What is your background? Having creative ideas for stunning clothing is a great start. But in most instances, it will be somewhere between ideal and mandatory to have some training or education in design, textiles, and garment creation—sewing or altering.
Although you can have clothes manufactured in a factory on a mass scale, you’ll need to be able to sew and draw initially so you can produce concepts for the factories to adhere to. Plus, it’s always a good idea to test your ideas with an MVP (minimum viable product), meaning that you test your designs by creating a small run before you invest in large-scale production. If no one buys a run of thirty skirts, for example, you’ve lost significantly less than if you finance a run of 20,000 without verifying that people will buy or that retailers will be interested.
Taking classes in marketing, design, textiles, or business is always a benefit in the clothing industry. But studying on your own time is also a good option to consider if you’re not interested in or don’t need formal education. University training will almost always help you expand your knowledge base and give you access to feedback from professionals and peers, but ultimately, developing creative designs is personal—it’s about your own style and ability.
It really doesn’t matter which way you decide to go with your line, this is an industry were passionless people stand out. While everyone says that no matter what your company, you need passion regardless, that simply isn’t the case these days. To be frank, there are actually a number of sectors that allow you start a perfectly successful business without ever having any real passion for the sector or business model itself.
When it comes to clothing, however, you really do need to have a genuine passion for what you are producing. Without it, you simply won’t stand out and enjoy any real success.
In any business, branding is important. But for a clothing line, it’s absolutely imperative. Without a strong brand identity, affable story, and admirable ethos, your business will be overlooked for your competition.
Most brands have a great origin story, even the bottom line is that they were started simply to earn more money. Rather than just aimlessly choosing a style without reason, think about what you want to add to what’s already available in the marketplace: luxury, quality, cheap alternatives, additional sizes, or even a completely new style, it’s worth thinking through to create a foundation for your brand which will also serve as a guide in future.
When working out what you want your brand to be, draw on your own experiences and personality as a base. Your entire brand should, ideally, be a reflection of yourself. Consumers are cleverer than you think, and will immediately see through any generic, insincere branding attempts.
One of the main advantages of starting a clothing line business is that it is relatively easy to keep costs low initially.
As you get started, put together a business plan. It will help you decide on and maintain your key areas of focus and should help you put together your initial budgets and financial forecasts, based on your startup costs. It’s a good idea to write down ways you can minimize your initial costs—look at your list of startup costs and define them as either essential from the very beginning, or something that can wait until you’ve started generating some revenue.
Your largest overhead at the very beginning will probably be the clothes themselves, and as you will likely be producing the clothes yourself, you’ll only need the most basic of equipment. Only invest in more professional equipment once demand has increased and you have more capital.
Until you’re dealing with a high level of stock, it’s a good idea to avoid renting space and just manufacture from home. This allows you to be more flexible with working times and keep your day job until you really take off.
One expenditure you should consider is insurance, including basic business insurance, freelance insurance, or professional indemnity insurance. When you’re small and the risk is low, you’ll be able to find policies that cost next to nothing—but should the worst ever happen, it could save you.
If another company claimed that your design, logo or branding was copying theirs, having professional indemnity (liability) insurance would give you the financial backing to battle the claim. It also offers some protection from dissatisfied clients.
From the outset, you should also consider setting up some key financial performances indicators to help you thrive—it’s critical to be able to keep track of how your business is actually performing, versus your financial projections. Think about number of sales, the total profit made per order, and the revenue you hope to generate within a set time frame.