When you get it right, Fashion can be a fantastic business. Assuming you are starting from zero, there are a couple of approaches on how to start your own fashion business.
The first approach is to create designs and then use a print-on-demand service to make the actual product.
The second approach is to learn as much about the business side of fashion before starting. In my opinion, this approach is best because you can gain enough knowledge to help you build a sustainable, long-term business in fashion.
This doesn’t mean you have to go and work in the industry. There are a handful of courses that are an excellent grounding in the business. Maybe try Diane Von Furstenburg’s Masterclass.
In her 20s, Diane Von Furstenberg convinced a textile factory owner in Italy to let her produce her first designs. With those samples, she flew to New York City to build one of the world’s most iconic and enduring fashion brands. In her first online fashion design class, Diane teaches you how to build a brand. You’ll learn how to create a visual identity, build loyalty, stay true to your vision, and launch your product.
Well worth the investment if you are serious about the business.
1 Choose Your Fashion Business Niche
To start your own fashion business, the first step is to choose a niche for your new business. Choosing your niche will firstly help you focus your business on a specific target market. Niching down is essential because if you don’t do it, you are effectively saying that you will sell ‘fashion’ to anyone. What do you mean by fashion? Coats, shirts, pants, ties, accessories? All ages, children, adults, older generations? Slim fit, larger sizes? When you launch your business you cannot boil the ocean like this. So pick a niche, and the more specific you can be the better it is because you can create your products with a particular kind of buyer in mind, and your marketing messages can also be laser targeted.
As an example, take a look at LookHuman.com. Their brand is focused on a specific niche, pop culture. Trendy, often bright designs often printed to tees and hoodies.
2 Choose Your Product Line
With your niche chosen, your next step is to choose your product line. You may want to focus on just one particular fashion item, say socks, shirts, accessories. Take a look at https://www.happysocks.com/ No prizes for guessing what they sell!
It is important to remember that whatever products you choose to start with, it is not a ‘forever’ decision. If sales are slow or things don’t work out for a particular product, you can always change it out for a different one. The key here is to gradually expand your portfolio of products, learning about the fashion business and your target customers as you go.
3 Choose A Name For Your Fashion Business
I should add at this point that if you aim to build a fashion brand with a wide range of products, then choosing a product specific name may confuse potential customers as you expand your products beyond say, socks, to hoodies. So the best advice is to choose a name that is product neutral. For your online store, I recommend using your brand name and then a word or phrase indicating that you are a fashion brand. So something like ‘Evil Fashion’. This is simply because when people search online, they need to recognise what they are clicking on, otherwise they are likely to pass over your link and move to the next. If they just see your brand name, they will not necessarily recognise it as fashion related.
The quickly grab your domain name and web hosting – my favorite is Namecheap (I have used them without problems for many years).
4 Choose Your Fulfilment Business Model
So you have a niche and know what products you want to focus on, at least initially, and you have a fashion brand name. Now before you start your own fashion business you need to figure out how you are going to fulfill your orders: Produce the product and deliver it.
There are three strong contenders for a fashion business model:
- Custom cut-and-sew
- Print-on-demand with Private Label
This is the preferred option for any fashion business because you retain complete control, enabling you to create very unique designs and products. It is the model used by Diane Von Furstenberg when she started building what would become one of the world’s most iconic and enduring fashion brands (more on this a little later).
For custom cut-and-sew you need to source a pattern maker. If you can’t find someone local, here are a couple online you could try:
Print-on-Demand with Private Label
The print-on-demand industry for fashion is almost synonymous with t-shirts. And whilst t-shirts are a multi-billion dollar industry, you don’t have to limit your creative designs to just shirts. These days, print-on-demand suppliers such as Printify and Printful have a wide product range, including t-shirts, hoodies, pants, shoes, skirts and dresses, sportswear, sweatshirts, tank tops, and even swimwear!
Printful and Printify also organise the packaging and delivery to your customer, effectively acting as your drop shipper. It is also important to note that some print-on-demand providers also offer a white-label service, so in the case of Printful, they allow you to include neck labels, and for Printify their brand does not appear anywhere on the package or the shipping label, and they can also help get your own branded label inserted into the products, very important if you want to create a strong fashion brand!
5 Where to Sell Fashion Online
You should already have your own domain and hosting. You can use these to create a sales funnel for special offers, using a simple-to-use funnel builder tool such Clickfunnels or Kartra. Now you need to build your own store.
Whilst you can definitely do this using WordPress and a plugin such as Woocommerce, it can be a bit fiddly. A better option is to use a store-builder service such as Shopify. They have tools to help you create a strongly branded storefront, and also take payment from your customers. They all integrate very nicely with Printify!
Invest in Yourself
In an earlier article of mine, The 10 Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs, I talked about how successful entrepreneurs recognise that they must invest in their own learning, whether it is in books such as Traffic Secrets or Dotcom Secrets, or quick-start online business challenges such as the excellent One Funnel Away Challenge.
Before you start your own fashion business I would recommend investing in the Masterclass course from Diane Von Furstenberg. This amazing lady teaches you how to build a fashion brand in a series of video lessons and handouts. Diane’s masterclass is part of a whole series of fantastic classes taught by celebrity names over at Masterclass.com.
For an equivalent monthly subscription of under $20 you get access to courses from some amazing Masterclass Experts, including:
Stephen Curry, deadmau5, Samuel L. Jackson, Danny Elfman, Judy Blume, Massimo Bottura, David Sedaris. Shonda Rhimes, Chris Voss. Hans Zimmer, Margaret Atwood, Steve Martin, Marc Jacobs, Judd Apatow, Billy Collins, Daniel Negreanu, Timbaland, Jodie Foster, Armin van Buuren, Will Wright, Mira Nair, Jimmy Chin, Simone Biles, David Lynch, Misty Copeland, David Baldacci, Alice Waters, Sara Blakely, Ron Finley, Serena Williams, James Suckling, Herbie Hancock, Helen Mirren, Lynnette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana, Wolfgang Puck, Ron Howard, Phil Ivey, Ken Burns, R.L. Stine, Diane von Furstenberg, David Axelrod and Karl Rove, Usher, Chris Hadfield, Tom Morello, Gordon Ramsay, Aaron Franklin, Reba McEntire, Itzhak Perlman, Frank Gehry, Dr. Jane Goodall, Carlos Santana, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Robin Roberts, Bob Woodward, Christina Aguilera, Paul Krugman, Dominique Ansel, Penn & Teller, David Mamet, Natalie Portman, Howard Schultz, James Patterson, Bob Iger, RuPaul, Dan Brown, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Kelly Wearstler, Bobbi Brown, Malcolm Gladwell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Werner Herzog, Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Leibovitz, Anna Wintour. Thomas Keller, Aaron Sorkin, Garry Kasparov, Jeff Goodby & Rich Silverstein, Gabriela Cámara, Neil Gaiman
Any online business is a labor of love. You need to enjoy what you are doing and you need to stick at it. So if you are creative, and fashion is your thing, why not start your own fashion business? Who knows, you may follow in the footsteps of Diane Von Furstenberg!