Every big fashion brand began as an idea, however, planning, tact and hard work were added to the mix to launch the brand we admire.
Today we discuss how to launch a fashion brand from ground level properly, after all, every iconic brand started off somewhere.
As with every business, launching a fashion brand has its own share of sweat and dirt. There are challenges whether you are a first-time entrepreneur or you are launching something new in an existing brand. This does not mean that you pack up and leave but that you give the work that is required to make your fashion brand a reality.
First of all; Identify a need
Contrary to the popular opinion of creating your brand and looking for a market for it, identify a need and create your unique brand around it. It is easier to get people to realise that your product fulfils their need than to redirect their mind to need your amazing brand.
In doing this, think about a need that is currently not being met. Is it the need for warmer clothing because of the changing climate? Is it a need for clothes which can serve dual purpose when reversed thus promote longer use?
You would need to figure out something that is not being met by any major existing clothing company. You may need to invest a lot of thought into it, but whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. So, identify a need and put work in the direction of that need.
Identify your target audience.
This step is concurrent with the first. Your next objective after identifying a need is identifying whose need you meet specifically. It is like answering the question of who after identifying the what.
In doing so, realistically consider every advantage and disadvantage of targeting that group of people. For example, young people of the working class may prefer to shop online, whilst older people may be more inclined to physical stores. Knowing your specific target audience helps you know who will be buying your clothing or jewellery and what their specific preferences are.
It is also a lot easier to find out what a group of people love and design it for them, rather than design something and begin to scout for who may love it. This enquiry into their need can be done by surveys or market analysis. Take into account how their demographics (of age, gender, occupation, income, etc) affect their demand for your brand item.
Develop a business plan.
The next step after identifying a need and the specific audience requiring it is developing a business plan. This plan will guide your focus from time of planning to implementation and even evaluation. In making this plan, answer questions about what picture you see for your fashion creation.
What is your ultimate goal for your fashion brand? Do you want a luxury brand like Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga or do you want to meet an everyday household need like Atmosphere and Next?
Identify your goal for your brand and keep it as the tag on your mind as you make your plans.
A successful business is not likely to be built on trial-and-error, but a well-thought business plan. This would help as a guide to structures that need to be put in place to achieve your ultimate business goal.
Decide on your brand identity.
Your brand identity comprises your brand name, your brand logo and your market identity. This basically is what you want your brand to be identified with and is closely tied to steps one and two. It means the sense that people get immediately they come across your brand.
Does your brand speak of minimalism? Then your logo shouldn’t be heavily designed having flowers, cloth hangers all over the place. Also, your store (physical or online), should also show minimal designs, but functionality and easy usability. Check out Ugmonk, a brand that promotes simplicity and functionality in all its designs.
Beyond the logo and brand name, keeping your designs within your brand identity is key. For example, if your brand is a light clothing brand, it wouldn’t make sense to sell a heavy winter coat just because you like the colour of a tweed fabric you stumbled upon. This doesn’t mean you can’t switch things up but ensure are keeping your identity.
This is the part you may have been waiting for and here we are. Whilst doing this, bear in mind that this is your opportunity to draw in customers to your brand. It will also be your first poster as a designer, brand your signature in a way that you would be happy to showcase.
At the same time, think practically. Whatever you’re designing will have to be produced in a cost-effective manner. Do not design out of fantasies but out of the reality of what is attainable to you. For example, real pearls may look good in the design but be aware that your budget may permit faux ones.
Bringing your designs to life
You can achieve this by getting cloth manufacturers to get this done or doing it all by yourself. However, if your brand idea involves large scale supply, doing the cutting, sewing for yourself would be drop-dead impracticable. You would need to recruit clothe manufacturers, fabric suppliers as well as cloth detailers to finish up.
One tip in recruiting manpower is teachability and willingness to listen over expertise. I do not think the biggest brands recruit the best tailors, I think the biggest brands make the best tailors for themselves. This is because a lot of amazing tailors are unaffordable, however, you can make a willing apprentice into the best possible tailor for your brand.
Take into account the cost of production, including sweat and dirt as these would help in your price point. A great fashion entrepreneur would find a balance between the cost of production and profit. You may want to do a market survey for this before deciding who exactly to contract to.
Decide on sales price
After taking into account what it cost to produce your brand item, you determine what price to sell. You also need to factor in the demographics of your target audience, knowing what would be possible for them to afford. For instance, if your target audience is young people, it would be unreasonable to sell to them at a cost for working-class people.
Do not launch your fashion brand with a cost that your target audience cannot afford. Even if your cost of production demands that you sell at that point, it would be smarter to review with your manufacturers rather than your market. Also, review prices of a similar fashion brand to decide on a price range.
Pricing is very important because your aim is to make a profit. Seek out more affordable materials and manpower to use. Then you can keep improving on these and scale up as you go, working your way to the top.
Marketing, marketing, marketing!
Marketing is simply as the name implies- to buy and sell. In this case, you are the one who takes it to the marketplace, being your physical store or your online store. In this time and age, with the new changes from the pandemic, there’s hardly a future for any business without an online market.
Whether your store is physical or online, you need people to be aware of it. Word of mouth works, however, social media has made it possible to achieve a wider reach. Instagram, YouTube and other social media influencers are willing to partner with you in exchange for your brand items.
A well-laid out social media strategy and implementation could draw traffic, patronage and customers to your brand. You also don’t have to know everything about social media marketing, you could recruit someone who will effectively manage this. Just remember to factor it into your pricing.
Continue to expand your knowledge of your product.
This would help in both the advert and the sales as you would be your brand’s biggest ambassador. Read vast and wide about the names, styles, sizes of your brand itens. Read about the fabrics, textiles used, and their methods of management to enable you teach your customers.
Also, do more than sell fashion items, enlighten people on how to style, maintain and store them. People would gravitate towards you for the extra that you give in exchange for their purchase.
Consider partnerships and investments.
After launching your fashion brand, and you have a base of existing customers, consider investors and partnerships. It may seem nice to keep all your profits to yourself, but to grow and scale-up, you may require more capital. Asides from the capital, the right investor can give more networks in the industry.
If managed well, these partnerships would take your brand faster and farther than you could have done alone. When doing these, ensure that contracts and deals are drawn up by experts in the field.
Following these steps, you will be well off on your way to launching your fashion brand.