It’s no surprise that some of the best brands in the business have a great founding story. A successful launch for a fashion brand is a make or break moment due to the time, energy, and resources that are required to stand out in the clustered industry. Established brands know what it takes to remain successful because they’ve had years of experience to figure out what works and know where the industry needs the most innovation. So how can a fresh, start-up brand with zero experience or portfolio stand out in this space?
In our experience, we find the best tools are a healthy mix of passion, technology, and commerce. If you’re looking to launch a fashion brand then here are a few tips in order to get started the right way.
BRING YOUR IDEAS TO LIFE
The very first step in your journey is one of the most exciting! If you have an idea, then you need to give shape and take the time to properly bring it to life.
You can start with addressing the fundamental questions such as, “what does your brand represent?” The answer to this question comes from identifying what drives you and what the mission statement is that will propel your brand. This is followed by identifying the target market that will be able to relate to your mission. Research may beat your gut feeling.
It’s critical to your success to have a differentiator. You’ll need to see what is lacking in the industry and how you can fill that space. When people think of your brand can they associate it with a cause, feeling or even a brand promise? For example, Shark Tank superstars, Taloma Backpacks communicate their idea effortlessly: “carry a country”! This aligns perfectly with their mission and lets people know that they are more than just another apparel brand.
FIGURE OUT THE FUNDING
This is one of the crucial and critical steps while starting up. Once you have a plan in place, you need to fund it. How do you plan to get the cash?
You must start by identifying all of the different services that your brand is going to require. Some costs to consider and include are your design costs, fabric sourcing and company collaterals, visual merchandising, permit and license fees, rent for a workspace, etc. While this might seem overwhelming, these are the initial investments required to get started. If you plan to outsource your production and manufacturing, what will it cost you?
As you prepare to pitch to potential investors, make sure that you have thought out each step in the process. The good news is, today there are a variety of options available for you to tap. You can launch a kickstarter campaign, pitch to investors, and apply for a business loan. You can even start a company with your samples, promote those styles to get pre-sales, then fund your production with the pre-sale money. Whatever it may be, choose what works best for you and your team.
CRUNCH THOSE NUMBERS
Shift your plan numbers from ballpark figures to defined, concrete costs. These must include budgets for design assets, technology, cost of funds, and employee salaries. Remember to always have a safety net for unexpected costs that may arise. Things happen and you need to be prepared for the worst case scenario, but when you’re partnered with the right manufacturer and you have full transparency within your process, it helps a lot with minimizing those unexpected situations.
PROVE YOUR PRICE-POINT
Create a promising pricing strategy by defining your cost per unit, or CPU. Make sure you consider the spending habits of your consumers, all of the overheads in the company, and the CPU before setting your prices. The competition offers an idea of market standards, but make sure that you are setting a price point that your product is worthy of.
SETTLE ON A SALES PLAN
A good sales plan should address a few fundamental questions. Where do you plan to sell? Online, offline, or both? Multi-brand stores or your own branded store? Market research is vital during this phase, so don’t rush your sales plan. Take your time and consider all the possible outcomes before making decisions. One critical aspect here is to have a plan in place before fully diving in.
PLAN YOUR PRODUCTION
Now that you’ve worked out those details, it’s time to plan production. This will depend on the model you choose. You could choose to be a print-on-demand model, which would entail printing pre-existing wholesale garments with your custom patterns printed on them and shipping them. You could choose to be custom wholesale, custom couture, or you could choose the cut-and-sew or private label business model. The cut-and-sew model works best for entrepreneurs who are passionate about fashion and the design but would rather leave the hassle of manufacturing to someone else. In this case, you design your own clothes and have a vendor manufacture them.
CREATE A DIGITAL MARKETPLACE
In our connected world, creating a strong digital presence before your launch can be essential for your brand. Before you launch, focus on building an audience. Create some buzz around what you represent so that you have a loyal audience who is waiting for the minute that your products hit the market.
INNOVATE A “PHYGITAL” (PHYSICAL + DIGITAL) LAUNCH
As millennials become the main demographic, it pays to have a launch that combines an offline and online marketing presence. It is up to the brand to create physical experiences that can be digitally experienced as well. This way, you not only promote store walk-ins, but also boost online sales after your launch. Spread the word, get people talking about your brand, be authentic, rope in influencers who resonate with your values, and really get your brand out there for people to experience.
Starting a fashion brand from scratch is hard. With the right mix of people, passion, and technology in place, the task can become easier. As the world embraces technology to make life easier, our biggest tip would be to make technology your ally. Embrace technology in fashion to save time and resources. Make your startup more agile so that you can reap the rewards even faster!