The shift to online shopping in the last decade has surpassed what was initially expected from the digital landscape. More than ever, products and goods can be easily marketed, sold, and fulfilled online. This accessibility has made starting a clothing business a feasible and viable option for those who want to embark on the path of entrepreneurship.
Starting any company isn't all rainbows and butterflies, though. Successfully launching a brand in any industry takes hard work, focus, research, and planning. You'll need to develop a brand identity with which your audience can identify and curate effective sales and marketing strategies that inspire and motivate consumers to shop for your brand.
How researching your target market and consumer trends will impact your success
The importance of brand identity and how it will make or break customer loyalty
How social media advertising campaigns can extend your reach as a brand and increase sales
Yes, starting a clothing brand is a great way to make money. While the clothing industry may feel saturated, there's always room for new players to join the game. Modern consumers have unique styles and preferences, and new clothing brands pop up all the time and experience significant success. If launching an online clothing store has always been on your career bucket list, now is the time to start.
However, you can't just jump in and start selling something in an online store without any planning or preparation. You'll need to spend some money upfront to launch your brand, build awareness around your clothing line, and get an online store off the ground.
There are many factors to consider when starting your own clothing line. You'll need to account for shipping costs, marketing efforts, and the methods you'll use to source your clothing. Depending on the route you choose, launching can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
For more cost-effective options when getting your business off the ground, a print on demand service takes the heavy lifting out of sourcing and creating all your clothing. This type of supplier can handle the creation of clothing, fulfillment, and shipping, saving you a lot of time and money as you get started. Partnering with a print on demand supplier will also free up more of your time, so you can focus on your designs, marketing your brand on social media, training team members, and much more.
Here are the vital steps you should follow to take a small clothing line and transform it into a successful fashion brand.
If you genuinely know and understand your target market, you'll create a product your audience will feel you designed specifically for them. More than ever, consumers are attracted to products that add value to their lives and feel unique to their lifestyles and preferences. Understanding your target market and the specific audience will lead to consistent brand loyalty, more sales, effective marketing, and happy customers.
To nail down your target market, consider the following:
Consider what your ideal customer may struggle with when shopping for clothing. These pain points may include dressing to their body shape, finding the right size or style that suits them, how to style an outfit, or finding clothing that fits their budget.
Will you design your clothing line with one gender or age group in mind? Maybe you're catering specifically to Gen Z, or your target customers are much older. It's crucial to determine who exactly your fashion line will be designed for, so you can keep fashion trends in mind when designing items and creating a marketing plan.
Whether you'll be solely online or plan to open brick-and-mortar stores, knowing your customers' location is essential for marketing and logistics. It will impact shipping fees and your chosen manufacturing facility while creating your business plan.
Understanding your customers' psychographics, such as their values, lifestyles, and desires, can help you in a few ways. Knowing this data allows you to design products that cater to their interests and use marketing tactics to attract them to your clothing line.
In the digital landscape, trends shift constantly. Keeping an eye on where your target audience discovers new fashion brands, how they interact with ads on social media, and how they fund their purchases (Buy Now, Pay Later, anyone!?) is essential when you start a clothing line and as you scale.
Knowing what time of day your audience is shopping online or browsing Instagram is beneficial for your marketing plan; creating content and posting it during those crucial times can dramatically increase your website views and sales. Additionally, understanding why consumers choose one fashion brand over another can help you modify your clothing line as you see fit.
Determine your company's goals, strategies, and a detailed action plan for each facet of your fashion startup with a business plan. This step is essential in creating a clothing line business because it provides a roadmap for your company's foreseeable future. A business plan should detail your plans for financing, producing, distributing, and marketing your clothing.
Decide which of the following business models best fits your needs and goals:
Creating your clothing items yourself: Creating items yourself is ideal for a small clothing line with minimal product variations and a small team (or a one-person show). You'll source the product (T-shirts, denim, scarves, loungewear, etc.), create the designs, and produce the final product.
Manufacturing your clothing items in bulk: Most manufacturers require a minimum order quantity to work with a company. For some, anything less than 500 units per order is considered small. Working with a manufacturer can help you save money by purchasing in bulk as you scale your brand. In the beginning stages of launching a clothing company, small batch production manufacturers (where you can order anywhere from 1 to 100 units) may be a more suitable choice.
Producing & fulfilling your clothing items through a print on demand company: With a print on demand business model, the clothing brand is responsible for creating the designs and working with a supplier to customize the products you want to sell. Under your brand, your products sell on a per-order basis and can ship from all over the world. The supplier, like Gelato, handles your fulfillment, production, and shipping processes.
The most successful brands make people feel something and leave a lasting impression. A solid, consistent brand will ensure your products stand out from the crowd, and it showcases your company's personality and what you stand for.
To conceptualize your clothing brand, consider the following:
What do we offer that is different/better from what currently exists?
What is our value in the market?
What are we trying to change or improve in the fashion industry?
As you brainstorm a business name, think about the words or phrases that align with your brand and what you're bringing to the market that doesn't already exist. Consider the key differentiators in your products and how they will make people feel. Naming a fashion business can be as simple as using a spin on your name, details about the product, or even a graphic or symbol of what your company represents.
Consider sharing your brand story with your audience. In the future, you could do this in a blog post, a mission statement on your website, or simply by getting on Instagram Stories and sharing how your business came to be.
Performing market research will reveal any gaps in the market that your clothing line can fill for consumers and help you stand out from the competition. Your research should answer the following questions:
What clothing items are in demand?
What trends are on their way out, and which aren't going anywhere?
Where are consumers comfortable spending money?
What do consumers expect in terms of sustainability from a brand?
Knowing the answers to these questions will give your business insight into what existing clothing companies are already producing, how consumers shop, what they expect, and how your products or shopping experience can offer something different.
It's time to get artsy! Whether your creative juices are flowing or you hire a graphic designer to create your brand identity, this is an essential step in building a brand. Brand identity can build customer loyalty by creating the face of your business.
Brand identity consists of the color scheme, logo, fonts, and typeface you will use on your website, social media channels, and any material you use when shipping (mailers, flyers, etc.). It becomes how customers will recognize your brand, and it should speak to your products, your values, and what you stand for.
Your color scheme should be one or more colors that complement each other, as they will become associated with your clothing brand over time. Your logo should be punchy and eye-catching and can be a symbol, a letter, text, or some combination of these.
Once you've nailed down your brand identity and decided on hand-making items, using clothing manufacturers, or a print on demand model, it's time to start designing the clothes!
The first collection is arguably the most important; it sets the tone for your business, who you are as a fashion designer, and the message you want to send. Focus on quality pieces that showcase your creativity and style that you'll be proud of for years. Create mock-ups of your designs that you can tweak, rework, and finalize as inspiration comes.
Whichever manufacturing process and supplier you choose, be sure to order samples of your clothing before making an order. Sampling will allow you to touch the fabric, see the design and print quality, and decide if any modifications need to be made. Samples will ensure that you are confident in your product and the supplier and feel good about selling the product to customers.
If you're just starting a clothing line with a few handmade products, creating a store on a marketplace like Etsy is a great starting point for a small business. If you have multiple clothing lines or intend to scale up quickly, ecommerce sites like Shopify may be your best bet.
As you add listings to your store or ecommerce site, keep in mind what kind of content encourages you to purchase as you shop online. Pay attention to your product descriptions; they should provide compelling details about each item, including the quality, fit, and materials while painting a picture for your shoppers that excites them to wear your clothes.
Don't skimp on visuals! Take the time to create beautiful images and videos of your items, so you can showcase them in your shop and use them on social media. High-quality imagery will set realistic expectations for customers of what they'll get when they purchase from your shop.
From your research, you should have a solid marketing plan mapped out. You should know the social channels where your target market is the most active, where they purchase from, and where they interact with brands the most. This information should directly impact the channels you use to promote your brand.
Many clothing brands target their customers on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for significant global reach. These platforms make it possible for a small clothing line company to interact with customers worldwide, drive traffic to your store, and empower these shoppers to make purchases.
Run social media ads, giveaways, and promoted posts targeted to your ideal shopper(s). Social media advertising doesn't have to cost a lot of money; you can run small ad campaigns, make tweaks, and scale up as you see fit. Test ads with and without visual components, using coupon codes and other strategies to encourage users to interact or share your page, visit your website, and make a purchase.
Now that you know it's entirely possible to build a brand from scratch, create a clothing line, and market to your potential customers, it's time to get moving!
We hope your new to-do list inspires you as you envision your clothing brand. While it may feel right to check each of these steps off as quickly as possible, be sure to do your due diligence when exploring and researching the clothing industry and your target market. Slow and steady wins the race.