Competition in the fashion industry often turns into a contest of survival of the fittest, so starting a fashion business can be really challenging.
However, if you know where to start and what it takes, being successful in this billion-dollar industry is possible.
Here are 5 basic tips that can help you set a solid basis for your clothing brand.
1. Choose a Niche
Choosing a niche is very important when you’re starting a clothing business. Ask yourself: are you going to produce and sell only one item or are you going to establish a style that you’ll apply to an entire clothing line? Will you be working with casual or business clothes? You might even take things one step further and decide to manufacture and sell organic, cruelty-free, or sustainable clothing.
The point is, you need to know what your niche is going to be. Later, you can look into other niches, but selecting a specific niche at the beginning will help you develop your business.
2. Create a Business Plan
Even though creating a business plan might look unnecessary when you’re just starting out, there is always a possibility that your brand will become successful overnight and grow rapidly. If you are not well prepared, you might sabotage your own success.
Bear in mind that the clothing industry is quite unpredictable, so try to make your business plan as flexible as possible. When writing a business plan, begin with the basic things. Create an overview that will include an executive summary, as well as an outline of how you plan to build and expand your fashion brand.
The business plan should also contain a data-oriented market analysis, as well as an outline of who’s included in your clothing company and what their respective roles are. In addition, you should add the products you are going to work with, as well as any plans related to marketing, sales, and branding.
Finally, there should also be a section on finances, which will contain the financial state of your clothing business at the moment, the financials needed to grow your business, and plans to attract investments. It’s best, to begin with, a fixed sum for your funding and try to explain how you’re planning to spend it.
3. Keep Things Organized
Your fashion company needs to be as organized as possible. Here are several things you should consider:
Decide where your business will be located. Is it going to be a brick-and-mortar store, an online store, or both? Make sure to research the rules related to fashion brands for both physical and online businesses.
Who is helping you run the business? Are there any other key positions besides yours?
Do you have PLM software? You should keep track of your products at all times, and having apparel PLM software is the best way to manage the entire lifecycle of a product, from conception and design to manufacturing, service, and disposal. PLM (product lifecycle management) integrates data, people, business systems, and processes and provides product information for clothing companies, thus helping them reduce product cost, increase revenue, etc.
Do you have a clear marketing and sales plan?
Have you insured your business?
4. Design and Manufacture Your Products
Design is the most interesting stage of the whole process. Start getting your ideas on paper and turning them into sketches. Select the best ones and use software like Corel Painter or CorelDraw to polish them up. Next, prepare a ‘tech pack’ consisting of the basic information (technical specifications and product details) you are going to send to the manufacturer.
The next stage is the manufacture. If you’ve decided to buy wholesale garments and then retail them, you can skip reading this part.
You can decide to manufacture the products yourself or take them to a factory. If you’ve chosen the latter, rely on your contact network to find the right manufacturer. Take some time to think about what exactly you’re looking for: are you looking for an artisan, craftsman, or a big factory? Once you’ve chosen a manufacturer, ask them to make a sample product so you can compare their work to that of other manufacturers.
5. Test and Launch Your Product
To see how your products will perform on a larger scale, you need to run some tests. The best option is to market them online (especially on social media), but you can also take advantage of trading events and local fairs. The point is to collect constructive feedback that will help you make the necessary improvements and help your business prosper.
Once the testing stage is done, your products are ready to start selling. Take into consideration important aspects like store location, marketing, pricing, shipping, packaging, returns policy, season differences, special deals, offers promotions, discounts, etc.
Ideally, all these things should already be in your business plan; however, it never hurts to revise and polish them up.
These five basic steps should help you set up a solid foundation for your clothing business. Once your company is stable and starts bringing profit, you can start thinking about expanding. At this stage, you can start manufacturing a large number of different products or taking larger orders.
However, before you make any big moves, take some time to prepare. Keep things simple for the first several seasons, allow yourself to get used to running a business, hiring new employees, etc. Once you feel more comfortable, expanding to new markets or adding new product lines will come naturally.