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How to Start a Designer Clothing Line

by Johnny Kilhefner , studioD

If you have an interest in fashion design and art, as well as an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a clothing line may be right career choice for you. It's not simply a matter of raw talent however; starting a new clothing line requires an understanding of the business, from financing to marketing to manufacturing. Starting off, you should look to other successful designers and their business models.

Create a Business Plan

Your business plan acts as your credit card for ensuring the good will of financiers and manufactures to work with you. Without a business plan you might run into many unnecessary obstacles. Your plan should detail what types of fabric and supplies you will need, how you will get them, how you will market your line and how much it will cost to make your dream a reality. You need to have a sales goal in mind in order to estimate prices. Determine how much you plan to sell in the first day, week or month.

Create a Marketing Plan

Determine how you will promote your designs with minimal cost. If you plan on blogging, who will write the blogs? You can pay someone else to do it or you can write them yourself, which is what many designers do to get their audience to know the person behind the designs. Other ways to market for upcoming designers include using sites such as Etsy to display and sell your designs. Also consider if you will create an email list, participate in local fashion shows, or create business cards. Estimate the cost of your marketing plans.

Find a Manufacturer

Sketch your designs and create fabric samples to show to prospective manufacturers. Make a list of potential manufacturers and research them to determine what products they already produce, which brands they work with, the average price, what services they provide and their minimums for an order. Visit the manufacturers which interest you and query each about the cost of producing a sample collection. When you've found the right one, provide them with the designs and fabrics and get a sample collection produced.

Paying the Costs

Almost everything in your business plan will cost something, from design tools and marketing to shipping and product storage. With a clear-cut business plan in place, a marketing strategy and a sample collection produced, you will have something to show to financiers worried about the return of their money. Some companies turn to alternative lenders when the banks won't lend, such as asset-based lenders, factoring companies and peer-to-peer lenders.

About the Author

Johnny Kilhefner is a writer with a focus on technology, design and marketing. Writing for more than five years, he has contributed to Writer's Weekly, PopMatters, Bridged Design and APMP, among many other outlets.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images