Are you planning to start a fashion business, but don’t know anything about starting a business? Well, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Fashion is something whose business will never go down (if you plan properly and sensibly).
The biggest challenge in the fashion business industry is staying updated with the trends. You will have to constantly look for new styles and trends in the market. This is something we can help you with. How? By subscribing to our newsletter (*wink*).
Now, without wasting any second, let’s move ahead with the article on how to start a fashion business.
But, basics first!
What is Fashion Business?
When you are running a business that deals with the fashion industry, it is a fashion business. Let me elaborate on that for you.
Have you heard of a fashion stylist? A fashion designer? Apparel manufacturer? Yes, all those are fashion businesses.
The business that deals in the clothing line, be it manufacturing, management, selling, re-selling, designing, or styling is termed Fashion Business.
Different Types of Businesses in the Fashion Industry
If you are searching for an answer to “how to start your own fashion business” you need to know about the different types of businesses you can start in the fashion industry. Here’s the list of fashion businesses you can start:
- Fashion Designer – The one who designs the apparel.
- Fashion Stylist – The one who styles visually appealing outfits for the clients.
- Fashion Buyer – The one who decides which clothing to sell in a retail store.
- Fashion Writer – The one who writes about the fashion industry.
- Apparel Manufacturer – The one who does the clothing production.
- Fashion Photographer – The one who clicks the photos of produced designer pieces by FD’s.
- Fashion Marketing – The one who improves the brand visibility and makes it more engaging.
- Trend Forecaster – The one who predicts the upcoming and retiring trends in the market.
- Retail Manager – The one who deals with fashion business management.
- Fashion Educator – The one who teaches about fashion designing and how to become one.
What is a career in the fashion business? Well, let me tell you one thing, it is very bright. A human being can live without a phone, but not without clothes. Also, building a fashion business doesn’t always mean selling “too costly” clothes. You can even start an affordable and sustainable clothing line.
Pro Tip: Sustainable fashion business is in greater demand for the year 2022 and it is going to increase only. You will be able to scale your business to another level.
Without much delay, let’s get to the point.
How to start a fashion business?
Starting any business requires your time, knowledge, and money. I won’t say you can start a fashion business with no money on your hand. But a little will also do!
How? Only if you go through this 13-step process.
[BlackBuckMag’s expert writers and researchers have worked on the topic and considered every step of this before penning it down. Be rest assured, with this guide you will be able to start a successful fashion business within 1.5 years of planning.]
Step 1: Market Research
Every business’ foundation stands on strong market research. You already know what are the different businesses you can do in the fashion industry. Pick one and move ahead. You will have to look at your competitors, what is going on in the industry and market.
However, this step won’t only be for the first step but the ongoing process as well. Fashion is an industry that keeps on changing. Even the well-known and renowned brands like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, still do market research and that is the reason they stay at the top.
Step 2: Polish Your Skills
Once you decide the type of fashion business you want to jump into, polish your skills according to the requirement. If you want to start a clothing line of your own or a boutique, you need to polish your design skills.
If you want to be a business fashion stylist, sharpen your knowledge on trends, color combinations, body type, and much more. Likewise goes for other professions as well.
You can also take up fashion courses to learn more.
Step 3: Find Your Niche
This is the essential step for a person who is planning to start a clothing line. You need to find a niche, as in what type of apparel you will be making – traditional, western, funky, only women wear, men wear, kids wear or any other. Pick the one you have expertise in!
Step 4: Write a Business Plan
This is the step where you will actually pen down your dream fashion business. Yes. Write your fashion business plan. A plan that you are forming in the back of your head. Once it’s on paper, you will see it working and every piece will automatically connect.
Let me help you with that. The hardest part of writing a business plan is where to start.
So, start by answering these questions:
- Who is your target audience or, as you can say, the customer?
- What is your product?
- What is the purpose of making this product?
- How will this product benefit your customer?
- How is it unique from the already available products on the market?
- When are you going to launch it?
- How are you planning to sell?
Once you answer the above-mentioned questions, you will have every essential information on your hand that you need to start business planning. Apart from that, there are two more things that you should focus on:
As in what type of business model you want to go with. Are you going to be a manufacturer, wholesaler, Direct to Customer (D2C), or retailer (3rd party)? Every business model has its own requirements. Once you sort out the business model for your clothing line, the process will be really smooth for you.
You need to consider the business cost. Calculate the costs of all operations, including designing, developing, buying raw materials, fixed, varied, direct, and indirect. The minimum investment required to start a clothing business is $500. However, the funds needed for a large-scale fashion manufacturing business can range between $25,000 and $50,000.
Step 5: Design and Develop
The next step is to design and develop your collection. You must have at least 5 to 6 collections with 12 clothing items in each when you launch your store. Use your designing skills, wander around, take inspiration, and develop a trend board that will make people go ga-ga over your designs.
You can also take inspiration from trendsetters in the market and develop the design. Before everything, you will need to finalize which type of clothing you are planning to design? As in women’s wear, kids’ wear, or men’s wear.
Step 6: Source Fabrics or Design One
The next step is to source fabric or design one. If you are planning to outsource fabrics, then do the research on fabric distributors in the area. You will have to finalize how much fabric you want for the collection, and from where you can get it at a cost-effective price.
Also, you will have to make sure about availability, in case you need to do more production. It is not always possible to get the exact design you need for the collection. Hence, create the design and get it printed or curated in factories in bulk.
You will get information about the traders in the USA in this directory.
Step 7: Clothing Production
Once you have finalized the fabric for the collection, get your tailor or master to start the production. The clothing production will vary as per the business model.
- If you have thought about starting a B2B store, you will have to get the production done in bulk.
- If you have planned for a designer boutique and are going to design clothes after getting an order, the tailor will stitch it only.
- If you are starting a retail shop, and going to source the ready-made clothes from the manufacturer or wholesaler only, then skip this step.
Step 8: Plan Your Collections as per Seasons
When you are designing the collections, keep in mind the seasons. Not just weather season, but fashion seasons as well. In short, stay updated with fashion trends in the market. Fast fashion is a long-gone concept. People are expecting and loving sustainable fashion trends.
“Have your collection ready for the next season at least six to eight months in advance. If you’re selling wholesale, buyers will need to see your collection a month before fashion week.” – Sarah Donofrio [A Project Runway contender and a successful fashion designer.]
Step 9: Build a Brand
Once you have a collection ready to launch, start building a brand. Don’t forget the power of brand building in the times of social media. More than 60% of your potential customers are wandering on the internet to get the best deals.
The powerful brand name can help you earn more revenue and loyal customers, who will come back to you for their future needs. There are multiple ways to do branding:
- Social media marketing
- Digital marketing
- Traditional marketing
- Advertising, etc.
Take care of your brand personality, outlook, and representation. Now, you can sell clothes on social media platforms as well, so leverage the power of the internet.
Step 10: Pitch to Retailers
This step is for the ones who are into apparel manufacturing. Pitch your designs, and sell models to wholesalers and retailers to get your designs in the market. If not a wholesaler, you can also go for a win-win situation of consignment.
This way a retailer will be ready to showcase your collection, as he’ll have to pay only if the clothing is sold. However, you’ll get great exposure in the market.
When you are creating a pitch, think about how you will sell your clothes to your customers. Or what will you ask, if someone is telling you to sell his/her collection? Make your pitch mistake-free and showcase every positive point in the pitch to gain trust.
Step 11: Develop a Website
Do you know around 9.1 million online stores are running in the world? And among them, 2.5 million etailers are located in the USA. (Source: etailinsights.com)
So, what are you still waiting for? Get your website developed from a website development company that has experience in curating the best eCommerce store. When you are planning to get your own website developed, there are many things you will need to keep in mind from the domain name to its security and overall look.
If this idea interests you much, you can also go for the mobile application.
Step 12: Open Physical Store
The next step is to open a physical store. This one is totally optional. If you are planning to build your physical presence in more than one country, then do this one. The physical presence is equally beneficial as the online one.
Why is it so?
People still love shopping from a physical store as they can touch, feel, and experience the quality of the material. 80% of fashion sales are through physical stores even now!
There are three options to establish your physical presence:
- Retail store
- Sell at markets
Step 13: Marketing
The last but the ever-going step is marketing. You will have to focus on both traditional as well as digital marketing to get traffic to your website and footfall in your store. Why marketing is an ongoing procedure?
As you don’t want people to forget your brand, or do you? You will have to keep reminding the public about your presence and your new collections. The competition is tough and you will have to withstand all the falls and challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fashion Business
1. How much time does it take to start a fashion business?
If you work consistently and with all your efforts, within 1.5 years you will have your fashion business up and running smoothly.
2. How much does it cost to start a clothing line?
The cost to start clothing will require anywhere from $500 to $50,000.
3. Is it easy to start a clothing line?
I won’t say it is easy, but it’s not that hard as well. You will need to research a lot at each step to move further.
4. How do you grow in the fashion industry?
The key to growth in the fashion industry is staying updated with the trends going on in the market.
5. What do fashion designers wear?
Well, fashion designers can wear anything they like, but make sure it resembles the thought of their brand. We have noticed that fashion designers prefer neutral colors, flattering and well-tailored clothing.
Let’s start a fashion business:
So, this was all the information you needed to get the answer to “how to start a fashion business.” What else are you waiting for? Let’s get going. Start with the research part and be attentive to the market.
You can take inspiration from many successful fashion designers out there, who started as a newbie just like you and now rule the fashion industry!
For more such well-researched content, stay tuned to BlackBuck Magazine.