You have a passion for fashion, but turning your passion into a profitable business takes certain know-how. So, where do you begin? Well, there’s no need to remake the wheel, at least not when you’re starting out. A good place to start is by looking at the people who have been there and done that. Heeding the advice of established fashion designers will help you get your clothing line off the ground. So here are six tips from fashion designers to help you get started on your own clothing line:
- Don’t compromise when it comes to your business
Ralph Lauren tells a story about trying to sell his ties to Bloomingdales and how they wanted him to make all sorts of changes, and they didn’t want to use his label. At this point in time, Ralph Lauren was in desperate need of a sale, but he wasn’t about to compromise on his design, “Six months later they called me back, and they said, Ralph, we can’t find your ties anywhere, and we want to buy them.” What we can take away from this is that if you believe in your designs and your business, don’t change for anyone. Wait for the buyer who understands your vision and wants you for you.
- Actively seek out new ideas to improve your business
“You can’t just lie down and say something will come to me. You have to make an effort,” says Karl Lagerfield. This means that you can’t just wait for inspiration to strike, you have to be continuously coming up and experimenting with new things. Fashion changes quickly, so you have to be ready with new ideas to revitalize your clothing line and keep it top of mind.
- Find a partner for your company
“Don’t start up alone. You need a partner in crime: someone who will invest the same blood, sweat, and tears as you; a sounding board for ideas; someone you can implicitly trust,” says Nicholas Kirkwood. A partner can make or break your business, so choose this person wisely. They should be as passionate about your business and designs as you are.
- Don’t separate the creative from the business side of things
“I’m always thinking, “Ok, what is the end objective? What are we trying to create? What’s the concept? Who is the customer profile? What’s the price point? What’s the distribution model?” explains Alexander Wang, as he discusses how, when he’s designing, he’s not just making something for its sake. He’s designing with a specific customer in mind. When he’s considering materials, he’s also considering at what price the garment can be sold at. When he’s looking at a collection, he’s not just looking at how everything looks together, but how it will be sold and the method of distribution. In other words, be creative, but keep in mind the particulars of your business when designing.
- Concentrate on the feeling you want your designs to evoke
“The only way to advertise is by not focusing on the product,” says Calvin Klein. What he means by this is that if you want to sell clothes, you should sell the feeling wearing said clothing is intended to evoke, rather than the pieces themselves. Focus on what the target audience will get out of wearing your designs versus someone else’s. Why is your shirt the better shirt, what will it do for your customer that other shirts won’t?
- Step into your customer’s shoes
“I know who the Versace woman is because I wear the clothes myself,” says Donatella Versace about her clothing line. The important point that’s raised here is knowing your customer. Who do you envision wearing your clothes? What are their hopes? Their dreams? What style of clothing do they prefer? What is their purchasing capacity? It’s essential to have a clear idea of your target audience. You have to be able to speak their language and connect on their level. Once you have a good idea of who your target audience is, do some research to solidify their image. For example, are they mostly eCommerce shoppers, or do they prefer brick-and-mortar stores? This will help you to know what distribution models to use and how to advertise.