate under the trade name Three Tigers in most states. This is because your registered company name and trade name are different. To avoid any legal issues, be sure to register your business under its correct name.
The difference between a registered name and a trade name is that a registered name is protected under trademark law, while a trade name is not.
If you’re looking to do business under a name that’s different from your own, you’ll need to register your trade name with your state government. This is also known as filing a “doing business as” (DBA) certificate. The process is usually pretty simple and can be done entirely online.
A DBA, or “doing business as,” is a way to register your trade name with your state government. This process is also known as filing for an assumed name, fictitious business name, or trade name. You can find more information on what a DBA is and how to file one in all 50 states and US territories through this great resource.
If you have everything sorted out legally, it’s time to think about the specifics of your business.
Toby Nwazor believes that you should create a business plan if you want to be successful as an entrepreneur.
Any experienced entrepreneur knows a company without a business plan is like a fish without water. The plan does not need to be lengthy at first. Rather, it should be one or two pages, identifying the key elements of the clothing line’s business strategy.
Instead, it should be a one to two-page document, outlining the key business elements of the clothing brand.
Your clothing brand should be introduced with a clear statement of what it is, followed by a general description of the types of clothing you plan to produce. Your strategy for selling the clothing should also be included.
You will want to include your pricing structure in your business plan. This is an important issue to consider when starting your business.
Make sure you have a business plan that includes all the necessary legal and logistical considerations if you want your clothing brand to be successful in the future.
Crunch the numbers
When starting a new business, it’s essential to understand the financials.
Some numbers are more important to some businesses than others.
When you start your own clothing line business, you can expect to incur costs for your fashion brand design (logo, business cards, and website), any license or permit fees, deposits, and rent for a physical work location if you plan to lease your workspace, basic infrastructural costs like phone and internet service, invoicing software, etc., marketing and advertising costs, sewing or design tools (sewing machines, scissors, rulers, pattern makers, fabric printing accessories, t-shirt templates, etc.), materials for your first clothing line collection (fabrics, notions, and embellishment decor), and hourly wages to cover your design and construction time.
As you plan your budget for starting a clothing line, be sure to include the cost of any employees you plan to hire. A successful clothing business will ultimately earn a profit after all expenses are accounted for, so it’s important to factor in employee wages from the start. Doing so will ensure that your business is on track to profitability from the very beginning.
Once you have an estimate for the start-up costs of your fashion brand, compare that number with the number of funds you currently have. If there is a difference, plan how you will make up that amount.
When starting your own cut-and-sew clothing line, it’s important to calculate how much yardage of fabrics you need. You don’t want to end up buying too much of it, but you also don’t want to run out.
When working with ready-made clothing, it’s important to find the lowest price possible while still maintaining your quality standards.
Calculating how much your fashion line will cost to create will help you figure out your prices.
Setting Your Prices
The first step in creating an effective pricing strategy is to know how much it costs you to produce your clothing items. This is known as cost-per-unit or “CPU.” The small business finance experts at Bond Street explain:
Most clothing companies use the cost-plus pricing model, in which the cost of the item plus an additional percentage is the price that the consumer pays.
But, your CPU is only the starting point. It’s also important to factor the costs of running a business (and some profits!) into your pricing.
It will be difficult to keep your business running for a long time if you don’t take these measures.
Whether you dream about opening your own store or getting your label into a major retailer, you’ll need to have both retail pricing and wholesale prices in order to scale your business.
According to entrepreneur.com, you should aim to sell your product or service for 30% – 50% more than it costs you to produce it. After all, profit is essential to the success of any business.
Once you’ve calculated your costs, it’s time to consider the less tangible elements of your price – your competitor’s prices and the perceived value of your product or service. These elements will help you choose a price range that makes the most sense for you and for your target customers.
Your customers aren’t just buying clothes from you. They are shopping around with competitors, too.
They know what they think a product like yours should cost and they consciously or unconsciously gather data about what it costs.
You need to know who your target market is, what sales channels you will use, and how much your competitors are charging.
You can always adjust your prices as you see fit. You might feel that your clothing line is worth more or that you want to charge less than your competitors. And that’s okay! You can always adjust your prices as you see fit.
Build a web presence
Your website is one of the most important tools you have to promote your clothing line.
Today, it is essential that all businesses have a website in order to reach the majority of their customers. This is especially true for small businesses and startups who need to compete in today’s noisy world.
Even well-established clothing companies can suffer from this.
The study found that 97% of consumers research their purchases online before buying something.
Your company’s website is the cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
A 2013 study found that 97% of shoppers do their research before buying something.
Your website is important for marketing and branding.
You can use this important tool for your clothing business.
Make sure your website reflects your brand identity. Your visitors should know who you are and what you’re about right away.
Your website’s visual design should be an accurate reflection of your brand’s voice and identity. Make sure that your marketing copy is consistent with the overall tone and message you’re trying to communicate.
Your website is the perfect place to show off your clothing designs to a wide audience. By having a strong web presence, you can reach more potential customers and build your brand.
If you want to show off your clothing designs to a broad target audience, consider creating an online lookbook. This will allow people to see your styles in action, provide inspiration, and give customers a chance to relate to your designs. Product shots can be helpful, but showing the clothes being worn by models or everyday people is often more effective.
If your lookbook appeals to visitors, they’re likely to either purchase your items or, at the very least, wish they could. The best way to get an original website is with a fully custom design.
Plan your first collection
Starting a clothing brand is just like starting any other business.
But, your designs and ideas are what make your business successful. Coming up with that first collection is a crucial step in starting your fashion line.
Before you can even think about designing your clothing, you have to decide on what kind of clothes you want to sell.
The most popular fashion businesses are starting your own fashion line, working for a fashion company, or being a personal shopper.
The business model uses a third party to print and ship pre-existing wholesale garments to your customers.
Your designs are applied directly to the garments and then shipped off to customers as the order comes in. So, there’s no need to store an inventory of your own or to manage any fulfillment of the merchandise.
It is one of the easiest and least capital-intensive businesses to start, but it also means you give up a lot of your profits to the third-party fulfillment company.
There are several benefits to the print-on-demand business model.
- One is that there are typically no set-up costs or low set-up costs.
- Another is that high-quality prints can be achieved (if you pick one of the top vendors).
- Additionally, unlimited color options are usually available (but remember that price increases with the number of colors).
- This business model is also ideal for small order quantities or one-off prints.
- Finally, many different clothing options are often offered (shirts, t-shirts, hats, jackets, leggings, socks, dresses, etc.).
There are a few cons to the print-on-demand business model.
- One is that it’s not cost-effective for large quantities. Few vendors offer volume discounts.
- Another con is that there is minimal print product selection (you’re limited to what the vendor offers).
- Finally, sparse finishing options (tags, labels, packaging, etc.) can be limiting.
Wholesale businesses customize their apparel by sewing, embroidering, or printing them.
You can print, put appliqués, embroidery, or any other embellishments to the existing clothing to suit your needs.
This model is a great option for those who are willing to invest both time and money into their clothing. You’ll need to purchase the garments upfront, but you’ll also be paying for the materials and labor required to customize them.
You’ll need to store your products and fulfill any orders placed.
However, you will be able to keep more of your profits since there is no third party to pay.
Advantages of using the customized wholesaling model
- Can be a great way to build brand awareness
- Custom wholesale can help you create unique products
There are a few potential drawbacks to the custom wholesale business model.
- Firstly, it may not be cost-effective for big clothing lines with different items, colors, and sizes.
- Secondly, custom wholesale is limited to simple images and designs – you wouldn’t be able to print photographs, for example.
- Finally, minimum orders typically require 10 to 25 units per color per size. This means that you’ll need to figure out how to manage inventory and shipping – the vendor will not do this for you.
Cust-and-Sew and Private Label
This is the model most people use when they start their clothing brand.
As a fashion designer, you will need to find a manufacturing partner who can produce your garments to your specifications. This way, you can sell them under your own private label. If you’re not sure how to find a manufacturer, the next section will provide more information.
You will need to purchase the fabrics, decor, and notions needed to build your garments from scratch.
You will be responsible for storing and filling your orders.
The pros for the cut and sew and private label business model
There are several benefits to choosing the cut-and-sew and private label business models for your clothing company.
- With these models, you will be able to create completely custom clothing designs that will be unique to your brand. This can help increase perceived value from customers, as they will know that they are getting a one-of-a-kind item.
- Additionally, these models usually result in bigger margins since there is less competition when selling unique clothing items.
The cons for the cut and sew and private label business model
- You need to be very knowledgeable about the product and the market.
- You also need a good network of suppliers, manufacturers, and other professionals.
Custom couture is a very risky business model.
Couture garments are made to fit each client perfectly, with incredible attention to detail. This level of detail is time and labor-intensive not to mention expensive to execute, but the results are worth it!
This means that each piece will come with a very high price tag. This limits your potential customer pool to those who can afford to spend a lot of money on couture garments.
If you have unique designs that attract wealthy clients, your business could see a lot of success.
The pros of a custom clothing business
The custom couture business model has many advantages.
- Firstly, the product is 100% custom-made according to the customer’s specifications. This results in a tremendous perceived value from affluent customers.
- Secondly, margins are significantly higher than for other business models.
The cons for the bespoke fashion business
There are a few potential drawbacks to starting a custom couture business.
- Firstly, the target audience is much smaller than other fashion businesses. This means that it can be harder to gain traction and grow your customer base.
- Secondly, as a couture brand, you need to have a strong and easily recognizable brand. Otherwise, customers will not be willing to pay the high prices associated with couture garments.
- Finally, it can take years to build up credibility as a couture designer. You need to produce consistently high-quality garments and gain the approval of influential figures in the fashion industry before you can truly be considered a couture designer.
If you’re interested in
how to start a clothing brand, there are a few things you need to do. First, come up with a concept for your brand and develop it into a cohesive aesthetic. Next, start crunching the numbers to figure out how much it will cost to produce your products. Once you’ve done that, you can begin setting prices and building a web presence for your brand. Finally, don’t forget the legal aspects of starting a business – make sure you have all the necessary permits and licenses before getting started!