How to Start a Fashion Brand in 2023: The Step by Step Guide
Learning how to start a fashion brand can seem like a daunting prospect.
After all, there's a lot of competition out there, regardless of which niche you plan on building your business in. What's more, if you want to ensure your brand is successful, you'll need to ensure you're designing, producing, and selling amazing products, across a range of channels.
However, while launching a fashion company of your own might be hard work, it can also be extremely lucrative. Worldwide, the fashion industry has been growing at an incredible rate for the last 20 years. By 2028, this industry is expected to be worth more than $2,230 billion.
If you can create a clothing brand that resonates with your audience, separates you from other competing companies, and makes an impact on the industry, the potential for growth is limitless.
So, how do you get started?
Here's everything you need to know, step by step.
What You Should Know Before Launching a Clothing Brand
The good news for today’s fashion-focused entrepreneurs, is the barrier to entry in this industry is a lot lower than it once was. The rise of ecommerce, alongside new business models like print-on-demand manufacturing, means you don’t necessarily need a huge budget to jump in.
However, the fashion industry isn’t without its challenges.
Before you dive in, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. Here are some key points you should think about, before launching your brand:
- What will your niche be? First, it's important to have a clear niche in mind for your fashion company. When you're first getting started, it might be tempting to try and serve as many customers as possible. However, the smaller your niche, the easier it will be to stand out in your industry. Ask yourself whether you're going to design clothing for women, men, children, professionals, or athletes. What kind of materials will you use, and where exactly will you be selling (e.g., through supermarkets, partnerships, or online?)
- How will you differentiate your brand? As mentioned above, there's a lot of competition in the fashion industry. With this in mind, you'll need to think of a way to make your company stand out. A good option could be to focus on more eco-conscious and sustainable clothing. Today, around 42% of customers say they specifically search for eco-conscious fashion brands. Sustainability is becoming a core concern for many consumers.
- Who are your main competitors? Knowing your competition is crucial if you want your fashion company to make an impact. Research the other sellers in your niche, and ask yourself how you can separate yourself from them. What can you offer that other companies don't? For instance, can you work with a POD (Print on Demand) company to create more personalized clothing for your target audience?
- How will you fund your company? How are you going to manage the costs of setting up a fashion brand? There can be a lot of expenses to consider, from production costs, to paying for labor and materials. Choosing the right business model can help you to reduce costs, but you will still need some initial capital to get up and running. Are you going to be working with investors, taking out loans, or using your own cash?
- What will your main challenges be? What are you going to struggle with most when setting up your brand? Common challenges include everything from designing a unique image, to producing clothing at the right pace for customers. You may even struggle with choosing suppliers, managing time, and even handling warehousing and logistics requirements. Know what your challenges are going to be before you dive into your brand strategy.
How to Start a Fashion Brand in 5 Steps
While launching a fashion or clothing business can be a complex process, it's far from impossible. With the right strategy, you can ensure you're developing a company with the potential for rapid growth. Here are some of the most important steps you'll need to take to bring your venture to life.
The first step in building a successful fashion brand, is making sure there's actually a demand for your products. The fashion industry is already saturated with a huge number of different companies. With that in mind, it's worth looking for a niche market you can serve with a specific solution.
Rather than just producing another fashion brand selling custom t-shirts, ask yourself what your target audience is really looking for. Conducting market research into your industry will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the things customers really value when looking for clothing.
For instance, you might decide to concentrate your efforts on creating comfortable and stylish clothing for people to wear at the gym. As mentioned above, one of the best strategies could be to choose a more sustainable approach to business, creating products that are eco-friendly, for a more environmentally conscious audience.
Once you've decided on a niche for your company, find out whether there are any competitors already in your space, and learn as much as you can about their strengths and weaknesses. You could even use studies, surveys, and focus groups to collect more insights into your audience.
Creating a business plan is one of the most important steps in setting your company up for success. However, it's also something a lot of fashion entrepreneurs overlook. Your business plan is essentially a document highlighting exactly what you're going to sell in your industry, how you're going to make a profit, and what you're going to do to set you apart from the competition.
Not only will your business plan act as a compass to guide you through the brand creation process, but it can also help you to earn funding and capital from loan providers. Most investors will want to see evidence of a strong business plan before they offer funding.
While the exact structure of your business plan may vary depending on your business, here are some of the key points you should include:
A Business Model:
First, you'll need to define how you're going to run your company, and get products to the market. There are a few options to choose from here. You can hand-produce your designs and sell them yourself. However, this will require you to purchase machinery and tools which allow you to print and customize products on-demand.
Another option is to work with a third-party manufacturer. If you don't want to create your own designs from scratch, you can consider the dropshipping model, which involves selling products from other companies through a third-party manufacturer and logistics manager. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to showcase and sell your own designs, you can consider print-on-demand manufacturing.
If you do choose to go with a third-party solution, make sure you're partnering with the right vendor. A good POD company will be able to produce unique items according to your specific requirements, with eco-friendly materials and processes. Check out vendors like NovaTomato, for a more sustainable approach to business creation.
Your Pricing Strategy
A good business plan will typically outline a lot of information about your financial strategy. You'll need to determine how you're going to fund your business, as well as how you're going to make a profit by selling whatever you make.
Choosing a good pricing strategy can be difficult, as it's hard to know for certain what customers are willing to spend on different products. Start by finding out how much it's going to cost to create your items, then ask yourself what kind of profit margin you want to make.
If you're struggling to pick a competitive price point, it can be helpful to examine the market. Look at the pricing structures used by other similar companies. Remember, your pricing structure should cover your production costs, and eventual costs like marketing spends or your own time costs etc., without alienating potential customers.
Your Marketing Strategy
Many business plans will also include a reference to how you're going to generate brand awareness for your new clothing or fashion company. You can dive into this in greater detail later, but it's worth exploring the options you're going to be considering from day one.
For instance, social media marketing is often one of the most powerful tools for fashion companies. Channels like Instagram and TikTok will help you to generate interest in your products, and showcase what you're selling in a visual format.
Partnering with influencers can also be extremely beneficial. Around 40% of customers today say they purchase something after they see it recommended by an influencer. Even micro influencers with a few thousand followers can make a huge difference here.
Once you've got your business plan ironed out, and you know what kind of audience you want to reach, the next step is to begin working on your brand identity. Your brand is what separates your company from the dozens of other fashion retailers in your niche.
A good brand will highlight the unique personality and values of your company, so customers can form an affinity with your organization. To start building your brand, you'll need to identify the core characteristics you want people to associate with your business.
Ask yourself what your USP should be (sustainability, great customer service, high quality materials, etc), and ensure it shines through in your branding and marketing campaigns. Choose a personality for your company you can highlight in your marketing messages, and decide on your image.
While there are numerous components involved in building a great brand, some of the most important things you'll need to consider include:
- Your brand name: Your name is one of the first things your customers will encounter when interacting with your company. It should tell your clients everything they need to know about your organization, what you sell, and what makes you special. Choose a name that's simple, evocative, and easy to remember. Ensure it's available as a domain name too!
- Your logo: Alongside your name, your brand logo is probably one of the most important components of your identity. It should provide a behind-the-scenes look into what makes your organization special. Think about the colors you want to use in your design. Different shades can evoke different feelings. Blue stands for reliability, red for passion, and so on.
- Select a tone of voice: Think about how you're going to interact with your customers, through your website copy, marketing, and other campaigns. Do you want to come across as friendly and youthful? Do you want to be seen as caring and compassionate? Create a set of voice guidelines for your company to use consistently across all channels.
Even if you're planning on selling products to customers directly through a physical store, you'l still need an online presence for your brand. Remember, 63% of shopping journeys today start online, with customers searching for what they need through platforms like Google.
The good news is it's relatively easy for most business owners to start creating their own store in today's world. Online ecommerce website builders like Shopify, WooCommerce, and Wix can give you the tools you need to create a compelling store in minutes, rather than months.
When building your online store, make sure you choose a theme and structure that helps you draw attention to the clothing you're selling. A highly visual site with a lot of imagery is likely to generate more sales. At the same time, you may need to think about your business plan and model when you're creating your store. If you're building a Print-on-demand business, you'll need to ensure the site builder you use can integrate with the tools you're going to use to connect with suppliers.
A great online store for a fashion brand should be:
- User friendly: Make sure your store is easy to navigate. Ensure your customers can search through pages and find the products they need easily. If you're going to give your customers options for sizing and colors when they're choosing your products, make sure they can make their choices easily, even when they're using a mobile device.
- Visual: As mentioned above, fashion companies thrive best when they take a visual approach to marketing and selling products. Ensure you're showcasing all of your items in the best light, with high-quality photos and imagery. You might even consider using videos to show your customers products from all angles.
- Optimized: If you want your customers to find your products easily, you'll need to ensure your site is optimized for the search engines. Research keywords to use in your product descriptions, and consider forming a content marketing plan to improve your search rankings.
Finally, it's time to start generating attention for your clothing brand and store. Marketing is one of the most important tools you'll have as a fashion company. You'll need to invest consistently in getting your items in front of as many buyers as possible.
The good news is there are various ways you can market your items to customers in today's digital world. You might start by building your search engine presence, by creating blogs and content which improve your ranking potential. Articles and how-to guides can be a fantastic way to show thought leadership and boost your authority.
Another option, used by many fashion brands, is to jump into social media. Social media is one of the best tools fashion companies can use to spread brand awareness and increase engagement. Focus heavily on visual platforms like Instagram and TikTok. These will allow you to showcase your products in a way that grabs customer attention and generates sales.
- Working with influencers: As mentioned above, influencers can draw new attention to your products, and help to make your brand appear more credible. Many smaller micro influencers will be happy to promote fashion products in exchange for free items.
- Paid advertising: If you need to give your brand a boost, paying for marketing can be a great idea. You can use paid advertising campaigns on social media and the search engines to target specific audiences within your niche, and drive attention back to your site.
- User generated content: If you want to earn the trust of your customers and increase loyalty, user generated content can be a fantastic tool. Consider asking people to share pictures of them wearing your products in exchange for a discount, or the chance to win a prize.
Are you ready to start your own fashion brand?
Starting a clothing business or fashion brand of your own can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Most of the best fashion companies aren't made overnight. However, in today's digital world, it's more than possible for anyone to start their own fashion company.
If you can commit to developing amazing products, which address the needs of your target audience, you're already halfway there. Working with a sustainable print on demand company like NovaTomato can give you more freedom to create unique, premium products, without spending a fortune on development. Once you have the right products, all you need to do is focus on drawing attention to them, and giving your customers an amazing experience.
Still have questions? Find our answers to the most frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to start a fashion brand?
Depending on the business model you choose, you can start a fashion brand with a few hundred dollars. If you use a print-on-demand model, you'll only buy items when your customers make purchases, so you don't have to worry as much about warehousing, logistics, and product creation.
How can I start a fashion business with no experience?
Work with the right partners. If you don't have any experience in the fashion industry, working with a vendor like NovaTomato ensures you can create high-quality products, without having to invest heavily in design, production, and logistics.
How to start a clothing brand with no money?
If you're low on cash, the easiest way to start a clothing brand is to use third-party manufacturers. Print on Demand and dropshipping suppliers can help you cut the costs associated with making your products from scratch, shipping them to customers, and hiring additional help.