Every entrepreneur working in the fashion sphere dreams of starting a clothing brand. There is also a constant requirement for fresh looks in the apparel industry which offers greater impetus to the development of clothing brands. If you are planning on starting a clothing brand, then you have arrived at the right place. Today we are going to take you through the entire process so that you can create a clothing line that stands out.
Identify your target market
While the market is filled with several brands, there is always demand for newer collections. But to make the most of it, you need to understand who are your customers and whether you can cater to their demands. You will also have to carry out a SWOT analysis to understand what makes you stand out from your peers as it will be difficult to sustain in a competitive market if your product doesn’t offer anything else. You can understand the lacunas by closely examining the garments launched by successful clothing brands and jotting down the areas having improvement potential. For example, there might be high demand but zero supply for eco-friendly underwear, attractive swimwear for plus-sized ladies, or T-shirts that can be sported to formal events. Knowing the target market is important as customers form a pivotal part of your branding and business plan. Understanding this can help build a good relationship with customers and take smarter decisions.
Identify your target audience
Once you are done with the market research, the next step is determining your target audience or the type of people your clothing line will cater to. If it’s a series of cartoon-printed hoodies, then your clients will mostly consist of teenagers. After the target audience has been determined, you won’t face any difficulty in designing the product. For understanding the target market, you need to ask the following questions:
- Are the customers local, national, or international?
- How old are the customers? What are their job, gender, and income bracket?
- What is the psychographics of values like lifestyle and hobbies? Also, what kind of personality do they have?
- What type of market trends do the customers follow?
- Are the customers loyal to multiple brands and how much do they spend on clothes yearly?
- What type of issues do the customers already face in terms of clothing?
Though you won’t need a detailed answer to each of these questions, the answers can be adjusted later on as you get to learn more about your customers.
Find your clothing niche
Fashion trends change constantly and as a savvy clothing entrepreneur, you are expected to be well aware of the hottest fashions. For doing this you can research magazines and trade journals that cover fashion trends exclusively. Before bringing your line of clothing to the retail market, you need to work on your niche that no one has discovered yet.
Determine a business model
The way you market your clothing line is affected by your chosen business model. You can take your pick between brick-and-mortar stores, online stores, and wholesale stores. For the first one, you will be selling either directly or through a distributor at individual boutiques. You will have to send out product information and lookbooks so that owners develop an idea of your collection and the type of service offered. Often the owners might ask for samples and information about delivery times, pricing structures, and minimum order quantities. The online stores cater directly to customers rather than small retailers. However, they might do both using different models. If you are planning on tapping the online store market, then you need to use social media, email marketing lists, and networking at different conferences.
Create a clothing business overview
Coming up with a business overview will help collate all your ideas in one place without delving into too many details. The following questions have to be briefly answered to create the overview:
- What are your overall business goals?
- What type of products will be included in your clothing line?
- Who is your target market?
- Where do you want to sell the clothing line?
- What methods will be used to produce the clothing line?
Have a business plan in place
Transforming a new business into a success story is not an easy job. This is why it’s advisable to have a business plan or guide map which can help identify the goal you wish to reach and how to reach the same. You can increase your efficiency and stay more focused when working according to a business plan. The following needs to be included in your business plan:
- Decide on a logo that represents your company or brand in the best possible manner. For doing this you can either hire a graphic designer or seek help from an online logo maker.
- First, create a budget for yourself before you start spending your money on anything. A budget lays out the total money you have, what will be spent on different items, and how much shall be invested in upcoming phases of your business.
- Last but not least, your business plan needs to specify the time which shall be set aside every week for different activities.
Design your collection
Designing a clothing collection is a long process involving everything from sourcing raw materials to distribution of the finished product. Though it demands a lot of time and dedication, the ultimate result might not be a successful one. But there is no reason to give up if you are determined to make your mark in the fashion world. Your clothing collection should portray your personality and the potential you hold for transforming the fashion world. For outlining all your clothing ideas, you need to answer the following questions:
- What is your value proposition?
- What type of clothing line do you want to make?
- How will you produce different clothing items?
Material procurement can be a science in itself if you are aware of your price points, quality level, and performance requirement. This will help narrow down your search for the right materials. You will have to include accessories comprising pullers, zippers, cords, and more in your garments.
Find a clothing manufacturer
If you want to scale up your business, then you will require the assistance of a clothing manufacturer who can transform your designs into wearable fabrics. They will look after the entire manufacturing process including sourcing materials, creating design prototypes, cutting the fabric, sewing it together, and even getting in garment detailing like embroidery and button work. If you have difficulties finding a viable clothing manufacturer, then you need to ask the following questions before choosing one:
- Can they help with producing samples?
- How long have they been in business?
- What is their area of specialization?
- Can they handle bulk orders?
- What is the price range of products?
Create garment patterns & prototypes
Just having brilliant designs on paper is not enough if they don’t look and feel good in reality. Thus, the next step is creating garment patterns using a pattern-making tool. They make patterns in your desired sample size which get graded to fit several sizes later on. Once you have the pattern ready, you can start making the prototypes. The pattern can be measured, fitted, and adjusted between each prototype to improve your garment. As a rule of thumb, 2-3 prototypes are needed for each style before you can get your sample ready for sale.
Carry out a competitive analysis
Competitive analysis will help determine the positioning of your fashion brand against competitors. For doing this, you need to undertake the following steps:
- Create a list of your 3-5 main competitors.
- Come up with a list of their products, designs, and pricing.
- Break down the customer base and brand story of customers.
- Think about the high and low points of your competitors.
- Figure out if you can fill in the void.
Going through the above-mentioned steps will help budding entrepreneurs understand if there are any opportunities their businesses can benefit from and also potential threats that can be avoided by prior planning.
Carry out financial analysis and projections
You can understand how much money is required to start your business and what should be the pricing of each product so that you can make the desired level of profit. If you can’t manage the finances yourself, then you can hire an accountant. To understand the basic expenses, you can take the expected recurring costs (website maintenance fee, subscriptions, marketing campaign costs) and variable costs (shipping costs, material expenses for producing products) into account. For gauging the kind of income, you can make from each sale, you will have to determine the cost of producing each product by considering account variables like tax obligations and shipping. Next, you will have to decide on how much profit margin you want to add to each product. Finally, you need to check if the amount is justifiable with the value proposition, target market, and competitor analysis in mind.
Create an operations plan
Once your business goals have been set in place and you know the types of products you want to make alongside the basic expected costs, it’s time to outline the business operation. You can choose between Do-it-yourself (ie. artisan), Dropshipping (ie. print-on-demand), and Manufacturing in bulk. You can start bulk production immediately after you have the final prototype ready. Carry out early discussions with your factors to plan the schedule. The manufacturers need to be aware of your production size and the number of styles you are planning to make. It’s advisable to get a written agreement with the manufacturer outlining the quality requirements and delivery times. Having an agreement in place will ensure you have clearly understood each other.
Setting up your online store
While building your online you will primarily have to decide on the platform. Though most successful sites rely on Shopify as their platform, you can also choose between Squarespace, Magneto, and WordPress. You might hire someone for site building and to do this you will have to write multiple job posts outlining the requirements clearly. Otherwise, you can go the DIY route and brush up on your web design skills. Next, you will have to add products to your online store so that a dozen is ready for purchase on-site launch. A detailed product description will also have to be included for each item in a consistent format across all the web pages. Last but not the least, ensure clear navigation options and an intuitive checkout process for the site.
Get your brand social media ready
Social media houses immense potential as a marketing platform and many businesses don’t know how to use it yet. But for starting on the right foot, you need to follow the tips listed below:
- Sign up for social media platforms like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter and create profiles for your clothing brand.
- Start posting immediately once you have created your brand account. You don’t need a perfect content calendar before going on a posting spree.
- Social media content spans a broader territory than just text-based posts. You can brainstorm your brand content by adding videos, images, questions, polls, links to other sites, and more. Different types of content can be tried out over a month until you find what works best in your brand’s favor.
Come up with a marketing plan
Marketing is a pivotal component of any business strategy that helps attract new customers and convince them to buy your products or services rather than the competitors. The apparel industry has clothing brands that have been around for centuries and new startups which are entering the arena every year. Whether you are selling dresses or socks, your marketing game needs to be on point so that you can stand out from your peers and connect easily with the customers. Following the correct approach can help you build a loyal following and generate real revenue along the way.
Open a retail store
Once your clothes have been manufactured, you need to start selling them. You can opt for online and offline sales channels to get the job done. Offline sales include setting up vendor booths at music festivals and other events, applying for booths in designer markets, mini pop-ups at retail spaces, and hosting temporary pop-up stores by subletting retail space. Some other channels for selling products are peer-to-peer marketing, contacting the retailer to display your product, launching your physical store, and advertising on different social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and search engines like Bing and Google.
Get orders to meet the minimum quantity requirements
Your selling target will be the minimum quantity requirements levied by the manufacturer for producing your garment. As an entrepreneur, you must meet those minimums by selling and collecting your orders.
Shipping your garments
Once your garments are ready, you will have to transport them from the manufacturer to your warehouse and ultimately to your customers who might be retailers, distributors, or end customers. Shipping costs are not included if your price is FOB, but if your price is COGS, then the shipping cost is taken into account. You should reach out to different logistics companies while arranging transport to get the best deal.
Get more investment
Developing the products of a clothing collection can be very time-taking and you can expect a dry period until the revenues rain in. Up until this period or while you are expanding your business, you need to meet the financial requirement of your business in one way or the other. You might invest your funds or avail of start-up loans. Once you start marketing in limited quantities, you should try and attract potential co-investors and cooperative partners. Every enterprise requires funding as it scales up and partnering with a venture capitalist is the most traditional way of getting more capital. Crowdsourcing is another popular way to finance your clothing line without giving away part of business ownership.
Running your own clothing business is more than a simple 9-to-5 job. Rather than the hours spent working, greater importance has to be levied on the final product. The success rate of a new clothing brand is pretty low and you need to be extremely passionate about work for running your brand properly.
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