How to Start a Clothing Brand in 2024: A Complete Step-by-Step Guide
Launching a successful business that stands the test of time is a challenge to get right. Where do you begin?
Every few decades the tech industry comes up with new business models to help people start their own stores.
But even with easier options like print-on-demand available, traditional business planning and brand identity development are still vital parts that influence your success.
When these two areas are carefully researched and planned, it becomes easier to make smart decisions that benefit you over time. It also provides a solid base on which to build strong and deep connections with your customers.
In this complete guide, you’ll learn all about deciding on a target market, making a simple business plan, building your brand identity, and creating your own clothing line.
Decide on a target market
Your target market is the group of people you want to sell your products to.
Knowing your target market is important because your customers form a core part of your business plan and branding. After all, understanding is the first step in building a good relationship with anybody. Knowing your audience helps you make smarter decisions when it comes to every detail in your business.
A great example of a business with a clear target market is Uzmart. They promote a cruelty-free and vegan lifestyle, and their target market consists of people with similar values.
To stay true to their goals, they make the most of the eco-friendly benefits that print-on-demand provides. Their products have designs that raise awareness about the cruelty-free lifestyle and values that the vegan community promotes, which fosters a sense of belonging and understanding with their customers.
To figure out your target market, use the questions below to get an idea of the person you want wearing your clothing. You don’t have to answer every question in detail, and you can always adjust them later when you learn more about your customers.
When you’re done with these questions, think about what desires or problems your market has that your clothing brand can help with.
- Location: Are they local, national, or international customers?
- Demographics: How old are they? What’s their gender, job, or income bracket?
- Psychographics: What are their values? What are their hobbies and lifestyle? What kind of personality do they have?
- Market trends: What kind of trends do they follow? (You’ll learn more about trends later in this guide).
- Buying habits: How much do they spend on clothes a year? Are they loyal to one brand or more? What kind of stores do you think they currently buy from?
- Pain points: What kind of issues do your customers face? What problems currently affect them when it comes to clothing?
Make a simple business plan
Behind every successful fashion brand is a business plan.
Your business plan helps you form an overview of all the things you need to do to make your business come to life. It helps you understand what kinds of costs you should expect, and what obstacles you need to tackle. Overall, this forms the practical part of your clothing business and lets you see whether your ideas are realistic enough to carry out.
If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.
The sections below are helpful if you’re making a plan just for yourself. If you’re planning on requesting investments, you may need to go into more detail or use a different business plan structure.
1. Clothing business overview
Your overview helps you get your ideas out in one place without going into too much detail, and it also helps you understand your business at a glance.
You can include your mission or vision statement here too.
To create your overview, briefly answer the following questions:
- What are the overall goals of your business?
- Who is your target market?
- What kind of products will you include in your clothing line?
- What methods will you use to produce your clothing line?
- Where do you want to sell your clothing line?
- When do you want all of these things to happen?
You might not have all the answers yet, but as you go through the guide you’ll be able to define each of these in due time.
Outline your clothing ideas and go over what benefits you think they’ll provide your customers.
You should answer:
- What kind of clothing lines do you want to make?
- What is your value proposition?
- How will you produce each clothing item?
A value proposition is what benefits your products provide your customers.
To figure out what your value proposition is, think about why your customers would want to buy from you. This reason roots back to what problems or desires your business fulfills for them.
3. Competitive analysis
Competitive analysis helps you figure out where your fashion brand stands against competitors in the clothing industry. Here are a few steps to help you start:
- Make a list of your main 3-5 competitors
- Note down their products, pricing, and designs
- Break down their brand story and customer base
- Think about what they do and don’t do well
- Figure out if you can do something they can’t
Overall, you want to do this because it’ll help you figure out if there are any opportunities your business could take advantage of in the industry—and it helps you plan ahead and avoid any potential threats too.
4. Financial analysis and projections
A financial plan helps you figure out how much money you’ll need to start your business and what to charge for each product to make the profit you want. You can manage your finances yourself, but hiring an accountant is a good idea if this isn’t something you want to manage alone.
To figure out basic expenses, fill out a monthly breakdown with this information:
- Expected recurring costs—ie. subscriptions or website maintenance fees, planned monthly marketing campaigns costs, etc.
- Variable costs—ie. material expenses for producing products, shipping costs, etc.
To find out what kind of income you can expect to make for each sale, do the following:
- Figure out the total cost for producing each product, taking into account variables like shipping and tax obligations.
- Decide on how much you want to earn for each product. Combine the expenses for one product with the amount you have in mind.
- Check if this amount is justifiable with your competitor analysis, target market, and value proposition in mind.
5. Operations plan
Now that you know what your goals are, what kinds of products you want to make, and your basic expected costs, you need to outline what your business operations look like.
Decide on your fashion business model
The most common models are:
- Do-it-yourself (ie. artisan)
- Dropshipping (ie. print-on-demand)
- Manufacturing in bulk
This type of business model revolves around you handling the entire production process of your fashion business.
When you make products yourself, your production time is tied to your actual time available for sewing and cutting. If you ever want to expand, you’ll need to hire more people to grow your production.
Overall, this type of clothing business needs more time and investment upfront than other business types, but offers limitless creative possibilities for handmade clothing designs.