The clothing design and sales industry is undeniably competitive, even cutthroat. It’s extremely difficult to establish a new and strong brand, so you have to find the right strategy to create sufficient momentum. New clothing lines get developed constantly, though, despite all the challenges facing the fashion industry. You can do it, too … as long as you follow the proper steps.
If you’ve been thinking about starting your own line of clothing, you probably have some inclination toward design. Whether you’ve studied fashion or clothing creation formally in school or people have told you that you have a knack for putting together ensembles that work, you can use your skills to press your business forward. The step you have to take next is to understand and execute the business side of the endeavor. Here are seven essentials that should hold your attention.
Research The Market
Starting a clothing line may be one of the most difficult fields for a new business to penetrate, due to the vastness and variety of the competition. If you haven’t established yourself as a designer or label yet, it’s incredibly challenging to try to go mainstream with your designs.
Having said that, we can add that opportunities for you to infiltrate the market exist, as long as you’re willing and able to do considerable research. The goal will be to identify a demand for your products; in other words, a niche where people might purchase what you offer for sale. Study the current market, see if you can identify what might be missing from the general lineups, and try to fill that gap with your work.
Make A Marketing Plan
If you’ve established a line that people might crave, you have get it in front of the folks who would be most likely to buy it. Your marketing effort should include everything from a catalog of your pieces to exposure on social media.
Ideally, you should attempt to market to retailers, as well, particularly big-box stores that could move your work in volume if you can get them interested. Design a catalog to present to retailers that might be willing to carry your products. Don’t go cheap here. Rather than settle for a flimsy flyer to display your hard work, spring for a perfect-bound book, which is heavier and offers a more professional tool for showing off your stuff.
You’ll need money to produce your work on a large enough scale to attract mass attention from retailers as well as your target customers. Being prepared to scale production so you can turn out high quantities with sufficiently elevated quality requires sharp management of funds.
You have many options for funding, from conventional loans to family and angel investments. A popular method for raising money among startups is crowdfunding. Using a platform such as Kickstarter, you can solicit financial support from your fans. In exchange, offer them a free gift or a discount on your products.
Target Your Audience
If you want to be accepted and recognized as an up-and-coming label, you have to be aware of which consumers you’re trying to reach with your clothing. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to think how they would think (which shouldn’t be too hard, assuming you like what you’re doing).
Recognize the way people shop, and devise clothing styles that will excite them enough to buy. If you can achieve a clear understanding of your audience, you’ll develop a loyal following that major brands will find it hard to ignore.
Brush Up On Business Skills
It’s not an absolute requirement to possess a business background, but it certainly helps. Taking a few business courses can be crucial to getting your brand off the ground.
If it’s been a while since you were in business school, take a few refresher courses. Thinking like a fashion designer will help you design amazing products, but you’ll need to switch gears sometimes to think like a business person.
You won’t get far if you don’t have the skills to manage your money, monitor the competition, market your products, and foster a memorable brand.
Take Care With Manufacturing
When it’s time to take your work full scale, quality manufacturing is essential. The industry can be dicey, so thorough research into reputable suppliers will be paramount to your success. You can’t risk paying for a service and receiving shoddy work. There’s often no money-back guarantee.
Whether you go with an overseas factory or someone close to home to support USA manufacturing, make sure you consult someone who has used the service in the past to determine their level of care. In addition, try to choose a factory that you can visit regularly to ensure the quality gets maintained.
Have Fun And Move Forward
Most important, don’t let your ambition overtake your reason for becoming a designer in the first place. You’re doing this because you love it, and losing sight of that could hurt your ability to keep going.
Remember to stay loose and have fun, even through the setbacks that could well happen. Always push forward. If you keep the passion alive and strive to maintain progress, you should reach success in your endeavors.