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How to Start a Clothing Line

A Fashion Designer’s Guide

 
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Have you ever dreamed of starting your very own clothing line? Maybe you’ve found yourself looking for pieces you can’t find anywhere, have always had an eye for up-and coming-trends, or are wanting to contribute to a greener earth by launching your very own sustainable brand.

While becoming a successful fashion brand seems idyllic to many, most dreamers might also become overwhelmed when considering all of the details, skills, and steps required to execute a successful launch.

But, you know what they say, “nothing worth having comes easy” and a little hard work can result in a lot of reward! It’s just a matter of knowing what steps to take and how. If you’re ready to press play on your dreams of being a successful fashion brand, keep reading! Here is an 11 step guide on how to start a clothing line.

Step 1: Identify your Target Market

We are living in a generation of thriving creatives. Which means there are a lot of people out there putting their stamp on the fashion industry with their own collections. While there is always room in the market for more, you need to consider who your customer is and what they need more of. Identifying your target market is the first essential step prior to designing your clothing. In order to determine your target market you’ll need to ask yourself some token questions. Who is your ideal customer? What void are you going to fill for them? What is going to set yourself apart? 

In order to really hone in on this, you need to do some market research.  Always be looking at what other successful clothing brands are putting out there and make note of what they are maybe lacking or you feel could do better. Do you think flattering swimwear for all body types is missing? Or maybe sexy, eco-friendly lingerie is non-existent? If you find yourself constantly craving certain pieces you can’t find anywhere, there’s a good chance others are seeking it too! 

Identifying your market by seeing what is missing from the clothing industry is an essential aspect of starting your own clothing line. It’s difficult to stand out in an overly saturated category or create demand for your own collection if similar pieces already exist. Exploring a new niche that you're passionate about will help garner attention from customers that may have been looking for your product already.

Step 2: Identify your target demographic or target audience

Not to be confused with identifying your market, identifying your target demographic or target audience means thinking about the type of people you are trying to start a clothing line for. For example, if you are creating a lingerie line, your customers will likely be women. If you want to design a streetwear line, your customers will likely be made up of younger to middle-aged customers. How much does your customer spend on their clothing?

Identifying the customers you want to design your clothing for will help narrow down not only the look of your designs, but the construction of your designs. This isn’t exclusively pertaining to the image that will appeal to your customer, but, also, their bank account. Once you identify your target audience, consider the cost of your potential design elements. Can your twenty-something-year-old customer afford a crystal encrusted swimsuit? Is it a worthy expense for the sake of looking good or should you potentially die it down a notch, to make it a less cost prohibitive design? 

Step 3: Write a business model

Starting a successful clothing line first requires creating a brand and building a foundation to make this brand a business. Feeling intimidated? Good news: you don’t have to be a business guru, teach TED Talks, or have a business degree to start a successful business. You simply need to start by creating a business plan or model. 

Your business plan will include every aspect of your fashion venture, outlining your business framework. You will potentially use this feasibility plan to share with future employees, business partners, investors, and/or financial institutions. Your business plan should start with an overall summary of what your company is about, including a vision and mission statement, what you sell and why it will appeal to your market, and, last, who your team consists of and the integral roles they play.

Then, you should feature details pertaining to your target market and target demographics, as previously discussed. Next, your business strategy should include details including: how you will market your product, where you stand alongside potential opposition and competitors, what your first launch will consist of, and potential growth opportunities; providing expansion opportunities and goals for the future. 

One of the most important aspects of your business plan is providing a full financial breakdown. You should include what your budget is and itemize each cost and category in which you expect to spend on startup costs and upkeep. If the two numbers don't match, you will need to refine and reconfigure until you are able to realistically fit your budget. This itemization should include any expense including: payroll, materials, labor, marketing, etc. Creating this budget will ultimately help you in creating the prices for your products and calculating your profit margins. 

You will need to use your budget to determine how much profit you need to make each month in order to cover your monthly expenses. When you are just starting out, it may be harder to see a huge profit, as your business and customer base will still be growing. Be sure to keep this in mind when you’re planning out your finances. It might take some time to earn back your initial overhead, but as you start to see a return on your investment, your increased profits will slowly follow!

You may also want to think of a future goal for your clothing line in terms of what sales channels you want your product to be on. Sales channels are the platform or platforms you use to sell your product. For example, do you want to focus on e-commerce solely? Or do you eventually want to have your product in a physical store? Thinking of your future plans will help you know which routes you want to take and avenues you maybe need to explore more. Ex: Selling to a wholesaler will require adjusted pricing, potentially reducing the profit you might have when selling direct-to-consumer; but the wholesale word could mean higher volume of sales and more exposure. 

Creating a business plan might seem overwhelming because there are so many elements to consider, but it doesn't have to be a stressful process. There are plenty of great templates online that you can simply fill in to create a well-orchestrated plan for your business.

Picking a name for your business

After you have created your business plan, you will need to pick a business name, if you don't already have one in mind. Your business name is not only important to help identify your clothing brand, but will be used for practical things such as opening a business bank account and filing for an LLC, EIN, etc.

It is important to use a business bank account rather than use your own personal bank account to keep things organized and legal. By keeping both accounts separate, you can better track all incoming and outgoing funds, which will also make filing your taxes less daunting and allow you to easily claim deductions. You will also be able to apply for a credit card with your business account, for all of your business expenses. 

Since your business name will be used on your website, marketing, social media, and your actual collection, make it a name you love! As you entertain brand names, it is important to cross reference online and via social media to ensure it’s not already taken! 

You want your brand name to be unique and easy for your customers to find. Once you choose a name, be sure to act fast, securing it both on social media and domain(s).

Step 4: Create your brand and your brand values

Once you have created a business plan, you can start to get more into creating your own brand to start your clothing line. A brand is essentially your company, and it determines how you want to represent yourself. As the fashion industry is so vast with plenty of well-known brands already, you will need to find a way to stand out, so you don't become part of the background. You can start by creating an easily recognizable and likable brand.

This can be done in multiple ways. Take brands such as Gucci, Nike, or Balenciaga, they all have recognizable logos. Logos are one way to create a recognizable brand. If you don't have a background in graphic design, this may be a good time to seek out a graphic designer.

Your logo will likely represent your brand for the entirety of its existence. It will be what people start to associate with your clothing. If it is too plain, common, or unrecognizable, people will not want to wear it.

Another way to create a recognizable brand is to design your line to showcase a particular style, such as having everything be pastel or military-inspired. This will typically be determined by what niche you choose, but if everything in your line has a similar look to it, people will start to associate that look with your brand.

Ultimately, whatever your brand is will be based on who your chosen demographic and market is, which we discussed earlier, so make sure you target an audience that you are passionate about creating for.

However, your brand values can reflect your own personal values and what you want your clothing line to represent. Your brand values are important and should be reflected throughout your business. If you want to create an eco-friendly brand, for example, all of your business practices should be eco-friendly from using sustainable manufacturing to ensuring fair living wages are being paid to everyone involved in creating your clothing line.

Customers will then shop based on whether or not your brand's values line up with their own. Vegan customers, for example, are not going to buy from a store that sells leather. Build a brand with values that you are proud of that reflect what is important to you, and your customers will be like-minded people.

Utilize your brand when marketing to your customers on social media. Emphasize your values and create an online experience that will welcome new customers who support the same ideals.

Step 5: Choose what manufacturing process you will use

Before you start the exciting task of designing your fashion line, you need to choose what type of manufacturing you will use to create your products. There are plenty of manufacturing options, but the three main ones are: a private label clothing line, a custom cut and sew clothing line or a print-on-demand clothing line. Each method has its own pros and cons, so let's dive into each of them!

Custom cut and sew clothing line

As the name suggests, a custom cut and sew clothing line is custom made by you, the fashion designer. In this type of line, you are creating the design of your clothes on your own. This means you will not only need to design your own sketches but will also have to source the fabrics you need to then turn your sketches into patterns. Following this, you will need to find and pay a clothing manufacturing facility to turn your design and illustrations into clothing.

After you have found a manufacturer willing to do smaller runs, you will be responsible for your online store or storefront and must decide when and what product to stock or restock. Since you will have to do everything on your own with a custom cut and sew clothing line, this process could take months, sometimes even more than a year. Startup costs are also high as you will be the one responsible for all the expenses.

This type of clothing line can be beneficial for those who want to be responsible for every aspect of their clothing company. You will ultimately be in charge of everything, from designing to selling your product at a price point of your choice.

If you don't need help, want to be the only one you answer to, and don't mind making a significant time and money commitment, this could be the type of clothing line for you. If not, don't worry! There are other great options to start your fashion business, and this could be a manufacturing process you explore when your brand is more established.

Private label clothing line

To start a clothing line that is private label means you will be purchasing plain clothing items in bulk that have already been made, such as a premade t-shirt or skirt. Then, you will be branding clothes with your label and brand yourself. This typically involves adding a brand label or tag to the clothing to make it your own, but it can be customized as much as you want.

Business owners may choose this method as branded clothing, even from a brand that is not well-known, will sell for higher than plain, unbranded clothes. Purchasing new clothing items in bulk is also beneficial as it will get you a better price, which will allow you to take more money from your earnings.

With this business plan, you will be responsible for storage and shipping to your customers yourself if you plan to start an online clothing store. You will not need to send your design and tech pack to a manufacturer to create and ship off as you will be able to purchase clothing that is already made. This makes the process of starting your clothing line much easier, and you will be able to create your own price point as you will not have to pay for a customized manufacturing process.

This manufacturing process may not be for everyone either, as it makes it hard to have any creative license. If you are buying pre-made clothes in bulk, you will not be able to fully put your own design and personality into the clothing. It is an excellent method to get your brand started to later switch to selling more of your own clothing.

Print-on-demand clothing line

Lastly, print-on-demand is one of the most popular manufacturing processes to start a clothing line with. This process is the easiest and cheapest way to start a clothing line as it involves sending your design to print-on-demand manufacturers who will print your clothing as customers order it from your online store.

E-commerce and personal selling are great sales channels to explore when starting this type of clothing line, as most customers tend to shop online simply by inputting their credit card.

This manufacturing process is a great option to start a clothing line as it is the cheapest and easiest. Startup costs are low since all you need to do is create a design to send to print. Creating the product will then be entirely handled by the one or multiple manufacturers you submit your design to.

This will allow you to have time to focus on creating a design you're happy with rather than having to worry about the manufacturing part of starting a clothing line business solely.

The print-on-demand process will print your design onto clothing such as t-shirts directly using an ink-jet printer rather than screen printing, which may be used in private label printing or custom cut and sew manufacturing. This produces high-quality printed apparel that will accurately display your design on any product.

If you are unsure about which way of manufacturing your product is the best for your clothing line, print-on-demand is a great place to start. You don't need to put any money into it and can focus solely on your design rather than trying to manufacture clothes with no one to help you.

You will be able to see if one design is more popular than the other as customers order, so if need be, you can readjust your branding. Clothing will not go to waste as your product will only be created when customers order it. The fashion industry is known for having a negative impact on the environment. Utilizing print-on-demand will help you do your part to minimize the negative effect fast fashion has on the planet.

Step 6: Design your fashion line

Though you may have already designed a few pieces in your line, now is a good time to design the entire line you hope to create. How extensive you make your designs will depend on which type of manufacturing you choose. If you chose a custom-cut and sew line, you will need to ensure you have incredibly detailed designs.

These designs will be used to create your custom pattern that you will then use to turn into clothing. Once you get your pattern or various patterns, you can include them in your tech pack. A tech pack is a blueprint that a designer will create to show a manufacturer exactly how a piece of clothing should be created.

This should include your sketches or designs, your pattern, what measurements you need to be made, what stitching you want, your label information, and any other details you want to be included. Using a tech pack will ensure communication is smooth and easy, so there will be no mistakes in the final product.

If you chose a private label clothing line, you won't really even need to create any designs. You will be buying clothing already made, so you just need to focus on your branding, such as your labels and tags, which will make the clothing unique.

If you chose print-on-demand manufacturing, you should create a detailed design or print that you can easily send to printers. They will print your design directly onto the clothing without making any custom changes themselves, so ensure that you send a design you are completely happy with.

Step 7: Choose a manufacturer and factory

If you have decided what manufacturing process you want to use for your fashion line, you will then need to choose which manufacturer you want to work with. Choosing the manufacturing process will have narrowed your search down a bit, but there will likely still be plenty of manufacturers to choose from.

If you are looking to keep your line local, you will first want to search for manufacturers in your area online. Their website may have a summary of their services, but it is best to contact them directly to see if they can meet your needs.

You can typically email your potential manufacturer, but just have to be patient when waiting for a response. In your initial email, outline your needs in detail so the manufacturer will have a good idea of what you require to see if they can assist you. Include what service you're looking for exactly, your budget, and when you need your project to be completed by. This will help limit unnecessary back and forth between the two of you.

Choosing a factory

You will then need to do the same thing with potential factories. You should send a similar email to local factories that you can then visit. If you decide to work with an international factory that you cannot visit, you are taking a more significant risk.

It is better to be able to visit the factory to see how they operate. If this is not possible for you, you can ask the factory for references from their past customers or look online to see if they have any reviews. Following this, you should email the factory with questions about their process so you can see if it works with your needs.

If you chose print-on-demand or private label lines, this process will be much simpler. For print-on-demand, you will need to look for a reliable manufacturer to simply print your design for you. Being able to see their past work and past customer reviews will help you choose a good company to print your line.

For a private label line, you just need to find an existing clothing line that sells in bulk for you to then put your own branding on. You can even request a sample of their clothing or material to see if it is something you want to work with before ordering a bulk order.

Step 8. Decide who you want to hire to help you

You likely do not have experience in every aspect of starting a clothing line. You may be a great designer, but are you a great business person as well? There is nothing wrong with not being able to take on every aspect of your new clothing line, so hiring help is a good step. You can easily start by hiring just one person to help you out. Maybe you need help marketing and running your online store, or perhaps you need a quality sewer. Whatever it is, you can hire someone!

There are many eager people looking to also get their start in the fashion industry, so hiring recent graduates or interns could be a great start for you. If you are confident in most aspects of starting your clothing line, hiring an expert in a particular field such as 皇家真人下载_靠谱:digital marketing may be a better idea. Hire based on your needs at the time, as you can always hire more people as your business grows.

Step 9: Produce your clothing line

Finally, after going through all the nitty-gritty steps on how to start a clothing line, you're ready to produce it! The good news here is that the process is basically out of your hands at this point. You have partnered with a clothing manufacturer, factory, and a team and sent out your designs and expectations.

Alternatively, you have placed an order for your blank clothes to add your branding to or sent your designs off to be printed. No matter which manufacturing process you went with, your part is done at this point! Now, you can focus on creating a platform to sell these clothes when they're ready.

 Step 10: Create your store

You may already have your store up and ready to go, if you don't, now is the time to get it going! If you have decided to go with an online store, you will need to start with buying a domain for your website. Your domain should be the name of your business so customers can easily find you.

You can buy a domain from e-commerce platforms such as Shopify or WordPress. Both are relatively easy to use and design, but if you are not confident with your website design skills, you may want to hire a graphic designer. Your website will be the first thing potential customers see, and if it doesn't look good or is hard to navigate, it might put people off from buying from you.

Shipping your products

A big part of starting your store is thinking about how you want to deliver your product. If you are shipping products yourself, you need to think about how you want to package and deliver your products. When your customer receives their package, do you want them to be bored or excited? Probably the latter!

Utilizing customized packaging is a great way to do this. It can be as simple as stamping your logo on the box, so customers know that the package is from your fashion brand. You could explore other options such as boxes or packaging with designs on them as well, but they will be more expensive.

You can instead spend the money on what's inside the box. Packaging the clothing neatly in tissue paper is a great start. But, you can take it one step further and do things like wrapping the clothes in branded paper or sticking it together with branded tape or stickers. This will show your customers that you care and thought about every aspect of their package.

Some brands also include little goodies inside their packages. This could range from something as simple as a sheet of stickers, or maybe a small gift if they ordered a lot. You may also include a note in your packages if you have time to handwrite or type something for them. If not, you could include a coupon for their next order to hopefully encourage them to become a repeat customer.

If you have business cards (and you should), you could include one in the box as well and encourage your customers to pass it on if they loved their order. There are plenty of ways to customize your packaging that will really show customers that you care.

With regards to shipping, you will also need to consider how much you want to charge before completing your online store. A high cost of shipping that customers were not expecting can lead them to abandon their order before finishing the checkout process. Being transparent and honest with your customers from the start so that there are no surprises is the best idea. Do this by advertising the price of shipping at the top of your store, so customers are aware.

Many fashion lines will offer free shipping if a customer purchases a certain amount, such as free shipping for orders over $50. The shipping fee will technically still come from their purchase, just specifically from your profit margins instead. This way, the customer will likely buy more items to get free shipping, so you both win in the end.

You will also need to pick a shipping company. There are plenty available, and many offer a business account that may have discounts when you ship in large quantities. Just as you shopped around for manufacturers and factories, look for a shipping company that suits your needs and can meet your demand.

Once your store is loaded with all your products and all your shipping options have been considered and decided, you're ready to launch!

Step 11: Market your clothing line

Your store is finally up or is ready to launch, and the last step is one of the biggest ones: marketing! Marketing is when you promote or advertise your products to garner customers. Not many fashion designers have experience in marketing, so hiring someone who does may be a good start. If that is not within your budget just yet, you can still market on your own.

Using social media is one of the best ways to market your brand in today's day and age. Most people have some form of social media, whether it's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Creating a page for your brand on each platform and updating it consistently is a great way to build up an audience and advertise your product. You can also easily engage with your customers to help build relationships with them, making them more likely to want to invest in your brand.

If you didn't create a tagline when you created your brand, creating one to market your fashion line is a great idea. Let's think of Nike again. Most people know their tagline, "Just do it!" and can recognize it anywhere. Using a tagline is a great form of marketing as it helps customers remember your brand. They will likely not remember every piece of clothing you sell, but a short tagline is memorable and will help customers think of your brand when they read your tagline.

Another great marketing technique for a new fashion brand is to launch your brand with a giveaway campaign. Gaining exposure for your new brand is important, especially when you first launch. You don't want to launch your brand and have no sales for months. Hosting a giveaway campaign to celebrate your opening is thus a great idea as it will garner attention and bring in potential customers.

One way to do this is by asking followers to repost your Instagram or Facebook post to be entered to win a free piece of clothing. This will help advertise your brand for free and get you followers that may decide to purchase something even if they don't win your giveaway. Those who do win will likely be happy with the experience and can leave you good reviews or tell their friends and family about your brand. Word of mouth is still one of the best marketing techniques, so don't underestimate it!

In today's day and age, social media influencers garner tons of attention and are increasingly being utilized for advertising brands.

Try looking for influencers that you believe reflect your brand's values to hire to become a brand ambassador. As an ambassador, they will help advertise your brand, typically in a subtle way. If they have a big following, this will help bring more exposure to you.

Marketing is one of the most critical parts of getting your new clothing line started. If you don't market, people will not know that your brand exists, which would be a shame! You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign to gain exposure, just be consistent in your efforts and post as much as you can. Customers can tell when a brand is being genuine or not, so just express your passion through everything you put out, and the exposure will follow.

11 steps later, you should now have your question ''how to start a clothing line'' answered and be ready to start your own clothing line!

This is a huge deal, and it can be scary taking the first step, but reading this article is a step in the right direction. If you are based in the United States and are looking for a manufacturer to launch your line, we could be the manufacturer for you!

Why work with BOMME STUDIO?

BOMME STUDIO is a Los Angeles based clothing manufacturer with a passion for making clothing and helping fashion designers find their voice. Our mission at BOMME STUDIO is to create apparel for a community of conscious people interested in a sustainable and ethical future. 

We promote sustainability throughout all the work we do, starting by creating a livable wage for all of our employees. The garment industry is unfortunately known for exploiting workers in developing countries to keep their labor costs low. BOMME STUDIO challenges this and pays our local garment workers $12 to $18 an hour. We also offer our workers an equity stake in the company to ensure they know they are valued.

We also strive to support local businesses by recommending that our clients purchase textiles and yarn from companies based in the United States. We want to reduce our carbon footprint by keeping production and our supply chain local.

Lastly, BOMME STUDIO aims to be able to recycle all of our waste by the end of 2020. We all need to do our part in saving the environment, and we are looking to do that by reducing waste byproducts during our production process.

If our values align with yours and you are interested in working with us, we would be thrilled to hear from you! You can fill out this form to let us know what your project details are, and our team will contact you for a complimentary personalized strategy session. We look forward to hearing from you!   

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