With fashion e-commerce accounting for about 23% of 2022 online retail sales in the US alone, plus the global market being projected to hit over $672 billion by 2023, there’s no wonder the question of how to start a clothing brand online has been on your mind!
The clothing industry is one of the most popular industries to start a business in, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be an easy feat. In order to create a successful clothing brand, you need to have a clear understanding of the industry, your target market, and what it takes to get your business off the ground.
To give you a head start, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on how to start a clothing brand. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what it takes to get your clothing business up and running. Let’s get started!
Crafting Your Business Plan
Just like in starting any other business, you need to have a solid plan in place before you can start working on making your clothing brand a reality. While everything’s quick and digital nowadays, you can’t just wing it and expect to be successful.
Creating a business plan will help you flesh out your clothing brand’s goals, objectives, target market, and marketing strategy. It’s important to have all of these elements mapped out before you start working on other aspects of your business, as they will guide and inform all of your decisions moving forward.
Before you dive into the steps below, here’s a video guide we’ve created to help you see what direction you want your brand to go in. It will help you with your brand’s Vision and to understand if POD is the right fit for you.
Your Purpose and Objectives
One of the things you first have to determine when you craft your business plan is your brand’s goals and purpose. Of course, one of the main objectives is to make money but there should be more to it than that
Your clothing brand’s purpose will serve as its foundation and inform all of your business decisions, so it’s important to take the time to figure out what you want your brand to stand for. Do you want to focus on environmentally friendly or sustainable clothing? Do you want to create clothing for a specific niche market?
You may have heard this a dozen times but your objectives should be SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive. Without a SMART goal, you’ll likely be scattered in your efforts and won’t be able to track your progress down the line.
Your Target Market
While this one’s a no-brainer, it’s important that you take the time to really think about who your target market is. This will help you determine what kind of clothing you should be selling, what price point to sell at, and where you should be selling your clothes.
It’d be helpful to create a consumer persona or customer avatar to help you narrow down your target market. This is a semi-fictional character that represents your ideal customer. By fleshing out your consumer persona, you’ll have a better understanding of who you should be targeting with your marketing efforts.
Your Products & USP
Once you’ve identified the pain points and interests of your potential consumers, now’s the time to start thinking about the products you want to sell. Of course, you can’t simply sell a few shirts and call it a day—you need to have a strong product line that can compete with other brands in your industry. Remember, you’ve got hundreds or even thousands of other brands to compete against, so you need to make sure your products are top-notch.
In addition to having great products, it’s important that your clothing brand has a unique selling proposition or USP. This is what sets you apart from the competition and is what will make customers want to buy from you instead of someone else.
Some examples of a USP could be that your clothes are ethically-sourced or made from sustainable materials, that you sell clothing for a specific niche market, or that you have a unique and eye-catching design.
Think your products and USP are strong enough to compete in your industry? The only way to find out for sure is to research your competition.
A simple Google search will give you a good idea of the other brands you’re up against but it’s important to do a more thorough analysis. Check out their website, socials, and even their brick-and-mortar store if they have one.
Note what you like and don’t like about their brand. What are they doing well? Where could they improve? How can you position your brand to be better than theirs? Doing a competitor analysis will help you understand the playing field and give you insights on how to make your brand the best it can be.
Will you be setting up a solely online store or will you be selling in brick-and-mortar outlets as well? If it’s the former, which e-commerce platforms would best suit your needs?
Knowing which channels you want to sell on is important because it’ll directly affect your bottom line. Whether it’s physical or online, each type of selling has its own set of costs associated with it.
If you’re just starting out and your budget’s a bit tight, selling online through your own website or a third-party platform like Etsy might be the best way to go. This also gives you the flexibility to sell anywhere in the world since you’re not limited by geography.
Dealing with the Financials
Now, on to the perhaps, more stressful part: the financials. While it’s important to have a solid business plan and budget set up, it’s also important to be realistic about your expectations.
Some of the things you have to consider during this stage are the following:
The Overall Cost of Starting Your Clothing Brand Online
Whether it’s online or brick-and-mortar, starting a clothing brand is going to cost you some money. You need to factor in the cost of product development, manufacturing, packaging, marketing, and more.
Make sure that as you plan your budget and operations, you give yourself some wiggle room. Unexpected costs always pop up and it’s better to be prepared for them instead of being caught off-guard.
Pricing Your Products
After identifying your expenses and the overall cost of starting your business, the next step is to determine how much you should be selling your clothes for.
This can be a pretty tricky task since you want to make sure you’re making a profit but at the same time, you have to consider what the market is willing to pay for your products. You should also note how you plan to position your brand as this will affect your pricing.
For example, if you’re targeting a high-end market, your prices will be higher than if you’re targeting a more budget-conscious market.
Do some research on your competition and see how they price their products. You can also use a pricing calculator to help you come up with a range for your clothes.
Working With a Print on Demand Partner
Among the costliest and most stressful parts of starting a clothing brand is the manufacturing of the products themselves and building your inventory. If you’re just starting out, the upfront cost of investing in a bulk order can be daunting. Not to mention, you’ll need to have adequate storage space for all your unshipped and unsold items.
One way to get around this is to work with a print on demand (POD) partner. With a POD partner like Awkward Styles, you can start your own clothing brand without having to worry about inventory and high upfront costs.
POD works by only printing the items once an order has been made. This means that you only pay for the clothes once they’ve been sold, making it a lot easier on your finances. It also takes away the hassle of having to store and ship the items yourself as your POD partner will take care of that for you.
Marketing and Promoting Your Clothing Brand
Once your business plan and finances are all set, it’s time to start thinking about marketing and promoting your brand.
Creating a Brand Identity
Of course, before you can start promoting your brand, you need to have a strong and unique brand identity. This includes everything from your brand name and logo to your brand voice and values.
Your brand identity is what sets you apart from the competition and allows you to build a loyal customer base. Take some time to really think about what you want your brand to be and how you want it to be portrayed.
Developing an Online Presence
Once you’re happy with your brand identity, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to get your brand out there. In today’s digital age, one of the best ways to do this is by developing a strong online presence.
This can be done by creating a website and social media pages for your brand. Make sure that the design and content of your website and social media pages are in line with your brand identity.
When you’ve established your brand’s online presence, you can start promoting your clothes through online marketing and advertising. Some strategies you can use include:
- SEO Content Marketing
- Influencer Partnerships
- Paid/Boosted Social Media Advertising
- Email Marketing
Building and Managing Your Team
You can only be a one-man team for so long. Eventually, you’re going to need to start building a team to help you with the various aspects of running your business. This is especially the case if you plan on scaling your business in the future.
Assembling Your Rockstar Team
When building your team, it’s important to hire people who aren’t only competent but who also share your vision for the brand. This will make it easier to manage them and ensure that they’re working towards the same goals.
You also have to determine if you’ll be working with a set of full-time employees or with freelancers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, so it’s important to decide what will work best for your business. For instance, you can get diverse skill sets with freelancers, but they might not be as reliable as full-time employees.
Finally, you also need to think about your team’s hierarchy and how you want it to be structured. This will ensure that everyone knows their roles and responsibilities within the company.
Scaling Your Business
Business doing well? Congrats! This is the time when you might start thinking about scaling your business to reach a wider audience.
One way to do this is by expanding your product range. You can start by introducing new clothing items or even branching out into other products like accessories and home decor. This should be easy if you’re working with a print on demand partner as you won’t have to worry about shelling out money for new items.
You can also scale your business by exploring other marketing and selling channels. For instance, if you have a Shopify store up and running, you can start selling your clothes on other platforms like Etsy. You can also start going to trade shows or setting up pop-up shops.
Tips for Making Your Clothing Brand Successful
Think you’re finally ready to launch your clothing brand? Here are a few more tips to help you make sure it’s a success:
Choose a Niche Market
Yes, there are dozens or hundreds of clothing brands out there, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for one more. The key is to find a niche market that you can tap into. This could be anything from plus-size fashion to vintage-inspired clothing.
The benefit of targeting a specific market is that you can really focus on making sure that your clothes meet the needs and wants of that market. This can help you stand out from your competitors and gain a loyal following.
Build a Community Around Your Brand
Speaking of loyal followings, one of the best things you can do for your brand is to build a community around it. This could be as simple as creating a Facebook group for your customers or partnering with like-minded brands.
The important thing is to create a space where people can interact with your brand and with each other. This can help create a sense of loyalty and belonging, which is essential for any successful business.
Deliver Exceptional Customer Service
Yes, you can streamline all your operations with online tools but make sure your customers feel like they’re still doing business with a real person. This means going above and beyond with your customer service, whether it’s responding to their queries promptly or offering them discounts and freebies.
Doing this will show your customers that you care about them and that you’re willing to go the extra mile to make sure they’re happy. It’s this level of customer service that can really help you build a successful clothing brand.
Be Willing to Pivot
You might have a clear vision of what you want your brand to be but that doesn’t mean things will always go according to plan. Be willing to pivot when necessary and make changes to your business model if it’s not working.
Today’s trends can change quickly, so you need to be able to adapt if you want your clothing brand to be successful in the long run.
Measure Your Success
How do you even know if your clothing brand is successful? By measuring your progress, of course. This could mean anything from keeping track of your sales figures to monitoring your social media metrics.
Whatever metric you choose, make sure you’re regularly measuring it so you can track your progress and adjust your marketing and selling strategies accordingly. Have a set of KPIs that correspond to your business goals, and make sure you’re checking in on them regularly.
Here’s to Your Success!
Starting any kind of business can be intimidating and quite frankly, a lot of hard work. But it’s also incredibly rewarding, especially when you see all your hard work pay off.
We hope these tips and tricks have given you the confidence you need to finally launch your clothing brand. Who knows, with a little bit of effort and dedication, you could be the next big thing in fashion e-commerce (*winks*).
Looking for a print on demand partner you can trust? Check out Awkward Styles today!
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