In the first part of this series, we covered the idea process of making a fashion label. In this article, we’ll discuss how to make these ideas a reality – where to find funding, where to get materials, and how to get your products made.
Funding can come from a wide variety of places and, realistically, you’re probably going to have to tap into a mix of these ideas. Plus, you may end up needing more money than you’d anticipated, and have to tap into other sources.
You can try looking for fashion accelerator and incubator programs. A simple Google in addition to your area will help you find plenty. Accelerator and incubator programs are short-term programs that promote growth and success for new companies by offering access to education, mentorship and investors. These are often your best bet because not only are you getting access to investment, but mentorship and support from professionals that you wouldn’t have otherwise, meaning you won’t be navigating this new territory entirely on your own.
You can also look for venture capitalists or angel investors. These types of investors seek out startup ventures that they believe have high growth potential, and do so with the intention of making their money back by taking a cut of the company’s earnings. If you’re comfortable with this, a venture capitalist or angel investor can be very valuable to you because a lot of the time, they’re entrepreneurs with experience in the business they can share.
Look for venture capitalist firms and seek out angel investors looking to invest on sites like LinkedIn. Before reaching out, prepare the perfect presentation to show them on your business plans and why it’s a good idea to invest. If you attend enough fashion events and discuss your business plan with professionals there, it’s possible that investors will be drawn to you – they may be there looking for new fashion labels to take under their wings, or someone may know an investor who’d love your work.
Finally, online fundraising is always an option. You can reach out to friends on social media about donating to you and get a GoFundMe up and running, with as many examples of what people will be investing in as possible. These are a lot harder to get off the ground than people think, but it’s definitely worth a shot – any money counts.
Once you have the money, you’ll need the materials. There are plenty of places to get fabric from. You could start with local fabric stores, which is a good choice if you’re starting small, letting you see exactly how they look in person, as well as being able to feel the material and determine whether it’s easy to wear and work with. If you don’t access to that or simply want a wider variety of options, there are fabric suppliers online with large catalogs on their sites of options – it doesn’t hurt to reach out and request samples before committing to a full purchase as well, though it’ll take a bit longer than a run to the fabric store.
Now, let’s say your designs don’t require anything you can buy in a fabric store – you completely designed what you want the fabric to look like as well as the garment. This is where textile mills come in. A textile mill is who you’d hire to create the unique fabric that you envision for your line. However, you may just be a designer who isn’t too familiar with textiles – that’s okay! If you can factor in some extra money, you can hire a sourcing agent who will work with textile mills for you to ensure that the fabric you receive matches up to your vision.
3. Employees or Manufacturers
Every fashion label looks a little different in the creation process, so you have to determine what’s going to work best for you. Maybe your designs are going to be sewn exclusively by you (at least to start out with – as the brand gets bigger, you might want to get more people onboard by then). Even in the beginning phase, this is a lot of work for one person, but it’s doable – especially if you want to create one-of-a-kind designs or use a format where the products are only made after the order is placed.
You could also hire employees right from the beginning. If you don’t want to do all the sewing alone, you’ll have to find tailors and see as much of their portfolio and past work as possible to make sure they’ll be doing right by your designs. Whether you hire tailors or just sew by yourself, it also may be of use to hire a pattern maker, an accountant, a bookkeeper, more designers, a social media marketer, the aforementioned sourcing agent, so on – just so you don’t have to do all of these things yourself while focusing on the aspects of creating fashion that you love.
The final option is working with a factory. This means you’d be designing the products and sending them to a manufacturer for them to mass-produce multiple products of your vision. If you go this route, it doesn’t mean outsourcing the work entirely – since you’re not the one sewing, you’ll want to supervise at the facility if you can and ensure that your work looks how you want it to before you end up with hundreds of garments that feel unsellable because they weren’t what you wanted. Seek out an ethical factory that makes high-quality garments, and try to find one that specializes in the types of clothing you want to make, as factories can have different specializations.
Local facilities are your best bet so you can visit whenever you want and perform quality control, as well as keeping costs down that would result in shipping fees from a far-away factory. Plus, you’ll want to research every facility you may work with as thoroughly as possible, and this means visiting. In order to work with a factory, you’ll have to reach out to the manufacturer in charge and treat the talk with them like a job interview – make them want to work with you. Show them your business plan and be as transparent as possible about what you need from them so there’s no hiccups down the road.
Now, you know how to get funding and where that funding is meant to go, and soon you’ll have the collection you designed right there and ready to wear! In the next instalment of this series, we’ll go over how to distribute your designs and advertise when you’re starting out.
Want some more ideas on how to make your creation stage go smoothly? 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.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock