Starting a clothing line can be a very rewarding experience for a creative entrepreneur with a vision. Whether you’re looking to create a simple line of printed apparel or you want to create an entire cut & sew collection featuring various pieces and seasonal additions, this post will show you how to start a clothing line.

Depending on what kind of clothing line you want to create, there’s likely going to be many different steps involved in the process. The more involved you want to be in the sourcing and production of your line, the more time, effort and money you’ll have to invest. If you’re just interested in starting something quick and easy, there’s options for that too. In this course, we’re going to show you step-by-step how you can start your own clothing line whether you have a small budget of $100, or if you have more than $10,000 to invest.

Course Overview

If you’ve ever been thinking about starting a clothing brand, look no further. This course has been in the works for nearly a year and along the way we’ve included the knowledge and experience of dozens of entrepreneurs and companies from the clothing industry. This industry knowledge ranges from a small brand that managed to launch a successful crowdfunding campaign that raised them $300,000 to put towards manufacturing their high-end merino wool clothing line, to a private label wholesaler of blank apparel who targets the B2B market, to a pattern maker and tech pack designer who works with aspiring clothing line creators to help bring their visions to life and finally we’ve gone right to the source to get insight from a factory that dyes yarn and weaves textiles.

There’s a lot involved when it comes to starting your own clothing line, so let’s jump into it.

Table of Contents

  • Deciding Clothing Products You Want To Sell
  • Choosing a Clothing Line Business Model
    • Print-On-Demand Clothing Line
    • Wholesale/Private Label Clothing Line
    • Custom Cut & Sew Clothing Line
  • The Elements of A Successful Clothing Brand
    • Clothing Niche
    • Clothing Design
    • Clothing Quality
    • Clothing Brand
  • Differentiating Your Clothing Line
    • Design
    • Fit/Style
    • Brand
    • Niche
    • Performance/Material/Quality
  • Developing a Business Plan for Your Clothing Line
  • Crafting a Brand for Your Clothing Line
    • Defining Your Market
    • Creating Your Brand Pillars
    • Developing Your Brand Visuals
  • Product Development Process for Your Clothing Line
  • Designing Your Clothing Line Concepts
  • Creating a Pattern & Developing a Tech Pack
  • Clothing Manufacturer Research
  • Clothing Manufacturers
  • Contacting Clothing Manufacturers
  • Screening Potential Factories
  • Sampling
  • Full-Scale Production
  • Pricing Your Clothing Products
  • Branding Your Clothing & Packaging
  • Branded Packaging Options
    • Elements of a Branded package
    • Including Extra Branded Material
  • Branding Your Clothing Items
  • Creating Your Online Clothing Store
  • Shipping Strategy for Your Clothing Company

Credit: AbetterLemonadeStand.com

Note: All credit goes to A Better Lemonade Stand for making this course possible for our learners. This course will help anyone who has interest in starting an online clothing business since its a step by step process that will guide you to successfully lunch your business without any difficulties. I wish you all the best in your entrepreneurial journey.

Amenorhu Kwaku
Founder Of SuccessValley

Lessons

Deciding Clothing Products You Want To Sell

Complexity: Standard

You have a lot of choices when it comes to creating apparel and fashion products. If you’ve always wanted to start a clothing line, you likely already have a good idea of the particular products you want to create and sell. For others, creating a clothing brand may represent a unique and interesting opportunity to design a product that represents [...]

Choosing a Clothing Line Business Model

Complexity: Standard

If you’re ready to start your clothing brand you’ll have some important choices to make at this point. There are several directions you can take to create your own brand that are pretty different from each other. Furthermore, and most importantly, the difficultly, costs and time input vary dramatically. Let’s take a look at the most common options: Print-On-Demand Private [...]

1. Print-On-Demand Clothing Line

Complexity: Standard

The first and easiest option for starting your own clothing line involves printing your designs or logo on standard blank apparel. This is an attractive option for people with a low budget (less than $1,000) and those wanting to benefit from being able to set up a nearly fully-automated business. The biggest drawback to this type of business model is [...]

2. Wholesale/Private Label Clothing Line

Complexity: Standard

This option is similar to the option above, but a little more involved, giving you more options for personalization and higher margins, while costing more and taking slightly longer to get started. This method involves you purchasing blank clothing products that you would then need to customize by adding print, tags, labels, etc. Since you’re purchasing bulk inventory upfront, you’ll [...]

3. Custom Cut & Sew Clothing Line

Complexity: Standard

Custom cut & sew clothing means you’re doing everything. We’re talking about designing sketches, turning them into patterns, sourcing fabrics and manufacturers and paying for a full production run (which could be thousands of units). Making your own clothing isn’t for the faint of heart. This can be an intensive process that can take months at minimum to get up [...]

The Elements of A Successful Clothing Brand

Great clothing brands are great for a reason. Usually they do one thing very well, and sometimes they do multiple things really well. Before starting your own clothing line, there are four important factors to a successful brand that you’ll want to consider: Niche Design Quality Brand Let’s dive into each one of these elements a little more below:

Clothing Niche

Complexity: Standard

Selecting a specific niche is important, and many times vital, for success in the clothing & apparel industry. Blindly trying to target large groups of people will leave you with a brand that speaks to no one. Focusing on a specific group of people has several major benefits: Easier to Market More Affordable Less Competition Greater Customer Loyalty Generally, clothing [...]

Clothing Design

Your designs- whether they’re printed, embroidered, or the design of the actual garment itself- are critical. Not only does it need to look great, but it also needs to look great specifically in the eyes of your target market. Ultimately, you’ll lose if your clothing designs aren’t aesthetically pleasing and relatable to the buyer. Your designs don’t necessarily need to [...]

Clothing Quality

You can fool someone once, but you can’t fool them twice. A pattern that fades and cracks or comes apart at the seams after one wash won’t create raving fans that come back and repurchase. Not all clothing is the same, there can be huge variances in the quality of clothing items. The quality and composition of the materials you [...]

Clothing Brand

Many clothing brands are built on a strong brand. Beyond the clothes themselves, a strong brand encourages and reinforces your target market to purchase, represent, share and repurchase your clothing line. Your brand extends way beyond the product itself and encompasses what the brand stands for and the lifestyle associated with it.

Differentiating Your Clothing Line

The clothing design and apparel industry is one of the most saturated industries to be in. In order to effectively compete, you’ll need to have a point of differentiation that sets you apart in the market from all the rest. Working out of a factory has also given me an upfront view of how many people get into this industry [...]

Developing a Business Plan for Your Clothing Line

With some of the basics out of the way, the next step is for you to develop a basic (but critical) business plan to map out your decisions and the direction for your clothing company. Some of the major elements you’ll want to consider when putting together your ecommerce business plan are: Your Business Model Customer Personas Competitor Strengths & Weaknesses Costs [...]

Crafting a Brand for Your Clothing Line

The next step is to develop a brand persona for your new line. Crafting a brand for your new clothing company is paramount. With so many clothing companies and brands out there, you’ll need to differentiate yourself. Your brand will be a big part of that. Ultimately, every business has a brand and every new business will have a brand. [...]

Defining Your Market

Defining your market is important for any brand, but especially for brands in the clothing and apparel market because it’s extremely saturated. By broadly targeting large groups of people, you’re setting yourself up for failure right from the beginning. What you want to do is niche down and create segments. Some critical questions to ask yourself at this stage is: [...]

Creating Your Brand Pillars

Brand pillars are a few key words or attributes (usually 3-4) that embody what your brand is about and serve as a starting point for developing your brand persona. Later, these words are used as a check point against most activities of the brand. For example, when creating your website, an advertisement or even a conversation with your customer, you [...]

Developing Your Brand Visuals

Your brand visuals are the common brand elements that many people immediately think about when they think about a particular brand. This includes your logo, brand colors and fonts, as well as your overall design and photography aesthetics. Creating a Moodboard: A moodboard is the perfect way to start pulling together the visual style you’re going for. Essentially a moodboard is [...]

Product Development Process for Your Clothing Line

For someone completely new to the fashion business this is an important step in the process: consider partnering with a professional who knows what they’re doing and how to do it properly. Professionals such as pattern makers, tech pack creators, design partners, materials partners and production partners are highly experienced in their respective fields and it’s their job to make [...]

Designing Your Clothing Line Concepts

Your clothing line will begin as sketches. Most likely simple sketches in a notebook. This is usually the best route to go to get the ideas out of your head. As you begin sketching your ideas, also think about adding any specific notes or unique ideas you have for your clothing as well as any special features and functionality. The [...]

Creating a Pattern & Developing a Tech Pack

You will need to enlist the help of a qualified pattern maker to take your idea and turn it into an actual pattern that can then be turned into an actual piece of clothing. A pattern can then be used to help create a tech pack. A tech pack is essentially a blueprint for each garment. Your tech pack tells [...]

Clothing Manufacturer Research

Once you’ve researched your own brand the next step in this process is to research potential clothing manufacturers. Find out things like their location, capabilities, heritage, reputation and what other brands they’ve worked with to get an idea of what they can offer you. It’s important at this stage to really be thorough as small things such as location can have [...]

Clothing Manufacturers

Starting with a specialized clothing manufacturer can get you up and running in the most efficient way possible. All of the clothing manufacturers on this list are leading industry clothing production companies and with 49 verified manufacturers there is a clothing manufacturer to suit any job. With factories that specialize in activewear, women’s clothing, men’s clothing, kid’s clothing, lingerie, and [...]

Contacting Clothing Manufacturers

By now you should have been able to narrow down a long list of potential clothing manufacturers into a shorter list of manufacturers who meet your needs when it comes down to what you require in terms of professional services, which manufacturers are actually able to create your future garments, manufactures in an accessible location and ones who meet your [...]

Screening Potential Factories

If you’re lucky, by this step you’ll have received responses from some of the factories you’ve contacted and now it’s time to narrow down your search. Even if you only received a response from one factory, it is still important to make sure it’s the right fit for you. At this step you should communicate further with the factories and [...]

Sampling

Now that you can see yourself manufacturing your clothing line with a factory or two it’s time to get some samples made so you can truly experience what your potential product will be like. No matter how well your designs, patterns and tech packs have been there’s always opportunities for adjustments and corrections so it’s strongly encouraged that the sampling [...]

Full-Scale Production

The final step of the manufacturing process is really just the first step to building your own clothing brand so now it’s time to work with your manufacturer and produce your garments. At this stage it’s important to stay five steps ahead of everything: make sure deadlines are adhered to, be available to answer any questions your manufacturer may encounter at [...]

Pricing Your Clothing Products

Budgeting out product development and production costs (pricing) is something you need to determine prior to contacting factories in order to be able to understand all aspects of production such as what fabric you’ll be able to use and whether producing overseas or in your home country is your best option. Disclaimer Costs to consider in your budget include: The [...]

Branding Your Clothing & Packaging

The branding of your clothing line has everything to do with how you’ll be perceived by your customers. Branding tells the story of your company and your packaging is one of the few parts of your brand – besides your clothing items themselves – that your customers will actually be able to touch, feel and see. It engages your customers, [...]

Branded Packaging Options

There are two different types of options when it comes to branding your packaging: the actual elements that you use for the packaging itself, and the additional extras you can include with the package to elevate the unboxing experience. The package elements are the more functional items that are required to actually ship your clothing pieces, whereas the added extras [...]

Elements of a Branded Package

These are the functional parts of a shipping package that you’ll need in order to ship your items from you to your customers. You won’t need every single one of these items, but they’re all options that you can use depending on what you want your packaging to achieve. SHIPPING BOXES Depending on the clothing items you sell, you may [...]

Including Extra Branded Material

These aren’t necessary to include, but if you’re interested in elevating your unboxing experience, making it memorable for your customers and making them feel valued, then including one or two of these options can help you to start out in a positive way. If you need more information or inspiration on ways to utilize these ideas, Selz offers a great [...]

Branding Your Clothing Items

Beyond the packaging of your clothing items, you can also add additional touches of branding to your clothing items themselves to ensure they’re as seemingly high-quality as possible and are presented in the most thought out way possible. The best way to do this is through adding custom labels and tags: CLOTHING LABELS & TAGS Clothing labels are a piece [...]

Creating Your Online Clothing Store

If you’re serious about building a brand or learning more about digital marketing & optimization and strategy, you need to go with a more customizable option. We can’t recommend Shopify enough. Not only is Shopify one of the easiest platforms to get started with but it’s app store is the most robust and has a host of print-on-demand clothing printers and dropshippers if you [...]

Shipping Strategy for Your Clothing Company

Figuring out how to ship your products to your customers can be a confusing and daunting process if you’ve never done it before as there certainly is lots to take into consideration. What should you charge for shipping? How much does shipping cost? What about returns? What shipping carrier should you use? Should you start off with a shipping and [...]

Conclusion

We hope this course has provided you with very clear insight into the steps, systems and processes it takes to start a clothing line. It may seem overwhelming at first if this is all new to you, however, just focus on one step at a time and grow from there. No matter what kind of clothing line you want to [...]

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