How To Start A Clothing Brand

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The fashion industry is worth a huge £43.2 billion annually in the UK alone and £411 billion in Europe. It's no wonder that it is an attractive prospect for an entrepreneur looking to start up their own business, especially for those who are creatively minded and who have a passion for clothing.

The infographic below helps explain some of the key steps which are involved in creating a brand. It comes from our friends at Hawthorn, who have a very thorough guide to starting a fashion brand on their website.

Step 1: Getting started

Starting a fashion brand isn't easy. You'll need artistic flair and business smarts to make a success. You'll also need time and money to get the ball rolling.

Fashion brand startup costs

Startup costs for a fashion brand include things like:

  • materials and production costs

  • marketing and branding

  • website development

  • photography

  • shipping

You may have to incur these costs before you even make a sale, so you will have to explore ways to fund your business.

Fashion brand startup timeline

In terms of time, you'll presumably start by creating designs and making prototypes yourself. You might be doing this in your spare time alongside other work. So it could take a while to start to build up a collection of clothes that you're ready to show off.

You need to make sure you understand just how long it could take you to get your products to market and start making sales, as this will help you create a realistic financial plan and cash flow forecast for your business.

Registering your fashion brand

Like any business in the UK, you need to decide on a legal structure and register with HMRC. Take a look at our guide to UK company formats and business structures.

Step 2: Identify the target market for your fashion brand

A clearly defined target market will help you create a brand that appeals to your ideal customer.

Segmenting the market

You can define your target market through a number of factors, such as:

  • Age and gender

  • Income bracket

  • Lifestyle and aspirations

  • Occupation

  • Marital or family status

  • Location (of customer)

  • Location (of purchase)

Try creating a customer persona that describes exactly who you are marketing to and what they want from your brand. This can really help focus your branding and marketing efforts.

Remember, never base your branding and marketing on a hunch. Always conduct market research.

Defining your fashion business brand

For a creative entrepreneur, defining your brand is one of the most exciting parts of starting a fashion brand. At the most basic level, you need to think about the following and how to create a brand that will appeal to your target market:

  • name and slogan

  • logo

  • brand colours

  • pricing

The importance of logos to fashion brands

Your logo is of paramount importance. When someone is wearing one of your garments, you want people to be able to see it is from your brand.

You need to think how to incorporate your brand into your garments in an appropriate way for your target market - for example, blazened across a hoodie in a graphic font or suggested by a subtle icon embroidered discretely.

Your logo helps:

  • brand loyalty, as people pay to be associated with your brand

  • brand recognition, so that people can identify your clothing and seek it out

Step 3: Deciding your fashion brand pricing

Pricing and brand perception

Fashion is one of those areas where pricing can seem completely unrelated to the cost of manufacture. A white t shirt from a supermarket does the same basic job as one from a designer. But the difference in price can be huge.

You'll need to think about the impact of pricing on brand perception. Do you want to be associated with affordable fast fashion or command a premium price tag to attract aspirational and affluent customers?

Pricing and costs

Your pricing obviously needs to cover your production, marketing and sales costs too. So remember to factor in the cost of:

  • manufacturing

  • taxes

  • packaging

  • promotion

  • shipping

  • any salary you are taking from the business

Step 4: Manufacture your products

Transmit Startups are experts in starting a business but we bow to the expertise of others when it comes to specifics like this. Take a look at the guide from Hawthorn for their very detailed information about fashion garment manufacturing.

Step 5: Promote and sell your products

There is a wide range of ways to promote and sell your products. You may choose to market your clothes direct to customers (ie via your own sales and distribution channels) or through an intermediary, like a shop or online retailer.

Either way, you'll need to create brand awareness and desire. Promotion opportunities include:

  • advertising and PR

  • influencer / affiliate marketing

  • digital and social media marketing

  • trade fairs and face-to-face sales

Step 6: Manage your business

Don't forget the important of managing your business. As you grow, you'll need proper admin processes in place to make sure you pay suppliers on time, invoice customers for the right amount, balance your book, pay your taxes, and adhere to any relevant legislation.

Interested in taking out an affordable Start Up Loan to get your fashion label off the ground? See how much you can borrow with our Start Up Loan calculator.

Laura White

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