Clothing is no doubt one of the basic needs of life. The three basic needs of life according to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs are food, shelter and clothing.
It, therefore, implies that everyone on the face of the earth, not minding their social, economic, religious, political and otherwise status, all have the basic need for clothing. It does not make any difference, if they wear designers, cut and join, or a quilt, the need for clothing is basic and universal.
If there are over 7 billion people on the face of the earth, and each have the basic need of clothing, the question becomes, who makes or get the clothes across to them? Who dresses the world population?
Which businesses help in making or distributing clothes? It is of a certainty that someone is really handling that responsibility. But with the massiveness of the world population, there is no doubt then that those who dress or dresses the world, will become world stars. Do you have what it takes to join the world stars?
There is a quote I love so much, it states “You can have anything you want in life if you dress for it”. So in this practical guide, we will be providing you with the detailed information you will need to start a clothing business in 2021 and beyond.
It was Zig Ziglar, who said you can have anything you want in life, if you help many people to get what they want, by extension, you can get anything you want in life, if you help other people dress for it.
Okay, enough of the philosophical inspiration, let us get down to the business of helping you start and profit by running your own clothing business. In starting a clothing business, there are many business models, which are open to you, so you can decide to go with any of the models or a combination of some, depending on your skills level, resources available and the niche of your choice.
The type of clothing business you want to start depends on you, as there are many processes involved in each. For instance, getting fully involved in sourcing and production, will take more time and money, than just getting involved in designing and selling only.
So if your interest is stating with an investment of $100 or $10,000, we have you covered, as we will hold your hand and guide you through the full process.
One of the key determinants of your success, will be your ability to choose the right business model for your clothing business.
So now that you are ready to start your clothing brand, you must then choose your model. There are several options available, but let’s look at the most common and easy to scale model, as each involves different levels of cost and time input.
Print-On-Demand clothing business model
The easiest option for starting your own clothing business involves printing your designs or logo on standard blank apparel. This is an attractive low budget model with an almost an automated process.
Print on demand model works simply by creating your designs and printing them on clothes, using a special direct to garment printing process. As we promised that we will provide you the detailed information on how to start your clothing business, even if you have less than $100.
So how can you start your clothing business with $100? It is very easy and achievable. For a start, we will recommend https://www.printful.com, where you can simply create mock-up of your products, using free design tools like https://www.canva.com and connecting your Printful shop to https://www.shopify.com. Shopify have a 14 days free trial period, and afterwards, $29 dollars monthly.
Do you see that now, that with less than $50 or $100 you can start your clothing business, with the quality information we provide.
Print-on-demand printing produces high quality printed apparel quickly and efficiently. Because of this, there are no setup costs, unlike screen printing. This means that it’s easy and cost effective to print small orders (including just 1 unit).
One big advantage of using Printful, is that it seamlessly integrate with your Shopify shop and once you receive an order on Shopify, Printful will automatically receive same order and will then print the order and deliver it to the customer who made the order, while you will sit back and take your profit and this is a business you started with $50 or less.
Wholesale/Private Label Clothing Business model
If you want a more personalized and higher margin model, you may decide to go with the wholesale/private label clothing business model. This option is similar to the print on demand model, but requires more involvement and higher cost.
This method involves you purchasing blank clothing products that you would then customize by printing your designs, labels, tags etc.
As we stated that this model requires more involvement and cost, it implies that you will be spending more money upfront buying the clothes, taking care of warehousing and shipping.
The big advantage of this model is that it gives you higher control on the final product output and you also have the possibility of making higher profit.
All we provide is value, so if you want to go with the model of wholesale and private label, we will recommend https://www.threadbird.com, which is a one-stop shop, providing you with the blank apparel, the printing, as well as an array of clothing line finishing options like adding sewn tags, hangtags, folding and bagging of your apparel.
Custom Cut & Sew Clothing Business model
Custom cut & sew clothing means you are doing everything, from designing sketches to patterns, sourcing for fabrics and the eventual manufacturing/printing of the clothes.
Custom cut and sew is a tedious process, hence not meant for everyone unless you have what it takes. Not only is it time consuming, it also comes with high costing, as you will create designs, source for fabrics, produce the cloths, warehouse them and also handle shipping.
Now that we have educated you on the different business model available to you in starting your clothing business, the next step is to get into the actual business. So not notwithstanding the model you decide to adopt, you have to follow through with this fool proof steps to enable you start and profit from your clothing business.
Decide on your niche
Starting a clothing business is more or less a personal journey. As your decision to start may be as a result of your creativity or you have simply discovered a gap in the market, and bringing your creativity to bear, you decided to take advantage of that gap.
It is very important to define your niche from the beginning, no matter what may be the inspiration behind your starting your clothing business. For instance, are you looking to start a fitness clothing brand? Corporate or casual wear brand? Sports clothing line? Women or men’s wear? Children focused designs wear? Or quotes inspired Tees?
It is after you have decided on your niche that you will then decide on the style of clothing you will produce. There are many options available like: for instance, some clothing and apparel products you may want to consider for your brand are:
- Short Sleeve Shirts
- Long Sleeve Shirts
So know your niche, and build your clothing business around it. Even if you branch out and introduce lots of other designs as time goes by, your original idea will help you carve a name and give you what you will be known and remembered for.
Plan your budget/develop a business plan
If you chose the print on demand business model, you may not need a budget, but you will still however come up with a business plan on how to scale the business.
Bear in mind that the fashion industry is hard to predict because of the trends and fads, so your plan has to be flexible and you must be up to the challenge.
Depending on your budget, you might decide to start with few designs and scale up as you progress.
So your budget will depend on whether you plan to design and make the clothes yourself (or with a manufacturer), or buy clothes from designers at wholesale price.
Some of the major elements you will want to consider when putting together your business plan are:
- Your Business Model
- Competitor Strengths & Weaknesses
- Costs & Margins
While developing your business plan, you should also ensure it captures an executive summary, an outline of how you intend to start and scale. Also include all the analysis you have done for the business, which will include your financials, target market and competition, who is involved in your business, plans for marketing and branding, operations, etc.
Costs to consider in your budget include:
- The price of professional product development services such as pattern making, tech packs, design development, etc.
- The cost of making samples
- The cost of materials such as fabric, buttons, zippers, hardware and any other pieces used in the construction of your garments
- The cost of transportation between you and the factory for meetings/visiting the factory
- The cost of labor (determine the difference in labor cost between your home country and overseas labor cost requirements)
- The cost of shipping between you and the factory and the cost of shipping the necessary materials to the factory
- The cost of production and actually creating the clothing items themselves
- But again these costs depends on the business model you are adopting.
Organise your business
You may not have written a full business plan, but by principle, you should organize your business. For instance, you may be planning just to buy a sewing machine and get straight to work, but even this requires time and resource commitment.
So you should put your future goals and how your business will take shape in writing, including plans and ideas for:
Your location(s). Are you working from your bedroom but aiming to move into a small studio? Remember, certain rules apply for online businesses, or market stall traders.
- Or are you going to be an online retailer?
- Could Facebook Marketplace be a good place to start?
- Will you open a brick and mortal shop?
- How will you handle taxes, licenses and permits?
- Who will be doing what in the business?
- What and what will be in your product catalogue?
- What will be your Sales and marketing plans?
- What will be the coverage for your Insurance?
- Funding. How will you secure the funding for your business?
Creating your designs
The most exciting part of your clothing business is product development. How will you create your designs? Do you have the creativity? Will you be hiring a designer? How will you turn your rough ideas to finished products? These questions and more need answers and you have to provide the answers.
You need to have an understanding of design measurements and materials, technical specifications, etc.
Your designs- whether they are printed, embroidered, or the design of the actual garment itself- are critical. Not only does it need to look great, but it also needs to look great specifically in the eyes of your target market.
Ultimately, you will lose if your clothing designs aren’t aesthetically pleasing and relatable to the buyer. Your designs don’t necessarily need to be complex, in fact many of the bestselling clothing brands are very simple, and however, they do need to connect with your specific audience/niche.
In creating your designs, you might consider the following Clothing Business Label Material Options:
- Damask Woven Labels
- Satin Woven Labels
- Taffeta Woven Labels
- Woven Patches
- Cotton Twill Labels
- Canvas Printed Labels
- Nylon Printed Labels
- Satin Printed Labels
- Silicon Clothing Labels
- Leather Labels
Creating your brand
Many clothing brands are built on a strong brand. Beyond the clothes themselves, a strong brand encourages and reinforces your target market to purchase, represent, share and repurchase your clothing line. Your brand extends way beyond the product itself and encompasses what the brand stands for and the lifestyle associated with it.
As a fashion or clothing business owner, you may not necessarily be creative, as the creativity aspect can be outsourced. But if you are creative, it will stand you in good stead for developing a brand for your startup clothing company.
So you have to be creative, however, in picking a brand name that will appeal to your target audience. For instance, you might choose a brand name based on the occupation of your target audience. You can also sell your own unique designs like MODE Creatives or Fechi.
Taking your product to market
Now you have created your product, which takes us to the most important step which is taking your product to the market or simply marketing. Your marketing efforts will depend on your business model, as the print on demand model for instance may give you an advantage of using a popular platform like Shopify, but you still however have to market and sell your product, as you are relatively new on their platform.
So it is time for you to consider how you will:
- Price your products
- Market your brand
- Create an online clothing store, if this is your plan
- Organise any deals or promotions
- Package up your products
- Ship your products (if working on an order basis)
- Deal with any returns or customer issues
- Plan ahead with your manufacturer for new seasons and busy periods
You will have little to worry about with the above issues, if your business model is the print on demand model, but if you are using the other business models, then you must then figure out how to tackle each of them.
Read this guide on how to start a profitable online store.
We have included a list of Clothing Manufacturers, as a resource to help you out in your quest to become a successful clothing business owner.
Sourcify – Sourcify has relationships with hundreds of Chinese manufacturers and will work with you to find and vet the right one for you.
Sqetch – Sqetch is similar to Maker’s Row but focuses on connecting you with European manufacturers.
FactoryFinder – FactoryFinder can help with material selection, samples and production by connecting you with the right clothing manufacturer.
SourceEasy – SourceEasy is a complete platform to help you with the full clothing production process.
We are convinced that we have provided you with all the detailed information you need to start and profit from clothing business, but as we will always say, our duty is to provide the information, why your duty is to take action and get started. So are you willing to get started now?
What are your thoughts on this guide and do you have any business idea you want us to write about? Let us know in the comment section.
We recommend you also read this guide on how not to start a clothing business.