It’s no secret that fashion is the top-selling industry in almost all of the world (Oblero 2021). Lots of us are obsessed with what to wear, what others are wearing and the latest trends (even if we don’t like to admit it!) As an entrepreneur, the market is very appealing. Even if you’ve never considered launching a fashion brand, you’ll be surprised by how similar it is to other industries.
I recently spoke with Michelle Ramsay, founder of The Fashion Expert, about how to create a fashion brand and the steps you need to take.
Who can create a fashion brand?
You might think that to create a successful fashion brand you need to have multiple years of experience working in fashion – but you’d be wrong! Michelle often works with people who’ve never worked in the industry before but have a fantastic fashion idea.
The same can be said for having a creative background. This isn’t a skill you have to possess yourself. You can always outsource the creative parts if you want to.
As long as you’re passionate about fashion, have a willingness to learn and have an idea then there’s nothing to stop you launching your dream fashion brand. You may need some extra support along the way (i.e Michelle!), but don’t let lack of fashion experience hold you back.
The 3 steps you need to take to launch a fashion brand.
- Don’t overlook this step, it’s your chance to research! Take your time looking at competitors, your ideal customer, your pricing, where you are going to sell, etc. All of this will stand you in good stead when you launch. Don’t rush straight to designing (no matter how excited you are!)
- Once you’ve thoroughly researched everything it’s time to look at your brand name, your brand logo and your brand values. Brainstorm multiple ideas and find out what works best for you.
- Work out what support you’ll need. Do you need a design brief? Do you need to find a designer?
- Finally, research when you’ll launch – i.e. what season will you launch in?
- Whether you’re designing your products yourself or using a designer you need to create tech packs (also known as factory packs). They need to be clear and concise. The factory you choose to send the packs to needs to be able to understand every detail to avoid garments being incorrectly made, so it’s worth having somebody look over these if you’re creating them yourself.
- The packs are made up of CAD drawings. These show the factory exactly how to put the garments together alongside the fabrics you want, placing of logos or embroidery and also the sizing.
- Michelle recommends working with a designer on this element of the plan. They have years of experience and knowledge within the industry so even though you might be tempted to give the packs a go yourself it will be worth the investment if you get a helping hand.
- Once you’re happy with your communication with a couple of factories you can obtain quotes for sampling and production before you commit. Ask for a few samples to be sent to you from different factories and compare the garments when they arrive. You need to look at how well the garments are made, how well they stuck to the tech packs, the price they’ve offered you and also how easy it was to communicate with them.
- After choosing a factory it’s time to work on the samples, hold fit sessions, go over the QC and perfect your samples with them. Don’t be disheartened if your first sample doesn’t arrive as you expected, it can take a few tries to get it right.
- Marketing is crucial to all product businesses and in fashion it’s no different. Once you have your product perfected it’s time to think about a marketing plan.
- Set up your social media pages, talk to influencers, build a momentum around your brand launching.
- Book a photoshoot for your collection, build a lookbook/catalogue to send out.
- Do you want to wholesale your products? Take a look at tradeshows and wholesale prices.
Michelle has created a launch plan guide which is free if you sign up on her website. If you want to look at this in more depth, do go and take a look.
Finding your factory for your fashion brand.
As mentioned above a key part in launching your fashion brand will be finding a factory to work with. You have plenty of options to consider including factories in the UK or internationally. The UK tends to be more expensive but you can weigh this up when you start to research.
A good place to start researching factories is Google. Michelle recommends that you use very specific search terms whilst researching factories online. This is where your research will come in handy as you will know what countries are best for your garments and where to start.
Another top tip from Michelle is to look at tradeshows. This has obviously been harder during the pandemic but as things start to open up tradeshows can be an excellent place to meet factories face to face and learn much more about them than just online research.
How to fund your fashion brand
As well as a time commitment, launching a fashion brand will also be a cost commitment, but how will you fund your brand?
Michelle explains that there are three main ways to fund your fashion brand:
- Self-fund – Once you are aware of your costs you can start saving or use savings you have for this project but of course this isn’t always possible.
- Money loan – could somebody loan you the money, could you get a bank loan? Would somebody you know invest in your idea?
- Crowdfunding – This is slightly different as the most successful crowdfunders usually outlay some costs at the beginning and have prototypes to show potential investors but who knows what could happen if they love what they see.
If you’ve been reading this blog post and want to take the next steps then I highly recommend you go and take a look at Michelle’s 12-week program – The Fashion Startup Academy. During the 12 weeks, Michelle will guide you right from the beginning and mentors you throughout to help you create a fashion brand you are proud of. She also offers 1-2-1 mentoring which is great for startups or established brands who just need some advice.
Building a fashion brand is very exciting and I hope these tips will help you start on the right foot. From talking to Michelle it’s clear to see that doing your research as thoroughly as possible is key to succeeding. Take your time to do your homework,put in the time to prepare before you jump into designing and be clear on what you want to achieve in order to be successful. Good luck!