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1. Can starting a clothing brand make money?

How to start a clothing brand in 12 simple steps [2024]

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 creating a clothing brand 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.

Main takeaways from this article:

  • Success in building your own clothing brand hinges on understanding market trends and consumer requirements to create products that resonate with customer preferences and loyalty.

  • Building a brand identity is crucial to attracting and retaining customers. Brand identity involves creating a unique and relatable image for your clothing line.

  • Social media campaigns are crucial for extending the brand reach and boosting sales. They leverage platforms where target audiences are most engaged.

  • Despite a saturated market, new clothing brands with unique styles can be profitable with initial investment in product development and online store setup.

  • Starting a clothing brand offers benefits like personal freedom, profit potential, community engagement, learning opportunities, potential for expansion, and contribution to the fashion industry. 

  • The latest clothing design trends include minimalism, vintage and boho styles, and bold prints and patterns.

  • Key steps to start a clothing brand include identifying the target market, creating a business plan, conceptualizing the brand, conducting market research, establishing brand identity, obtaining a business license, designing clothing, and ordering samples, among others.

Can starting a clothing brand make money?

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.

What is a clothing brand?

A clothing brand represents a company's identity in the fashion industry and distinguishes its products from the rest. It encapsulates the company's vision, values, and aesthetics that appeal to consumers in a unique way.

Key elements of a clothing brand

  • Brand identity: This includes the logo, name, and overall visual representation. It’s what makes the brand recognizable and memorable.

  • Target market: A successful clothing brand identifies and understands its target market. This includes knowing its audience’s demographics, preferences, and buying behavior.

  • Product line: The range of products offered, from casual wear to high fashion, should reflect the brand's identity and cater to the target market's needs and desires.

  • Quality and design: Consistent quality and unique design help build trust and loyalty among customers.

  • Marketing and promotion: Effective marketing strategies, including social media presence and advertising campaigns, drive brand visibility and growth.

  • Sustainability practices: Increasingly, consumers are looking for brands that prioritize sustainable and ethical practices in their production processes.

A clothing brand is more than just a logo on apparel; it’s a lifestyle choice that resonates with consumers' values and tastes.

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Benefits of starting a clothing brand

Starting your own clothing brand with an online store can be a fantastic endeavor. It offers several benefits that can make it a rewarding and fulfilling experience, such as: 

  • Freedom and independence: Being your own boss comes with a unique sense of liberty. You not only own the decision-making process but also control product design, brand image, and marketing tactics. This venture transforms a business into an inspired adventure of self-expression.

  • Profit potential: Starting a clothing brand is a profitable endeavor. With the vast fashion market, even niche, small-scale businesses can flourish by providing unique and high-quality items. If your brand resonates with your customers, substantial revenues are within your reach.

  • Community engagement: Your clothing brand isn't just about profits. It also heightens your connection to your community by offering trends they love, understanding their style preferences, and possibly sourcing local materials. It's a more meaningful relationship built on shared tastes.

  • Learning opportunities: Building a clothing brand offers various learning experiences, including understanding consumer behavior and financial management. It's a challenging responsibility, yet ultimately rewarding as it promotes personal and professional growth.

  • Potential expansion: Your brand can pave the way for future growth. If your line becomes widely successful, you can have a chance at expanding your business, even venturing into other lines or related products.

  • Contributing to the fashion industry: Just imagine being part of the worldwide fashion narrative. It's an opportunity to create, share, and revolutionize design concepts, redefining fashion. More than that, your brand can be a sustainability advocate, making a remarkable societal impact.

How much does it cost to start a clothing brand?

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.

Latest clothing design trends: An overview

Understanding the latest trends is an integral part of launching your own fashion brand. Here's your guide to the most notable clothing design trends for this year, which you can fuse with your brand's unique identity to make your clothing brand stand out in a competitive fashion industry: 

  • Minimalist and essential: The minimalist trend is a powerful force with a strong emphasis on back-to-basics and essential staples. This fashion philosophy is all about creating a timeless wardrobe consisting of versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched. 

  • Vintage and boho style: Vintage and bohemian aesthetics continue to be popular. Consumers are drawn to the charm and nostalgic appeal of retro designs. These styles are often characterized by flowy fabrics, bright patterns, and distinctive detailing. 

  • Functional and comfortable: The rise of remote work and home-based activities has put comfort at the forefront of fashion. Clothes designed for ease of movement, practicality, and versatility, like athleisure and loungewear, are going to be big in 2024. 

  • Bold prints and patterns: Despite the move towards minimalism, there's still a place for bold prints and patterns. They offer consumers the chance to express their individuality and add some fun and flair to their wardrobe.

How to start a clothing brand step-by-step


Here are the steps you should follow to transform a small clothing line into a successful fashion brand.

1. Nail down your target market

diverse group of people representing different demographics

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:

Customer pain points

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.

Customer demographics

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.

Customer locations

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.

Customer psychographics

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.

Consumer trends

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 brand and as you scale.

Customer purchase habits

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.

2. Build a business plan

build a business plan

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.

3. Conceptualize your brand

Conceptualize your brand

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.

4. Research the market

research the market

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.

5. Establish your brand identity

 establish your brand identity

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.

6. Obtain a business license


Your clothing brand, like any other business, will require some form of legal recognition, which gives you the legitimacy to operate within a certain jurisdiction. This process typically involves acquiring a business license or permit. The specific type and cost of a business license you will need hinges on various factors: your location, the size of your brand, the nature of your products, and more. 

Your local government website should provide the information you need to apply for a business license. First, determine the necessary legal structure of your business. It could be a:  

  • Sole proprietorship: This is the simplest form, where you, as an individual, own the business. You are personally responsible for all debts and obligations.

  • Partnership: As the name implies, this is where two or more people share ownership. Each partner contributes to all aspects of the business, including money, property, labor, or skill. Each party shares the profits and losses of the business.

  • Corporation: A corporation is a more complex business structure. It is an independent legal entity owned by shareholders, meaning that the corporation itself, not the shareholders that own it, is legally liable for the actions and debts the business incurs.

  • Limited liability company (LLC): A hybrid structure that combines the legal protections of a corporation with the tax benefits and operational flexibility of a partnership.

When you've decided on the legal structure of your business, you can then apply for a business license. Each jurisdiction will have its own specific requirements and procedures, which will often entail completing an application form, paying a filing fee, zoning approval, and obtaining tax ID numbers.

7. Design your clothing

download (1)

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.

8. Order clothing samples

close-up of a business license document

You're on a roll, and now the next step involves making your clothing brand tangible. Ordering samples of your clothing line is crucial before you delve into full-scale production. It's the only reliable way to assess the quality, fit, and overall appeal of your designs. 

These samples act as your clothing brand's first representation, letting you inspect your designs in reality rather than just on paper or computer screens. Remember, the key objective is to achieve the best quality possible that aligns with your brand philosophy and consumer expectations. Once you're satisfied with the sample pieces, you're ready to go into production. But remember, starting small is advisable, allowing you to gauge customer response before investing further. This approach will help reduce risks associated with inventory and production costs as you lay the foundation of your clothing brand.

9. Create your online store

a sleek, modern online clothing store interface on a digital device

If you're just starting a clothing brand 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.

Taking the time to set up an organized, appealing online presence is key. It's important to consider the overall visual identity of your brand, from your logo and color choices to product photography and layout. All these elements should reflect your brand's message and appeal to your ideal customers. Furthermore, don't forget to optimize your product descriptions with crucial keywords to improve your SEO ranking and increase organic visibility.

10. Create product listings

attractive product listings with detailed descriptions and high-quality images

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.

11. Establish effective prices

an ecommerce professional focused on their computer screen with a calculator nearby

One of the most significant steps in starting a clothing brand is determining the suitable pricing for your items. This process isn't merely about covering your costs - it's about understanding the perceived value of your products in the eyes of the customers.

To start, research your competitors' prices and compare their products' quality to yours. Then, consider your expenses, including manufacturing, taxes, marketing, and overheads. Apart from these, you must also factor in your profit margin. Remember, effective pricing isn't static; it should be flexible enough to adapt to market changes and customer feedback. While setting a competitive price, don't undersell your product to gain market share. Low prices may undermine the perceived value of your brand and may not cover costs in the long run. Likewise, an overpriced product could turn potential customers away. It's crucial to find a balance that maintains your brand image yet appeals to your target demographic.

12. Market your clothing brand


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.

Create a successful clothing line online with Gelato

According to a report by Xpresa Labels, one of the biggest threats to clothing brands is losing brand loyalty due to not being able to manufacture on-demand styles on time.

However, embarking on the journey of starting your own clothing brand is made much smoother with Gelato's print on demand services. Our platform can streamline and simplify the process of product sourcing, giving you access to a range of customizable clothing items that form the basis of your own unique collections. With Gelato handling your product sourcing, you can focus more on being creative, infusing your brand's personality, and marketing your collections to your target audience. 

Quality control and inventory management are critical aspects of running a successful clothing brand, and they are traditional pain points for many startups. With Gelato, these concerns are eliminated. Gelato ensures each product delivered is of the highest standard, passing stringent quality control checks. 

What's more, inventory issues are a thing of the past! Gelato's print on demand model means you only produce what you sell, reducing unnecessary costs and labor associated with keeping large stock levels.

Popular clothing items in Gelato's catalog you can consider selling in your clothing store

Gelato's catalog has customizable clothing items perfectly suited for both new and established clothing brands. These products offer exceptional quality, variety, and customization options, giving your brand an excellent start. Here are some popular items you may consider: 

  • T-shirts: An essential part of any clothing line, Gelato's premium tees come in an array of colors, cuts, and styles. Personalize them in line with your brand aesthetic.

  • Hoodies: Popular and comfy, hoodies lend themselves beautifully to customization. Gelato offers both zip-up and pullover options to ensure a wide selection for your brand.

  • Sweatshirts: Sweatshirts are a popular option among shoppers of all ages due to their comfort and versatility. Gelato's high-quality, soft sweatshirts are an excellent choice for startups looking to offer premium comfort.

  • Sportswear: Gelato's sportswear collection is a game-changer for budding fashion entrepreneurs. It includes customizable hoodies and tees, allowing you to create unique, quality athletic wear.

If you're willing to invest in superior quality clothing without the hassle of maintaining inventory, then sign up for Gelato today and start creating amazing clothes!


Do I need an LLC to start a clothing brand?

While forming an LLC isn't strictly necessary for starting a clothing brand, it can provide valuable benefits. These include legal protection, tax advantages, and increased credibility with customers and investors. Ultimately, however, it’s an individual decision based on your specific circumstances and long-term business goals.

How do I start a clothing brand with no experience?

Starting a clothing brand with no experience might seem challenging, but it's feasible. Key steps include self-educating on fashion and business basics, defining your niche, formulating a business plan, and gradually building your brand. Enlisting the services of a print on demand provider like Gelato can be a game-changing move, as it eliminates the need for upfront investment in inventory.

How do I create a clothing brand name?

Creating a clothing brand name involves deciding on a name that is unique, easy to remember, and resonates with your target market. It's advisable to research potential names to ensure they're not trademarked or in use by another company. Remember, your brand name is a reflection of what your company stands for, so make sure it aligns with your brand's image and values.How do I create a clothing brand name?

Creating a clothing brand name involves deciding on a name that is unique, easy to remember, and resonates with your target market. It's advisable to research potential names to ensure they're not trademarked or in use by another company. Remember, your brand name is a reflection of what your company stands for, so make sure it aligns with your brand's image and values.

Is it hard to start a clothing brand?

Starting a clothing brand can be challenging due to competition, investment needs, and the necessary creativity and business acumen. However, with a clear vision, sound plan, and relentless determination, you can navigate these challenges.

Do clothing lines make money?

Yes, provided they're well-managed and meet the needs of their target market. Monetizing a clothing line involves precise product pricing, effective marketing strategies, and maintaining efficient operations. A profitable clothing line understands its customers and continuously innovates to stay relevant in the competitive world of fashion.


Next steps

Create a successful clothing line online with Gelato