Is one of your lifelong dreams creating and designing your own clothing brand? Starting a clothing brand from scratch isn’t as simple as making a design, printing on a shirt, and selling it. A lot more time, effort, and thought need to go into creating your brand.
In this guide, we go over six different tips you can use to help you start this journey. Don’t let go of your dream before giving it a go. While success isn’t linear, you won’t know unless you try! When you’re reading the tips below, keep one of our favorite quotes in mind, “Success is not final; failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts!”
Consider Your Audience
No matter what type of product or service you’re selling, a great starting point to kickstart your brand is by taking a closer look at who your target audience is. Your target audience is a demographic of people whom you think will purchase your products. For example, if you’re making custom embroidered crewnecks inspired by quotes from your favorite romance books, your target audience is likely female, loves to read, and is between 18 and 40 years old.
We focus a lot of our time on building a target audience because it helps direct marketing messages to the people most likely to purchase your clothing. However, focusing solely on this audience could cause you to neglect or ignore customers who aren’t a part of this demographic. While it’s great to have some products geared toward romance readers, not everyone enjoys those books—consider expanding the target audience the more your brand grows to mystery, horror, or thriller readers to attract more customers and revenue.
Choose Your Market
Now that you defined who is buying your products, you must choose the market or direction you want to take your brand. When you choose a direction, you should stick with it to avoid confusing customers. This means if you’re selling romance book-inspired crewnecks, don’t include one or two designs with sports themes because it won’t make sense to your customers. They will visit your website or see the clothes in stores and become confused about what your brand stands for.
The whole point of brand identity is for customers to recognize which products are yours, so including one or two off-the-wall designs won’t be consistent with what you’re portraying to your target audience. This doesn’t mean that you can’t expand your brand when the time is right. But, when you get to this point in your business, ensure the designs relate to each other or pair well. For example, adding romance movie quotes is perfect because it’s the same genre as the books, and it’s still a form of media where it differs yet relates to books.
Choose Your Medium and Material
There are many types of clothing options available in the market that you can use as inspiration. How you make each design varies as well. Types of clothing include hoodies, crewnecks, T-shirts, jeans, skirts, blazers, and so on. You can also choose to tie-dye designs, screen print, embroider, add iron-on patches, etc.
Let’s not forget about the material as well. There’s much more to clothes than just cotton or denim. Will your clothing brand use fleece, sherpa, leather, or lace? The material you use is an integral part of your design because it gives your clothes an experience of wearing them. Choose your clothing type, medium, and material carefully, and look into options that align with your budget to launch your brand successfully.
Once you square away your target audience, market, and medium/material, you can begin designing your first collection. Keep in mind that your brand isn’t on the market yet, so the first designs you make will be the first thing customers see and associate with your brand, so ensure you’re choosing something you enjoy. If you’re successful, you’ll be making more of the same design and expanding on the original idea.
Don’t get hasty with your designs because you want to get them out to your audience as quickly as possible. The best designs take time and effort, so don’t be afraid to work on one design and come back to refine it later. Play around with your thoughts and ideas and create multiple patterns so that you have a selection to choose from. Plus, the more designs you have in the beginning, the less work you will need to do to expand your brand because you have a few patterns locked in the vault.
Choose Who Is Making Your Clothes
Will you be cutting, sewing, and printing your own clothes, or will you go through a manufacturer? If one of your call cards is “Made in the US,” you may need to consider making the entire clothing line yourself because most manufacturers will be outside of the United States. However, starting with a manufacturer might be best when you have limited resources and budget.
When your volume of inventory is low in the beginning, you could tackle making all of your clothes in-house. Once business picks up, you can always consider hiring staff to help you. If you choose the manufacturing route, ensure you mindfully select the factory. This could mean walking through the facility, looking up past customer reviews, and sampling products if possible. Doing this will help you decide on the suitable choice—you can always transition your business to other manufacturers or in-house later as your business grows.
Don’t Forget Packaging Materials
Packaging and other materials you add to your clothing, like custom ribbon tags, are also essential to starting a clothing brand from scratch. When a customer purchases your products, you want them to have an experience when opening or viewing the clothes. Packaging and tags play a critical role in this.
Some properties to consider when choosing packaging materials are sustainability, protection, and durability. Will the boxes or poly bags you choose to ship your clothes in be efficient enough to protect them from outdoor elements or damage? Customer satisfaction is a top priority, and ensuring your clothing designs arrive to your customers safely will help increase the satisfaction rate.
Additionally, tags are also important components of your brand. This is what identifies your clothes as belonging to your brand. Tags can also include washing instructions and other information to show customers how to care for their new jacket or hoodie.
Designing your own clothing brand from scratch is no small feat. Running into roadblocks can be frustrating, but remember that it’s a part of this journey! Remain confident, vigilant, and creative to launch your brand successfully. Don’t forget to use our guide above when you’re feeling discouraged. Good luck!