5 Mistakes Clothing Startups Should Not Make

 
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5 Mistakes Clothing Startups Should Not Make

Starting up a new business is a huge risk. In the fashion industry, especially, where everything is so unpredictable, all your investment, time and effort could potentially go to waste if you don’t do the necessary research on how to make a clothing line. Prevent your business from going under by not making some of these common mistakes:

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1. Not Researching

Every bit of research is crucial in knowing how to make a clothing line and how to sustain it. There are many different aspects to a startup business that you may not be aware of so research as much as you can to cover all your bases before you dive in. Talk to anyone you know who’s done something similar before or are in relevant fields and get as much advice as you can from them. Many startups don’t know what they’re getting themselves into until they’re knee-deep in it – which by that time is already too late.

As a startup, there is no system of practice or SOP set up for you to follow like in a big corporate organization, you’re starting from scratch, so you’ll need all the knowledge you can gather to help you understand the business infrastructure of a fashion startup. This way, you can make more informed decisions on how to run your own business well. One of the silliest things you can do as a startup is to go in blind, don’t make that mistake.

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2. Cutting Costs

Understandably, as a startup, your budget isn’t high and sales don’t climb as quick, so you will try to cut costs wherever possible. This is a good practice, however, you should be mindful about what you’re cutting costs on. It is common for founders of startups to take on multiple roles or even be a one-man-show.

You could be a good designer but that doesn’t necessarily make you the best person for marketing. Similarly, you could be great at managing finances but not at doing sales. A business is multi-dimensional and to have one person or only a handful wear all the hats is not the best recipe for a startup label.

Delegate and hire if you need to. This is a necessary expenditure and investment. As the founder, your team and new hires will look to you for guidance. If you have too much on your plate, you may not have the time to oversee the work of your employees, observe the growth of your business and plot its goals.

This can do more harm than benefits for your business. Be sure not to overstretch yourself to cut costs at the expense of your company.

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3. Overspending

And on the flipside of cutting costs is overspending. For many startups, cash flow at the initial stage is at its lowest. You have to spend your money wisely. There are new labels that choose to spend large amounts of money at the early stages of their business, for example, to set up a lavish storefront before establishing their brand, thinking that’s the secret to getting customers to buy their products. Practicality and being prudent with how you spend money, especially in the initial stages are vital in helping you to sustain your label. Avoid spending a huge bulk of your money in areas that cannot guarantee growth in your business.

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4. Not Being Up-to-date With Fashion

If you’re thinking about how to make a clothing line but disregarding the design aspect of it, you’re making a big mistake. Yes, a clothing line comprises of many other components besides design, but it’s very much centred on it. There are tons of businesses out there that run on a see-and-replicate model, but the most successful brands that have earned credibility and loyal customers globally are those that offer something unique.

If you’re going to sell clothing but not have a designer working on your team and/or know nothing about the current fashion landscape, your product can be severely compromised and not make the ‘cut’ in this highly competitive industry. Don’t worry if you do not have a designer in-house, you can always outsource this role. Just be careful not to neglect this component as it can really hurt your business.

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5. Pricing Incorrectly

Setting the price of your products may seem straightforward to some but there is a lot more to think about than just covering your costs. What is a healthy profit margin for your business that will allow you to continue producing collections, say, four times a year (if you’re following the fashion calendar)? How are your competitors pricing their products? Are your price points similar and how will that convince customers to buy your products over theirs?

Covering your costs is of primary importance, however, you also need to ask yourself questions on the sustainability of your business, where you sit in the market and how to maintain a competitive edge when you’re developing your pricing strategy.

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MARKETING - HOW TO SELL CLOTHING?

 
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MARKETING - HOW TO SELL CLOTHING?

- SELLING -

To start a label amidst the hundreds of fashion stores and clothing brands that already exist out there can be daunting. ‘How to start a clothing company and not fail’ is a question that arises in the minds of many young entrepreneurs who also wish to get their foot in the door. This is where marketing can really help. Read on to learn some tips on how to help your brand stand out from the crowd.

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Define Yourself

What is your brand about, what is its story, what are you selling (beyond your product; a lifestyle) and who exactly are you selling to? This goes back to our previous article where we talk about ‘Knowing Your Market and Identifying Your Brand’. We cannot stress this enough. As this serves as the foundation of your label, you will need to establish what this is before knowing how to market and sell your products. The fashion industry has something for almost everyone at this point, but there are still ways to have people take notice as long as you know how to cater to your target market creatively. Be very specific when you describe your brand and your market, the better you understand your position in the market, the easier it will be to sell your ideas and products.

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Collaborate

We’ve seen many of these out there – Fast fashion giant H&M collaborating with luxury designer labels such as Maison Martin Margiela, Alexander Wang, Balmain and Kenzo, and it was the same with Japanese retailer Uniqlo, which collaborated with Jil Sander, Christophe Lemaire, Undercover and even celebrities like Pharrell Williams.

A collaboration should be something your brand can leverage on. For example, with these collaborations, H&M and Uniqlo not only continue to affirm their current target market with backing from designer labels (who are often looked upon as fashion authority in the industry), they also simultaneously pique the interests of new customers in the luxury market. This marketing effort that boosts both brands’ credibility allows them to penetrate a wider market – both mass market and high-end, potentially converting more people into customers and bringing in more sales. That’s leverage.

Be smart and creative with whom you choose to collaborate with as it can really help to attract the right attention and grow your brand.

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Be Active on Social Media

As a brand, furthermore a new brand, marketing is more than necessary. You don’t exist unless people know about you. One crucial step in knowing how to start a clothing company is knowing how to promote and advertise your brand. Traditional advertising like TV commercials, billboards and print ads are still feasible methods of advertising, however, in today’s digitally savvy society, there are a multitude of other methods on top of the traditional ones that can really boost a brand’s marketing.

Social media is one of the most powerful tools a brand can utilise today. With Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest etc. there are more than enough tools just via social media for you to get the word out about your brand and directly to your target market. Facebook’s in-built algorithms that match users’ interests and interactivity patterns to relevant profiles have made targeted marketing much easier. This makes ads on Facebook and Instagram potentially more effective as they already filter the market for you.

Social media also allows brands to create more windows of perspective for consumers. Your brand’s Instagram and Pinterest profiles, Twitter feed and/or YouTube channel can speak volumes about your brand story and philosophy, and it gives your brand character. As you interact with your followers on these platforms, it forms an impression about your brand in their minds and this helps your ideas, messages and brand ethos to resonate better with them.

The intimacy of social media interaction between brands and their customers creates a deeper connection between the two; This is a part of the intangible effects of marketing, which is ultimately what builds brand loyalty and keeps customers coming back for more.

Having a presence on social media is hence, really important. You don’t have to be on all of the platforms, just a select few or even one/two that work best for your brand and your market’s consumer behaviour. There are tons of brands already marketing via social media, so when you push content out on these platforms, be articulate and well curated so that your brand can cut through the noise and deliver a distinct message.

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Be Interesting

If you are selling something that doesn’t already exist in the market, it means you fill a gap. This puts you way ahead in the game and makes selling your products much easier. However, many brands out there sell similar products to each other. If you fall in this category, you would have to find a different selling point from your competitors’. Every clothing company sells clothes. You have to offer your customers more than just clothing to stand out. You need to sell a lifestyle. With selling a lifestyle, there are many ways to go about marketing it, be creative with the message you send to your customers.

Ultimately, if you employ the right marketing methods, it can really help to boost brand recognition and set your label apart from the rest. Keep in the know of what your target market’s interests and needs are and always use that to inform your marketing decisions. Remember, to engage your customers is to be relevant to them.

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COMPETITION - HOW DO YOU HANG WITH THEM?

 
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COMPETITION - HOW DO YOU HANG WITH THEM?

- COMPETITORS -

Competition - How Do You Hang With Them?

 If you’re wondering how to start a clothing brand, you’re in the right place. In this article, we explore what startup brands need to know to survive in this hyper-competitive fashion landscape.

There is always someone else who is trying to do something similar to you. As a brand that’s starting out, it is crucial that you clearly define what’s your brand story and philosophy are and how it translates into your product. You also need to be very clear about whom you are selling to and how you should market and sell to them. These will help you to position your brand uniquely in the market.

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Know Your Market

Who are your products made for? How old are they? What is their lifestyle? How will it make a difference to them? You need to do thorough market research to find out the best way to sell to them and how to sell differently from competing brands.

After you’ve identified the above, study how your competitors are doing it. Look at their price points, mission statements, social media profiles, offline and digital marketing methods, retail and online shopping experiences and then figure out how your brand can do it different. 

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Identify Your Brand

What is the story behind your brand? Are there any values that your brand strongly upholds? What is your brand’s USP? A brand story that resonates well with the market can leave a lasting impression and set you apart from your competitors.

It is also very useful to have logos and/or a brand signature (colours, graphics, taglines etc.) for people to use as visual identifiers for your brand. This makes it easier for them to associate your brand with something different from what your competitors are offering. 

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Smart Marketing

Marketing is one of the most powerful tools a business can have. A big gun built from a multitude of parts – social media, online (website, video content, blogs etc.) and offline (retail store, advertising, trade shows etc.) efforts make up one of the more crucial weapons to success. This is where you can get creative and really distinguish your brand from competitors.

If you’ve got a product that’s alike to other brands, there is a ceiling to how much you can try to distinguish the DNA of your product from theirs. However, the perimeters of marketing a product are long and wide. For instance, Brand A and Brand B can sell basketball sneakers, but Brand A markets their product using celebrity endorsements, and Brand B markets theirs by doing exclusive pop-up shops with streetball players and street artists. They will both attract very different people.

Be smart about it – tailor your marketing efforts to the needs, interests and lifestyles of your customers (going back to the first point of ‘Knowing Your Market’). This will open up the opportunity for you to relay a different message to your market and stand out from your competitors. Marketing makes one of the biggest impressions of your brand on your market, so you should definitely spend time to invest in the right strategies.

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The Ideal Customer Experience

Ultimately, your brand hinges on the experience you offer your customers. You’ll need to set this up well ahead of the launch of your clothing brand. This means figuring out the entire infrastructure – shipping, support, quality control, service, merchandise and store display, promotions and customer benefits and even down to product packaging.

Remember to align the customer experience to the nature of your shop too – are you a brick-and-mortar or an e-commerce store? This is important. Your competitors might lack in certain aspects here, and if you can identify what those things are, it can give you a real edge over them.

Creating a ideal brand experience is a multi-sensory approach where you can capitalise on how to delight the 5 basic human senses of touch, sight, hearing, smell and taste of your customer. Once you have mastered this, you are set up to create a unique experience that will be hard to replicate. 

Figuring out how to start a clothing brand on your own can be difficult, but with the right tools, you can make informed decisions, which is a great way forward. Competition is tough, but if you have it, it only means that the market exists for your product, you just have to know how to engage them effectively. In our next article, we talk about marketing and how to sell clothing.

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SUPPLIERS - WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THEM?

 
Clothing suppliers

SUPPLIERS & FACTORIES - WHAT YOU

SHOULD KNOW ABOUT THEM

- SUPPLIERS & FACTORIES -

Suppliers – What You Should Know About Them?

In an industry where stakes are often high, your supplier can be a life savior. It is impossible to meet the growing demands of your customers if you do not have a reliable supplier to handle your production. If you’re learning about how to start a clothing business, it is important to note that your supplier is one of your most significant business partners.

Young fashion labels often neglect the production aspect, which is a huge mistake. Do not focus on getting orders before ensuring that you have the production capabilities to fulfill those orders. Many labels scramble to find a reliable supplier only when orders start to pile up. News can spread fast within the industry. If word gets out that you’ve failed to fulfill orders, it could shake the foundation of your business.

Secure the right supplier during the early stages of your label so that you know how to manage production moving forward. In this post, we help you to understand what the production stage is, and how to find and what to look for in suppliers.

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What is production?

You have all the concepts ready for your new brand. You may even have a sample or prototype. Your only problem now is converting this small sample number into a bulk order. This is where your supplier comes in. It is the production arm that will produce your samples on a large scale – in the hundreds or thousands depending on your requirements. Suppliers will have the materials and facilities required to produce a commercial-sized inventory.

Why is it difficult to find suppliers?

As the fashion industry grows, the markets become more saturated and competition stiff. Thus, many brands keep supplier information close to themselves to avoid wavering their position in the market. This makes finding your own supplier more difficult, but not impossible. It only means that you will have to invest a bit more time and legwork to research and find a reliable supplier. And once you find one, you’ll probably not give away the information so easily either.

How to find suppliers?

If you haven't had much luck hunting for suppliers, here are some things that you can try:

Go Back to Your Past

They say if you have to leave your job, you should always leave on good terms and you are about to learn why. If you’ve worked in fashion companies before, you may have gained plenty of experience in the field to start your own label, but lack the right contacts. In this situation, your previous employers can be a source of help. Get in touch with them. They might be able to refer any of their existing supplier contacts to you (if you had left on a good note, that is).

Fashion School

If you were lucky enough to have studied fashion at a professional institution, you also have your professors to turn to for help. Established fashion schools are often in contact with suppliers for many reasons. Your professors might be kind enough to give you the push you need in this competitive industry, if you just ask.

Online Resources

The luxury of living in a digital age is that it is possible to find the answers to our questions in just one click. A simple online search can point you to the right direction and uncover a whole list of suppliers for you. The challenge, however, is to know how to choose the right one. But this is still a good start. Study the websites of suppliers carefully – look at their MOQs, price quotation lists, ratings, testimonials and any other information that helps you to determine their reliability and how suitable their services are for you.

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What to look for in suppliers?

As you have learned, it is not easy to find the right supplier. A good supplier has to be reliable and ideally one you can have a long-term working partnership with. A long-term partnership lowers the risk of experiencing errors in production. Equally important are the price, quantity and quality of production.

Communication is very vital in getting the products done right. It’s better to work with a supplier who has a good sense and previous experience of making the products you wish to make so that they can also give you advice on how to improve your products or avoid errors due to design and production limitations. 

Suppliers offer discounts on bulk orders as they can pass on economies of scale savings to you. Thus, it is important to find one with market-competitive rates and an MOQ that best suits your business. And ultimately, what will represent your brand is your product. Quality control is extremely important – the supplier’s workmanship has to be of satisfactory standards.

It's quite a bit of work finding the right supplier, but take comfort in the fact that once you've done so, you would have overcome one of the biggest hurdles of starting a clothing line. So put in the work and keep at it and remember to maintain a strong relationship that is mutually beneficial to both parties. Keep them happy and they will return the favor and be equally invested to make sure you do well.

You are well on your way to learning the basics of how to start a clothing business. In our upcoming post, we dive deeper into the challenges that come with owning a clothing label.

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HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO START MY CLOTHING LINE? (PART 2/2)

 
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HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO START MY CLOTHING LINE PART 2

- FINANCES -

As clothing manufacturers for more than 400 clients around the world, we have gained a valuable insight of how brands start and blossom. Finances are what could make or derail a promising brand and we hope by sharing our experience, more brands will succeed.

In this post, we will discuss in more detail about the two main costs centers of any fashion brand and touch on about distribution costs as well.

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PRODUCTION

Costs: $5,000 to $25,000 (Dependent on your collection)

Once your samples are complete and you’re satisfied with how they look, the next steps will be the production phase. This is where you will place a bulk order for your designs. Production is one of the main stages of your business and a large portion of your funds will be allocated to this.

Think about how many pieces you would like to produce per design for your bulk order. Factories would usually already have an MOQ (minimum order quantity), for example, 300pcs per design, per colour. These MOQs are in place because factories are able to produce at a lower cost when you order in bulk. Thus, if you were to ask to produce lesser than the stated MOQ, factories might drive up your production costs to make up for the low quantity. Hence, it will always be cheaper to produce at the factories’ MOQ or higher.

However, you must be prudent about this decision. It doesn’t always mean that you have to opt for the cheaper alternative. Weigh out your options and anticipate what is a manageable amount of stock for you to sell. If you’re not confident about selling 300pcs per design for example for your first collection, you might have to find another factory with a lower MOQ or spend a little more on producing a smaller quantity, whichever ensures a lower risk for your cash flow. If this goes well, then you can scale up in the following collections to enjoy lower cost and higher margins.

Besides how much you produce, where you produce also affects the costs of manufacturing. Manufacturing in western parts of the world like Europe or the U.S. may be more costly as compared to eastern parts like in Asia. There are factories all over the world, however, finding a suitable and reliable one is extremely difficult. Think carefully about what you require from your factory – communication, location, quality, timelines etc. so that you have a better gauge of what you’re working towards, and how much money it would take to get there.

At Bryden, our aim is to streamline the manufacturing process for fashion brands; we offer both product sourcing and production as a one-stop service. We differ from other manufacturers out there as we can assist in sourcing of fabrics, trims and notions based on your preferences and requirements, translate ideas into technical packs for our factories, produce both samples and bulk orders, conduct quality control checks and arrange delivery from factories to your door step.  In addition, we provide services such as production of brand labels, hang tags, and product packaging and photography for e-commerce stores. Best part of all, the MOQ at Bryden is 80pcs per design, per colour, make it a low risk option for any brand starting out.

Pro tip: Find a manufacturing partner who provides both convenience and offers a low minimum order so that you can cut down on your inventory risk and get the most bang for your buck.  

Adverts

ADVERTISING & MARKETING

$1000 - $2500 per month for start-ups

Next would be promoting your finished product. There is a multitude of ways to go about promotion. To find out the costs involved, you would need to decide on your advertising and marketing approach.

Traditionally, advertising would often mean buying ad spaces in print and on television, and marketing efforts would constitute sending out samples to PR agencies, media companies and participating in trade shows for example. These are some costs to account for if you’re taking a more traditional approach.

However, as we live in a digital age, options for advertising and marketing methods have expanded way beyond the traditional. As a clothing label, you can now also think about utilizing Google ads, SEO (search engine optimization), sponsored ads and boosted posts on social media and product placement on personalities with a large social media following just to name a few options.

More often than not, these methods are also more cost saving than traditional methods and could help with lowering your budget for a start-up label. Some brands start off with the founders having an influence on social media and drive up business from there.

Choosing which advertising and marketing methods to use ultimately depends on your demographics’ consumption behavior.  For example, 18-35 yr. olds might encounter brands and products primarily on digital platforms for example, whereas ages 35 & above might turn to traditional media – print, television and radio.

Know how your market behaves and save costs by casting a smaller net in concentrated waters, instead of a wider net in an environment that caters more to the general public. It’s important to be mindful that what you want is to create genuine engagement with your target market and not be considered as spam.

Pro Tip: Start marketing even before you get the products. Create your social media account and think of creative ways to create curiosity about your brand and products. Go local and get your first customers from your home turf.

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DISTRIBUTION

Depending on your business model, selling directly to consumers or to retailers for wholesale or consignment will incur different costs.

Selling directly to consumers can mean setting up a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce store. As a start-up label, opting for e-commerce can definitely help you to save on the overhead costs of a physical store such as rent, renovation & furnishing and employment of sales staff. However, this goes back to knowing who your target market is and what their buying habits are. If you’re starting a luxury brand for example, you might lean more towards brick-and-mortar, as traditionally, consumers under the luxury demographic prefer to shop in physical stores.

As you calculate your costs in your financial plan, always check against your budget and ensure that you don’t exceed it so that you avoid overspending in areas where you shouldn’t and spend in areas where you should.

Pro tip: Go for the e-commerce model from the start to generate demand and interest before approaching stores. Stores want to sell popular products and will be more likely to stock your products if you have perceived demand in their markets.

CONCLUSION

The costs involved in starting a clothing line will differ from brand to brand as every label’s business model and requirements are different. However, it is useful to remember that starting small and comfortable can help to save a lot on initial costs and allow you to focus on managing parts of your business that are more important in the early stages of the label – design, marketing and distribution for example.

Managing your finances is crucial to the sustainability of your brand. Drawing up a financial plan that includes the potential costs mentioned above can help to give you a fair gauge on how much you need to spend/can save. Remember to constantly update the plan as you go along too so that you are always well aware of your financial status, which will allow you to make decisions for the business responsibly and more easily. This is important so that you know not to burn a hole in your pocket before you even make a sale.

Require assistance on developing your brand?

Get in touch with our friendly advisers now and we can help you work out your costs!

 

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