It’s not easy to start a clothing brand or clothing line. Many people see it as an easy-to-start business opportunity to get in.
Even if that’s true, the success rate for a new clothing brand is not much high.
It has been noticed that to run a clothing brand successfully, you need to have a lot of passion and interest in clothing.
A clothing brand also not just about being as good as your best design but the business you need to create around it.
Well, assuming you are well aware of this and have the ultimate passion for clothing, style, or design with some sense of business or marketing, let’s dive in.
So how you can build a clothing brand from scratch in 2021?
Well, first of all, it requires mastering various aspects of this business such as design, product quality, manufacturing, marketing, retailing and more.
Here are Starting A Clothing Brand From Scratch Guide
Whether you are a fashion designer or apparel designer turning into an entrepreneur or business person with utmost passion in clothing and styling, here how you start your clothing brand.
Identify What Market Needs
Fashion, merchandising or clothing is a highly competitive and populated market. There are just too many players on the table.
Not just there is an abundance of small fishes trying to survive but also sharks of the industry occupy a large portion of the sea.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t need another clothing brand or fashion brand. It doesn’t also reduce the potential of the market.
But the fact becomes more evident, that you need to press the right buttons to get in. You cannot be just another clothing brand competing with anyone and everyone in the same league.
Finding Your Own Turf
The idea is not to play the game everyone is playing. Create or find your own game and beat others at it.
Any successful fashion brand or clothing line doesn’t succeed on the credibility of the idea or the vanity of the designer.
It happens when you work on the niche where the demand exists. You need to find opportunities living in the disguise of ignorance, problems, and requirements.
See what more can be done? Is there something you can offer that doesn’t exist already?
Do you come up with something that really people need or love?
Find a niche that still needs top players and see how you can deliver upto the expectations.
Look Who’s Your Target Audience
Another crucial and clarifying step to begin with building your own clothing brand is identifying your target audience.
This step alone helps you get utter clarity on how you approach almost everything.
The target audience gives you perspective on :
- What kind/ style of clothes do you want to focus on?
- How to position yourself in the market?
- How to approach your customers?
- What price bracket will you be putting your products in?
And much more.
You have to consider the targeted market of that particular product you are out to sell. What are their sensibilities on pricing? What are their preferences on style?
Even if you are great with the design and other strategies, with the market or the potential customer, there is no use.
For Example, if you are making trendy, stylistic and casual clothes which might be quite suitable for students and youngsters, you need to also make sure that it is affordable.
After all, most of the students whose preference is the style and trendy clothes but do not afford higher price points as they are not earning yet.
So if you know that your potential customers are college-going students and high-school teens, you position your products accordingly.
Creating A Business Plan
Why do you need a Business Plan For Your Clothing Brand?
The business plan helps you steer in the right direction to kickstart your business and heading it towards success.
Three distinct steps required or you can say, these are the reasons behind crafting a business plan for your fashion brand.
- Opening Your Clothing Brand
- Expanding the Business
- Forming partnership, Alliances, or Deals
Steps To Write A Business Plan For Your Clothing Brand
Write an Executive Summary
It is the first section of your business plan summarizing the key points to guide the readers through.
It includes mission statements, company information, highlights, products and services, financial data, and future projections as well.
Information About Your Business and Fashion/Clothing Industry
Mention any detailed information giving an overview of the fashion or clothing industry and what role your clothing line is going to play in the industry.
You need to mention what niche you’re picking, about your competitors, and how your business will improve existing products in the industry.
Analyzing Your Market
You will explain your business model in detail in this section and how it is going to outgrow your competition.
It will feature all the market research, your testing, the target market, and other aspects of the business as well.
Laying out Your Sales & Marketing Plan
For a fashion or clothing brand, sales and marketing are even more important. So you need to share information about your sales and marketing strategies.
All the details about marketing and distribution, lead generation, digital marketing, customer acquisition, and other essential elements in this domain.
Mentioning All the Operation of Your Business
This Business Plan must include how the physical operation of your business will work. You will extensively layout the whole process of the product manufacturing to reach out to the end-user.
This will also include the production process, facilities required, equipment investment, employees, and other resources as well.
Writing A Financial Plan
This is amongst the most important section of your business plan.
It will feature all the financial information, documentation, and future projections of your clothing brand income and revenue.
It includes cash flow projections, break-even analysis, sales report, income statement, expense sheet, debt obligation, and balance sheet as well.
Define & Develop Your Brand Identity
Your top priority should be to figure out what kind of clothing brand you want to start. What value do you want to offer or what identity you want to resonate with?
The brand itself is a perception that people see towards your business. Brand identity is the best attribute your business embodies to represent.
Find What Identify With Your Brand
Exploring what identifies with your vision towards starting your own clothing brand helps you a lot in deciding what identity you want to carry.
Clothing is something people build their identification and personality with.
So surely people will be attracted to what identity your brand is carrying, so they relate to it. It should be something they can be invested in.
Image Source: High Snobiety
Your brand identity comes from varied choices and objectives you take :
- What niche/type of clothing will you be focusing on?
- What is that one specialty or theme you want your clothes to have?
- Who are your customers?
- What values and objectives your brand speak of?
However, one of the most desirable quality, customers look for is authenticity in the brand.
They want to “experience” your brand, find something different from others, something unique that only you have to offer.
Then, the brand identity also shows up in your branding, marketing, and advertising strategies.
How You Will Define Your Brand?
Your business needs to have a clear brand identity that specifically must resonate with your target customers.
If you have that, you can know what your leanings are.
However, still you need to be confident, articulating, and communicating enough about the values and objectives you emit as a brand.
You need to know how to communicate with your target audience.
So introspect on your brand identity, and find the best way to define it, so your business has clarity on what they stand for.
Also, you must have many ideas related to starting a clothing brand, so test those ideas on the brand identity you want to establish for your business.
Deciding What Clothing Products To Sell
Specialization or niche market is the new norm of 21st-century business, especially after the e-commerce boom.
When you can sell your products almost around the world to any person, every universal buyer has better choices to make.
Image Source: Walk Through India
So, you cannot be just another clothing brand or seller in the market.
You cannot just sell every clothing item like a clothing store. You have to have some premium selections or choice in style or kind of clothes to sell.
There must be a particular clothing product or set of products you should sell or at least to start with. It is because :
- It will help you focus more on the quality of the item,
- Better quality of the design
- More efficient inventory management.
- Easy brand positioning in the market
- Quicker penetration in the market
- Specialization helps you stand out in the competition
You have to be careful with what clothing option you want to move forward with.
Here are some micro-niches in fashion/clothing line to begin with or to focus on:
You can choose one or a set of few creating a short category. With selecting any clothing product, there will be a different set of opportunities and challenges to come across.
Selecting the Business Model For Your Clothing Line
While starting your own clothing line, the initial phase includes you taking a lot of decisions, very critical decisions for the future of your business.
It can dramatically change the outcomes for your business, so better select after analyzing all the pros and cons.
If you look at the most common routes you have in case of choosing a clothing line business model, here you are left with :
- Print-On Demand
- Private Label
- Custom Cut & Sew
Print-On-Demand Clothing Line
The easiest option you can go for is starting a print-on-demand clothing line brand. It basically involves branding blank existing clothing products and apparel.
You will get your logo printed on high-quality clothing products such as T-shirts, hoodies, etc.
Image Source: Shopify
The Print-on-demand clothing business appears to be an attractive business model for people with low-budget investment.
The biggest advantage of this business is the requirement of low investment and fully-automated operations.
However, there is a drawback with this particular business model, and that is low-profit margins.
Another drawback can be the lack of quality assessment in the case of getting wholesale clothing.
This business model is surely quite efficient and fast in production which makes small print orders quite simple to fulfill.
Time to establish the Business: Few Days
Cost : $0-$500
Difficulty Level: Very Low
- Easiest Business Model Option For Clothing Line
- No Cost For Setup
- Ideal for low-investment business owners
- Versatile options
- High-quality products
- Limitation in print product selection
- Quality control issue
- No volume discounts
Private Label Clothing Line
A private label clothing line or Wholesale clothing line is quite like a print-on-demand clothing line, except there is more involvement, more personalization, and higher margins.
You offer clothing products that are high in quality and more customized. It also offers a wider range of options for customers.
Here you need to buy blank / unbranded clothing products which further go for customization such as prints, tags, labels, etc.
And since you will be purchasing bulk inventory upfront, it becomes essential for you to have a warehouse as well.
When you purchase all the inventory items in bulk, you are surely going to get higher margins to price your products better.
It also gives you more control over the product as compared to the print-on-demand clothing line option.
A private label clothing line gives you more opportunity to expand and grow as brand over a period of time.
Time to establish the Business: Some Weeks
Costs : $2,500+
- Discounts on volume purchase
- Higher margins
- Potential to increase in perceived value
- Only able to print simple images/design
- Not cost-effective for a much broader variety in clothes.
- Minimum order begins from 10 units per size/color
- Shipping and inventory management is on you only.
Custom Cut & Sew
The very simple way to put down what is a custom cut & sew clothing line, is you are going to do everything here.
And this starts from the very designing to manufacturing and shipping the end product to your customers.
There are many processes involved in this process of clothing line where you can also automate or outsource some work but not without investment.
This route is not easy and can be really intense. It surely needs a certain cash flow to survive in the market.
You can outsource manufacturing but must be able to find one who is ready to go for smaller runs with you.
There is a lot of testing for quality required in the process to reach your final product before you get it out.
Time to establish the Business : 3 months – 1 year
- 100% customized product
- Increased margins
- Increased perceived value from customers.
- High startup cost
- Takes time to launch
- Difficult and complex
- Multiple processes to manage
Understanding The Target Market Trends
One of the important pieces of advice a business expert will give you is to watch the trends closely.
You need to give attention to the highlights, trends, and brands respective to your target market.
The idea is to choose something you are good at and start acknowledging it as a potential business.
More closely you understand the market, and the target customers, their struggles, preferences, problems, aspirations, and expectations, the more likely you to create an effective high-profit selling product.
Adapting To Market Trends
You need to adapt to the trends in the market, personalize them and make it work for your target customers.
Fashion and clothing are a lot about adapting to the changes in preferences of your ideal customer. This varies from one type of clothing to another.
Filling The Gaps
There is everything for everything or as that seems to appear but an aspiring fashion business person would look for the gaps in the industry.
You will always find a gap to fill, something to do new, some room for improvement, or some level of disappointment in a brand or industry.
Well, That’s it! Hop on, and that can be a potential market to capture.
Social Media Is Your Game
The brand is more than just your logo and design. It is about connecting to your prospective customers.
The idea is to build a lifestyle around the products you offer under your brand. Social media is the best tool to extend your personality into your product or content.
You can bring brand identity to every piece of content on your social media. Also, to ace social media, you need to be consistent.
Make sure you have a high and constant frequency of publishing. Have a unique flair in your content and increase the interaction with your potential customers.
The best you do is to make it interesting, and not boring.
Mastering The Elements of A Successful Brand
There are some characteristics of a successful brand that you find common amongst them.
Especially reverse engineering them will bring out these characteristics or elements very easily.
Since, you are going to start your own clothing line, mastering these characteristics at the very beginning of your entrepreneurial journey will guide you in the right direction.
So, these are four elements or characteristics of a successful brand you need to incorporate :
The Niche Of Your Clothing Line
Selecting a particular niche is critical for a clothing line to stand out and grow successfully.
Just like any other business, targetting of an audience is essential, cannot escapable if you want to build your brand.
You cannot just blindly sell everything to everyone because it will make your brand ineffective in communication to any consumer base.
Why is a niche essential for the success of your business?
Easy Penetration To The Market
Having a niche sets you apart in a specific market and creates a pull from an audience.
This helps you to penetrate the market easily as the market knows where you position you.
More Affordable for Business
If you know what exactly set of products or services you want to sell, and that to a very specific targetted audience, you minimalize your focus.
Minimizing the focus means investing only in the part where you will get the return. You can cut your marketing cost.
You basically start to get higher ROI on whatever you are investing in terms of time and money.
This makes things more affordable for your business, also makes the product better, and even less costly for customers as well.
Higher Customer Loyalty
If you are catering to a very specific audience with a product specially designed for them, they are definitely going to be more in connection with you.
Stronger brands based on niche-products often end up creating a community around them on their consumer base.
Being specific makes you more passionate and focused on the product and its consumers. So they relate to you more.
Less competition is different than easy penetration to the market.
When your products are penetrable in the targeted market, even then there will be less Competition because you cut down all other non-relevant competitors by niching down.
A lot of businesses suffer from not being exposed enough due to not having a strong voice or identity.
You get your brand identity and voice from having a niche as well. They fail to get noticed because they often compete with almost everyone.
Your Clothing Product Quality
One thing that you cannot comprise without being exposed to your potential customers, is quality.
You just cannot fool them on this, maybe once but that’s all.
Because once people get to notice that your clothes are not durable or fade after merely a few washes, they are never going to come back.
Image Source: Durability Matters
Also, the quality is more a range when it comes to clothing. It depends upon the composition of the maters you are using to manufacture the clothes.
Also depends upon the manufacturing process and other factors as well.
The quality of clothing includes various dynamics such as
- how does it look?
- whether it is degrading after washes
- whether it shrinks after washes
- Does the color fade away after a time?
- How comfortable it is to wear?
- Breathability & elasticity of clothing
- Is it serving its purpose according to weather?
Customers are very well able to see through all these dynamics of quality and rate your brand.
And quality does come from the price affecting your profit margins.
So, it is certainly tempting to compromise on quality to gain higher profit margins but you need to address the fact that how much it affects the decisions of your customers.
Especially, you need to think for the long run. You have to think about the repurchasing tendencies of customers and developing a loyal consumer base.
That only comes from offering a quality you can bet on to the customer.
Your Clothing Design
The design is as important as quality for a brand, especially if you look from an ideal customer point-of-view.
Image Source: Mojolin
The design you decide for various clothes in your inventory whether they are printed, minimalistic, plain, or embroidered, is an essential attribute for the success of your business.
Now, the design definitely should be aesthetically good and pleasing to the eyes. But after that, it is all subjective to your target customer base.
There are no set rules for everyone. The design must serve the preferences of your ideal customer.
It should be relatable and something they would love. You have to elevate the level of the design on the basis of their set preferences and taste.
Your Clothing Brand
Branding is one of the most important aspects of building a successful clothing line.
If you have a strong brand voice, it encourages customers to give you more attention and credibility.
Image Source: Pinterest
Also, your product is more reinforced in the market for representation, purchase and repurchase as well.
Consumers also do not hesitate to advocate for your brands or products. They feel more confident to recommend others.
The branding also helps you to anchor the quality and standard measure for your products.
Building a brand means having a strong voice, an identity, and a certain set of beliefs and objectives to serve.
How To Craft A Brand For Your Clothing Line?
You have to build a persona for your business in order to brand your clothing line. It is surely going to be a journey, so hold tight.
Start from having a strong voice in what you do and how you do. The same goes for your products as well.
Image Source: Deccan Chronicles
You have to build an identity for your brand through different aspects such as marketing, positioning, interactions, and others.
Branding works on different levels, one you do subtlety through your actions and presence.
And the other one is said out by how you market your products or business. What are your viewpoints and how you communicate?
Image Source: Gold Standards of Sound
A lot of it depends upon what niche you are selecting, who are your target consumers and what market you are appeasing.
The better you will able to define your market, the more powerful the brand you will be able to craft.
Building Your Online Presence
Online branding is the essential part of promoting your brand online as it should be a primary stakeholder in your marketing strategy.
Starting from your logo design to the very print branding of your clothing line must be aligned.
It is important for clothing line brands to settle on what they represent and stand for at the early stage of marketing only.
You need to narrow things down for your business and this will also help you take every decision quickly.
Also, in every decision, the unique identity of your brand must reflect through it as well.
Leveraging Organic Social Media
Organic social media promotions are free promotions that you can do for your brand.
You need to create content around your niche/clothing line to bring people to your social media accounts.
Image Source: Meltwater
Focus on the regular posting on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. For a clothing brand, both can be proven pivotal in scaling the business.
Organic social media growth gives credibility and identity to your brand in the initial days, without even getting into paid ads.
It also creates awareness for your brand amongst the target audiences.
Few best strategies to go for in boosting organic social media traffic is :
- Use relevant hashtags
- Go for high-quality images on Pinterest/Instagram
- Add more visual content, i.e images & videos
- Daily posting
- Leveraging user-generated content
- Engage with your audience in comments
Don’t Hesitate On Paid Advertisements
Once you’ve established your brand through consistent content creation and have an identity of your own amongst a certain target audience, go for paid ads.
It is timing very important for a clothing line or any business to start investing in paid advertisements.
If it is too soon, you might not see as much conversion due to a lack of awareness and credibility.
Image Source: AdEspresso
And, in case you choose a bit late, you will be leaving the opportunity at the table and also you will be bleeding out of finance.
So Don’t hesitate to go for paid ads whether it is Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or any other.
It is the best way to get discovered, generated leads, and get sales conversion as well.
The key is to choose the target audience very specifically and carefully for the best conversion on leads and sales.
Start Focusing on SEO at the very beginning
Search Engine Optimization helps your website resurface to the relevant audience, buyer-intent audience boosting the chances for a sale.
A lot of brands think Search Engine Optimization is an investment they will do once they start getting some money back from the business.
Image Source: Google Sites
It might not seem like an urgent investment or focus to shift on but that’s where many small businesses in the clothing industry fall short.
SEO is a long-term game, it takes time and consistent efforts to optimize your website to show up on the top search pages.
But what you can do is start working on SEO from the very start of your clothing line business.
Keep optimizing your website according to search engines like Google to improve your ranking.