Anyone can start their own fashion label – even you! A lot of research, hard work and money will go into it, but you can absolutely do it.
Now, before you get down to work and start spending that money, way before you jump into the design and creation aspect, you need to start with logistics. This means a ton of research, writing and planning. Ironing these details out before you get to the creation process is key – being well-prepared will ensure that your plans go as smoothly as possible and you don’t end up costing yourself money.
1. Identify a Need
You aren’t going to make it very far if your fashion label is just a rehash of what’s already on the market. The reason new fashion labels blow up is because they’re doing something innovative with their designs other companies haven’t tried already, or they’re filling a need in the market that already hasn’t been filled.
When you’re planning your label, try to think of things you haven’t already seen. When you’re shopping, what’s something you’re constantly looking for, but never seem to find? What’s a new untapped market that you don’t understand why nobody’s gotten in on yet? If you already know your ideal target audience and personally know anybody within that audience, you can get their opinions for the brainstorming phase. Even if your idea is just a way that your clothes are very stylistically different from what’s on the market, something new is key.
2. Do your Research
There’s potential overlap with identifying a need and market research, but market research goes well beyond that initial spark of an idea. Step one of market research is knowing who your target audience is so you can make sure you spend your time learning about them.
Aside from figuring out a need in the market, you’re also going to want to identify how your target market shops, where and how they’ll identify your brand, their shopping and spending habits, and much more. You also want to look into the competition and see their price points, the image they’re trying to convey, their marketing strategies and so on.
When you’re conducting market research, it’s best to use as many sources as possible. You should be reading up on industry publications, reports and past research as well as utilizing social media and competitors’ websites to identify trends and marketing. You should also be directly reaching out to your target audience and asking them for help. Conduct surveys on social media, set up in-person interviews with local influencers, or even create a focus group of your friends for valuable insights.
Once you’ve turned your market research into a concrete idea for products, it’s right back to researching. Now, you’ll need to figure out how to actually get your company going. There is no one clear guide for the way to start a fashion label. Are you going to make the clothing by hand, hire tailors or hire a factory to do it for you? Who is going to supply the materials for all of this? How much money are these things going to cost? Once all is said and done, how are you going to distribute the products and advertise your company?
Do research on how other fashion labels started and exhaust all the ideas for different methods of starting your own. If you’re working with anyone else, make sure you thoroughly investigate these people too – interview potential tailors, look through their portfolios and ask for samples or do walk-throughs of any factories you may outsource your work to.
3. Create a Business Plan
Once you have all of your research collected and you’ve decided what route you’re going to go down with your designs, it’s time to create a business plan.
You want to begin with a summary of the company – an elevator pitch. Keep it brief but include all the draws and necessities you possibly can. This needs to stand out! From there, you’re going to go into all the details. Think of it like a research paper: your elevator pitch is the hook, then expand on the elevator pitch by giving an overview about the entire company. After that, you’re going to get into all of the research you did – the market analysis regarding your target audience, what’s already out there catering to them, and what they’d like to see. Next, you’ll get into the details of how your company will get off the ground – expand on what the manufacturing, distribution and marketing processes will look like, and put together a budget of how much this will cost.
If you’ve never made a business plan before, there are plenty of templates for business plans on the internet that you can use and you can even access examples of business plans for a specific guide of what should be on it.
These steps take a lot of determination and effort but remember that you’re allowed to take your time with it. There’s no deadline. You’re creating your first fashion label before finding your footing in the industry, after all. This time is essential – use it to make sure that everything is as perfect as can possibly be. Most importantly, don’t doubt yourself – every fashion label in existence started from where you are.
Tune into the sequel to this article where I’ll break down how to find manufacturers, sources for textiles and funding.
Want more guidance from a fashion expert? Ask Style Nine to Five founder, Christie Lohr, One Career Question!
Emily Morrison is a media professional with passions for writing, film and popular culture.
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