How to Start a Clothing Business: A Guide

Starting your own clothing and fashion business is an incredibly exciting opportunity. It’s a dream job of many to own a clothing line and rub shoulders with the big players in the industry – and you could potentially be living that dream. But before you get ahead of yourself, you need to know the best practices of how to start a clothing business. 

From developing your brand image to creating an efficient sales plan, there are various things you need to think about before you can start dreaming of being the next timeless brand in the industry. Due to a hugely saturated market, it can be a little daunting when you’re starting out or branching into new markets from an existing business. 

So, in this post, we’ll explain everything you need to know on how to start a clothing business. We’ve handpicked our seven top tips and compiled them into one post so that it’s your all in one guide to forming a rock-solid business foundation. 

We’ll cover: 


Defining and Developing Your Brand

In the fashion world, brand identity is everything. It’s what will separate you from the rest of the crowd and will get you noticed. Don’t  get lost in the sea of other clothing businesses that are trying to make it in the current market – let’s face it, there is a LOT of competition out there. Your brand image could be the difference between customers choosing your business over another one. 

Overall, it’s how people portray your brand and it should cover everything that you stand for as a company. Your core values should be at the forefront of your brand so that people can relate to and feel a part of it. A poor brand image will get traction for all the wrong reasons – and that’s most certainly something that you don’t want. A poor brand image is hard to reverse. 

A strong brand image is the key to success. If your ideal audience can’t resonate with your brand, they’re unlikely to buy from you. With that in mind, extensive audience research is essential to getting your brand right. Who better to ask how to shape your brand than the people most likely to become your customers, right?


Detail Costs and Outgoings For Your Financial Plan

Like with any other company, you need to crunch the numbers when starting your clothing business. It’s easy to be blindsided by the prospect of revenue and money flying in from your orders, but you need to bear in mind the costs of your business too. This’ll allow you to accurately forecast your profit margins and the figures for your month on month accounts. 

There are various costs and outgoings that you need to consider: 

  • Your brand design – logos, marketing and your website. 
  • Any license or permit fees. 
  • Premises rent.
  • Infrastructural costs – phone and internet.
  • Marketing and advertising costs. 
  • Equipment – for example, embroidery machines and printers. 
  • Raw materials.
  • Staff wages and salaries. 

Starting a clothing business or expanding into a new market is a big financial commitment – there’s no hiding that it’s expensive. However, if you’re committed to your business and show the right level of passion, you’ll be able to reap the rewards of the time you’re putting in.


How Much Will You Charge Per Product?

You need to sit down and figure out a pricing scheme for your products. This requires a lot more thought than you may think as if you opt for the wrong price point, you run the risk of putting people off from buying from your brand. The first place you should start should be to work out your cost per unit (CPU). 

That way, you know how much you’ll need to charge to breakeven and can gauge how much profit you’re going to make on each product. It can be easy to hike these prices up with your eyes focused on large profit margins, but if you set your prices too high, you run the risk of pricing yourself out of the market. It’s good to check your competitors’ pricing strategies and use them as an industry benchmark to get a feel for a true price.

Pricing your products too cheap is just as bad as overcharging – but why? Well, it’ll take more sales for you to cover costs and outgoings. As a startup business, you can’t expect sales to be through the roof from the off. Also, cheap products may connote that your product isn’t top quality either. 


In-Store? Online? Or Both?

You need to decide how you’re going to operate your company. Are you looking to start a small fashion boutique business? Are you branching out into a new area in your current online store? Or, are you looking to have both a web presence and a brick and mortar store? These are all scenarios that you need to iron out before you start operating your business.

Building a web presence is the most common way that businesses can put themselves out there in the modern market. Not only are they easier to set up and maintain than a physical store but they’re also the first place that a lot of shoppers go to when they need new clothes. Online shopping is convenient – and that’s exactly what people love.

A strong website can help your brand enhance its image. You should use your typical brand colours and tone of voice throughout, so that it’s instantly recognisable who the visitor is shopping with. Not only will it help raise brand awareness but it’ll also be a reliable source of information for the visitor, which will help establish credibility and a trusting relationship with your customers. 

Brick and mortar stores are a great way of forming quality relationships with your customers. Providing amazing customer service will help your brand reputation go a long way. Plus, if the shop itself is cool and innovative, you’ll no doubt stand out from the crowd. Take note, there’s a fine line between helpful shop assistants and pesty, annoying ones – don’t be that team, nobody likes being harassed when they’re shopping, do they?


What Sets You Apart From the Rest?

When starting a clothing business, you need to focus on your niche. This is what will set you apart from the rest of the industry and will stop you blending in with the many other clothing businesses in the current market. By blending in and going with the flow, you’ll never hit the potential success that you can from developing a true niche that’s iconic to your brand. 

Trying to appeal to a wider market is hard – and can be expensive and ineffective too. Rather than wasting time and money looking for the perfect product range that’ll suit everybody, you should focus on finding the right products for a specific market. Otherwise, your clothing items are going to be too generic and there’ll be no personality or character within your brand. 

A niche doesn’t have to be too out there either. For instance, these are various niches that your brand could adopt: 

  • Men’s formal wear.
  • Women’s activewear. 
  • Men’s swimwear. 
  • Women’s lounge clothing. 

Your niche must be your passion. If you’re not 100 percent behind your ideas, how can you expect the customers to get on board with them? Also, it’ll be blatantly obvious if you’re not passionate about the niche area that you’ve chosen to explore – and half-hearted fashion is good for nobody.


How Will Your Products Be Made?

Are you going to be making your product line yourself? Or, will you be working closely with a clothing manufacturing business? If you’re already an established business, it’s likely that you’ll use the same manufacturer that produces the rest of your brand’s products. That way, you keep consistency throughout your product range and each item will be made with the quality that your existing customers have come to expect. 

However, if you’re just starting out then you need to draw up a manufacturing process. You need to consider what equipment you’re going to need, for example, an industrial embroidery machine for the custom jobs that you’ll receive. You’re also going to need to think about how many members of staff you’re going to need within your team and whether any training will need to be provided. 

Your manufacturing process is crucial to meeting your customers demands and the overall success of your business. If you can’t keep up with customers’ orders, then you’re going to struggle to retain them. Losing business not only affects your bottom line but also can hurt your brand reputation.


Sales and Marketing Plans Are Key to Success

You could be producing the best products in the industry but if you’re not selling or marketing them correctly, then you’re not going to reach your target market as effectively as you could. As we mentioned earlier, you need to outline whether you’re going to be selling your clothes online, in-store or both. 

Selling your products online is convenient for the customer, cheaper and less labour intensive than a store but it’s not ideal if you’re looking for your brand to grow exponentially. So, if you’re going to have an eCommerce platform, we recommend that you also have a physical store to attract footfall and house your product range, materials and equipment. 

Your marketing plan is all about getting your brand out there for the world to see. It’s an exciting time for the business, so you need to make sure that you’re making plenty of noise about your new concept. But most importantly, you need to make this noise in the right place! Choosing the right marketing platforms are key to success and reaching out to your target audience effectively. 

Without a plan, your marketing efforts will all be pulling in different directions – which is only going to end one way. Failure. A plan ensures that each part of your plan is working towards the same goal so that your messaging is never confusing or conflicting.


Choose the Right Equipment For Your Clothing Business

So, now you know how to start a clothing business, it’s time to set the wheels in motion and make it happen. One of your most valuable commodities as a business is your equipment. Without it, you have no product range – and without a product range, your clothing business isn’t going to get off the ground. 

One of the key pieces of equipment that all clothing businesses need is an embroidery machine, and for that we recommend Happy Japan. They’re perfect for those customisable jobs that you receive and are flexible to work on an array of different product types too – perfect for reaching out to your customer’s needs. 

It’s vital that you choose the right one for your business though. If you pick the wrong one, you run the risk of losing money and harming your brand reputation. So, you need to think carefully about which one suits your business’ needs the most – that’s where we can help!

We’ve put together a free guide that lists the perfect embroidery machines for startup clothing businesses. From product features to the beneficial impact they can have on your company, it’s all included in the guide. Grab your free copy today.

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