clothing business

How to Start a Clothing Business

Do you have a degree in fashion design? Maybe you’re self-taught! Either way, you need to start a business to make your dream a reality.

The fashion industry is shifting since the pandemic turned the world upside-down. Experts are seeing increased online purchasing, especially that of environmentally friendly and cruelty-free fashion.

By starting your own clothing line, you’ll bring wearable language to people around the world. They’ll express themselves with your unique style.

Any creative business, like fashion, can help balance your professional life while showcasing your talent. Check out this guide on how to start a clothing business.

How to Start a Clothing Business

It’s going to take sweat equity, knowledge of what’s hot in the industry, and the grit to push yourself further than you ever have before. But don’t worry, you’ll have a lot of fun, too! Let’s get started.

Your Business Plan

Your business plan (and you’re undying passion for clothing design) will be at the heart of everything. It’s the catalyst that will transform your idea into a business that thrives.

A business plan is a path to your goals, but not a fixed path. It will evolve. When it comes to business plans: Know your market, plan for growth, and above all, don’t be generic.

Consider a business partner. According to EDGE, “Designers who have a trusted business partner tend to be more commercially successful but, designers also need to develop basic commercial skills themselves.”

Your Niche

What is your niche? Where do you want to see your brand sold? What’s your target demographic?

2021 is going to be a big year for sustainable, affordable clothing available online. There’s a strong focus on social justice and fairness. What will you bring and to what part of society, if “niche” is the direction you’re going?

Know Your Market and Competitors

Now that you’ve chosen a niche, get to know your target demographic more in-depth. Everything is going to be tailored to them: Fabric, budget, designs, and sales locations. Customer satisfaction depends on learning your demographic’s spending behaviors, aesthetic preferences, and lifestyle.

Competitor research involves studying companies that are targeting the same demographic. It’s also about looking in-depth at those companies you admire for their branding, marketing, and product. What are they offering their customers beyond the products themselves?

Register Your Business

Before you officially register, decide what types of business it will be (ie: sole proprietorship, S-corp, LLC, etc.). Now decide which state you’ll be operating in, as well as your changeable business name (“doing business as” or DBA). Then register your business in that state.

Get all permits and licenses needed for clothing business startups. Talk with your state (as well as local) governing agencies so you know you’re covered. Apply for an EIN number with the IRS, which will help you apply for business loans/financing, easily pay your taxes, etc.

Design and Manufacture Your Clothing

It’s time to get creative! Design a sample and make it using materials you’ve carefully chosen. Select a manufacturer according to your preferences (artisan or commercial, for example). Bring them your sample and discuss your plan.

To be fully prepared, reach out for expert advice before you go.

Price and Market

Will you sell in department stores or specialty boutiques? Will you sell online and/or in a brick-and-mortar retail store? Keep in mind that US online fashion sales are predicted to grow 30% in 2021!

Pricing and marketing will depend on this knowledge, as you place ads online, in magazines, newspapers, etc.

Fashion Is a Language

Learn it, know it, and share it. People will live in your clothes. How will the wearers feel, how will they grow, and what will they express with your creations?

Don’t wait for the perfect business name or the perfect design to pop into your head. You’ve got what it takes! And now that you know how to start a clothing business, get started today while the information is fresh in your mind.

Apply today for expert startup coaching!

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