How to Start a Clothing Line: The 5-Step Guide
So you have decided to take the leap and become a fashion designer? Starting your own clothing line is exhilarating! You are finally ready to see your ideas turn into reality, and we are here to guide you through the process of how to start a clothing line and help you create your dream.
Starting a successful clothing line requires a mixture of business acumen and artistic creativity. You’ll probably have envisioned your designs being worn by others for long enough, the excitement truly begins as you launch yourself as an independent fashion designer.
In this guide, we are going to explain the 5 key steps you should consider to successfully launch your clothing line.
Step 1. Define Your Demographic
The U.S fashion market is valued at $292 billion. 1
This is a huge market to introduce a new clothing brand into. To successfully launch your clothing line, you will first need to find a niche and identify the need for your garments.
The three key components of a successful clothing brand are:
- They bring something unique
- They are aware of what their audience needs
- They have loyal customers
By providing unique products that meet a need, certain customers will appreciate your style and approach, and become loyal customers.
When you are launching a clothing line, finding and catering to a specific niche is vital. Capture the imagination of your audience by crafting a story that resonates with them.
To help you discover your niche, you will want to find the sweet spot of three driving factors:
1. Your unique perspective:
Spend time researching your unique perspective, see if there are any larger social or industry trends which match. It will be an advantage if your perspective is hitting a current trend.
2. Current social & industry trends:
Finding fashion journals and blogs appropriate to your market along with relevant industry research can give you an understanding of popular trends. Celebrities are also often trend setters which can help you discover the latest styles that translate to your market.
3. A unique solution:
Once you have gathered your research, you can create designs that are unique, trendy and target your ideal niche.
Step 2. Craft Your Brand
Once you have defined your demographic, you want to craft your brand. Crafting your brand upfront provides you with the opportunity to better communicate your message and story within your niche, from the very beginning.
To craft your own brand you need to ask yourself: What brand would speak best to my target market?
Your brand pillars are the foundations which will guide every aspect of your decision making:
Your brand mission is the essence of your goals and philosophy underlying them.
Your values form your brand culture, they are the set of guiding principles that drive your entire clothing line.
The driving force behind the creation of your brand and clothing line.
What is essential to preserve and the future you are heading towards.
Your brand pillars act as a simple tool for ensuring your brand is consistent throughout all of your activities.
Nike is one of the world’s most widely recognized brands, their brand pillars are fundamental in every aspect of their business:2
- Mission – “Bring inspiration to every athlete* in the world, *if you have a body, you are an athlete”.
- Values – Performance, authenticity, innovation and sustainability.
- Purpose – “To experience the emotion of competition, winning and crushing competitors”.
- Vision – “To remain the most authentic, connected and distinctive brand”.
Brand visuals are what most people immediately associate with a brand. Your brand visuals will include your logo, brand fonts and colors, along with your overall design and photography aesthetics.
Creating a mood board is the best way to start pulling the visual style you’re going for together. Any images, designs, photos, colors or other multimedia snippets you find that inspire your brand ideas will be in one convenient place for your reference.
The next step in the branding process is to narrow down a color pallet to use. Selecting a color pallet early will keep your brand looking consistent through all channels. Pay attention to the dominant colors throughout your moodboard, as they immediately caught your eyes.
Finally craft a logo for your clothing line business, you will want it to represent your brand and speak to your target demographic. If you are on a budget Logojoy offer a great free service to help you create a logo.
Step 3. Find Your Clothing Manufacturer
When it comes to the development and production of your clothing line, you will want to choose a clothing manufacturer carefully. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration, one of the most important will be whether to manufacture in the U.S or abroad.
Where it was once much more financially viable to manufacture abroad, recent industry trends has given rise to domestic factories which are affordable and specialize in small batch production services.
Producing clothing made in the USA has become more popular with consumers looking to support domestic trade, it also gives you the opportunity to visit the factory and have greater input with quality control.
Working with a full service in-house small batch production factory like TEG will ensure that you’re involved with every step of the process so that your exact specifications are met.
Step 4. Development and Production
The development and production process is the heartbeat of your clothing line, your designs, quality, finances and time will all be invested into turning your garments from ideas to reality.
The development process is where your designs come to life:
Meet the Team
- Tour the facilities
- Ask any questions you have
- Finalize your contract
- Create timeline of deliverables
- Discover sourcing options available
- Gather the best fabrics for your designs
Technical Review with Patternmaker
- Go through you spec sheet with a patternmaker
- Ask any final design questions
1st Patterns and Samples
- 1st Samples created using fabric sourced and spec sheet
Fitting and Adjustments
- Fit Samples to ensure precise to design
- Make any final adjustments
- Once fitted, a duplicate round of patterns produced for use
- Gather all pre-production and production costs
- Plan and prepare for production
Next the production process is where your entire clothing line comes to life:
- Gather fabrics for entire production process
- 60-70% of garment production costs on fabric
Grading & Marking
- Grade and mark your patterns
- Ensure little to no fabric waste
- Specialists cut your designs into shape
Top of Production (T.O.P)
- A set of samples taken during your first run
- You will approve before continuing with production
- Your clothing line is now ready for mass production
- Approve quality of final products
- Have your new clothing line delivered to you
We have created this handy infographic for you to share and use as reference on how to start a clothing line.
Step 5. Market Your New Clothing Line
Now that you have learned how to start a clothing line, it’s time to produce the first run of your new clothing line and get promoting. There are a lot of components to a successful marketing strategy, here we will highlight some of the key tactics you can deploy.
Unless you have a substantial marketing budget, online marketing is the most effective and financially viable option to promote and sell your line.
Online apparel sales are projected to reach $90 billion by 2021.3 With so many people buying online, it can be an real advantage to promote your new clothing brand online to reach your target audience.
Start with having a website:
- Showcase clear images of your collection
- Display your contact information
- Bring your brand to life
- Tell your story
It is important you use high quality images as potential customers, partners or even funders will be basing their first impressions on these pictures.
This is also a great opportunity to highlight your slogan, which will enhance your brand story and give you differentiation within your niche.
For example, if you are designing a line for solo female travelers, an empowering slogan will match your niche such as, “Travel With Attitude” or “Goin’ Solo”.
You need to constantly tell your story. Using social media is a great way to promote your brand and get people vested into your story use every tweet, like, post etc to share your brand and story.
Launching your line with a giveaway is a great opportunity to generate a ton of exposure when done correctly, which is crucial during this period. Find ideas for giveaways and competitions and then promote them heavily on your website and social media channels.
Finding a good manufacturing facility is vital for your new clothing line, doing your research and finding the facility that’s right for you leads to a better finished product.
You want the value and visualization of your garments to be matched throughout development and production. We have helped countless businesses and individuals learn how to start a clothing line.
TEG specializes in developing and producing clothing for independent fashion designers, our in-house team of experts work with you through every step of the development and production process to ensure your end product matches your high standards.