HOW TO START A CLOTHING BRAND

Starting a clothing brand:


If you are an ​entrepreneur, or a creative individual wanting to start up a​clothing line/ brand there are many options you can go down. Whether it be, a small company with just basic printed designs or starting a cut and sew collection.Depending on what type of clothing line you want to create, the basic steps are the same. If you are going to be more invested in the line, the more time and cost effective it will be. I​f you’re just interested in starting something quick and easy, there’s options for that too. In this post, we’re going to show you step-by-step how you can start your own clothing line whether you have a small budget of £100, or if you have more than £10,000 to invest.Starting a clothing brand, you need to look at how your fabrics are resourced, whether you want to go down a more eco-friendly route or the fast fashion fashion route. You have to identify your niche, design, brand, quality and ethics behind your brand. You will also need to focus on the market, fit/ style, your personal business plan, business model, customer personas, competitor strengths and weaknesses and your costs and margins.



Deciding what products you want to sell:You need to decide what clothing pieces you want to sell, either that being focusing on active/sportswear, trendy, professional etc... Your brand will be about what you want and what you wear focusing on your personal brand.What people choose to wear can be influenced by many factors, from the impact of music on hip-hop fashion,​the grunge look and ​hippie attire​to the status of ​academic dress​in higher education. Other influences include religious observation and cultural identity, as seen in traditional Afrocentric fashion etc...Regardless of your personal brand, think about creating staple pieces that most fashion brands create. Some clothing and apparel products you may want to consider for your brand are:


A Clothing line Business Model:There are three main common options, Print-On-Demand, Private Label Clothing Line and Custom Cut and Sew Clothing Line. They all have different properties that make them unique to upcoming brands.

Print-On-Demand:​The first and easiest option for starting your own clothing line involves printing your designs or logo on standard blank clothes. This is an attractive option for people with a low budget (less than £1000) and those wanting to benefit from being able to set up a fully-automated business. The biggest drawback to this type of business model is the lower profit margins and the lack of ability to differentiate your product on things like material, stitching and fit since you’re using standard wholesale clothing.The print-on-demand uses a special digital ink-jet printer to print ink directly onto clothing and apparel. These digital printers are able to produce full colour images with extreme accuracy. Print-on-demand printing produces high quality printed apparel quickly and efficiently. Because of this, there are no setup costs, this means that it’s easy and cost effective to print small orders (including just 1 unit).


Pros:

●  No set-up costs

●  High quality prints

●  Unlimited color options

●  Perfect for low order quantities or one-offs

●  Many clothing options (shirts, leggings, socks, dresses etc.)


Cons:

●  Not cost effective for large production runs

●  Limited print product selection●  Limited finishing options (tags, labels, etc)


Timeline: Days, done within a week. Costs: £0-£500. Time & Energy Input: Very Low


Private Label Clothing Line: ​A private label clothing line, is the second option, it is quite similar to print-on-demand, however, allows you to be more involved with the brand. This includes personalisation, and not just using standard designs. You can customise your own print and add your brands labels.Since you’re purchasing bulk inventory upfront, you’ll also need to figure out warehousing and shipping for your products. By purchasing blank clothing and apparel items upfront and in bulk, you get better pricing which allows for greater margins. As an additional benefit, by purchasing inventory upfront and not printing/shipping directly from the printer, you have more creative control over the final product allowing you to add additional details like tags and custom labels.

Finally, purchasing inventory upfront allows for more cost effective and equally high-quality printing processes like screen printing (as opposed to digital direct-to-garment printing as noted in the above method).Screen printing is an old technique that has stood the test of time. As one of the most popular methods for printing onto clothing and apparel, screen printing can produce durable and long lasting results. However, it has a labor intensive setup process which means screen printing is its most cost effective when printing in bulk.


Pros:

●  Cost effective in large batches

●  Potential for increased perceived value from customers


Cons:

●  Not cost effective for large inventories of designs, colors and sizes

●  Usually minimum order starts at 10 units per color/size

●  You’ll have to manage inventory and shipping yourself


Timeline: Weeks. Costs: £2,500+. Time & Energy Input: Medium



Custom Cut and Sew Clothing Line: ​Custom cut and sewing means you are in full control of everything that you do. You do the sketches, create the pattern, sourcing manufactures and paying for a full production run. This can take up to a few months just to get started running as you are doing everything yourself as well as outsourcing and working with pattern makers. This can be very cost effective and time consuming and if you are outsourcing from other countries it can be quite difficult to stay on top of the production.

Creating and buying samples can be quite cost-effective and amending designs once getting a sample can be time-effective and set you back a couple of weeks/ months. You will have to source and test new fabrics and if you are using plant or synthetic textiles can be quite costly.

Pros:

●  100% custom product

●  Potential for increased marginsCons

●  Very high startup costs

●  Complex process

●  Can take months to a year to launch


Timeline: 3 months – 1 year. Costs: £10,000+. Time & Energy Input: Very High


What makes a successful clothing line:A few things that make a successful clothing line is making sure that your brand stands out and you aren’t doing the same things as competitor websites. A lot of things you can do that make your brand stand out are niche, design, quality and brand.


Niche:​This is making a brand that is tailored towards your target market and the people that you are focusing on. You are trying to identify the age group you are targeting towards, gender and more. Having a niche allows you to narrow down exactly what you want and means you don't have to waste money on trying to create samples which you won’t use. Identifying your niche allows you to be better on your budgeting will allow you to achieve customer loyalty by your specific target demographic. For example, if you are focusing on a younger consumer market (teenagers) it becomes easier to find what they are interested in and what trends are in.

If you still aren’t sure about your brands niche then look at your passion and skills, what do you like the most could you create clothes from that. What area do you want to go into, this could be menswear/ womenswear, bridal, couture, unisex. Performing market research can give you an insight of what is currently in trend and could give you an idea of what niche your brand is.


Design:​Designing patterns can be pretty straightforward, either you want the design printed or embroidered on. The difference between the 2 is printing a pattern is time effective however, the method to print a design can be costly for example, screen printing is quite cost effective however, gives the best results. Embroidering is the more expensive option however, can make your clothing stand out from competitors adding other materials like jewels to be stitched will make a huge difference.Within the design aspect you still have to make sure that the design of the clothes is consistent as well as the quality control. Your designs have to be relatable to the consumer and your niche otherwise you will lose customers.


Quality:​Having good quality clothes is key, that means you have to use good quality fabrics and textiles. Your clothes cannot differ in quality that means you need to quality check once in a while. Using good fabrics also means that the colour/ pattern doesn’t fade and the fabric doesn’t stretch or shrink in the wash.It also means that if you are using new suppliers that you should order samples and do a wear test just to make sure that the fabric is durable the pattern/ colour does not fade. Quality is very paramount to a brand and if you don’t have good quality it will discourage customers from buying from your site. It amyt be tempting to acquire cheaper fabrics however, you need to think about in the long-run and how it will affect customer loyalty.


Brand: ​Your brand has to be something special and stand out from all other websites that are out there. You need to remember that what you do reflects on your brand, including your lifestyle. You have to make your brand memorable, you also will have to create an ethos for your brand to follow and make sure that you follow that ethos.


Differentiating Your Clothing Line:


What makes your brand stand out? The fashion and clothing industry is one of the most cut-throat industries, there are multiple brands starting out and to compete you have to have one thing that makes you stand out. Whether that be the design, the fit/ style, brand, niche and performance/ material and quality.


Design:​ Many well known designers have staple stitching and design techniques to allow consumers to know that it is their brand. For example, Maison Margiela has four white stitches on the outside of their clothing items, an easy distinction of their clothes from other brands. These things allow brands to make their brands stand out and having a certain print allows people to spot and find the brand easily.


Fit/ Style:​ Having all your clothes being consistent in the same size is key. If you are producing a particular amount of clothes having consistent quality checks is mandatory to make sure that all customers are receiving the same item. Also you may perhaps decide to launch your brand around a specific fit for example, plus size clothing and specialise only in that. This can differentiate your niche and allow you to keep loyal customers.


Brand:​Making your brand unique can often be a challenge, how do you keep customers satisfied and continue to shop with you. You will have to identify your market whether this is done through customer research, you will understand them better and find out more about their interests and how to keep them coming back to shop with you. This could be done by doing special deals on a certain date once a month or even adding a surprise gift in their bag if they spend over a certain amount. This will keep customers happy and allow them to distinguish your brand from others.


Niche:​ Just like above, distinguishing a niche in the fashion industry is hard, chances are that a brand has the same niche as you are very high. However, making yourself known for your particular niche can be done through your website. Make the website pop out for example, going on the ‘Zara’ website you know what to expect as there are clear sections and the simple design knows the types of clothing you will receive. Similar to a store, designing it to fit your niche should be simple, like ‘Vans’ have a skateboard ramp outside of their stores. Subtle design techniques can help your brand out a lot.


Performance/ Material and Quality: ​Making sure you have a higher production and quality line will really set you apart from other brands. Spending a few more £££ for better produced and sustained materials and textiles will really help you distinguish your brand from others. This means you can create a clothes range that could be suitable for people with allergies by using textiles that are hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin like ‘Hemp’ or ‘Bamboo’. This will set you apart from other brands in your niche.



Developing a Business Plan for Your Clothing Line: Putting together a business plan will organise and help your company a lot in the long run. Whether using a diary or hiring employees to help organise and maintain your brand can make a huge difference. The major components you want to focus on are your personal brand and branding, potential customers, your competitors and the costs you will need to look out for.


Brand:​ Like mentioned above there are many ways to complete your personal brand. A lot of sellers nowadays enjoy writing hand-written personalised notes in the packages sent out to their consumers. Similarly, nowadays in marketing emails they are very personalised for example ‘Nasty Gal’ using terms like “babe” and “xoxo” can make a huge difference especially if your main demographic is females. Furthermore, having a small a ‘About’ section on your website can help you communicate with your consumers about who you are, why you started the company and what common interests you share. You need to be able to identify who your market is and what branding techniques would work best with this market.


Potential customers:​ Knowing your customer base is extremely important and who you are trying to target towards. Creating customer research is vital as it allows you to help identify who your customers are and what they want. There are a few ways you can do this, the most popular method is when a customer is finished ordering with yourselves have a section where they fill out a customer satisfaction form.


Competitors:​ Knowing who you are up against in the fashion world is extremely important. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses and using it towards your advantages. For example, many customers won't purchase from a brand due to their ethics, so perhaps using sustainable fabrics will bring them over to your brand.


Costs:​ The major costs come into effect during the production line, you will be constantly receiving samples, paying for expenses like shipping and more. You will have to prioritise the most important assets and things that aren’t major factors later in the months coming. (A more detailed section for costs is below).


Developing a brands visuals: Logo, slogan and marketing are the most important aspects for a grand as this is what the customer first sees. ​The images, logos and designs you use to promote your business create your visual brand. Your visual brand tells the story of your business, including your company's values, personality and purpose, and it is one of the best tools you have with communicating towards your customers. Being consistent, not just on social media but new releases and dates let your customers know.

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