How do I grow my clothing business

How to start your own fashion label - Part I.

When it comes to starting your own fashion label, there is plenty of advice and information online. A simple Google search will show you step by step how to get your own brand off the ground. Wikihow even contributes an illustrated guide in four parts.

If it just could be that easy! Market leaders, online guides, university courses, and all the money in the world cannot guarantee success in the fashion industry. Finding a smart idea for a brand that will stand out from the crowd in a crowded marketplace isn't easy. It is just as difficult to find the balance between commerce and creativity. But more on that later.

Having a strong identity and knowing your customers is essential in the initial phase. Ask yourself: 'What is the unique, unique selling proposition, of my brand?' 'What do I want to achieve?' 'What place should my brand occupy in stores in relation to the other brands?'

A strong concept is the key to success

The idea for my brand came to me during a vacation on the beach in Mexico and the picture was clear and precise: Create wearable everyday fashion from luxury streetwear. The recipe for success is: Bring the product to customers with a strong concept and effective marketing strategies. But many start-ups find it very difficult to do so.

If we take a closer look at a few popular, extremely successful independent brands such as Acne, Marcelo Burlon's County of Milan or James Perse, we see that customers need a reliable product in order to accept the brand. At first, Acne was all about jeans, and the first 100 copies went to friends and opinion leaders. Marcelo Burlon is known for his illustrative streetwear and now has a huge crowd. James Perse sells surf-inspired t-shirts in neutral colors that have become a global success story. All of these brands have one product in common with an instant recognition factor, a simple formula based on a few styles with a unique selling point. With a single product category, you make it easier for everyone: yourself as the creator of the product, the buyers who accept it and sell it in their stores, the media who can communicate who you are and ultimately the customer who seduces them into buying leaves.

People need a reason to buy your fashion

In a digital world, brand identity is almost as important as the product itself. Consumers are faced with far too many choices - the high streets are cluttered with fashion brands - people need a reason to buy the exact clothes you design, regardless of whether They let the media influence them, which celebrities they identify with, what their friends and acquaintances wear or what they can afford. With the help of social media, you have all options open to get your message out into the world. However, your message has to be convincing, it has to resonate and make an impression, but above all it has to be clear and precise.

Limited funding would make it easier to get your label on the market, but is mostly unrealistic. It is realistic to estimate the budget for the first four seasons or two years in which you do not receive any money because every cent goes back into the company. As the brand grows, so do your expenses, and in addition to your startup costs, you also need to fund your sample collection and production.

As the brand grows, so do your costs

Fashion is a volatile being. One of the reasons why many brands fail in the first three years is the many facets associated with them. You will very quickly come to the realization that you cannot do everything by yourself. Many are running out of funds or struggling with the industry's demanding schedule. In addition to your creativity and your business acumen, you are dependent on fabric suppliers, production facilities, seamstresses, pattern directors, freight forwarding companies, and accessories suppliers - and all that just to make an initial selection of samples.

With so many influencing factors, a lot can go wrong - and it always happens. For example, in my second season of menswear, my factory used the wrong type of thread for my sample collection (polyester thread instead of cotton thread). Polyester threads cannot be dyed, but who could have checked? When the samples came back from the dye works two days before London Fashion Week started, all of the colored garments had white threads because they had not accepted the color. Needless to say, the pieces looked awful. But so shortly before the LFW there was no choice but to present the collection as it was.

As a designer, you constantly rely on others to help you make the collection. If you are aware of the multitude of complex issues and try to predict where things can go wrong, you are always one step ahead. What to do from day one: Build a relationship with your suppliers and factories - it's critical to getting started.

Coming soon: Part II - Starting a company