How to start your own clothing brand

 

To private label or not? 

That is the question.


Many clothing boutique and online store owners ponder this. They're on the pulse of the market, know exactly what styles sell in what colors and sizes. They carry famous brands because consumers want brands. They know their customers, they ask themselves what would happen if shoppers have a choice between the brand and a smaller brand, same fit, same quality but cheaper? What if the small brand was their own store's micro brand?  Let's look at the pros and cons of starting a private label clothing line. Pros:

  • Own private label brand
  • Same quality and fits, lower retail
  • Better margins
  • Flexibility and control

Cons:

  • Not a well known brand
  • Little or no experience in apparel manufacturing
  • High startup costs

Keep reading if we had you at lower retail and better margins... 


So how do you go about doing it?


Some fashion brands literally spend hundreds of thousands a year on new lines. They have large design teams and expensive sample rooms. Being at the leading edge of fashion is one thing; most people however are looking to start with 2 or 3 bodies in a few colors or washes. These kind of clothing lines can be made for less than $5k. There is no need for designers or sourcing departments. The key is knowing what you want to manufacture. If as in the above example of a retailer or online store, the task is a little tedious but straightforward. To break it down step by step:

  1. Determine exactly the styles, colors and sizes you want to make.
  2. Obtain existing garments with the fit you are looking for.
  3. Get a pattern maker service to scan those garments and make patterns.
  4. Find a trim supplier and get a trim package going.
  5. Have a sample making service make your samples. 
  6. Search for a cut and sew clothing factory whos MOQ (min. order) is lower than your quantity.

There are companies online offering these services for any garment type. It's best to choose companies in a city that is known for making the garment type you are looking for. So if jeans in the USA for example, Los Angeles would be the city of choice. With a little refinement, your online search will bring your to find that city.  If step #2 is a challenge, a picture or even a drawing is enough in most cases. Pattern makers and sample room technicians are trains to understand what designers are looking for and turn their ideas into actual garments. Even if you are not a designer, as long as you know what you want, they will be able to make it happen.  Wondering about the fabric? There is no need to worry about it, if you clearly describe what you want to the sample making service they will find the right fabric. The factory may then either source that exact fabric or select one that is really close from their inventory.  An even simpler way is to look for factories that offer full package garment production. These companies can take your designs, make samples, develop your trim and produce your garments. Finding the right contractor to do that is crucial, the best way is to make some appointments and go visit the potential factories. This should be done regardless if full package or not.   

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