Are you planning to launch a clothing line but don’t know where to start? You don’t have to be an expert designer to have your own line, but there are some basics you should consider before you do.
The apparel market in the U.S. is the largest in the world. In 2016 alone, it was estimated at over $290 billion. This means there’s a lot of competition, but also great possibilities for success. If your designs are creative and original and you know your target market well, you’ll find your customers in no time.
Here are the 5 most important steps to start a clothing business and create a brand people will know and love.
1. Find a Niche and Write a Business Plan
Find a Niche
The first step to starting an apparel business is finding a niche. Will you be selling trendy clothing, athleisure, formal wear, kids wear, business casual, or sportswear? This is an important decision in the beginning so you can focus your attention on one niche, find the right manufacturers, and find your target market. You can always expand later and see what niche fits your business best.
Write a Business Plan
Next, write a business plan for your line where you’ll outline everything from designs, operations, employees, marketing strategies, and budget. Your first business plan will be your guide and help you establish a solid foundation in the beginning. Revise it every quarter to add or remove sections, play with new ideas, and improve operations.
Decide on a Budget
Budget is essential when you’re starting out because it’ll dictate the quality of your products, the production speed, marketing efforts, and ultimately, sales. Consider making a budget for at least the first year of business and tweak as you go.
If your budget is limited, you can always launch a clothing line with fewer pieces and simpler designs. Use free marketing channels like social media networks to build brand awareness, and focus on the quality of the items.
Your clothing business will turn into a brand people love and come back to. Aside from creating a website, logo, labels, and marketing collateral, you should also define your brand voice and mission.
Find inspiration in your personal goals and values, but also those of your target audience. Branding grows and develops naturally as you go, but you should still have a starting point.
2. Understand Your Target Market
Before you design your first piece of clothing, you should define and understand your target market. Who would wear your designs? What is their age, location, lifestyle, spending habits, appreciation for fashion, and needs? Once you analyze your target audience, you’ll know what they like and dislike, so you can offer them your best work.
Start with a narrow focus and expand later on if you see there’s potential. Sometimes, it’s best to cater to a specific target market and grow than to be all over the place and getting nowhere.
Next, pick the right brand name. If you want to establish yourself as a designer, use your own name. Otherwise, pick a name that’ll fit your target market. If you’re designing clothes for kids or babies, choose something sweet and easy to pronounce. If you’re targeting teenagers or young adults, choose something from their vocabulary or lifestyle. Double-check if the name is trademarked and make sure to secure the domain name for your website as soon as possible.
3. Design the Clothes
Now it’s time for the most exciting part of starting a clothing business: designing the clothes! Decide how many pieces your collection will have and start sketching. It doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
Think about your target audience, the things they’d wear, and how you can execute your designs within your budget. You should also know which fabrics will go into each piece and how it will reflect in the final price of the product.
If you’re making any claims with your clothing such as “quick-dry”, “sun protection”, “slimming” or brand-related claims like “ethically sourced” or “made from organic materials”, make sure they’re true.
4. Find a Manufacturer
Finding a manufacturer might be the hardest part of starting a clothing line, but with a little preparation and proper research, it doesn’t have to be. Choosing the right manufacturer is crucial for the success and quality of your clothing line. Take into consideration factors like price, quality of work, production speed, working conditions of the employees, and reliability.
The relationship you have with the manufacturer can make or break your business, so take your time to research and choose wisely. Once you find the manufacturer, order a few sample pieces to see if they meet your standards. You can always test the market by offering the samples for sale and see how they perform.
Another option is to work with a CTK USA fulfillment center, especially if you sell online and don’t have a physical store. You can send the clothing there and they’ll handle the packaging, shipping, inventory, and even returns.
5. Market Your Business
Now that your clothing line is ready for selling, it’s time to market your business and start creating buzz around your brand. You can do this through several different channels and ways:
- Building a fan base on social media
- Paid Google and social media ads
- Sending your items to influencers
- Partnerships with big retailers or established brands
- Offering discount coupons for first-time customers
- Contests and giveaways
- TV and radio ads
- Guest posts on popular websites
There are many ways to market your business for free or on a budget if you don’t have a lot of money allocated for marketing. After your launch, make sure to keep building the relationships with your customers, listen to their needs, and ask for product reviews.
Start a Clothing Business People Will Love!
If you decided to start a clothing business, these tips will help you take it from idea to execution with ease. Make a solid business plan, find your branding and name, partner up with a manufacturer, and you’re ready to launch your first clothing line! Need more business growth and marketing tips? Check out some of the other articles on our website where we cover the latest industry trends.