How To Start a Clothing Brand - The Idea
Well, you are here for a reason. You want to start a clothing brand. You are probably crazy excited to get started, you have ideas flowing, and you want your samples tomorrow. Slow down…it’s not going to be that easy. There are a ton of things you are going to want to do before you start this process. My name is Mike Smith and I have been in the apparel / manufacturing industry for the past 4 years. I built a clothing brand from the ground up from $0 – 150K+ in sales in just 2 years. After a transition of our brand into a full manufacturing company, I have worked with 100+ owners of clothing brands from $100 to 1 million in revenue. They all start the same way…with an idea. In this blog post, I want to give a high overview of the process and what you are going to want to start thinking about. We will have a series of blog posts that dive into each category with more detail and examples. My goal is that you can gain at least one piece of knowledge from each blog post. The best part is that they are going to be FREE….and REAL. I will go over real life examples and lay it down straight without a cookie cutter answer that you would find online.
It seems in 2020, that everyone had the idea to start a clothing brand. It may have been due to the pandemic or just that more and more people are looking into starting online businesses. I have to agree, it is an amazing place to start. So how exactly do we start a clothing brand? To start, we of course need a name. This will most likely be the most challenging part of the whole process. Without a solid name, it will be extremely hard to build an eye-catching brand. Like we just talked about…with so many brands it’s becoming more of a saturated industry. Saturated does not mean impossible, so please don’t quit reading here. This just means that you need to take some time on developing a strong name. My BIGGEST tip in the world would be to do your research on the name. I highly recommend you picking a name that has not a single thing attached to it. Think of names like “Nike” or “Adidas”. These were not even in the dictionary before they were a brand. I can 100% speak on experience for this part. I started my brand called Titanium Fitness Company in November of 2016, to realize a little over a year later that I needed to change it ASAP. I was issued a cease and desist from a very large sportswear brand. I was violating a trademark infringement for the word Titanium on any sort of apparel. At the time this was heart breaking for myself. I just started to get traction with my brand, that I have put my blood, sweat, and tears into. I would spend 8-10 hours on my brand every single day. We had to adapt and overcome, and changed our name to TITAFIT. I did an immense amount of research and there was practically nothing to be found on this name. We smashed TITANIUM and Fitness together to crated “TITAFIT” which also stood for “TITA” or “Team is together always”. This is probably as real as it gets. Moral of the story, chose a name that doesn’t pop up on Google. Develop your own word, smash some together, or re-create something to make it very unique.
After you have finalized a name, you will want to develop your logos. I would find a graphic designer to help you with this process. A major plug: check out fiver.com and thank me later. You can get professional logos as cheap as $10-20. People think you need $10,000 to start a clothing brand and it cracks me up. I have seen owners spend $800-1000 on a logo, and I have always wondered what else they overpay for in life. Always look for ways to cut costs in the beginning stages. You would rather put that $800-1000 into your actual products. Logos are an important piece for branding. When you get your logo, I recommend getting it done in multiple colors, backgrounds, and formats (.png, .jpg, .ai, etc.)
Once you finalize your name / logo. I would recommend you look into getting an LLC. The reason for this is pretty simple. You want to separate your personal assets/liabilities and business assets/liabilities. It’s best to keep the business separate which will also help you at tax time. You can now have write offs, and are able to keep record of owning a business with an EIN number. Please consult your accountant or financial professional before starting. Anything I say, is simply my opinion and should not be used without the discretion of your professional. You may need your Federal EIN number before applying for an LLC. Some states/towns may require a DBA or a “Doing business as” if you plan to have pop up shops or sell in a certain area. Each state also has different regulations for your LLC. You should be able to find all of the information you need with a simple Google search. Remember, you do not need to be an expert in every field. This entire process is going to be a trial by error. Failing is part of the process, and is only going to make you a better business owner. I would also create a separate business bank account. This will help to not only track your progress, but just makes a good habit to keep personal assets separate from business. This will also help when it comes to website / payment gateways.
The final step of this blog is to lock down your channels. Before getting too deep, you want to make sure you can secure your brand name social media handles, website domains, etc. I suggest using the same @ handle on every platform. This will help you in the long run and help customers understand your brand and not get confused. I recommend using Shopify as a website platform. You can get a free trial to learn about the platform. I recommend this because they have an excellent inventory back end, as well as the ease of use for a beginner in ecommerce. You can track products and they provide free analytics, which help to see growth. There are other platforms to use like Wix, Weeby, WordPress, and a few others. I have experimented with all of them and have always came back to Shopify because of efficiency within the platform. The next goal is to begin thinking of a theme. Every business has a color, environment, and aesthetic theme to it. Try to keep all platforms and channels on the same theme, this will help your long-term branding.
I hope this short blog has helped you grasp a better idea of starting. The next steps are when we get into the creative process of product development and ordering your first batch of clothing to sell.
P.S. If you are interested in custom cut & sew clothing, please reach out to us! You can reach us via email below or at our Instagram handles. Thanks so much!
-Mike Smith // CEO – TITAFIT Mfg.
@mikesmithceo // @titafitco