Besides being a basic necessity, clothing is important because it can boost your self-confidence and act as a method to present yourself to the world the way you want to be seen. If you are a creative individual with a passion for clothing and have an entrepreneurial mind, then starting your own clothing business can be a very rewarding career. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about starting your own clothing business.
What is a clothing business?
A clothing business is a combination of design and retail, as the business involves designing a unique clothing line and then selling the clothing in your line. To be successful in starting a clothing business, you will need to have both the creative eye and passion for fashion and the acumen needed to run a business. The clothing industry can be a very competitive market with trends in style changing every season, so it is important to stay current on the latest trends as well.
How to start a clothing business
Follow these steps to start your own clothing business:
1. Research and know your market
The first step to starting any business is to do some research and have a good understanding of the market and your target audience. The clothing industry has a broad market made up of several subcategories and niche markets. You will need to consider what type of clothing you want to sell, what markets your business will be in and who your clothing line’s target audience will be.
You can choose from clothing niche markets such as vintage clothing, trend-setting, plus size, men’s clothing, women’s clothing, kid’s clothing, casual clothing, business clothing and more. Once you know which market you want your clothing line in, you need to narrow that market down to the specific audience you will target within the market. You can then use this information to do full market research and analysis to gain a clear understanding of your competitors and how your business will create a competitive advantage.
2. Identify and develop your brand
Identifying and clearly defining what your company’s brand identity will be is important to guiding your business practices and helping you reach and captivate your target audience. Your brand’s identity goes beyond what you do, it includes why you do it and establishes what makes you unique in the market.
Your brand identity will influence things such as what types of products you design, what your business name is and how your logo and website will look. A strong brand identity should resonate with your customers and can help you build customer loyalty and maximize your profits.
3. Create a budget
You will need at least a basic outline of what your business’s budget will be. This doesn’t necessarily need to be an in-depth budget, but you should have a clear understanding of what your fixed costs will be, what your potential flex costs could be and how much you will need to make on the sale of your clothing to be profitable.
When you are first beginning in the fashion industry, it may be best to keep your product line simple and stick with one or just a few products that you know how to manufacture or buy to help keep your start-up costs low.
4. Write a business plan
As you gather information from the first few steps of the process, try to organize your thoughts about your business into a business plan. A business plan doesn’t have to be lengthy or overly detailed, but it should help you identify who your business is, what you do, who your target audience is, how you will be competitive within your market and what your business’s short-term and long-term goals are. Your business plan should create a strong foundation for your clothing business to reach its goals and expand.
5. Create your product designs
Every clothing line needs unique designs that make the collection stand out from competitors. For example, you may already like the designs of a specific brand but you have an idea that would improve the product and design. There should be a clear distinction between your designs and the designs of your competitors. If your collection will be similar to the collection of one of your competitors, it is important to establish how your line is different and why the difference matters to the consumer.
6. Determine how your products will be manufactured
Once you have created the designs for the products you want to include in your clothing line, you need to determine how the product will be manufactured. When you are first starting your business, you may want to manufacture your products on your own or use a wholesaler to manufacture your products for you. It is important to do your research and understand the costs that will be involved with each option.
You may have several options for manufacturing when you first begin your business, but as your business expands you will likely need to use a wholesaler to help you manufacture and distribute your products. Many manufacturers offer a service called drop-shipping, which means the manufacturer packages and mail the orders to your clients for you. This may be a service worth asking about when you are comparing wholesalers.
7. Establish prices for your products
You probably began to think about the prices you would charge for your products when you were creating a budget and writing your business plan. But now is the time to clearly establish the price for each product in your clothing line. At this point, you should have a more clear idea of what your manufacturing and production costs will be, so you should be able to establish how much you will need to charge your customers for each product to make a profit off their sale. Usually, your prices should earn you a profit 30-50% higher than your costs.
There are also additional factors to consider when determining what the prices of your products will be. For example, you should consider the perceived value, or the amount your target customers would expect to pay for your products will be. You should also consider how your branding, quality and competitive strategy will affect your prices.
8. Market your clothing business
A successful marketing strategy helps you bring brand recognition to your target audience and maximize profits. There are several different ways you can market your business and the method that is right for your business will vary depending on your market.
The most important thing to think about is what method will have the greatest reach and impact on your target audience. For example, if your clothing line is targeting trend-setting teenagers and young adults, heavily using social media to market your product line may be a very successful marketing strategy for you. But if your target audience is senior citizens, you may have more success using more traditional marketing methods such as print advertising.
9. Sell your products
Now it is finally time to sell your first clothing collection. You will need to determine how you will sell your clothes. You can sell your collection through an online shop, a brick-and-mortar retail store or in boutiques that sell several clothing lines. You may want to consider hosting a launch party when you are ready to begin selling your products. Even if you will be selling your products online, you can use a launch party both on-line and in a physical location to build excitement around your clothing line.
10. Analyze and make adjustments as needed
You should try to get in the habit of routinely analyzing your business and looking for ways you can improve or grow. You can do this in different capacities throughout the year. For example, you might have a strategy in which you do a full analysis of how your company is performing compared to competitors annually, an analysis of industry trends and changes seasonally and an analysis of your business’s performance monthly.