Have you been wondering how to start a clothing business? Do you have numerous creative ideas and excellent taste in fashion, but you don’t know the actual steps that will lead you to a successful business? No worries, you’re not alone.
Take inspiration in Sophia Amoruso. She was an unemployed college dropout who would find vintage pieces at secondhand shops, take pictures and sell them on eBay. Now she runs Nasty Gal, an online vintage empire that was sold in 2017 for $20 million.
See? Starting a clothing business is not mission impossible. All you need is the right direction and practical tips on how to start a clothing business. Scroll down and you’ll find all of that in this article.
Why start a clothing business?
People will always need clothes. Not only for practical reasons, but also because of the way apparel makes them feel: beautiful, attractive, or professional. Therefore, clothes are more than just fabric.
Besides, different seasons require different clothes, so there is a constant demand in the market. Let alone fashion, that every year dictates new trends.
Also, the clothing business can be very creative and rewarding. If you have many ideas and something unique to offer, this is the right profession for you.
Types of clothing businesses
Before learning how to start a clothing business, it’s important to explore all your options. There are several directions you can take:
Opening your own shop and reselling clothes is a direction that doesn’t require large investments, such as different equipment. Nowadays, you can even open an online shop, which would decrease the initial costs.
This is one of the most affordable and easiest options to start a small clothing business. Print-On-Demand implies printing your designs on blank clothes. There are no set-up costs and there are plenty of clothing options: you can print on T-shirts, socks, dresses, etc.
A private label clothing line
This option is similar to the one mentioned above, but it allows you higher margins and more possibilities for customization. A private label clothing line involves creating your brand without producing the whole piece of clothing. You buy blank apparel in bulk and add your personal touch with print, tags and so on.
Sewing clothing line
This is one of the most difficult and time-consuming option that also includes high startup costs. It means that you’re in charge of everything: designing, creating patterns, providing fabrics and producing the whole clothing line from scratch. Naturally, you can always find reliable partners who can help you out.
How to start a clothing business?
Once you choose your direction, it’s time to learn how to start a clothing business.
1. Define your niche
For starters, identify your target audience and determine who are the people that will wear your clothes. Think about the group you’d be passionate about serving or a demographic whose needs aren’t met yet. The more specific you are, the greater are the chances to reach your ideal customers with ease and less money.
For instance, you can create T-shirts with funny slogans aimed at programmers or new moms.
2. Write a business plan
A business plan represents a roadmap that will guide you and help you achieve your goals. Basically, it’s the foundation of every successful business because it considers all aspects and gives you a clear vision of what needs to be done.
A business plan involves market research, competitive analysis, and financial and management plans. However, keep in mind that these facts aren’t set in stone, you’ll probably have to adapt your business plan structure, as the fashion and clothing industry is very different from other types of businesses.
3. Research your market
Another piece of information you need to take into consideration is how the market works. Researching your competitors can help you better understand the behavior and preferences of your target group.
Therefore, take advantage of the internet and learn how your competition engages with its customers. Discover their offers, bestsellers, and copy their formula for success.
4. Figure out the numbers
When starting a clothing business, it’s crucial to take into account your initial costs. Probably, you’ll need:
👚 A visual identity (logo and website).
👖 Infrastructural costs, such as internet or phone.
👗Permits if you’re planning to trade at the market or on the street.
👙Sewing or design equipment (fabrics, sewing machines, scissors…).
👘The rent for your workspace or website.
👢 Promotional costs.
👔 Wages of your collaborators.
This way, you’ll determine your expenses which will help you set the right prices and make your business profitable.
5. Determine prices
Establishing your expenses and production costs helps you determine how much it will cost you to produce or buy a piece of clothing. It’s recommended to strive for prices 30%–50% higher than your expenses to make a profit and make your clothing business sustainable.
Charging too little can cost you profits, while charging too much can cost you sales. You also need to take into consideration the prices of your competitors.
Last but not least, take into account your brand positioning and how its value is perceived. If you’re selling fancy clothes, then your clothes will be perceived as more valuable.
6. Organize your clothing business
To make your operations smooth, you need to tackle some important questions:
- Your location. Will you work online from your home or do you need a studio?
- Your business model. Are you going to be an online retailer, or are you going to sell clothing in a boutique?
- Partnering up. Are you a one-(wo)man show or do you need co-workers to set things in motion?
- Marketing and sales. Do you have a marketing plan? How are you going to execute your promotional activities?
- Funding. Do you have enough funds to cover your operations or do you need additional resources?
7. Craft your clothing line
Designing, sourcing and producing are the most challenging parts of starting a clothing business. But it can be the most rewarding too.
First of all, you need to find the right materials. Don’t shy away from asking for advice because it will save you time and money. Friends or acquaintances who work in the industry can give you a hand or at least connect you with somebody who can.
After finding the perfect fabrics, it’s time to materialize your design. If you don’t plan to do everything by yourself, you need to partner up with a manufacturer. When looking for a manufacturer, consider their cost, minimum order quantity, and quality. Also, make sure you get a sample before you start production, that way, you can make some adjustments and ensure top-notch pieces.
8. Importing from other countries
Another option is to import clothing from Latin America maybe. The best way to get all the information you need is to visit the embassy of the country you want to import from in your area. A Commercial Attache from the embassy will explain to you what type of apparel you can bring in your country.
Afterward, look for Freight Forwarder, an import agent in your area to get more precise information, like freight or duty costs.
9. Test your collection
Once you get your test samples, it would be good to take them to the market. Facebook Marketplace, market trading spaces or any events that your clients visit are excellent opportunities to validate your idea.
With your customers’ feedback, you can tweak your clothing pieces and in that way ensure there’s no room for mistakes.
10. Start selling and promoting your pieces
The final step is to place your clothing line in the market and start spreading the buzz around it.
Make sure you leverage social media to connect with your customers. Also, there are plenty of free creative marketing ideas you can implement.
Remember to test different tactics and embrace the ones that work. It will probably take time to develop your clothing business but try not to lose your patience, just be persistent and you’ll start seeing results.
Start a business in the fashion industry
A clothing business, like every type of business, doesn’t offer any shortcuts. This path requires a lot of patience and dedication, but the final result will definitely be worth it. Helping people feel special and beautiful is very rewarding.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be alone on this exciting journey. Camino Financial can be your reliable partner. Our motto is No Business Left Behind and we provide you with affordable and flexible funds to help your clothing business grow. You can begin your process by filling an application form, and you’ll know the status within 24 hours.