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10 Steps to Starting Your Own Clothing Line

How to Start Your Own Clothing Line

Creating your own clothing line is an exciting creative process of bringing your unique vision into people’s lives and wardrobes – but getting there can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve created this useful 10-step guide on how to start a clothing line in the UK to help you land on your feet in this competitive creative industry.

Step 1 – Find Out Who Your Target Audience is

This stage is all about deciding who your niche market is, which will become the foundation of your business model. Creating a clothing line is usually a very personal project that’s inspired by a gap in the market that you’ve spotted, whether it’s a sportswear brand inspired by your love of CrossFit or yoga, tailored clothing for mums-to-be, a focus on a specific creative inspiration like Ed Hardy, or a personal love for ethical fashion.

This is how you’ll connect to your audience, so it’s important to outline what your products are and who it is that they will appeal to. This will help guide business decisions going forward, such as the voice and aesthetic of your brand, the social media platforms you’ll operate on, how you’ll speak to your consumers, and how you’ll present your website to them.

Step 2 – Start Developing Your Budget

No matter how creative, innovative, or ground-breaking a fashion line will be, all successful clothing businesses start the same way – with a budget and business model. This is the hard graft of setting up your business; the number crunching, finding investors (if needed), and making sure your business has what it takes to get through those crucial first months or years.

When it comes to budgeting, it pays to keep it simple and get advice from someone who is experienced in fashion start-ups. Start simple with key items that can be used to test the market and get useful feedback from consumers rather than diving in with a large catalogue. Investigate different manufacturers to get a clear idea of your options and the costs involved. Above all, start small but be ready to scale if everything takes off.

Step 3 – Create a Detailed Business Plan for Funding, Growth, and Investment

For your business plan, you need to go deep into the numbers and get as much data as possible to back up your vision – especially if you are looking to get funding from investors, banks or even family. Keep in mind that this isn’t an opinion piece or an elevator pitch – it’s a document that needs to stand up to rigorous interrogation from investors and funders on everything from branding, sales, and marketing to operations, consumer data, and more. Typically, your small business plan should include the following:

Executive summary

This is an overview of your business and how you intend to run it, your mission statement, products, and services, and why you’re starting this business.

Business description

Be sure to include the goals, products, services, and customer base for your business as well as the structure of the business (is it a partnership, sole trader, etc.)

Market analysis

This includes a description of who your target audience is, where they are, the pain points or challenges they are experiencing and how your business can solve these, their demographics, and where you can find them (geographic and online spaces).

Marketing and sales plan

This will cover your anticipated marketing strategies, pricing plans, sales funnel and channels, differentiators from your competitors, competitor analysis, your unique selling proposal, and how you are planning to put your products where your audience can see them.

Products and services

What products you are going to launch with, how you anticipate expanding your range, what sets your products apart, how you will manufacture them, and the costs associated with producing them.

Financial projections

This includes your budget, the funding you can put in vs the funding you need from investors, how you anticipate bringing in revenue and how cash flow will be managed, as well as projections for growth.

Step 4 – Create Your Bespoke Brand

Before you start your business, you need to know who your business is. This means picking a brand name and creating a brand image that resonates with the people you want to attract to your clothing line. You should have a unique voice, be able to showcase your values, and – above all – be memorable. Your brand should tell your story, found your company culture, and make people sit up and take notice. Chances are that you have a lot of creativity and vision behind your business, and your brand should be an opportunity for this to shine.

Step 5 – Get Down to Business

Now it’s time to start organising your startup so that you have operations in place for running your business. This includes:

Your location – You may want to start your business from home, market, or small office space. If you are choosing to run it from home, remember to check local bylaws and restrictions to ensure that you’re compliant.

Where you’re selling – Are you selling your clothing line through an e-commerce partner or your website? Are you going to be offering it at market stalls or allow people to view your line at a retail site? If you’re choosing an online route, you’ll need a functional e-commerce website as well as a presence on Instagram and Facebook to get the most exposure to your audience.

Who your team is – Are you running your business alone or with a partner or team? It’s important to lay out where different responsibilities lie and where you are going to outsource certain roles. For example, you may want to find a website designer or outsource your business accounting, or you may need an e-commerce fashion photographer to create stylish website content to showcase your line.

Creating and managing a product catalogue – Not only will you need your products to be photographed and presented in a way that attracts your audience, but you’ll also need a system in place to manage your products. This includes settling on a manufacturer, deciding how to stock and store your items, developing packaging, and settling on shipping options.

Safety nets – Your new business is at its most vulnerable stage, so it must have all the right protection. This includes business insurance and clothing/shop insurance, depending on how your business is operating. You may need a certain level of insurance if you have partners helping to fund your business to protect their investment.

Step 6 – Find a Manufacturer

Start by creating comprehensive designs for the products you want to showcase on your website and/or in your store, creating a catalogue of briefs that a manufacturer can work off.

When sourcing a manufacturer, you want to make sure that they align with your vision and brand. For example, if you are promoting ethical fashion, then you need a manufacturer that is committed to sustainability, follows ethical manufacturing guidelines, and uses eco-friendly and sustainable materials in its processes. This step can take a while and make it a little more challenging to find a manufacturer within your budget, but it’s essential for staying true to what your brand represents. Remember, today’s customers prioritise their support for brands based on their commitment to their values. For a business to be successful, you need to be active in realising these values throughout your supply chain.

Step 7 – Develop Your Products

Once you’ve decided on a manufacturer, have a sample batch of your products made. If possible, test this against another manufacturer by having them match the run. Make sure you have enough time to fully evaluate the results, checking the quality and design of the items as well as the manufacturing process and delivery. Give yourself some time to fully evaluate the process, making sure that the products and packaging are consistent and in line with what you want your brand to stand for. Of course, you can change things up once your clothing line takes off, so don’t be afraid to simplify your look and build on it later – you just don’t want to feel like you’re going in a direction that jars with your vision.

Step 8 – Test Your Products

Now it’s time to dip your toes into the marketplace and see how people respond to your offering. You can do this by using market research services, by doing a short run on an online marketplace like Facebook, hiring a stall at a few markets or events that align with your brand’s vision or even getting feedback from trusted friends, family, and members of your network.

This will help you further refine your product, brand, and marketing approach for when you go to market. Remember, this stage never really ends – especially in the fashion industry! You want to keep getting as much constructive feedback as possible, researching where trends are emerging, seeing how your brand can evolve to link up with these trends, and ultimately giving your customers what they’re looking for.

Step 9 – Get Ready to Launch Your Business

Take a deep breath and get ready to enter the marketplace and make your dream business a reality! To make your launch a success, you’re going to need to do the following:

  • Price your products
  • Create buzz around your brand (social media is a great tool for this!)
  • Develop deals and promotions (start sharing these a while before your brand officially launches)
  • Plan your production run with your manufacturer so that stock is available
  • Make sure your shipping and payment facilities are in place.
  • Market your products on your website, which should be tailored for your brand, have high-quality images and SEO-rich copy, and offer the functionality for people to buy online
  • Market your products on social media by setting up your Instagram and Facebook profiles complete with accurate business information, high-quality photography of your fashion line, and e-commerce facilities
  • Set a launch date and get your network involved! Get friends, family, and industry connections to share and promote your official launch, offer opening day specials, partner with relevant events, and set up cross-partnerships with other local businesses.

When it comes to readying your business for launch, especially if you are launching an online or e-commerce fashion line, you must have high-quality imagery of your line. This creates a sense of professionalism as well as the brand atmosphere that makes your clothing come alive for online shoppers. Because they may never be able to see the product in person until they receive it, your imagery must be detailed, accurate, and informative, so that customers trust the quality and value of the product itself.

Step 10 – Start Scaling Up

Congratulations! Your fashion business is now a reality! Once you’ve made your first sales and settled any operational glitches, you need to start thinking of how you can easily scale up so that people don’t go to your competitors when you’re out of stock.

Although this still means keeping things small and simple for the first seasons as you get used to customer supply and demand, the changing nature of the fashion industry, and the process of production and fulfilment, it’s also essential to keep an eye on the future.

This means considering hiring an employee or two to take care of administration, marketing, or other core business functions, allowing you to get to work on designing and producing new items for the store. It may mean finding different shipping options that can take your products to customers in other counties or countries. Or it could mean moving out of your home office into a semi-industrial space where you can explore your creative goals for your business more easily.

Creative, Affordable Fashion Photography for Online Clothing Lines and Ecommerce Platforms

Marca Studio is a leading provider of e-commerce fashion photography for new and established clothing lines, including ghost mannequin photography, flatlay photography and model photography. We understand the needs of online consumers in the UK and abroad, and have the expertise to deliver beautiful, bespoke imagery of your product line for use on your e-commerce website, social media selling platforms, and marketing content. We’ve worked with leading brands including Burberry, Lacoste, and Puma, delivering a comprehensive service that includes photographers and videographers as well as software, stylists, and models – everything you need to take your fashion brand to the top.

Contact us today to discuss your clothing photography needs.