How to Start a Clothing Line
Starting a clothing line may seem like a daunting task to some. But it doesn't have to be! If you are considering the right things, you can set yourself up for success and avoid any headaches in the future.
Who and what are you designing for?
This is a simple, yet important question. Before you ever decide to start a clothing line, you need to know who and what you are designing for. Is it a cause? Is it a sport? Is it a movement? Is it a hobby? Make it something you’re passionate about sticking with for the long haul. You also need to determine who you are designing for. What’s the age rage? male, female or both? what do they like best about your hobby? Do your research, ask other members of your community to chime in and turn your passion into a reality. Chances are there are a lot of other start up clothing lines looking to do the same thing. Define what you are going to bring to the table, then do it.
Choose the right shirt
There are so many shirts to choose from. They come in different styles, colors, fabric blends, weights and some even have tearaway tags. Although there’s a nice variety, make sure you know your budget, so you are able to keep nice margins and make money while offering your customer a great quality shirt!
When starting a clothing line, we would recommend not going style crazy. You don’t need your design on every crew cut, tank, long sleeve and hoodie out there! Choose 1-2 styles at most and make sure it’s going to sell before you put all of your eggs in the same basket. We think it’s better to offer more designs then styles. However, with all that said, keep seasons in mind. If it’s summer, don’t print hoodies (unless you’re prepping for a later season and you need to get your goods to the retailer for the fall season).
Create mockups and get feedback
This is like the whole “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” - do you pick your shirt style and color and design to that or do you design and then pick the product. Either way, we think it’s important to do the dirty work and find out what’s going to sell. You should email trusted friends, co-workers or the community you’re designing for and ask them for feedback (and then listen to it!). We’re not saying this is always the way to go. After a while, you’re going to learn what people like and what they don’t really fast. But hey, while you’re starting off, it’s good to get honest feedback! It’s going to help you make the best possible product you can that people are going to love to wear and talk about.
Make it retail quality
Someone makes an awesome shirt - the product and design are on point, but it feels like something is missing. The difference between people getting it right and people just not getting it, is making sure your customers know how much you value your own work. We highly suggest taking the extra time, paying the extra money to make it worth it. That extra attention to detail that you pour into a custom screen printed tag or custom hem tag, is going to send your customers over the moon.
Choose the right printer
Not all printers were created equal. Some shops only print water based ink while others strictly print plastisol ink. Some offer every service under the sun, while others are specific about what they pour their resources into. Some offer custom retail services like hang tag application, custom screen printed tags and hem tag services while others send it elsewhere. This is your business, your clothing line. Make sure the printer you pick is going to come along on this journey with you as you find your way. You are going to have a lot of questions as you determine what your clothing brand stands for and the direction you want to go. Choose the printer you can build a great relationship with, that you can use as your resource hub, whose going to celebrate your big wins!
Market your shirt
Home sweet home. Your shirts have arrived. Now what? Now you need to market the heck out of them (P.s., It’s best to have an action plan before the shirts arrive). Have you thought through your marketing strategy? Are you promoting on social networks? How have you been growing your social following? Did you do any pre-sales? How will people know that the shirts are ready for purchase? Are you going to run ads? Are you going to sell your merchandise at events? How will you determine the price? Are you going to sell online? did you line up stores to sell your shirts in? how are they going to promote you? How are you going to package your shirts? What impression do you want to make when someone receives it? You want them buying more, so if you invest in your shirts, invest in your packaging. Every little bit counts!
See what sells (print smaller runs, reprint the favorites)
Are you ready to print new shirts? Re-print the favorites, lose the designs that didn’t sell and throw in something fresh! More than likely, you’ll have a few designs that are going to be the big hits. Keep printing those! If there’s demand, don’t make the mistake of putting them on sale. There’s no reason to cut your profits. The market is over saturated with “everything is on sale", so do yourself a favor and hold the value of products. If you run a sale, save it for something big and make them special. It’s best to create an inventory management system tracking your products, how well they did, how many you have left, etc. You need to have a pulse on what’s working and what’s not, so you know how to move forward.