Many of us are looking into how we can make more money in 2023, and one of the best ways to do this is through a new business. Although starting a clothing brand might feel ambitious, it could also prove incredibly rewarding. In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know, including which products to choose, and a complete step-by-step on how to get started.
Why Start an Online Clothing Business?
The greatest benefit of an online business is the outreach. The entire world is your clientele. Not only that, but you can benefit from much lower start-up costs than a traditional brick-and-mortar business. You don’t need to rent a space or hire an enormous team. All you need is a website and a clear vision! If you aren’t sure what that looks like, you’re in the right place.
How To Start a Clothing Brand in 10 Steps
To help you navigate these unknown waters, we’ve created a 10-step guide on exactly what you need to do to get your business off the ground. We’ll take you through everything, building on what you already know and introducing you to newer concepts.
Step 1: Start to Build Your Business Overview
Starting a business can feel overwhelming, so let’s start with the basics. Your business overview is exactly that: an overview of your entire business. We aren’t getting into specific details here. The only aim is to get an idea of the basic foundation of your business.
If you need some prompts to get you started, ask yourself some of the following questions:
- What kind of clothing is your business going to sell?
- Will you specialize in one particular type of clothing or branch out to more generalized products?
- Who are you going to sell to? Who is your target market?
- How will you produce your clothing line?
- Where/how do you want to sell your products?
- What are your overall goals for your business? Where do you see it in five/ten years?
If you’re staring blankly at these questions, don’t worry. It’s always tricky starting something new, but you’re in the right place to figure out your answers.
Step 2: Decide What Products You Want to Sell
You’ve already identified that you want to start a clothing brand. That’s a great start, but if you want your business to succeed, you need to get more specific. Are you selling sweatshirts and t-shirts or focusing on accessories like socks, hats, and bags? Although this might seem like a decision you can make later, it’s integral to the rest of the steps listed in this guide.
A vital component of this is considering the value proposition of your brand. If you aren’t familiar with the term, your value proposition is the benefit your brand could provide your customers. It answers this question: why should they buy from you rather than your competitors? What do you offer that they don’t? To answer that, you need to know what your competitors are up to.
Step 3: Begin Market Research
Once you know which products to focus on, it’s time to start looking at your competition. There are two critical reasons for doing this. The first is to try and identify how you can do things differently. The internet isn’t short of online clothing brands, so you need to have an acute idea of why your particular business deserves attention from your target audience. You can only gain this understanding by looking at what others are already doing.
The second reason is to gain a little inspiration. Knowing how you’re similar to your competitors is arguably as important as knowing your differences. Now, of course, it’s essential to be mindful of plagiarism. You never want to copy what another business is doing.
All that does is cheapen your brand; most people will always favor the originals. However, sales strategies, social media presence, and web design are all great sources of inspiration.
When looking at your competitors, consider what you think they do and do not do well. Could you improve on what they’re doing? What mistakes would you avoid? This is all crucial intel. It’s also essential to make notes on their pricing and designs. Every bit of information you can acquire is a step closer to building your well-rounded brand.
Step 4: Start to Create an Operations Plan
Now most of the theoretical steps are out of the way, it’s time to begin with some practicalities. This all starts with your operations plan, which will dictate how your products are made and distributed. For most online clothing brands, this is one of three options:
- Do-it-yourself: One of the more complex options, though the one with the least overheads. This will involve creating and shipping your products entirely by yourself (or with a small team) from your home. Think Etsy sellers and you’re on the right lines.
- Dropshipping: One of the newer models, dropshipping involves using an external company to manage your shipments and stock levels. Outsourcing like this costs less and is much less time-consuming than doing it all yourself. However, it is a new and exciting way to do things, so much competition is involved.
- Bulk manufacturing: Lastly, this method relies upon mass-producing a clothing line and trusting that the products will continue to sell for an extended period. This may not always be a guarantee for smaller clothing brands but is a great goal to work toward.
Step 5: Begin to Understand Your Brand Identity
Your brand identity is central to how you communicate with your customers, so you must have a solid understanding of what it will look like. This extends beyond visuals. It also represents your ethos when interacting with your clientele and the quality standards you hold across your business.
With all of the resources and platforms now available to us, almost anyone can start their own business. The only thing that will set you apart is a unique identity. This will ultimately help you build a loyal customer base as their values align with yours.
Step 6: Name Your Brand!
You’ll likely know your brand name before this step, but if you haven’t thought about it, now’s the time! If inspiration hasn’t struck, return to step 5 and consider your overall identity. Your name must reflect your values in some capacity; otherwise, it’ll feel discordant and could even drive away potential customers. Put thought into your brand name!
Step 7: Identify Your Target Market and Develop Your Positioning Statement
You can’t sell to people you haven’t identified. It might be tempting to think, ‘My products will appeal to everyone! I can sell to anyone!’ but this is overly idealistic. You need to know who you’re selling to, especially regarding clothing. Age range, gender, and location are all key criteria for you to identify.
Once you know who you will sell to, you must develop your positioning statement. This is similar to your value proposition; it covers a few more areas. Your positioning statement provides the direction you and your team can follow.
Step 8: Think About Your Story
An increasing number of customers are starting to care about which businesses they put their money into. People are waking up to the hazards of fast fashion, so you should make it a priority for your brand to be as personable as possible. A great way to do this is to include information about your back story!
Why did you get started? What inspired you to create a clothing brand instead of other business ventures? What values set you apart? All of this is vital information to build trust with your clientele. It makes you relatable and gives customers insight into who you are. This relatability could be the final push needed to convince them to make a purchase.
Step 9: Look Into Creating Your Clothing Line
All clothing brands go about creating their products differently, but they follow a similar blueprint. It ordinarily requires the following steps:
- Brainstorm Ideas: By this stage, you should already know which products you will sell; you merely won’t know precisely what they will look like. Brainstorming (either independently, with your team, or with an external designer) is the perfect way to hone in on your vision.
- The Mockup Process: You may do this independently or with the help of an external designer. The mockup process is the first step, providing a brief insight into how your final product may look.
- Order Samples: If you’re using an external designer, it’s time to start ordering samples. The last thing you want to do is order a whole batch of clothing only to discover that the material isn’t what you imagined. Samples are essential.
Your process might go a little differently than this, but these are the typical steps most clothing brands take when designing their products.
Step 10: Start Selling Products!
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the final step! It’s time to start selling your products. You have your brand identity, you know what your products will look like, and you know who you will sell to. You’re all set! The final items on your checklist will be setting up a website and ensuring you have photos of your products.
You might think this is the end of the road, but the uphill climb has just begun! Just remember to enjoy the process. Although challenging at times, owning your own business is a privilege and can be truly rewarding. Have faith in your ideas!
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does It Cost To Start a Clothing Brand?
It’s impossible to figure this out accurately, as all clothing brands have different aims and starting points that affect the start-up budget. One thing’s for sure, though: creating an online clothing brand is infinitely less expensive than a traditional brick-and-mortar business.
How Profitable Is a Clothing Brand?
This varies enormously, but there are few markets out there that are as secure as the fashion industry. People are always going to need clothes, and everyone has different tastes. You could be the one to cater to them, and that inevitably brings profit along with it!
Considering Starting Your Own Clothing Brand? Get in Touch!
Now that you know everything it takes to start your clothing brand, it’s time to get involved. At The/Studio, we specialize in designing high-quality custom items for our clients. We prioritize excellence and creativity from start to finish, so contact one of our design specialists today, or browse our product catalog for inspiration. You’ll love what we have to offer!