After collecting her degree in fashion design, Sarah Donofrio stepped into the real world with the same question that has long troubled creatives of all ilks: What now? 카지노사이트
Fashion school taught Sarah about pattern grading, sewing, and draping. She could drop a mean French seam. She could tell you everything about fit. Her education, however, didn’t really teach her how to actually start her own fashion line.
To take your dream from a business idea to launch and make it in the frenzied world of fashion takes a specific set of skills, a generous dose of creativity, and a pinch of business savvy.
Today, Sarah is a successful designer and owner of her own clothing line. What she’s learned over the past two decades is that taking your dream from idea to launch and making it in the frenzied world of fashion takes a specific set of skills, a generous dose of creativity, and a pinch of business savvy.
In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of starting a clothing line from scratch—everything from education and design to manufacturing and marketing—with tips for selling clothes from a seasoned pro.
Meet the fashion industry pro
Sarah has lived and worked in two countries, and her experience spans everything from design and production to education and physical retail. She has struggled and thrived, sometimes simultaneously, over her many years in the industry. 바카라사이트
In 2016, Sarah was a contender on Project Runway’s 15th season. She has since launched her namesake brand as an online store on Shopify, won multiple awards, and had her work appear in multiple publications and retailer shops.
1. Develop your fashion design skills
Designers like Vivienne Westwood and Dapper Dan found massive success in the fashion world, even though they were self-taught. And they started their careers pre-internet. We live in a time of access, where rebuilding an engine or tailoring a t-shirt can be learned simply by watching a YouTube video.
It’s possible to skip school and still launch your own clothing line, but formal education, whether in a classroom or online, has its merits: learn the latest industry standards, access resources and equipment, make contacts, and get feedback from pros.
While Sarah owes a great deal of her success to learning professional skills in a classroom, much of her education was gained on the job, working in corporate retail. “I wanted to work for myself,” she says, “But I felt that it was important to get experience.”
Sarah is a huge advocate for spending a few years learning the ropes from other brands and designers. “It took me a long time to be confident enough that I could fill a store with my clothing,” she says. “I think that I needed the time to grow and to get advice and experience.”
How to start a clothing line: A step by step guide
In this video, we’ll teach you the ins and outs of the fashion industry and everything you need to know to start a clothing brand from scratch. 온라인카지
Many institutions offer fashion design and small business programs in varying formats. Schools like Parsons in New York and Central Saint Martins in the UK are world renowned for their fashion programs.
If you have more drive than funds or time, there are a growing number of fast-track and online courses for fashion industry hopefuls. Check local community colleges for virtual or part-time formats that accommodate your schedule and budget, or consider learning through sites like MasterClass (there’s a fashion design course taught by Marc Jacobs himself), Maker’s Row Academy, or Udemy.
2. Create a business plan
As Sarah discovered, the world of fashion and the world of business have a lot more overlap than she expected.
Starting a clothing line requires many of the same considerations as starting any business. How much does it cost to start? When should you pursue capital for your startup? What outside help will you need to navigate legal, financial, production, and distribution aspects of the business? Where and how will you produce your garments? Let’s dig in.
What’s your business model?
This guide is for those looking to design and develop their own clothing brand and collections. If you are interested in the fashion world but have no interest or skills in design, consider reselling by buying wholesale or trying dropshipping.
For those designing a clothing line from scratch, this is the point where you will decide what type of business you are looking to run. This will help you determine how much time, effort, and funding you will require upfront.
A few business models are:
- Hand produce and sell your designs direct to customers through your own website or online marketplaces or at markets and pop-ups.
- Create collections and produce pieces of clothing through a manufacturer, then sell your clothing line wholesale to other retailers.
- Design repeating patterns or graphics to print on blank t-shirts and other clothing items using a print-on-demand model, selling online through your own store.
What does it cost to start a clothing line?
Once you have a business idea for your clothing line, you may be able to fund it yourself and bootstrap as you go. Designing and sewing made-to-order clothing on your own means you don’t have to carry a ton of inventory. However, you will need to invest upfront in equipment and large quantities of fabric to be cost-effective. Other costs include shipping materials, fees for launching your site, and a marketing budget.
If you plan to go all in and work with manufacturers on a production run, you’ll have high upfront costs to meet minimums. A solid business plan and costing exercise will help you determine how much funding you’ll need.
In either case, expect to need thousands of dollars upfront. “In fashion, you’re not just costing fabric and buttons and labor,” says Sarah. “You’re costing shipping, you’re costing heating and rent.”
There are a few low budget entry points in the world of fashion, though, including consignment, dropshipping, and print on demand.
- How to Write a Business Plan
- Research: What Does It Really Cost to Start a Business? (2023)
- Types of Businesses: Which Legal Structure Is Right for Your New Venture?
- How to Get a Small Business Loan (+ What to Know) (2023)
- The Fundraiser’s Guide to Successful Crowdfunding (2023)
3. Follow fashion trends
Through Sarah’s years of developing her brand as a side hustle, she’s learned that while watching trends is extremely important, it’s equally important to focus. Hone in on your strengths and be true to your own design sensibilities.
Fashion school will teach you the basics of making everything from undergarments to evening wear. “The trick is finding what you’re good at and focusing on that,” Sarah says.
While her line has a year-over-year consistency—design choices in her pieces that are unmistakably hers—Sarah is always watching trends. She says that the key is adapting those trends to your brand, personalizing them, and making them work for your customer.
“I’ve always had a really good trend intuition,” Sarah says. “But it’s all about translation.” Sarah worked on plus-size collections during her time in the corporate world and said that translating trends meant also considering the needs of the plus customer.
Though she sticks to her strengths, Sarah factors what’s happening in fashion—and in the world around her—into her development. “Take athleisure,” she says. “I don’t make tights, I don’t make sports bras, but this cool woven crop would look kind of awesome with tights, so that’s how I would incorporate the trend.”
Keeping her production tight and retaining control over design, Sarah was quickly able to pivot in the wake of the global pandemic, adding face masks in her signature prints. She sold 1,100 masks within a two-month period, and she’s turned those sales into repeat customers.
To get inspiration for your own idea, devour fashion publications, follow style influencers, and subscribe to fashion newsletters and podcasts to stay inspired and catch trends before they emerge.
In the noisy world of fashion, consider finding niches or filling gaps in the industry like these inspiring founders:
- Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart launched vegan winter coat brand Vaute Couture after finding a disappointing lack of cruelty-free options on the market.
- Catalina Girald’s lingerie brand, Naja, was built on empowerment and inclusiveness.
- Camille Newman threw her hat in the plus game with Body by Love (formerly Pop Up Plus).
- Mel Wells launched a gender-neutral vintage-inspired swimwear line.
- Taryn Rodighiero also joined the swimwear game but focused on custom suits, made to order to each customer’s exact specifications.
4. Build a strong brand
Remember that “brand” does not mean your logo (that’s branding). Building your fashion brand is an exercise in putting to paper your values, your mission, what you stand for, your story, and more.
Creating brand guidelines will help to inform all of your business and branding decisions as you grow. They will dictate visual direction, website design, and marketing campaigns. They should dictate what you look for in a retail partner or a new hire.
Use social media to build a lifestyle around your brand: share your inspiration and process, inject your own personality, tell your story, and be deliberate with every post.
“The key to social media is consistency,” says Sarah. “I think you have to post every day, but it also has to be interesting.” She mixes up her content with travel, inspiration, sneak peeks at works in progress, and even some interesting stats from her Shopify dashboard.
- Branding Secrets from 14 Fashion Industry and Fashion Entrepreneurs
- How to Start Your Own Brand Identity From Scratch in 7 Steps
- A Guide to Brand Storytelling [Free Worksheet] (2023)
5. Design and develop your clothing line
Sarah is an advocate of the sketchbook as one of the most important tools for a designer. “I take my sketchbook everywhere with me,” she says. “As I’m sketching away, every so often I’m like, ‘Oh, this little drawing would translate really well into a repeat pattern.’”
As a contender on Project Runway, she wasn’t allowed to have her sketchbook with her due to the rules of the competition. “That really threw me off my game,” she says