Inspired by the How to Make It in America series or during a party in a pub with your friends, you suddenly come up with the second best idea in the world, which is creating your own clothing brand. The first best idea is, of course, opening up your own restaurant.
If the day after the party the idea of creating your own clothing label is still there in your head, perhaps it could be worth making it a reality. What should one do, so that the idea becomes reality?
In a moment you’ll get to know a system of 7 steps, which will allow you to create your own clothing brand and avoid mistakes, which would otherwise stop you dead in your tracks. You’ll also avoid reinventing the wheel, as everything you need has already been put in writing. Which is good, since this makes things much easier. If you just happen to have a good idea for a shirt for you and your friends, you won’t need this guide. Just order shirts with your own design on them. You don’t necessarily have to create your own brand to do that ;-)
1. The big “Why”
As is the case with every other task in your life, you should know, why do you want to do it. Most of the people really do not know, why they do things they do, which is why they do a mediocre job at best. If you want to achieve success, you must aim higher than average. Not necessarily from the get-go, since this is a process. People in Japan have a term for that ? kaizen.
So, ask yourself the question “Why do I want to do it?” and answer truthfully. Most of the time it’s about pleasing your creative ego and financial gain. In the end, you want your business to support you and not the other way around. Your personal motivation can be different, but make sure you narrow it down. It should be your reference point in moments of doubt and laziness, which will inevitably happen.
2. Brand concept
What separates a coherent clothing brand from just another store with funny shirts is indeed the general concept.
You may be familiar with the saying “No one shoe fits all.” While this is not universally true, in the case of a clothing brand it is 100% accurate.
Answer this question: who would be willing to reach into their wallet, take out their hard earned money and let you have them in exchange for shirts, sweatshirts or caps? Who exactly will be your customer? Don’t be afraid to take the road less travelled. Be authentic in what you are doing, if you in fact come from your target group. You should know it like the back of your hand.
Fans of Darth Vader and the heavy metal band Vader have different expectations. Also, both hip-hop fans and hipsters probably won’t find your designs very attractive at the same time. It’s the same as trying to reach out to both bodybuilders and bridge builders – it won’t happen, despite phonetic similarities.
If you want to create your own clothing brand with reasonable profit in mind, not just for your own satisfaction, you become a businessman. The aims of the businessman are meeting existing expectations and uncovering previously unnamed needs. Therefore, you should be aware of their existence and know, how to bring them forward to sell new products. It’s mainly good marketing that makes it possible for brands to sell the same or similar item and charge for it more than the competition.
While preparing your own clothing brand, you’ll have to go back to the initial concept every step of the way. Think it through as best as you can, it will save you time, money and stress.
3. Brand name and logo
This is where the brand starts taking physical form. Make sure that the logo and the name fit the brand concept.
While coming up with a good name doesn’t require special abilities, designing the logo is best left to someone, who knows what they are doing. Basic Photoshop skills do not a graphic designer make. Just as typing a report in Words doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a writer. A good logo design is art and if you don’t have the skills, you should leave it to the professionals.
The trick to being a businessman, even if you don’t formally own a company, isn’t doing everything in person, but rather keeping tabs on everything in general and delegating tasks to people who can do something better or more effectively (cheaper) than you (I know, the ego suffers, but it’s the end result that counts). Remember – you’re not just investing money, but also time, which will not stretch for you.
4. Getting clothes
Whether or not you want to start with just the t-shirts or have a number of different products (sweatshirts, jackets, caps, accessories) from the get-go, you have two choices:
a) Order ready-made promotional clothing
Don’t let the name “promotional clothing” fool you. Here’s a piece of wisdom that will save you a lot of money: the quality of ready-made promotional clothing is often much higher than well known “original” brands in shopping centres. Popular brands sell their merchandise for more not because they are better, but because they spent more money on marketing, something I mentioned earlier.
You don’t have to sell your kidney to afford several tens or hundreds of ready-made shirts. Promotional clothing is widely available. Choices are so great, they will more than satisfy casual brands, even those created with higher quality in mind.
Enlist the help of specialists and figure out, which cut and which kind of cotton will best suit your customers. Order a few samples and wear them yourself.
b) Sewing from scratch
Ordering clothes at a specialist sewing workshop is an idea for people whoare financially well-off. The best (or worst) thing about it is that you get to decide on every step of the process. You can order sheets of the best Egyptian combed cotton and commission the clothes to be manufactured according to your own design. Also, you get more freedom when it comes to actual shirt designs, since you can print on the material before it is sewn together, which makes it possible to cover the entire shirt.
Finding a good sewing workshop is not an easy task and the majority of the good ones don’t advertise on the Internet. And the people who are already well connected, guard their secrets fiercely against competition.
The question remains, whether you’re willing to pay two or three times more for the possibilities mentioned, compared to ready-made clothes? After all, the price of the end product will have to reflect this. If you’re aiming for an exclusive brand or price is not an issue for your target group, you can seriously consider the sewing workshop. In other cases I recommend sticking with option a)
The label is what makes your brand more classy. It is a clear sign that the customer can count on the quality, for which he or she is willing to pay. As with other aspects of creating your brand, there are several possibilities when it comes to labelling:
a) Jacquard woven labels
Made from polyester yarn, these will enrich your brand with a touch of exclusivity. On the plus side, there’s the elegant look of the label and the neat texture of the yarn. The flip side is a minimum order of about 1000 pieces.
b) Sublimated labels
Printed on smooth satin tape. These are used by many of the top brands, so they should not be treated as worse compared to the jacquard ones. It’s a question of taste, needs and capabilities. The best thing about sublimated labels is that you can order them in small numbers (as few as 200 pieces).
Jacquard and sublimated labels can be attached in two ways: sewing them in when the piece clothing is sewn together or undoing labels from promotional clothing and replacing them with your own.
c) Printed labels
Printed labels are an interesting alternative. These can be applied on the inside of the t-shirt using screen printing or cut vinyl. They look really well and you can make as many as you need; no need to invest in jacquard or sublimated labels. Unfortunately, it is not possible to apply printed labels on sweatshirts due to the characteristics of the material found on the inside.
6. Coming up with designs
As is the case with the logo, you might want to consider professional help here as well. What’s most important is the idea, but it should be depicted in a way that fits the brand concept you came up with. You probably don’t want your brand to be recognised as the one sold by sweaty men at the seaside, for whom changing font face from Times New Roman to Arial Black is the apex of design.
Choosing the right printing method depends on your expectations and financial condition. Screen printing should be adequate in most scenarios, but it requires some investments. If the designs are created with thermal transfer in mind, you’ll spend less money investing in print, but price per piece will be higher. The design itself will also be limited.
If you stick to this roadmap, you’ll be able to create your own clothing brand. So, what are you still waiting for? Hop to it! Fortune favours the brave.
You’re probably wondering, how much does it cost to create a clothing brand from the grounds up? You’ll learn that here.