Building a successful fashion business takes a lot more than knowing how to correctly pronounce Givenchy. There’s an age-old struggle that sometimes comes into play in most creative industries. Creative people have the vision and the ideas. They know what makes them different and what their brand or image looks like and stands for, but turning that into a financially stable entity is hard work.
People generally don’t get into fashion because they’re passionate about budgets, business plans and understanding the complexities of long term success, but these are all just as equally necessary if you want to become a member of this thriving industry.
It isn’t easy to make fashion work, but there are some realistic tips you can stick to that will help you clear a path towards success, and we’ve taken the time to go through them for you, so you don’t have to learn them the hard way.
7 Tips for fashion business success
Do the Research, Make a Business Plan, Set Goals
Research is your best friend in the business. Never underestimate how powerful it can be to take some time to do it yourself. You can research your competitors, research market trends, research new technologies. There is no limit to the amount of research you can do because, ultimately, research brings you knowledge, and knowledge is power.
One of the most important steps in any new business venture is developing a business plan. This is one of the best opportunities for you to avoid future failures. Take the time to figure out in detail where you want to see your business in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years.
It’s always a good idea to set some realistic and achievable goals for your business. Note down things that you want to work towards. They can be short term or long term. This will help you to stay focused and know which direction you’re heading in. Making them realistic means that it’s possible to attain them in a reasonable time frame. In the journey of your business, realistic and achievable goals are an important measure of success, especially when you’re starting out.
Know Your Customer
It’s integral to figure out exactly who you are trying to sell your product to. Once you know who your target audience is, you will understand how to reach them. This can also be an area of business development that will surprise you.
The “needs and wants” can also change as consumers, so if you are in touch with customers and market trends, you can evolve with them and meet the current needs.
Remember Levi’s jeans started out as durable trousers for miners, and today is one of the most successful denim fashion brands in the world. They knew their customers and sought out new ones so that when the mines closed, they still had a successful business.
Stand Out From The Crowd as a Brand
Thanks to the internet, more people than ever have access to new ideas, new styles, and new forms of fashion. This is an exciting time because individuals have far more freedom of choice when it comes to the brands they consume than ever before in history.
For businesses, this can mean that competition is even tougher than it was before, but you shouldn’t let that dishearten you. Instead, this is an opportunity to think carefully about what makes you different from your competitors.
Create a Marketing Plan for 12 Months in Advance
Gone are the days where you could just upload a post to Instagram, and the sales would roll in. Instead, most brands, large and small, spend the majority of their marketing budget on paid advertising. This might be through things like Facebook ads, Instagram ads and even paid sponsorships.
Having a 12-month marketing plan will force you as a business owner to think about market trends on a monthly rotation. It will help you to consider the best times to push certain products, look for cross-promotional ideas and also help you to understand how much marketing budget you have available to you.
Design and Develop Your Clothing Line Professionally
Just because you are starting out on your own doesn’t mean you have to approach things like an amateur. On the contrary, designing and developing your clothing line professionally means taking the time to ensure quality and consistency across the board.
Operating at a professional standard will also help you to attract the best talent. Attract wholesale partnerships and minimise returns.
Create a Clear PR Campaign For Your Launch
Good PR is integral to the success of your launch. Take the time to put together a PR package that explains your business, where you’ve come from and what your overall message is. Then put in the time to build relationships with fashion journalists, bloggers and influencers to see if they will give you some airtime. It’s worth researching to see if they match well with the concepts, ideas and overall feel of your brand.
It’s great to get a piece written about you on a blog or news website; sometimes, sending a simple email to the writer or influencer to thank them afterwards can make a lasting impression. The next time you launch and contact them, they will definitely remember that you were a nice person who gave them some great content and was easy to work with.
Determine a Timeline, Budget and Create Deadlines
You might be reading this one and thinking, ‘well, that’s a bit obvious,’ and you’re right, it is. Unfortunately, however, many designers and business owners enter the industry without fully understanding the seriousness of this point.
No successful project will ever get off the ground without a timeline. So you need to think of the biggest immediate goal. If that is the launch of your first collection, you should start with a realistic date for that to happen and work backwards.
Setting deadlines and sticking to them will not only make sure your project has a better chance of success, but it will also create a working habit that will serve you as a business owner in the long term.
You need to be honest with yourself at all times about how much budget you have for everything. If you can stick to a budget (or, even better, remain under budget), you will be able to see returns on your creative investment sooner rather than later.
Where do you Find a Fashion Business Startup Guide?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone just wrote a business startup guide for the fashion industry? Well, someone already has. The New Garde has taken the time to put together everything you need to know to get your fashion line up and running.
For the longest time, designers and business owners have had to just figure it out as they went, and now you don’t have to. The Ultimate Fashion Start-Up Workbook has taken decades of industry knowledge and success and made it accessible for designers and label owners who want to get serious about their fashion business.
This E-Book will take you through everything from identifying your customer to creating a marketing plan to help you develop a profitable business in the fashion industry.
The New Garde also has a range of other E-Guides and templates to help you on your business journey. You don’t have to go to a fancy business school to develop the tools you need for success; you just need drive, commitment and a little bit of insider knowledge.
Like you, we got into the fashion industry because we love to create, but the business side of things doesn’t need to be that hard or daunting. You’re in an industry that requires a certain level of creativity and a dose of business savviness. Sometimes fashion businesses are not traditionally seen to be places where a sense of business is required or even necessary, that you can get by with great designs and a strong spirit, but the reality is, as the owner of a fashion label, you are running a business.