Whether you are a Fashion graduate, or have a passion for the industry, starting your own clothing line is often the pipe dream of many designers and those with an interest in fashion. While you may not ever be the next Viv Westwood or McQueen, you can still create good designs with great determination and a fantastic marketing strategy.
Many young designers often rush into setting up a business due to the perceived glamour and success of the fashion industry, ignoring the ups, downs and failed companies that we tend to hear far less about amongst the success stories. However, a business depends on the founder’s determination and aims, so if you are hard working and want to give your company the start it deserves, here are some great tips and advice to starting your own fashion business.
Do your research
Before you even start planning and designing, learn as much as you possibly can about the industry you are entering and fill your head with knowledge. Take the time to learn, expand skills and be sure of your abilities. By doing research, including watching interviews, attending classes, reading articles and taking the time to talk to fellow practitioners; you will gather a much stronger insight into what the industry expects and what is required to succeed. It may seem boring, but it is essential for success!
Check out HTSACC for articles, advice and top tips regarding start-up cost and licensing information specific to the fashion industry.
There are plenty of UK based companies that started small-scale and progressively grew to worldwide distribution. In order to be set for success, your clothes will have to offer something a little different from the competition. Think outside the box, and use proven-popular ideas in modern concepts to encourage customers to purchase your designs rather than those of existing brands. Avoid making the same things as everybody else, give the market something new! For inspiration visit lookbook.nu – a great source for everyday people and everyday style!
Source and secure
In order to start to build up your business, you’ll need the money in order to produce it. “Indie” clothing lines are companies that aim to produce high-quality products and plan to extend in the future, once the brand has grown. There has been a particular boom in “indie” companies recently and it is estimated that brands of this type require a minimum of £300 to get going, and if you want in-house production – costs can increase to £5,000+ to get started.
There are plenty of ways to get started, and a lot of companies that will help you secure the funds if you haven’t saved up enough. Here is a great article from The Guardian with ideas on gaining alternative funding outside of bank loans. Another possibility is implementing pre-orders to get money from customers before the clothes are produced.
Plan the manufacture
Making your own clothes by hand is a great cost-effective way to get started, however, as the brand starts to grow – you will need to produce higher numbers on shorter timescales. Plenty of good sewing machine companies offer fantastic business start-up deals, including a wide range of industrial sewing machines that are affordable and the ideal option for first-time company starters.
If you choose to source your manufacturers out of house, be sure to approach professionals with a clear business plan. Potential partners are far more likely to be confident in your entrepreneurial ventures if they can see a clear growth strategy and an organised and dedicated individual behind it.
Learn how to market
As with any business, knowing how to market your product is critical for success. Firstly, create a good, strong and easy-to-purchase-from website. A clear website will allow customers to shop and online presence is one of the most productive forms of advertising for new businesses. Other ways to spread business by cost-effective methods include word of mouth – if your customers are happy, they are far more likely to return and tell their friends.
Social media is a fantastic way to reach a large audience without spending much money! Visit popularsocial sites including Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Youtube which offer huge audience communication and engagement worldwide.
Listen to your customers!
Market research is the key to any business. Your designs may be beautiful, but if they are too expensive to purchase or too difficult to wear, they simply will not sell. Listen to customer feedback; don’t be afraid to remake old styles if customers are asking for it, or kill a best-seller if it seems like the right thing to do. Your design and fashion aesthetic may change numerous times, but it is important to make a conscious effort to make changes that affect your market in a positive way. For the basics on market research, visit this great post to get started.
Stick at it!
Like anything, a clothing line takes a lot of hard work and dedication to succeed, alongside a few sleepless nights and stressful times. But don’t give up! You are sure to meet challenges along the way, but if you believe in your brand and yourself – you’ll succeed! Good Luck!