Starting a clothing line is no easy task and will require dedication and long hours of hard work. Some of you will probably give up before getting to the end of this article but for this who are truly passionate, these are the first steps you need to take to make your dream reality.
Find your niche: there are many markets in fashion and markets within these markets. determine what you want to design and stick to that, define your esthetics and branding within your design. Will you be selling dresses, swimwear, lingerie or maybe you want to start off with something easier like a knit line such as tees and sweatshirt. Consider seasonality - Sweaters are a hard sell in the summer… Whatever you decide make sure you find a clear path that will position you as a leader in your category. Fashion is a saturated market so the only way to break through is to have a clear identity.
Zero in on your competition: Once you know what type of product you want to sell, do your due diligence and research all competitors in that market. See where the market lacks, is there a subcategory that isn’t tapped into? can you offer it at a more competitive price? how is your product or company different and why should they come to you over your competitor?
Understand your demographic: This is where the hard part comes in, designers typically think that creating a product and looking into the competition is enough. Quick tip, if your competitor is killing it chances are you’re already three steps behind. You need to find a way to speak to your target demographic clearly. Make sure you truly understand your customers wants and needs on ALL LEVELS. Think of esthetics, price points, branding, copies, and visuals. All these are key elements in communicating with your audience. Build a persona, using demographics try to describe your ideal customer, define gender, age, location, income level etc..
Pick a distribution process: You will want to establish a method of distribution. There are many ways to sell but each will require a different approach.
- Wholesale: This route can be easier and cost effective as a startup. Start off by creating a list of your “Dream Stores” make sure you identify their market and that it aligns with yours. Determine your wholesale price and what equates to in retail. Wholesale can be great if you find an effective sales team but you remember you will rely on volume to make up for the lower margins.
- Retail: you may want to sell directly to the consumer with a brick and mortar. This is definitely a more expensive route but can be very effective in driving foot traffic to your store and brand if you find a great location.
- Online: let’s be honest, no matter what route you choose to take you will most likely also be online if not only. These days you really can’t get around it. With social media marketing opportunities, PPC advertising and higher margins it would be a shame not to.
What’s your message: Last but certainly not least… Identify your message. These days having a pretty collection just won’t cut it. Most startups have a mission or a cause or want to change the world somehow… it doesn’t have to be huge but it has to be different. It’s very helpful to break through the noise if you can identify what yours is.
This entire process takes time, it’s a not a weekends task, some brands do market research for months others years before developing a product so make sure you don’t rush this process as your success surely depends on it.