From selling t-shirts to developing a signature line of summer dresses, fashion is big business. There is always room for new and ambitious entrepreneurs to take advantage of the overwhelming demand in the fashion industry. The global fashion industry is valued at $1.7 trillion as of 2022.
With social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, individuals have an even greater opportunity to create and launch a clothing line of their own. If you have a passion for fashion and want to know how to turn that love into a business, this article will help you get started.
Understand Your Business
Many people who get into the fashion industry, do so because they like clothes, like to design clothes, or like looking good in clothes. You may fit the bill on all of those things but all of that does not create a business.
As a business, you will need to create a business plan, set goals, market, and handle business operations. There are lots of elements that are operations related that you will be on top of to make it through and prosper.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself and should be included in your business plan:
- Who is my target market?
- How do I plan on reaching them?
- Who are my competitors?
- What makes my clothing brand unique?
Asking yourself these questions will help you look at your business with a critical eye. The idea is to prevent future problems by having a clear understanding of your business before you launch it.
You will also need to find a way to fund your clothing line. The amount of money necessary to launch your clothing line will depend on the kind of line you are developing, the niche, and the production size, among other things. You may only need $500 or that number could be closer to $50,000.
Be sure to monitor your spending closely. The cost of production and operation of a clothing business can spiral out of control if not monitored closely.
Whether you are printing T-shirts or you are developing a unique fashion line, someone has to make the stuff. You have to find a manufacturer that can create the clothes to your exact specifications.
In the beginning, you may be able to get away with sewing and printing the clothes yourself. However, if you begin to gain some traction, there will be less time for you to dedicate to production. This leads me to my next point.
When I was in college, I used to develop fashion jewelry as well as offered them shops to make ends meet. I can tell you, firsthand, that a lot of my time was not invested in creating brand-new precious jewelry styles. 70 % of my day was spent doing everything else that it takes to run a successful company.
You need to be ready to do everything on your own until you can hire help. You will find that a lot of your time will be invested in paperwork, customer invoices, and tracking online orders and expenditures. You likewise have to be prepared to deal with shipping, customer support, publicity/press sets as well as operations development (structure your client base).
Build the Brand
Be Everywhere-Seeing the brand name and logo everywhere is an important part of marketing for any business but is especially crucial for clothing lines. The fashion industry relies on social proofing more than most sectors.
No matter how much teenagers want to be unique, they often wear what their friends are wearing. Adults are not that much different. The more people see your clothes being worn, the more people will want to wear them. Once you’ve identified your target market, get in front of them somehow and stay at the forefront of their minds.
Be Known for Something-There is nothing like a good story to go along with a good brand. Your clothing line should be known for something special for it to stand out. Do you use unique fabrics? Do your clothes fit great? Are the designs one-of-a-kind? Find something unique about your clothing brand and put that uniqueness front and center.
Create Fans First-Think fashion bloggers. People who are fans of you or your style will be your first customers. Even if you are not in the fashion field it is also possible to use your awesomeness as a springboard. You can create hype around your brand by utilizing influencers on Instagram or YouTube.
Prioritize Customer Service-Even though the fashion industry is about selling products, your service will be what keeps people buying. Be sure that you are prepared to fill orders for boutiques and retail shops. Also, make it a priority to ship your online sales to your customer quickly and accurately.
Choose How You Want to Sell
The mistake many new fashion entrepreneurs make is that they try to get their products in the stores and on the runway right away. Although getting your clothing lines into retail stores is a good long-term goal for a clothing business, it shouldn’t be a primary focus in the beginning.
To do that you have to sell the stuff yourself first to get noticed. The easiest way to get it out to people is online.
- Online Marketplace– Selling your clothing brand on a marketplace like Amazon has its benefits and drawbacks. A benefit is that your items have the potential to reach more people. The drawback is that placing your designs on a marketplace can make the brand seem less exclusive. You will need to decide which works best for the type of business you are building.
- Your Website– An ecommerce website is one of the best ways to display and sell your line of clothes. Even if you decide to
- Instagram Shop– Instagram is the “fashion-line friendly” social platform. The app has made it very easy and convenient to both buy and sell unique clothing items. Many entrepreneurs have launched very successful online clothing businesses solely on Instagram. Check out our article on How to Start an Online Clothing Business on Instagram for more on how to create an online only business on Instagram.
- Print-on-Demand-Another option that an aspiring fashion entrepreneur can choose is the print-on-demand sales option. With this option, you can use a site like Printify to design and sell clothing items like t-shirts and jackets. This option is easy and requires no capital because you can display your designs but the items are not manufactured until there is an order. You also do not need any inventory.
A clothing line can be a great way for an entrepreneur to turn their passion for fashion into a successful and profitable business. But just like any other business, a person must take the right steps to increase the odds of success. The above tips should help you get started on launching your own successful clothing brand.
This article was first published in June 2016 but has been updated and expanded