How to start a clothing brand in 2021
In this guide we will talk about how you can start your new clothing brand from scratch, how to expand, where to sell your garments and all the information you will need for your first 2 years.
Before You Start / Expectations
The most important aspect you need to understand from the start is the time it takes before you can turn this hobby into a paying job.
We saw thousands of brands and helped many of them with creating their first ever designs, and after seeing so many start-up brands we can tell you the 2 biggest reasons why most of them failed: way too high expectations and lack of consistency.
Due to one or both of those reasons, many new brands simply stop operating in the first year. With time and work everyone can expand and reach a high level of success so be patient, consistent and don’t expect instant results.
There will be small results from the beginning, you will sell garments, gain followers and brand awareness, however, the time it will take you to see massive results is really up to you. This can even happen in under 1 year with the right amount of dedication and work.
There are few things to consider before you start making your first design, the best advice we can give you during this process is to always be original, let the brand reflect your ideas and style.
Never copy somebody else! Besides the obvious issue of copyright you will also face other problems such as lack of customers and low interest. Don’t try to be like the famous brands, if somebody is looking to buy a garment like Adidas, they will go directly to them, why would they buy a fake copy from you?
This is quite simple yet important, you should consider your style and try to reflect it in the brand name. Try to make it easy to remember, short and overall not complicated. Once you have the right name, do a google search and make sure it’s not already taken.
The same name can be used under different categories, meaning your name can be taken by a music band which is not a problem, however, if it’s taken by a garments company or clothing brand, you should not use it as it will be a big problem once you gain popularity.
The Look And Feel:
When making your designs always keep in mind the entire feel of your brand, do not jump from black skulls to pink unicorns, your customers will not appreciate it. Decide on one style and stick to it.
Doing so will also earn you more money simply because a returning customer will only buy garments with the original black skull design and will not be interested in your new pink unicorn products.
It is very important to create a logo that can be easily remembered, recognised and stand out from the competition. When you build trust with your customers, your Logo gains value and recognition, this way everyone will know that products with your Logo on will have the same quality as all the other clothes they bought from you before.
Think about the biggest clothing brands, just the presence of the classic 3 white lines on the trousers or the Adidas Logo will reassure you that you are about to purchase good quality products, often this alone is enough between deciding if you will buy that product or not.
You can read this guide we made on: How to create a t-shirt design, to get more information and tips to help you create the right logo.
Same as with the Logo and general feel of your brand, you should decide on few colours you always use for your brand, include them in your Logo design and most of your product features and website.
You can use many different shades of the same Brand colours and add several different one in each product, however the general feel and look should always stay the same. This does not mean all your clothes have to be made looking the same, all we are trying to say is to keep it somewhat consistent.
Be known for doing a few things well, and not everything but at a low standard.
It can take a long time to find the right product for your brand, start simple and build your way up to expensive fancy garments over time, a simple t-shirt will do. Ask your DTG Print Shop as they will be able to advise you and provide the right garments based on your needs. Never go for cheap quality, there are lots of medium to high quality garments that are perfect for all types of clothing brands.
You can check out this Guide we made: Best Garments For T-shirt Printing
There will be time for adding custom inside labels, sleeve designs and tags. To start all you need is a single design on a garment. All additional services or prints will cost you more money and are not needed on the beginning so, keep it simple.
Find The Right Print Shop:
There are several ways of decorating garments, however only Direct to garment (DTG) will give you a good start for your clothing brand. This is the only style of printing capable of producing small amounts of garments, even single once, at a low cost.
There are no setup cost or limit to amount of colours you can use, which makes DTG the ideal solution for new brands. You can Click Here to get in touch with us and have your first t-shirt printed.
The Right Tools:
We advise to use a free image manipulation software called GIMP. There are many programs and apps on the internet that help you create a design, however they will all require a payment in order for you to download a hi resolution version needed for printing.
Since it costs money to improve low quality images, is best to create everything with a totally free software. Gimp is very famous and YouTube is full of tutorials and guides on pretty much anything you wish to learn or make.
Remember to create your artwork without the background and to save it using the right file type. We wrote a handy guide on this subject if you want to know more. Remove background from any design.
The last step is contacting your print shop and ordering a sample. Like the name suggest, this is a single printed garment for you to check the overall quality of your finished product before placing a big order ready to be advertised and sold online.
This is also why Direct to garment is ideal for new brands, other printing techniques such as screen printing have high setup cost which could result in your sample costing more than 200£. When DTG will cost you around 25£ depending on the design and garment quality. Prices drop drastically when you order bigger amounts of t-shirts.
It might seem like this part is easy, however a lot of our customers get it wrong from the beginning. The idea that you want to make as much money as possible from the start is wrong, at least in the beginning, simply because you do not have an established Brand to sell yet.
Yes, the obvious idea is to charge more than the production of the garment costs you, this includes sampling, delivery, your time, software you had to buy, website costs and any other costs you might have. However the price should be a positive selling point until people get to know your quality.
Build trust with your customers first, then change your pricing structure, this way you will get sells because your customers know the quality and what they are paying for. This process is long however, very important, so be patient.
You can have low and high selling prices for different products, this way you keep attracting new customer and spreading your Brand name while still making a bigger profit from some sells.
Once you have your first sample it is time to advertise your product and brand. We will only mention some of the ways you can gain customers and focus more on the free versions of expanding your clothing brand and only mention some paid once. Most people cannot afford to invest thousands in expanding so we will focus on the cheapest options you can use.
This is quite obvious and the most important way to start. You will gain reputation in the form of followers, likes and shares. There is no need to list all social media platforms, more you use, the better it is, after all they are free to use.
Once you have created an eye catching post and picture, it really doesn’t take much effort to share it across all platforms and would be a waste not to do so.
In 2021 the most important one is Instagram. Here, being consistent is key, make a schedule and try to release pictures showcasing your products ideally 2-3 times a week, however you can start with just 1 picture per week and work your way up.
Do not release 20 posts all at once and then disappear for 2 months, social media platforms will drop you lower in the search because of inactivity and your followers will forget about your brand after a few hours, be consistent.
You do not have to focus on showing the design only, try and attract people to your style and creativity, not just the product itself. Your goal is to gain followers, not sales.
There is no need to spam BUY NOW, nobody likes to be pushed to purchase a product, you will only annoy your customer base. Simply remind them, in a nice way, that your products are for sale in a non invasive way, such as: “Why not get one yourself” or “Grab yours on our website”
This is not necessary in the very beginning, however, it does make your brand stand out and look more professional, besides the obvious fact that is much easier to collect payments online instead of dealing with each customer individually.
All websites will cost money on a monthly basis, some let you create your own via a drag and drop platform (like the website you are currently on), others provide you with a ready template you just need to fill in with your information.
Both options are good, Drag and drop websites take some time to learn however they help you create just about anything you want. If you wish to take your time and learn more about this option then search for WordPress host. There are many providers, we suggest to go with Siteground. Those are the companies that will host your WordPress website for a small monthly fee.
The other option, which we recommend, is faster and easier. Search for a website provider, such as Wix which let you chose from thousands of already made templates ready to be simply filled in and used.
Social Media And Google Ads:
Paid ads are not something you should consider until you have enough knowledge about running your website and enough products for this option to be worth using. It also takes time to learn, so you should only consider this when the time is right.
Just because you spend 200£ on Ads, it doesn’t mean you will get a big return in profit or brand awareness, you could get nothing back if done wrong. We suggest doing research about running Ads before investing your money.
Be consistent, gain followers and expand your customer base. There is not much more you have to do on the beginning.
How And Where To Expand
Once you have the basics worked out, it will be time to start expanding in new ways, here is a few ideas to keep your customers coming back for more and to keep expanding in new ways.
Releasing a new design often is a good way of expanding. Not only you will give more options to your existing customers, it also gives you more material to work with, new pictures to release without being repetitive. This is why you have to start your brand with Direct to garment (DTG) it is the only way you can keep creating and releasing new designs without a huge investment or risk.
When creating content, quality over quantity is very important. You don’t have to start with a professional photographer, however it will eventually become a must have for your brand. Often a different techniques will give you an edge.
Consider looking for a professional photographer, even if you think you might not need it, and book a session to take pictures of all your products. Remember to release them on your social media accounts over time, not all at once.
Understand Your Customers:
Once you gain enough followers you can start looking at which product attracts more attention, sells more and why. This is how you can understand the direction you should take with your creativity. Try asking your followers which design they liked more and keep track of your sales and what the top selling products have in common.
Expand Your products:
After a while you will reach the time to start adding new types of products such as bottoms if you have hoodies already for sale, this way you can create tracksuits. You can even add hats and promote as a full set on your social media pages.
This way you keep your active followers interested and, at the same time, you gain new once. You can also try adding your best selling design to different products to give more options to your customers.
Videos have a much higher engagement rate than images, they will give you more brand awareness and will add something new to your profiles.
Host Local Events:
Consider your local area, there are always events running or opportunities to showcase your brand and gain more exposure.
Be Relevant To The Times:
Creating products for events happening around the world, such as Black lives matter movement or even Covid-19 pandemic is a good way of gaining new customers.
Collaboration And Free Samples:
Try sending free samples of your best work to influencers or ask for a collaboration for a chance to be advertised on they’re social media accounts. Everyone wants a way to gain more followers and Brand awareness, not just you. Try to contact only people with similar amount of followers instead of going for the top 1% of influencers.
We are a Direct to garment print shop located in Hull, if you have any questions, need advice, or wish to have your garments printed by us, you can use this Quick Contact Form Link.