With the right tools and know-how, you can learn how to start a clothing and fashion label.
Learn to make your prototype first piece, then take it offshore to import and launch. Our team has helped many labels import and launch, and advised many more designers to export overseas.
1. Decide your Clothing Piece – Where to Import and How
To get started more quickly, you might choose a ready to go factory clothing style. But really if you want a piece of yours to be proud of – work to design a new cut, faric or look.
There are thousands of clothing manufacturers in China that export to many different markets, so the likelihood that your preferred style of clothing is already produced, or partly produced for other markets is quite high. For start-up importers, it is often easier to start with ready to go factory clothes and designs then build your own label clothing over time.
We always encourage our clients to go to overseas and meet with their suppliers. Manufacturers LOVE to have their buyers visit them at the factory. Seeing products being made, chatting to production staff and meeting the factory manager is a great foundation for long term supplier success.
Once you start to learn the intricacies of designing and manufacturing clothing, you then get a feel for which pieces are best designed locally, and which factory and county is best suited to make it for you.
2. Your Label and Range of Clothing?
For clothing, your label is the identity of your range. A glimpse of your label or brand should tell your customer what your business is, what it sells and project your image of style and quality. Never underestimate the importance of your label and brand design – it’s much, much more than just a fancy logo.
Your range, or how many pieces, styles and sizes you carry is a big decision, and depends on where you will sell and how. The rule of thumb in China for many factories we have worked with is MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) of 500 with four sizes, which might be enough for one piece. Throw in two to three different designs or colours per piece and all of a sudden you have 2000 items of one piece – which is not much for an established brand, but a big step for a start-up.
So how much do you produce? For a start, ask your potential customers and consider the size of the audiences of your market places – be they online or wholesale. Consider the risk of a limited range vs a budget overspent on to many pieces, sizes and styles per line.
3. Clothing Quality and Suitability to Purpose
The sampling process is critical for all products, more so for clothing and there are literally thousands of manufacturers to choose from. So when deciding between manufacturers don’t cut corners – get samples from different factories and road test extensively.
Dryers and irons will help test shrinkage, washing and stretching will test fabric strength and testing of seams and collars is essential. Don’t be afraid of ruining your sample, you won’t know how durable the clothing is unless you do proper road tests. The sampling process will help to weed out unsuitable suppliers and minimise product faults and returns down the track.
Learn to develop a customer audience while you are sampling and get real feedback about styles in demand and price points.
4. Clothing Range and Season
Your clothing customers and potential retailers like to see consistency of style from season to season. If you are tracking well then stick to the basic main selling items (change colours with the seasons) and mix up pallets, textures and structure.
Understanding the lag time between new season ideas and final products is critical, especially if you plan to sell your products wholesale. Stores have specific buying cycles so you need to find out buying cycles for your market and how the buyers purchase.
Learn to develop your clothing piece, import and launch to market with a simple online learning program you can complete in just six weeks.
5. Wholesaling your Clothing Label
Find out what the store mark ups are and their buying process. Do they buy direct from designers, go through agents/sales representatives, or do they buy direct from the manufacturer? This will all affect your end margins and determine your required purchase price from the manufacturer. Knowing your marketplace before you start will ensure you can design to your exact target market audience.
Find out what the store’s buying terms are. Some are COD (cash on delivery) but more often than not most hold 30 day accounts. This is why selling to a distributor is preferred as they pay on purchase order. Some smaller stores might consider selling on consignment. Once the garment sells they keep a percentage of the sale and the designer gets what’s left. Then when the store owner deems the products unsaleable they will return them to the designer.
Learn to set-up your label for online and wholesale.. Our paid members can access a clothing and fashion expert that has supported many designers in Australia to export to the US, UK and East Asian markets.
How My Import Label can help you Start a Clothing Label?
We can work with you through the process. Either learn what to do yourself, or we can support you as you set up your imported clothing label.
by Ben Crawford
Starting a Clothing Label
My Import Label
How to import and launch your own clothing label