Table of contents

How to start your clothing brand

Chapter 2: The business

2.1 The first steps to start your business

Good resources are necessary to make a clear business plan. The fact that you are reading this article right now means that you’re already expanding your knowledge. Learn about the products, services and possibilities you will need. Find other clothing brands that are successful and write down their influential strategies. Know your options and summarize your ideas. Most important of all, know how you can deal with issues before they even come up. You’ll need to make 2 important plans before starting your brand: the business plan (the strategy) & the marketing plan (how to sell your apparel).

Before you even think about printing your first T-shirt, you need a clear business plan. Define specific goals for your brand. What do you want to achieve after 6 months – 1 year – 3 years – 5 years? Set up a strategy and plan your actions.

Set up your business plan right away!
How? Read this Business plan for a clothing label: a step-by-step guide and download our template.

The marketing plan determines how you will market your clothing brand. Simply put, how can you launch your clothing label and how will you sell it? How will you manage your social media results? We can help you with all of this. Write down your plans and structure everything what’s on your mind. In chapter 3 ‘Your first collection’, we’ll cover everything from A to Z in the marketing space.

2.2 The finances of a clothing brand deconstructed

Do you want to start a serious clothing brand? There is one big truth you need to know: starting a clothing brand costs money and time. There are exceptions to this rule but unless you have really famous friends or an incredible network, you are going to need a basic budget.

Finances are a very important part of building your own clothing brand. Your target is to earn money. Look closely at your finances and take into account the financial part of every decision.

Let’s continue to the practical side: how much money do you need?

It’s not easy to have a detailed overview of how much money you will need to start your clothing line. It depends on the type of fashion business you want to start. We do give you some possible costs that you need to consider, accompanied by an estimated budget.

Cost price for a clothing design

Next to your story and style, your designs are extremely important. If you are a creative graphic designer, you can ignore this paragraph. A great design sells. A bad design doesn’t. Yep, that’s logical. But designing for clothing is a completely different skill compared to general graphic design or web design. You need to calculate all production specifications & limitations. A skilled clothing designer can help you save a lot of money on your overall production fee. For example: a colorful design will be more expensive than a design with less colors. Anyhow, a good designer is an investment.

Budget

Designs easily costs € 200 per design.

At Merchandise Essentials we already offer designs at € 150 for 2 different examples of one idea. Discover how our design service can help you to create an awesome design.

Reading tip

production of your first collection

Production of your first collection

We are ready with the design, now it’s time for the next step: the production of your clothing line. If we can give you a golden tip, don’t start with print on demand or dropshipping. Print on demand means that you only produce a clothing piece when it’s ordered. For example: a customer buys a T-shirt on your webshop, and then you produce it. Dropshipping is similar to print on demand. When you sell a product, you purchase the product from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. Then, you don’t see or handle the product. In both cases, you don’t keep the products in stock.

However, you will need a certain stock. The higher your volumes, the lower your price per piece and the bigger your margin. Determine how much you would like to invest to lower your production cost. Keep in mind, finding the right production partner is important in order to become successful. At Merchandise Essentials, we guide you through this process. We do not only design and develop clothing collections, we also produce it.

For your first collection, we advise you to start with a small quantity. Afterwards, you can determine which products and designs were your bestsellers. For the creation of your first clothing collection, you have to make these decisions:

  • Which designs do you want to use?
  • Determine the clothing products.
    • Our advice: T-shirts and sweaters are absolutely essential items.
  • Determine the quantity for each clothing product.
    • Our advice: take a minimum of 25 products for one design. You can print one design with screen printing on minimum 25 pieces. You can combine clothing products to have 25 pieces: for example 10 T-shirts and 15 sweaters.
  • Choose a decoration technique for each design.
    • Our advice: the best and most used decoration techniques are screen printing, digital printing and embroidery.
  • Determine if you want labeling: neck label, flag label, loop label, hangtag, …
    • Our advice: you definitely need a custom label. Without a label, your clothing is not branded.
    • If you choose for labeling: create a design for your label.
  • Choose if you want your clothing to be individually packed.

The production for custom clothing requires expertise. Choose a reliable partner and verify if the textile and production methods are ethical and ecological. If you want to know more about the different production phases, you can read the article about our production process. You also need to know more about the possible decoration techniques. The choice of the decoration technique depends on your design. For a lot of designs, we advise you to choose for screen printing, it’s a high-quality printing technique. Of course, there are also other qualitative decoration techniques like digital printing, embroidery, … Discover more about the decoration methods.

There’s a lot of things that you have to keep in mind before you can make decisions, and these decisions are not made in a few minutes. Together with our experienced team, you can make all decisions based on your needs and targets.

Decoration Techniques – Reading tips

Perfect first collection: The California

Let’s illustrate the production cost of a starter collection. The California collection is based on an ideal example collection. The prices may vary, the cost summary below is a representative example.

California Collection - example

The California – T-shirt men

  • Color: citadel blue
  • Decoration: screen print, polyester neck label, woven flag label

The Prince – Unisex T-shirt

  • Color: white
  • Decoration: digital print, woven flag label on the back

The California – T-shirt men

  • Color: salty rose
  • Decoration: screen print, polyester neck label

The Bowie – Unisex sweater

  • Color: heather grey
  • Decoration: polyester neck label, embroidery

The Camper Hat

  • Color: navy
  • Decoration: woven flag label

Costs to profit calculation

  Ideal order quantity Production cost Your selling price Total revenue
T-shirts 150 € 1.500 € 30 / piece € 4.500
sweaters 50 € 1.125 € 60 / piece € 3.000
caps 30 € 450 € 30 / piece € 900
total   € 3.075   € 8.400

Your profit for the first collection: € 5.325.

PRO tip: Why you should always go for quality

Fashion is changing. Quality is becoming king. This means that poor quality and non-ethical brands are pushed out of the market and stores. As a starting brand, you certainly don’t have the PR or marketing machine to counter bad press. That’s why it’s so incredibly important to always opt for premium quality clothing.

If you choose for good quality…

  • You can charge more for your product, which results in bigger margins.
  • Your audience is happy with the product and advertises for you.
  • You can use the ethical & ecological labels in your marketing strategy.

Boost your fashion brand with marketing tools

Photography

Photography is an essential part of your branding. You can’t sell awesome, qualitative clothing if you use crappy photos. Work with a professional photographer to make qualitative pictures of your products. You need two kinds of photos: with models and packshots. It’s important to have great pictures with models for your website & social media. This has to represent your branding. Especially packshots, they’re necessary for your webshop. Clear product pictures massively increase sales on your webshop. Storelaunchers has a great service that makes qualitative packshots affordable.

Budget

Professional photographer costs about € 80 an hour.
And of course, it’s free if you do it yourself.

Newsletter: the #1 tool

Newsletters have never been more important. It’s the ideal way to reach your followers. If you send an e-mail to your customers, they will receive it. If you post on Facebook, not all your followers will see your post. That’s because Facebook determines the popularity of your post. There’s no doubt, a fashion brand must send newsletters to their clients and fans. It will boost your sales if you give promotions or discount actions. Discover why you send newsletters in the blogpost The power of newsletters for fashion brands. Mailchimp is a good tool for newsletters by the way.

Budget

Free for a new business (Mailchimp).

The ultimate experience: package branding

Packaging is everything. You want to be taken seriously, so you have to spend some money on branding. It’s essential to individually pack your products with size stickers. When a customer receives your product, it has to look nice and professional. Creating an amazing experience when the client receives your packages will get you a lot of free social media exposure, just think about unboxing videos. That’s why we advise you to personalize your boxes. Also, it’s a great idea to print a card with the message ‘Thank you for your order’. Your customer will be extremely happy with a personal message.

Thank you
Thank you
Budget

Around € 300 to € 500, it depends on how crazy you want to go ;).

Advertising to boost your sales

Your clothing line is ready to conquer the fashion world. Advertising helps you to boost your sales. An example is Facebook advertising, you can achieve great results with a small budget. Influencer marketing is also a great way to create brand awareness.

Reading tips
Budget

Facebook advertising for a minimum of € 5 a week.
Instagram advertising with an average cost-per-click around € 0,70.
Influencer marketing depends on the cost of giving free clothing, or a percentage if you sell something because of the influencer.

Webshop: the power of e-commerce

A webshop really is a must for a starting clothing brand. Budget wise, you can go as far as you like but we always advise our clients to start small, get the orders flowing & then keep investing in improving the shop. That way, the shop pays for itself. A basic fashion webshop starts from €1.500 and a full-stack store with all whistles & bells goes for around €9.000. It depends on how fast you’re looking to invest your money in e-commerce optimization.

Besides the webshop, you have to think about the storage and shipping. Both are complex and have to be managed efficiently. Also, when your business grows, you may not have the capacity and time anymore to handle this yourself. In that case, outsourcing your storage and shipping is an interesting option.

Storelaunchers can help you to set up an effective strategy to build a successful webshop. Discover their services to know more.

Reading tips
Budget

Approximately € 1.500 for a basic fashion webshop.

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How to start your clothing brand - Your first collection