These days, literally anybody can design his or her own shirt using the myriad of tools available on the Internet. However, designing a shirt or two is completely different from starting a full-fledged fashion brand. A brand represents a line of clothes that all revolve around a single cohesive idea (known as the brand).
Furthermore, a brand represents a business, and it takes an incredible amount of planning and work to make a business successful. The truth, in fact, is that building a successful fashion brand is more dependent on business acumen than it is on the designs themselves.
Ponder Your Long-Term Goals
When you are selling items haphazardly as a hobby, you’re not really concerned about goals, you’re just happy to make a sale. When starting a fashion brand, however, you must set genuine goals. For instance: suppose you are starting a fashion brand that deals with men’s t-shirts. How many t-shirts do you realistically want to try to sell during your first year?
This matters because it helps when it comes to figuring out what to do next. Suffice it to say, you’re going to have to work much harder to sell 10,000 t-shirts during your first year than you would have to work if you just want to sell 1,000 t-shirts. Plus, goals are the cornerstone of any quality business plan!
Keep Production In Mind
If you are starting a brand, you need to start thinking about production during your design process. What materials does your design require? What sorts of vendors would be able to replicate the design? Are you comfortable outsourcing the design to a manufacturer in another country?
Pay special consideration to whether or not you envision scaling your design, i.e., producing thousands of copies of the article of clothing you are creating. This is important because large-scale production is more labour intensive, meaning it’s going to cost you a lot more.
These things matter because money matters. Remember that the ultimate goal of a business is to turn a profit. And the simple fact is that unless you are able to turn a profit, your brand will simply not be successful.
Think About Marketplaces
There are two primary ways you can distribute your fashion brand products. The easier way is to take advantage of established digital marketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Etsy, not to mention real-world marketplaces like flea markets. The much more difficult (though also rewarding) option is to create your own marketplace.
Back in the day, creating your own marketplace meant setting up a traditional brick-and-mortal establishment. These days, all you need is the ability to build a website and perform what is known as search engine optimisation. Mind you, doing neither of these things is as easy as it sounds!
The benefit of an established marketplace is that such sites and venues already have traffic. If you build your own site, you will have to build traffic from scratch. You may also need to hire a Web designer, not to mention SEO specialists.
Do Not Forget Your Competition
Selling as a hobby differs from selling professionally in that you must take your competition into consideration. The success of your fashion brand, which we want note again is a business, is partially dependent on your ability to out-perform your competitors. Below is a list of some of the things you should keep in mind:
- How do your competitors’ prices compare to your own prices?
- What methods do your competitors use to market their wears?
- Who are your competitors’ manufacturers?
- Do your competitors’ outsource?
- How long have your competitors been in the business?
- Do your competitors operate blogs?
- Are your competitors active on social networks?
- How much traffic do your competitors’ websites receive?
Analysing your competition also gives you a chance to pick up ideas on how to jumpstart your own brand.
Understand Your Customers
You want to know who else is important? Your customers! A fashion brand must have a very specific target audience. Who are your clothes and items designed for? Who will be buying them? Why will they be buying them?
Understanding your customers does require a bit of insight into psychology. It’s for this reason that you might want to consider taking a few courses on marketing and psychology before you start a fashion brand. Trust us when we say that properly understanding your target market can make a huge difference!
Think About Social Media
Practically every business operates on the social network sphere these days. Social networking is a simple but effective way to build a reputation, drive traffic to your site and establish your fashion brand. Even lawyers now run their own Facebook pages!
Since you want to start a brand, social media should be one of the top concerns on your mind. You need to share so much with your potential customers — who you are, what your vision is, what you vision is, what you bring to the table, etc.
One thing to understand though is that capitalizing on social media requires more than just linking to your products. You need to build a personal connection with your customers.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Don’t be afraid to try new ideas.
- Don’t repeat the same thing over and over again.
- Do post news about your fashion brand.
- Do engage with your fans.
- Do give your fans sneak peeks on upcoming gear.
- Do be yourself!!!
Pulling the Pieces Together
Before you start a fashion brand, take the time to do everything mentioned in this post. Consider your target audience. Analyse your competition. Think about marketplaces. Learn the production process. Piece together a business plan. Start setting up social media profiles, and so on.
While it’s tempting to just jump into the game, it’s much smarter and more prudent to plan what you can beforehand. It could very well make the difference in which you ultimately succeed or fail!