Starting a fashion line might seem like something of a pipe dream, it happens for big-name designers but is it really possible for anyone else? Well, the short answer is yes, anyone can start a fashion line but in order to make sure that it is a success there are a number of steps you should follow so you are confident you have ticked all the boxes and really understand what is involved.
Training and qualifications
It is, of course, possible to start a business without any formal qualifications; however, it makes the most sense to give yourself the best start and find out what the basic industry standards are. There are many different courses, and in many different formats which makes it perfect for modern living. Whether you undertake a formal college-based diploma or opt for online learning there are plenty of fast track courses available that are appropriate for working in the fashion industry.
A business plan
One of the key things you will need when starting a business is a formal business plan. Not only does this help you keep on track and chart the steps you are going to need to take, but it will also be a mandatory requirement if you need to look for funding. A business plan addresses many key questions so potential investors have the chance to see that you have researched and understand your idea and that it is realistic and makes financial sense.
Define your products
An important aspect of your business plan is the definition of your product. Anyone reading it needs to understand why your idea is going to stand out amongst the millions of other fashion ideas and prove to be a successful business. Whether you have a hankering for hats, enthusiasm for embroidery designs, or plan to make designer wedding dresses it is important that you outline and develop your brand.
If you think about some of the biggest names their products are instantly recognisable. The red sole of Christian Louboutin shoes, the Burberry trench coat and of course, the first little black dress debuted by Coco Chanel to name but a few. Copycats may come and go but it is these brands that will always be remembered for the introduction of their product.
If you want the same, then your collection has to be unique and well thought out. A fashion industry business plan can also embrace a very visual aspect an include drawings and sketches to ensure that the design is translated well for people who do not share your vision.
Of course, when you first start a fashion brand it is possible that you will be not only designing but making the garments yourself – if that is within your skillset. But the plan will ultimately be to have recognition and orders that mean you will need to outsource and bring in help in order to fulfil your business. There are many different options including hiring freelance staff, outsourcing to local factories, outsourcing to overseas, or starting your own production facility. The best solution will be as unique as your product; there is no one size fits all when it comes to manufacturing.
It is always worth having local connections, and networking within the industry as this will open doors for you. Online you have access to a global marketplace and will find a wealth of choice. Are you looking to become an eco-friendly brand, a vegan brand, or looking for materials that fit your purpose and strike you as fitting the brand?
The fashion industry works on a split-year basis, you have the fall and winter collections and then the spring-summer collections. In order to stay on track, you will be working on out of season products ready to launch. You need to strike a fine balance between revealing too early and thus being old news when shopping for that season opens, and not being on the ball enough, so you get lost in a sea of competition.
You also need to figure out where you are going to sell your product. Are you going to rely on your own website or are you looking to get your collection into stores? A consignment agreement is something that many retail stores insist on when it comes to new clothing lines. It basically means they only have to pay you when an item sells whereas wholesale is payment upfront, you may get lucky and find wholesale outlets.