If you are someone with a creative mind and a love for clothes, then you may want to be the next big designer on the planet. How do you go about starting your own fashion brand? What should you do and what should you avoid doing?
The challenges ahead
It is worth saying at the start that beginning any business from scratch, let alone a fashion business, is a challenge. Not only will you need to have great fashion and clothing ideas, but you will also need to have a mind for business; for the dreary administrative and marketing tasks that are part and parcel of running a successful company.
The first step to take is to decide on your fashion brand’s name. Branding is everything, and you need to come up with a name that represents your fashion style and provides an idea of where you want your clothing line to be in the future. Once you have decided on your brand’s name, buy your domain name before anyone else can acquire it.
If you have not already worked this out, you will then need to decide what type of clothing you want to make. For example, do you want to create casual wear, or formal? Whatever type you intend, it is worth starting off with a limited range of clothing. This will help you to consolidate your brand image and give you something to work with that is manageable.
Remember, that although you may be able to re-brand once you’ve established yourself as a major player in the fashion industry, for now this is the final image. Everything from your style to your logo, to the kind of clothes you will be manufacturing, are a part of your brand. Naturally, you will have to spread the word online-through your website, social media, news channels, and more. At this stage, you may wish to hire an internet reputation manager who can monitor your presence closely and tackle any negative or false claims against you.
Perhaps the most complex and costly part of your business will be the actual manufacturing. Your costs will depend on how you proceed. For example, do you want to mass-produce clothing or keep your range exclusive by only creating a limited number? To help you decide, you should research how much materials cost and the total cost of production. You should also factor in whether the manufacturing cost would be down if you decide to import clothing from china or get it manufactured locally. Only after contemplating all the situations, you should shortlist one. The more cost-effective ways you adopt, the more profit you would gain in the short as well as long run. Besides, getting a mannequin dummy to test some mock-ups on might be a sensible idea. Then there are your marketing costs and other overheads, such as the rental on your shop if you are going to have a physical presence and not just an online one.
All of this takes money and you may find that you can only succeed with the help of a partner or investor. Investors in the fashion world are not necessarily all that hard to find, as demonstrated by the ailing brand Façonnable bought by M1 Group in 2007. With this investor on board, the company has been able to rethink its artistic direction, which has reinvigorated the brand. An investor also has other advantages, in that not only are they likely to have a good head for business, but also may already have contacts and personnel that can help the business a great deal. It is also possible that with the money and expertise an investor brings, you will be able to grow your business a lot faster and even expand internationally rather than just nationally.
Starting your own clothing brand will be a difficult but very rewarding enterprise. Despite your preconceptions, it will not always be glamorous and will in fact, involve a lot of very hard work. The key is to persevere until you achieve your dream.