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How to Start Your Own Fashion Line

by Tracey A. Maine on December 2, 2019

Is your dream to become the next Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren or Donna Karan? Would you one day like to follow in the footsteps of these famous designers by starting your own signature clothing line? However, is the only thing holding you back from pursuing this dream the fear that starting your own company might be more than you can handle?

If this sound like you, then the following steps and suggestions could address your doubts and help reevaluate your chances for success in the fashion industry:

Determine Your Personal Design Aesthetic 

Is your personal style laid back, office casual or formal? Do you prefer soft pastels, bright bold colors or basic black? Are you into solids, patterns or plaids? What age group do you see wearing your creations: teenagers, twentysomethings or established professionals? There are the kinds of questions you need to ask yourself what your personal style is and determine who your target customer will be.

Design Your First Collection

Once you have narrowed down who your target customer is start designing a collection that suits their needs and accommodates their lifestyle. Focus on creating key pieces that will both reflect your design aesthetic and give your customer a wide range of day-to-evening looks. 

Do Some Business-Oriented Research

Find out what kind of permits and licenses you need to go into business for yourself legally and make a business plan based on your findings.

Create a Budget

Figure out exactly what the start-up costs for your company will be and begin making choices based on what you can realistically afford. Then, decide what fabrics you want to use for your designs based on your budget.

Develop Your Web Presence

Research other fashion-oriented websites. Determine what you like about them, what you don’t, and how you can make your website stand out from the competition. Next, create a website for your company that will attract customers by showcasing your designs.

Develop a Manufacturing Plan

Once your budget has been determined you need to seek out a potential manufacturing company. You need to consider potential production timelines and prepare some samples and fabric swatches to present to manufacturers. 

Select a Sales Strategy

At this point you need to decide if you’re going to sell you designs offline or online. If your plan is to market your clothing offline them you need to start establishing partnerships  with local independent stores that cater to your target audience. However, if you decide to go the online route then you need to create a custom website with the capacity to mass market your designs. 

Start Publicizing Your Company

Prepare a media statement promoting your company complete with images of your designs. Afterwards, seek out online and offline media outlets and send them your statement and images. In addition, create Facebook and Snapchat pages as well as a Twitter account for your company and encourage your friends to help promote them. 

Seek Out Investors and Business Partners

If your budding company is having cash flow issues then perhaps you should consider taking on a business partner or encourage people to invest in your business.

Hire Wisely

First determine what your professional strengths and weaknesses are.  Next, hire people to help you run and promote your business who have the skills and talents you lack. For example; if creating a website is not your strong suit then seek out a professional graphic designer who can create a website that will attract the customers you’re seeking.

Where can I get the training I need to become a successful fashion designer?

Starting Autumn 2020, Hocking College will be offering a Fashion Design and Retail Merchandising degree. This program will provide area students with a 2-year pathway to the vast fashion & retail industry in nearby Central Ohio.  

The Fashion Design and Retail Merchandising program is strategically designed to deliver technical apparel development training, valuable product development & consumer research experience, entrepreneurial retail expertise, and industry-specific technology training necessary to succeed in the fashion industry now and in the future.  

This degree program will prepare students to gain employment in creative or technical fields in the fashion industry at the corporate level, emerging small business level, or in entrepreneurship as a fashion based start-up.

For more information contact Program Manager, Coral Wedel, at wedelc@hocking.edu or (740) 753-6425. 

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