How to start a fashion brand: Part 1 – Introduction

At A.M. Custom Clothing, we get a lot of emails from people looking to start fashion brands, often with stylish, quirky, or vintage prints. We love fashion brands, so we wanted to put together a series of articles on how to start one, design your t-shirts, promote your brand and your products, as well as where to sell them.

This article will cover an overview of all the basics. Over time we’ll go into more detail. So be sure to follow us on Twitter to make sure that you get all of our latest posts.

What is a fashion brand?

Sometimes they’re called fashion labels, other times clothing brands. Sometimes you’ll just hear ‘label’, sometimes people like to throw in the word ‘designer’.

Either way, a fashion brand is a business run by a designer, or a group of designers, selling fashionable clothing. They could be hats, t-shirts, hoodies, or anything else that you can wear. In almost all cases, fashion brands print their logo or other designs onto blank garments that can be purchased from businesses like A.M. Custom Clothing. This is the case for small and big businesses…even some high street retailers!

So, should I start a fashion brand?

This is actually a very important question. We use social media to keep an eye on all of the fashion brands that contact us. A very large proportion of them never actually release any clothing. We highlighted a number of reasons as to why this is, (or seems to be):

  • No clear strategy – the business doesn’t know what it’s going to sell, where, or how.
  • The fashion brand overestimates how many products it is going to sell, and how quickly it will achieve growth
  • Social media, like Facebook and Twitter, is the only marketing the fashion brand intends to undertake. This is a big NO!
  • The designs are very complicated – these are often designs that require sublimation or cut and sew

A fashion brand can be a great business, but only if you’re prepared to put in the work. You must be dedicated, and passionate about what you do. You must also be realistic about how many units you will sell, how you will sell them and how quickly.

If you want to start a fashion brand you should:

  • Be creative
  • Have a story – people buy into stories and it is a great way to market your product
  • Believe in your products and your story (if you don’t, no one else will)
  • Be dedicated

Ok, so I’ve decided. Now, where do I begin?

Let’s pick a market to sell to. Who will buy your fashion products? Try to make it a small niche, someone that will be interested in your story. Think about the following demographics:

  • Age of the person who is going to buy your printed t-shirt
  • Gender - will your fashion brand appeal to men or women?
  • Interests - Is there a common interest amongst your demographic? Are they into art, or a type of music? Or are they at a certain point in their life, eg. new mothers, or students?

The key is to build a community of people, who are similar, people who would associate themselves with the values of your brand. These people are then more likely to want to buy, wear, and tell their like minded friends about your clothing. This will help to build a small group of consumers who are going to come back, time and time again.

Next, you should decide what products you’re going to sell.
So you’ve picked your demographic. What products are they going to be interested in? Printed t-shirts, polo shirts, hats, or maybe shirts? What will you print on them? Your logo, a vintage screen print, or maybe quirky text print? This is probably going to be the most recognisable feature of your fashion brand.

Focus on a small range, it’s better to have a great collection made up of a handful of designs or products, than to try and have hundreds. There are a number of reasons, firstly, big ranges are hard to manage when you’re starting out. Secondly, it will allow you to get your brand right, before you begin to expand outwards.

If you have every t-shirt style, some hoodies, 3 hats and a polo shirts, each with several designs, and a range of colours and sizes: you’ll very quickly amass hundreds of thousands of SKUs (Stock Keeping Units). Plus, how will you store them all? How will you pay for them? And how will you sell them all?

What print method shall I use?
There’s a lot to be considered here. Check out our print methods page to find more about the different print methods available. We’ll also cover more about the print methods in later articles, but for the time being you need to consider:

Are you looking for sublimation, or cut and sew? Then be prepared to buy at least 500 units up front. If that doesn’t seem like something you want to do, maybe look at DTG.

Also consider that sublimation and cut and sew are much more expensive than other methods, are they are more resource and labour intensive. If you’re starting on a budget, consider DTG: it’s flexible and looks great!

Choose a business model

This is an important one. Will you buy up front, or will you use an on demand printing service? The decision is often one that is decided by money. If you have a budget to buy products up front, you’ll enjoy economies of scale as prices come down as you buy more. But if you’re starting your fashion brand on a shoestring, then you should consider on demand printing.

A.M. Custom Clothing can provide both of these services, if you’d like to know more then please get in touch.

Note: We’ll cover this in more detail in a later article.

Where can I sell my clothing products?

Thanks to the internet, there are literally thousands of places you can sell your products. Some of them are suitable, some of them aren’t. Some will yield bigger volumes of sales, whilst others will give bigger profit margins.

Consider where your demographic will be looking to buy products? eBay? Amazon? Etsy? Or would they go straight to Google?

If they’re going straight to Google, you’ll need to start a website. There are many ways to do this: consider Shopify BigCartel or WooCommerce. There are many more, we’ll cover them in more detail at a later stage.

If you’re going to sell on your own website, you’ll really have to consider marketing, as otherwise no one will visit. There are lots of ways you can do this, it’s probably a good idea to use a combination (as long as you strike the right balance):

  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • SEO
  • PPC
  • Offline marketing
  • Social media

Don’t fall into the trap that many fashion brands do, and only use social media. You’ll end up wasting most of your time. And remember, that you won’t suddenly become an overnight success just because you opened a Twitter account.

There are also places in the real world where you can sell, they are sometimes a little harder to get into. But, if you do, they can yield better sales. Smaller shops will be easier to get into, but always do your research before you buy products up front. Also consider that a “sale or return” agreement removes any risk from the shop owner, and puts it all on you instead.

Now you’re good to go…

...sort of any way. You’re not going to be the next Hype Clothing just from following this simple guide, but it is a start.

We love fashion brands, and if you’re buying from us, it is in our interest to see you succeed. If you want to keep up to date with our “How to start a fashion brand” series, then follow us on Twitter and join our newsletter.

Want a quote for your fashion brand clothing?

Request a quote or give us a call on 01244 456110 today.

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