The fashion industry is one of the most lucrative places to start a business right now. While it’s certainly a very competitive environment, at the end of the day, we all buy clothes. This means that the demand will never cease. As long as you know your target audience’s needs, you have the chance of making it in the fashion world. That said, starting a clothing business is by no means a piece of cake. There are a lot of decisions and preparations to be made for a smooth launch. If you have always had a passion for fashion ideas, here is how to start a clothing business. But remember no business can prosper without an effective marketing strategy.
How to start a clothing business?
Pick a niche
No matter what kind of business we’re talking about, targeting everyone is never a good idea. Failing to identify your specific target audience prevents you from making the most effective steps towards getting their attention.
So, you cannot convert them into customers. So, figure out your niche. What kind of garments are you passionate about designing? Is there a need and demand for those clothes in your market? Study your target audience and their habits, research your competition.
Make sure that there is something about your idea that makes it unique and valuable to your customers. What you want and what the audience wants are both relevant.
Figure out your business plan
Being passionate about clothing is not enough to start your brand. It’s also crucial that you take the business side of the project seriously. Figure out how you will finance your startup. Depending on the fashion business model you will be going for, the size of the investment required varies greatly.
In either case, make sure you budget well since small businesses don’t become profitable immediately. Besides a financial plan, you will also need a business plan.
You have to choose a business structure for your clothing line. A sole proprietorship is the easiest to set up for beginners, but make sure you inform yourself well to choose the most appropriate one and register your business so that you can start your operations legally.
Choose your fashion business model
Then, it is time to start thinking about the most important component of your fashion business – the clothes themselves. There are various fashion business models to pick from.
Which one is for you depends entirely on your objective. Do you want to open a boutique and buy clothes from wholesalers to curate your own collections? Does your interest lie in customizing pre-made garments with your own, original designs?
Do you want to design your clothes and have them manufactured entirely from scratch? Or do you have a great vision and want to serve a small but imposing target audience by starting a custom couture fashion business? All of these have their own advantages and disadvantages.
- A print on demand business model would allow you to start with little capital and have your designs printed on whatever piece of pre-made clothing your vendor offers. Here, the key truly lies in finding the right vendors to partner up with, since the quality of the garments is out of your hands. This model is suitable for those who are just starting out and aren’t selling large quantities yet. Pairing this option with dropshipping minimizes the necessary labor from your side, however, the profits aren’t too great either.
- Going for reselling wholesale pieces is a good option for those who are great at picking the right pieces and styling, and are less interested in designing the clothes themselves. It takes time to find the right wholesalers, figure out the right quantities for inventory, and so on. However, the advantage of it is that there is a huge selection and you can get truly good deals if you look around. Whether it is wholesale jackets or unique dresses that you’re after, the internet has it all. Resellers often rebrand their pieces too if they have such an agreement with their wholesalers, so you can still keep your brand identity with a new tag.
- Customizing wholesale clothing is a great in-between option for those who are the most passionate about making their products just the way they want to. While this might be a more expensive and more complicated model to start than the previous two, the return on investment is bigger as well. It requires you to invest in an inventory, but purchasing in bulk gives you a better profit margin. In addition, you’ll have freedom in how you want to customize your pieces beyond just printing on them.
- Finally, if you want to be in control of the entire process, the cut and sew model is what you’re looking for. This is certainly the option the requires the largest investment. However, if you want your designs to come to life, this is the way to do it. You will be in charge of designing your clothes from scratch and creating the patterns for sewing them. You’ll need to source fabrics and find the right manufacturers. All in all, you’ll need a lot of know-how in order to get all the moving parts right and it may take months before your business starts running.
Decide where to sell – How to start a clothing business online
Once you know how you’re going to make your clothes, you need to decide how and where you’re actually going to sell them. Earlier we mentioned boutiques. Even if this is what you’re going for, it is highly recommended that you also create an online presence for your brand.
Nowadays, few things can compete with the power of e-commerce. However, there is a lot more forethought that needs to be put into starting an online clothing store than one might think.
Do you want your own webshop or are you going to sell on already existing e-commerce platforms? While the latter can give you a lot of exposure, the former gives you a better brand identity.
You can also combine the two. If you will be selling online, you also need to create a solid framework for packaging and shipping which takes more resources than one might think.
Get the word out
Finally, when everything’s ready for your launch, a crucial part of the work is still in front of you. You also need to get the word out about your clothing line and market it effectively to reach your target audience.
We already mentioned the importance of a solid online presence – this is what’s going to help you with marketing. Luckily, you don’t need a large budget for this part.
Social media is the most powerful tool and much of it can be used entirely free. Present your story and your products in the right way and like-minded people will naturally follow you.
That said, figuring out the ins and outs of each social media platform does take effort, and you need to constantly stay active to reap the benefits.
As you can see, starting a clothing business takes a lot of effort. Which of the options will fit you depends entirely on what you want to focus on with your clothing business.
However, if you are truly passionate about bringing your vision to life and into the wardrobes of your customers, it’s nowhere near impossible.