Starting Up a Clothing Business

how to start a clothing company

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I was recently out taking my son to get a haircut. His barber knew from previous conversation that I was involved in the fashion industry. On this particular day he decided to tell me that he was interested in doing a denim line and wanted some advice. He told me that he had people working on his logo and that he also had found a local seamstress. He asked me how he should go about starting his clothing business.

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We began to chat as my son was in his chair. I love talking fashion so I didn’t mind it one bit. But it also reminded me of myself many many years ago. Boy how time flies! Truth is how to start a clothing business goes beyond a few minute chat. It is an exercise in wit, timing, knowledge, passion, energy, fortitude and yes a tad bit of luck. But there are tools available that can help you increase your chances of success. That is what StartMyLine.com is all about.

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Being a clothing line owner means long hours and the constant mind spinning of ideas and concepts. It is exhilarating to say the least. Being a part of the fashion industry is like no other. If you give up easy then you may want to reconsider your career scope.

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The best advice for creating a clothing line is preparation. Preparation is acquiring detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the industry so that you can make informed decisions and not waste a lot of money. It is empowering yourself to be able to do certain functions of running a fashion label yourself and knowing which components to outsource. The more you can do yourself means the less money you have to pay out. Example – why hire a fashion designer when you can design your line yourself with Digital Fashion Pro.

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Creating a solid business plan is still highly recommended. Many new entrepreneurs believe they can skip this part. Please Don’t! A detailed business plan as to how you plan to develop your clothing line, manufacture it and market it is pinnacle. Take time to map out your plans and get real amount figures so that you know how much it will cost you to start your line. We have tools here at StartMyLine.com that can help you with that.

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There are so many details between having a clothing logo and having a manufacturing contact that new designers should be aware of. Sure you can go it alone and find out things as you go and probably waste a lot of money and time in the process. But why do that when you can tap industry experts for help so you can give yourself a greater chance for success and give your line the competitive edge. Utilize our website, our fashion business and design tools plus other information available on the web from places like howtostartaclothingcompany.com.

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Good Luck With Your Line!
Michael H.
Co-Founder of StartMyLine.com

How to Start a Clothing Line – Line Start

The Beginner’s Guide to How to Start a Clothing Line Effectively by StartMyLine.com – 4 Steps To Creating a Successful Clothing Line

 

Since 2004, we have been helping people who have dreams of starting their own clothing lines do just that. Many of them come to our website without any experience in the fashion industry. However it is our mission to educate our clients on how to be successful in the fashion industry. Whether it is through using our fashion design software Digital Fashion Pro to create their clothing sketches or our how to start a clothing course – we aim to empower our clients with great tools and detailed information. Let’s get you started with the 4 steps to creating your successful million dollar per year clothing line from scratch! Welcome to the beginner’s guide to setting up a clothing line effectively.

 

Coming up with a great name for your clothing line and a terrific logo or phrase is a huge win. But in reality, those are the easy parts of starting a clothing line. After doing those things is when the real reality sets in and you must make informed decisions that can make or break your line. Our job here is to make sure our clients are extremely well informed and armed with the information and tools that will increase their chances of success with their own clothing line. Here are 4 Must Have Resources that every aspiring fashion designer and beginner to should know about to help with starting a clothing line effectively.

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1. How Can I Start My Own Clothing Line because I don’t have any experience or anyone helping me? I Don’t Know Where to Start?

  

This is a frequent question we receive here at StartMyLine.com. We have already mentioned the basics of starting a clothing line and registering the name above but what really comes next. There are many things to consider. For one, we recommend setting up your clothing line as an LLC. Forming a LLC does cost money and often can range between $100 to $200. You can also easily do it yourself to save money. I actually did one myself recently after years of paying for services. Also be sure to lock down your domain name for your clothing line with Godaddy – .99 Cent Domain Name for your line right now.

 

You then will want to register your clothing line trademark. You can do it yourself or hire an attorney. This can be done on the US Trademark Website. The class for apparel is 25. You will also want to get a RN# if you are looking to get your goods manufactured outside of the United States and then shipped in. This may differ a little for our non-USA customers. You will also want to begin writing a business plan for your clothing line, however, to make it as accurate as possible you will need to do some research. You want to make sure you cover and address the 5 most important areas of creating a successful fashion brand. 

 

The entire process of how to start your own clothing line is laid out in our Fashion Mogul Clothing Start Up Kit. It covers all of the above and a lot more. In fact, one of our recent clients said they could have saved $6900 on a production order that wasn’t up to their standards if they had only read our course first. They told us that after reading our book they realized the mistake they had made with their quality inspection. This fashion business book gives you years of direct fashion industry experience that will help you excel and avoid many of the common mistakes many new clothing lines make. 

 

This book also covers how to get your clothing line into retail outlets and what to look for so they don’t take advantage of you. You will be surprised just how many new designer ship their clothing to stores and never see a dime from it. This book is just an excellent source of true fashion industry information from the “little guy” / “small business” perspective that will take you a long way and save you a ton of money and save you from making a lot of mistakes. The book also contains many financing ideas and how to start your line on a budget. Do you need funding for your clothing line? Read The Secret to Raising Money to Start Your Clothing Line. Also check out the Info-Graphic to how to impress clothing line investors.

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How to start a clothing line

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Defining Your Target Market

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It is also at this time that you want to define your target market. Who are your idea customers? What styles do they like? What price points best serve your market? How will your designs resonate with your target market What will be your brand’s calling card? What will make your products stand out to your target market and separate you from other lines? Having a low price point is not enough reason if that is what you were thinking. We have heard so many times of how a new designer states they are going to deliver high quality garments but do it cheaper than everyone else. This method doesn’t work unless you are a big fast fashion brand. It is okay for you to do this strategy but don’t state that is what separates you from everyone else.

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You need to have a design aesthetic / logo that people can easily identify with your label. If you are thinking that stating your line is for a good cause or charity is a great way to make your line stand out – don’t get caught up in your own hype. Design is foremost the number one reason people will be attracted to your line. Everything else is secondary or icing on the cake. Your designs are the meat and potatoes.  .

 

2. Where Can I Find a Fashion Designer to Design My Clothing Line For Me? 

 Reasons: I Can’t Draw, I Never Went to School For Fashion Design, A Manufacturer Wants Computerized Sketches. 

 

We had a client who called us asking us could we recommend a fashion designer for their line. They said that they had been looking and the cheapest they found was $300 per design and $25 for revisions. Now that may be in some people’s budget but here is the simple math. If you have a collection of 10 styles then imagine 10 styles x $300 = $3,000 per collection. 

 

If you are producing two collections a year that is $6,000. For less than the price of one collection, you could buy every item on our site and be your own fashion designer. This way you would not have to put up with waiting on someone to do your revisions based on their schedule and charging you for them. Let’s face it, when you start designing, there will be revisions and many! We find that a lot of clients decide early on that they would rather invest in learning how to do their own designing and putting their future in their own hands. 

 

You may be saying to yourself, “That sounds easier said than done; I can’t even draw nor do I have experience designing clothing.” Don’t worry. We can help you overcome that fear. In fact, we have just the thing to have you crush that fear like a bulldozer rolling over a potato chip. The answer is Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Design Software 

 

How to design your own clothing

 

Our software system is used by clothing lines, schools, professional designers and beginners. It makes the designing clothing super easy and quick. Plus you do not have to have fashion design experience or drawing abilities to use it. Sounds too good to be true? Maybe it does but guess what – Digital Fashion Pro lives up to expectations and more! We created a fashion design system that comes with training, clothing templates and fabrics that allows our users to create their own professional fashion sketches right on their computer. Computerized fashion sketches are needed to work with clothing manufacturers. 

 

With the full expanded system, you can design T-shirts, Jeans, Dresses, Skirts, Jackets, Coats, Shoes, Handbags, Sportswear, Baby Clothing, Sweaters, Tops and more for Men and Women. The system was made for beginners because of our original mission which was to make it so simple that even true beginners who have never designed anything can use it. But not just use it, we want our clients to excel at creating their own fashion designs. With Digital Fashion Pro in your arsenal, you will not have to find someone to design your clothing line. You can design it yourself! 

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fashion design sketch software

 

3. How Can I Find a Clothing Manufacturer To Make My Clothing Line and How Does The Process Work?

  

Many of our clients have never worked with a clothing manufacturer before. Finding the right manufacturer and being knowledgeable about the fashion design process is a must. You do not want to start talking to manufacturer or trying to order clothing without knowing about the fashion business. You could end up being taken advantage of or worst. However with starting any business you should make it a point to do your research before diving in. 

 

Now, let’s get back to your fashion business. It is important to know how to evaluate each potential manufacturer. You will want to ask the right questions. You will want them to send you samples of work they did for other clients. However, just because they did some excellent work for others doesn’t mean that they always do fantastic work. There is no guarantee that all of their production orders and samples will be 100% defective free. Nevertheless, you want to make sure each manufacturer is properly vetted. Again our Official Step by Step Guide to Starting A Clothing Line Book can help you with that. 

 

Once you are ready to work with a clothing factory it is time to give them what they need to make your samples / production. They will need a regular sketch of your design (front and back), technical sketch of your design (front and back), plus a spec sheet with the measurements for your design. Digital Fashion Pro Business Class or Industry Edition can help you the regular and technical sketches.  

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starting a clothing line infographic - style blast

 

Our Fashion Business Center Software can help you with the spec sheet templates. If you are not good with measurements, we offer on our site a book with standard body and garment measurements. With all of these tools you can now put your designs in electronic format so you can email them to your clothing manufacturer. Contrary to popular believe you do not need an actual pattern to physically mail out.  

 

In fact, even with a paper pattern, manufacturers can still get your design wrong. There are other reasons why to not put so much time and effort into physical patterns initially. You can find out more about those out in our book. Not to mention, producing a professional pattern is expensive not to mention if you have a lot of styles. Shipping fees will be high as well. Save yourself the trouble and just email your garment spec pack out.  

 

Also, don’t be one of those people who think that all they need to start a clothing line is find a manufacturer. This could not be further from the truth! Manufacturers, especially the good ones, decide everyday which new line they will work with. They are selective. This means you have to know what you are talking about and present your plan to them among other things. They want to know that they aren’t wasting their time on you. This is just another reason why we emphasis reading the Official Step by Step Guide to Starting A Clothing Line. You want to be truly ready when you start contacting manufacturers and trying to get your clothing samples (prototypes) and production made. 

 

Now how do you find clothing manufactures? There are many ways but we have one super easy way – Our Ultimate List of Clothing Manufacturers featuring over 400 clothing factories that can make your line. As we said earlier, our site was started to make things even for new clothing lines by giving you much of what you need to be successful all in one place. We want you to be successful. Your success is our success. It is this belief that has kept us around as we seen many pop up so called experts come and go. Our products are tried and proven.  

 

For additional insight on The Fashion Design Process and getting clothing made – check out this article from clothing line expert Michael Harper. Also see How to Start a Clothing Line From Scratch – the full length article.

  

4. You – Believing In Yourself

 

It is possible that you are your greatest obstacle. Do you believe in your dream enough to take a chance? Do you believe in your fashion ideas enough to share them with the world? Are you strong enough to endure and sometimes even overcome rejection? Are you willing to listen to your customers and adjust your designs? Are you willing to dedicate the time to learn the fashion industry? Will you persevere and do whatever it takes to be successful? Unfortunately, these questions have to be answered by you. We can only solve all of the above issues to make it easier for you to follow your dreams. The rest is on you. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. 

 

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” 

– Mark Twain

 

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Creating a Streetwear Clothing Line With Digital Fashion Pro

Digital Fashion Pro - How to Design Your Own Clothing - Start Your Own Clothing and Design It

How to Create a Streetwear Clothing Line With Digital Fashion Pro

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Today, Streetwear is more than popular than ever! Many fashion labels large and small have incorporated streetwear trends and influences into their collections on the regular basis. Even high end designers regularly offer pieces that can be seen as urban clothing. The reason for this is streetwear is purely exciting! Upscale streetwear allows designers to put an twist on the hottest fashion trends and not come off as so stuffy and bland. There is help for creating a streetwear clothing line that makes creating your designs easier. Design your line of urban clothing with Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Design Software. 

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Digital Fashion Pro can help you design your own clothing line and streetwear collection like a pro. Whether it is bomber jackets, dresses, t-shirts with pockets, hoodies, jeans, sweatshirts, designs with logos, patches, slogans etc – you can design them all with Digital Fashion Pro. Creating a great looking design is the first step in bringing your vision to life in the real world. You get to test concepts and ideas so that you can later decide on which designs will be the most commercial if that is your goal. That should be your goal! If you aren’t in the business to make money from your designs you will quickly be out of business.

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With Digital Fashion Pro Software you do not have to know how to draw or sketch to be able to design clothing. You will be able to create professional fashion designs that you can then send to clothing manufacturers, seamstresses etc. who can make your clothing for you. Utilize the resources here on StartMyLine.com to get you going quickly and effectively. Creating your own streetwear line is in reach with the help of our excellent tools to guide you every step of the way! The Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Mogul Package will show you how to create a streetwear clothing line, give you the tools to design it and the manufacturing contacts to make it. Good Luck!

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Designer Bomber Jacket - Bue and Red

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streetwear clothing

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Fashion Design Software - Menswear Designers -11500w

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Learn More About Creating a Streetwear Clothing Line with Digital Fashion Pro Here

25 Tips To Reduce Returns For Online Fashion Retailers & Clothing Lines

25 Free Tips to Reduce to Returns for Online Apparel Retailers
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Returns Are The Arch Nemesis Of Sales! I know that sounds a bit drastic but in reality what is drastic is the effect that too many returns can have you on retail business. In this post I will explore all the areas that make up returns which can be from someone saying it doesn’t fit to more sinister scenarios that involve retail fraud. The word sinister always sticks in my head because if you watch the ID (Identification Discovery) Channel the narrator always gives you a simple story of what happened to someone and then he says, “Or was it something far more sinister?” If you have a retail business, it may feel like every time you have to process a return it is like someone is killing your business slowly until the next sale comes in and you forget all about it. Keep reading to get to my 25 tips to reduce your merchandise return rate and the financial impact of returns on your bottom line.
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Let me be clear. I am a pure advocate that you want your customer to be totally happy with their purchase. You want them to feel good about the entire process of ordering your merchandise whether the order was placed online or inside of your brick and mortar. Nevertheless, if you are a small or midsize retailer you know how draining returns can be for any reason. And by returns I mean anytime that money is flowing back out of your account from a previous sale for any reason. It is only human nature to feel agitated that someone wants to return their order or that someone committed retail fraud to steal your merchandise and not the credit card company is taking the money back plus a fee on top of it. Then there are times where it may seem you are dealing with more issues than at other times and it can take its toll on you mentally. Unfortunately, we all know that returns are a nature of business. You can’t escape them. However, if you are running a tight ship you will have more good times than bad. I want to help you have more good times because good times equal up to you feeling good as a fashion line business owner.
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According a report published by The Retail Equation in conjunction with the National Retail Federation estimated in  revealed that returns cost US Retailers over 260 million dollars. According to a post made on Internetretailer.com, “On average, data compiled from about 50 clients of retail consulting firm Kurt Salmon show that online consumers return 20% to 30% of orders of apparel and other soft goods.” According to Statista.comKarmaloop.com in 2014, had a product return rate of 6%, Abercrombie and Fitch 10%, American Apparel 14% , Tory Burch 20%, and DSW 22%.These numbers reflect selected Fashion E-Retailers. So what do we learn here? We learn that return rates vary. My research also allowed me to draw the conclusion that the main two reasons customers return apparel merchandise is because of fit and quality.
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Your take away from these findings should be the most important things you can do are to make sure you are designing, manufacturing and shipping quality merchandise. You can’t control whether something fits someone like they wanted it to but you can control quality. Producing High Quality Apparel has to be your number goal! Next you want to make sure your fit is in line with your market sizes. If you have a special formula that appeals to a certain niche group then make sure you marketing conveys that and that you have photos of models wearing the clothing to show how it will fit.
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Fashion E-Tailers - Tips to maintaining profitability
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Here are 25 Free Tips and suggestions for minimizing your returns, minimizing the financial blow of returns and minimizing fraudulent transactions along with pros and cons of each. However, I will forewarn you that you can’t do them all and some you may not like and rightfully so. However I have to list them all.
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Make sure your clothing is as described (1)
Pros:
All Pros if you garments or merchandise is to the letter T to your description.
Cons:
If your items don’t live up to the written text then expect to go out of business eventually if you continue down this road.

Make sure your pricing reflects the level of quality of the fabrics, craftsmanship and design (2)
Pros:
This is a winning recipe. Poor Quality is the #2 Reason Why Customers Return Apparel Merchandise! Pay attention to quality!
Cons:
None.  Keep in mind that even customers ordering low priced clothing expect for the clothing to be constructed well.

Make sure you inspect clothing before shipping it out – checking for defects (3)
Pros:
This is obvious. Take those items out of the original polybag they came in from the manufacturer and check them out before shipping. The good part is you know that when your customer receives it – that is free from defects.
Cons:
None, unless you aren’t checking or you are spot checking. In that event, if something gets passed you and out to your customer, the experience will not only lead to them returning the merchandise but they may never buy from you again.

Make sure your product sizing is spot on per size (4)
Pros:
Strive for this as it is the one of the most crucial indicators of whether you will be keeping most of the profits made on the style or returning them to your customer. You could post in the description various measurements of each size and then ask the customer to measure themselves. Then provide recommendations either initially or if they give you their measurements you could give them a custom recommendation. Poor fit is the #1 Reason Why Customers Return Apparel Merchandise!
Cons:
None except a little more costly, more work and more time consuming. However – it still worth it!

Make sure your care instructions are accurate (5)
Pros:
If your garments care instructions truly represent the garment then you are in good shape.
Cons:
No Cons. However if your label is misleading and it says you can machine wash the article and then it tears up when the customer tries to wash it – REFUND.

Use High Quality Photos of show all angles and up-close view (6)
Pros:
Good thing to do. Customer can see the details.
Cons:
None.

Product Photos of different models wearing different sizes (7)
Pros:
Customers will find this very valuable in determining whether or not the style is likely to fit them.  It there assumption is accurate then they are less likely to return the merchandise.
Cons:
No cons.

Make sure it is easy for customer to order the right items, size and color (8)
Pros:
All pros. This a great practice so make sure you website design is on point and from the time they added the merchandise to the cart all the way to pressing checkout – that they can see the item they ordered, size and color.
Cons:
None.

Make Sure You Ship The Correct Item the First Time Around (9)
Pros:
All Pros!
Cons:
None.

Make sure you ship your orders on time (10)
Pros:
Customers want their orders in the time-frame in which you stated you would get it to them. Be sure to get it to them without delay.
Cons:
No Cons.

Make sure you provide customers with a tracking number (11)
Pros:
Do this 100% of the time. It is for your own good as well as that of the customer. This way they aren’t impatient with wondering where their order is. The benefit to you is if any discrepancies arise, you have proof you shipped.
Cons:
If you do not ship with tracking numbers a customer can say they never received their order and that equals a loss of merchandise and a giant chargeback.
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Make sure customers are clear on your return policy (12)
Pros:
This could be one of the factors that influences them want to order from you in the first place.
Cons:
In some cases, this may lead people to want to return merchandise for the smallest thing because they know you make it really easy for them to return the items. However the bright side of this is customers may order from you again because they trust that if they aren’t satisfied they will have a no hassle return.
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Do you want to give a full return, partial, restocking fee? (13)
Pros:
If you give a partial refund / charge a restocking fee – It covers you in the event that you can’t resell the merchandise.
Cons:
Customer may not be happy with it. If you do go this route you may want to consider turning their restocking fee into a store credit so they don’t feel royally upset with your policy.
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Policy on Partial Returns / Deduct Discounts (13.5)
An example of this is when you give a customer a deal on buying say 3 items from you but now they want to return one of them. Do you deduct the extra discount they received because of the partial refund?
Pros:
It is an incentive for them to keep all of the items they ordered because they do not want to lose the discount they received. You keep some of the profits you made off the sale.
Cons:
Customer won’t like it but if they knew that was the case up front then they are less likely to be furious with you.
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Exchange Only / Store Credit (14)
Pros:
Helps you keep your profits.
Cons:
Customers hate exchange only for store credit. Especially if they feel you do not have anything else they want. They may decide not to order from you again.
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Free Returns (15)
Pros:
Customers like free returns so they are more likely to order. That is the only pro side to this.
Cons:
You could possibly lose money all the way around. If you can’t resell the merchandise you take a hit on profits. You lose profits paying for the return shipping cost. Also as Sophie Glover, head of technical services at ASOS stated that, “…some customers treat our free shipping service as part of their changing room experience, except it’s at home in their bedroom.”

Store Credit Boost (16)
This is a new idea that came to mind as I was writing this post. An example would be: A Customer returns a $100 item. Instead of giving them store credit for $100. You can maybe add on $15 or $15 in Reward Points for them to use on their next order. But it only can be done once per customer etc. You can make it a global store policy or use it on the case by case basis. You can come up with the right incentives.
Pros:
Customer will feel a little better. You will feel a little better because you aren’t just telling them you have store credit and I am not concerned if you buy from me again.
Cons:
Customer may still not be happy they can’t have a full refund but at least you showed you care about them and want to continue to earn their business. You lose a little bit off of the next item you sell them but at least you live to fight another day. Will some customers abuse it? Of course but again it is still better to keep them around for the next sale.

Specify in what condition you will accept returns and time-frame (17)
Pros:
Give customers a certain amount of days to notify you of a return. While having 90 days to 6 months policy like some of the larger department stores may work for them – this type of policy will kill your small business. Give the customers enough time to get the item and a few days after which. An good example would be that they have to notify you and have it back within in the mail to you within 15 days in its original condition.
Cons:
If your return window is too long you increase the chances that a customer may decide they only wore the item once or they no longer need it so they can easily just return it. This is unfair to you because you lived up to your end of the bargain and gave them a great product and now you are be punished for having a more than accommodating return window. Note: In case you haven’t noticed, I am writing this post as a clothing line owner / business owner and not as a consumer. Of course, if consumers had it their way they would want to be able to return merchandise 1 year later for a full refund. Imagine getting back a clothing item a year later that you couldn’t sell and you are giving your hard earned profits away. That is not a pretty picture. In close on this, just make sure your return window is fair and justified for the merchandise you are selling and you should be fine.

Require customer uses on billing address and require to ship only to the billing address (18)
Pros:
It decreases the chance that you will get a chargeback from a fraudulent transaction. Some less than stellar people will try to get over on you by ordering a product that they want you to ship to an address other than the billing address. If you have been in business then you know when that happens and a customer tells their credit card company that they did not receive the merchandise you will lose the case hands down. The first thing your credit card processor will ask you is did you ship it to the billing address. If your answer is, “No the customer requested that we send it to his granddaughters house because it was a present for her”, then realize your profit on that item is gone bye bye. Plus hand over $30 for this chargeback. However in all fairness to the credit card processors (sarcasm) – most are going to charge you a chargeback fee once the claim is initiated whether you end up winning or losing the dispute. Again, shipping to addresses other than the billing is the most common way retail fraud is committed via online purchases.
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However, I can recall two instances where I have seen people steal someone else’s credit card and then have it ship to the correct billing address hoping to intercept it before the cardholder noticed they had a package. True story: We shipped this one order out and the person next door to the cardholder had actually stolen their credit card that came in the mail. The neighbor ordered the item and when it showed up to the cardholder’s house, the neighbor walked over and told the post person that he was authorized to sign for the package. Nerves right! I have also seen returns come back because people tried this but they weren’t able to intercept it in time and the cardholder stated they didn’t order it so it came back to us. Even with all of this – it is still far more less problematic and safer to ship to the billing address only. If a customer tells you that no one else is doing that and that they have items shipped to different addresses or their job all the time then you will have to decide how you want to handle that. If your sales volume is high and you don’t mind losing money here or there then by all means – accommodate your customer. You could also look to validate the address that the customer wants it to ship to behind the scenes to see if the address is connected to them. If you find that it is, you may want to consider shipping to their different address. However, even in the event, it still opens you up to a greater risk of operation fraudulent purchase / chargeback city. Instead of buyer beware, it is shipper beware! Do what is right for you and your business.
Cons:
That customer really did want it to go to their sweet granddaughter as a gift and you are ruining their plans with your stupid only ship to the billing address policy. They may decide they no longer want to order from you and want to go with someone who is willing to take a chance that they have the right intentions. But again be warned! For example, PayPal has what they call “Confirmed Address.” Whenever you ship to that address you are protected from fraud. When you do not ship to that address, a customer can say they either never received the item or they never placed the order to begin with. Either scenario equals to you losing money. If you are an Amazon.com then maybe losing a few dollars here or there is nothing to you. But as a small business, every single dollar made or loss can have a substantial impact on your bottom line. You decide which policy is right for your business.

Require Signature on Receipt (19)
Pros:
This is great for you as an online fashion e-retailer. It gives you added proof that a customer received your item. After the credit card processor ask you as they did in my #18 tip did you ship to the billing / confirmed address? They will next ask did anyone at that location sign for the package. If your answer is no – guess what? CHARGEBACK.
Cons:
Customer may get agitated that someone has to be home to sign for the package and they work all day. Get around this by letting them know they can schedule to have it re-delivered when they will be home or that they can pick it up from the carrier’s local office or local post office depending on which carrier you used. Some people are happy with this because they don’t want their merchandise left on their front porch anyway. Either way, regarding a signature is extra protection for you against fraudulent transactions. In fact, doing #18 and this one is the most important ways you can guard against fraud.

Use New Simulated Fit Technology (20)
Pros:
Yes, yes, yes, we are back to fit again. As I mentioned earlier in this post – Fit is one of the principle reason why people return apparel merchandise. So how can you help curve this? Embrace new technology such as Virtual Fitting Rooms and 3D Body Scanning.
Cons:
Although this technology is a few years old and still being developed, I personally do not know if it is proven yet. I do not know if the cost justifies the return or that it really curves any potential returns due to fit issues. I could be wrong. I will look to get more research done in this area in upcoming post. If anyone has data on any of these new technologies – reach out to me. I would love to hear from you.
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Focus on Customer Service When Making the Initial Sale (21)
Pros:
This is a win win! You always want to provide friendly, excellent and knowledgeable customer service and sales. You can help a customer order the right thing which could lead to them keeping their order.
Cons:
None.

Charge the Manufacturer For What Doesn’t Sell or What You Can No Longer Sale (22)
Pros:
This is a practice that larger department stores engage in. They will chargeback merchandise to the fashion brand that they are unable to sell or that they have to mark down. For the big brands, they may be able to afford these chargebacks. For the little guy, this practice could kill your clothing business. This is one of the reasons why we advise our StartingAClothingLine.com clients to start small before trying to rush to get their label carried by a major retailer in terms of having actual floor space. If you sale other brands on your site – this practice will not work for you if you are small retailer. The fashion label you are ordering from will not allow you to just decide you aren’t paying them. They will want their money regardless to whether or not you sell it. If you sell your line wholesale, I am sure you feel the same way.
Cons:
This doesn’t apply if you are the clothing line and retailer.
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Resale Merchandise / Sell Merchandise to Liquidators (23)
Pros:
One way to lessen the impact of returns if you find you can no longer sell them is to sell them to liquidators.
Cons:
You will get pennies on the dollar.
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Let Customers Know Your Company Stands For Something / Your Philanthropy Efforts (24)
Pros:
This is a great thing to do in general without worrying how your customer will perceive it. Helping a cause you believe in is a wonderful and personally fulfilling. Your customer may appreciate your efforts as well as your personal or business narrative and it may influence them to keep an order they may have normally returned because they believe in what you are doing.
Cons:
None, unless you are doing this as a gimmick. If so, shame on you.
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Benchmark Other Companies (25)
Pros:
Look and see what others are doing such as Karmaloop who is doing very well with their merchandise return rate. Look at DSW and find out why you think their rate is so high. Try to come up with the perfect return policy that works for your company.
Cons:
None. You should always aspire to learn from those doing well but also from those that are not to come up with the perfect plan. Something I always love to say is that you should always look for continuous improvement. As they say, we are all works in progress and so are our businesses.
If you have any additional tips or comments or experience on any of these issues or dealing with returns – I would love to hear from you. Until next time – good luck!
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– Article by Michael Harper, Co-Founder of StartingAClothingLine.com
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Sources:
https://econsultancy.com/blog/65026-how-fashion-ecommerce-retailers-can-reduce-online-returns/
http://www.theretailequation.com/retailers/IndustryReports https://www.internetretailer.com/2013/05/29/reducing-rate-returns
http://www.statista.com/statistics/455633/us-fashion-e-retailers-lowest-return-rate/
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how to start your own clothing line

Design Advice For New Clothing Lines

I tried to figure out how to jump into this article without coming in splashing but for some reason I could not find the angle to soften my position. This is a message geared toward new clothing lines. In today’s marketplace, it is more important that you take design chances that go beyond slapping the name of your clothing line across a generic T-shirt or Sweatshirt. Often new designers who may be low on funds, but at the same time, they want to get their feet wet in the fashion industry, will just buy blanks and write their clothing line name across the front. While you may think your name sounds so good that it alone will sell your shirt; you may just want to think again. Most of these type of styles will only appeal to people you know. The chances of your line being picked up by clothing stores is pretty slim to none. The hottest stores will more than likely decide to pass on carrying your t-shirt if you just have “Blah Blah Apparel” across the front.
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I would really urge you to do some real designing that goes beyond just typing your name across the front of a blank. Actually design the hoodie itself by adding your own special seams, cuts, stitching, colors, fabrics etc. If you are going to work with blanks then make sure your artwork is fantastic! Make sure consumers can see your design aesthetic. Prospective buyers want to know that you are a serious designer and you take the art of fashion serious. Even having one spectacular piece will take you miles ahead of the person with the white T-shirt with “Blah Blah Apparel” across the front in black. I have bought t-shirts from plenty of unknown companies just because I like the artwork or maybe the shirt itself had a special design detail.
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Be creative when you design. Have fun with it! Study how to do specs and choose fabrics. Order a small production run of the style and have it made from scratch. The key to fashion is to stand out. This process makes you a genuine clothing line. It is a rite of passage. People always you say how they loved our tees. We had a special formula for our fabric that was delightfully plush and felt so good against the skin. Then we added creative artwork on top of that. It was and is still a beautiful combination.
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If you want to go beyond just a cult following of friends, family, neighbors or an organization you belong to, then you need to really dive off into your creativity. I remember when we started our first clothing line many years ago. We came out of the gate swinging by designing our own contemporary athletic wear line from scratch. We put much emphasis on the actual garment design which led to our line getting the immediate attention of magazines and retailers around the country. The garment design came first and our name came second. That is the order of importance that every new designer should seek. Putting your name on a blank just doesn’t cut it and it will not get you noticed. Even coming out with a slogan driven shirt is better than just only putting your clothing line name on a shirt. You could even do a sublimation design that has a full coverage print on the shirt.
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How to design your own clothing
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There are millions of prospective buyers that want to be on the cutting edge of fashion. They don’t mind investing in pieces from unknown designers as long as the designs are unique and cool. That uniqueness has to go beyond just your brand name. You are virtually unknown at this point. Your brand name carries no equity. They can buy a hundred unknown t-shirts with a random brand name across the front of it. There is nothing in this type of design to make your line stand out. Give them a reason to say, “I really like this design, I want to rock this.” That is how you get trendsetters on board to reach for their credit cards and buy your new style.
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Don’t try to tie in a cause or charity into your plain t-shirt company with your brand name across it to get people interested in your line. That my friends is not building a clothing company. That simply is working to support a cause. I can’t tell you how many times I come across a company trying to do this because they think giving people added motivation will help people pull out their wallets to support a weak design. If you are a fashion company – then fashion comes first!
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Create a beautifully designed piece from top to bottom and then it is okay to add that you support a cause etc. When you design, ask yourself – “Would a fashion magazine editor or fashion blog feature this piece in their hot new style feature based solely on my design?” This statement just means that if you have a shirt with your name plainly wrote across the chest, it is not very fashion forward. We had a few magazines feature 2 of our very first 4 styles we released. The reason was because we did a very fresh take on a current fashion trend which made our pieces garner attention. All in all, this is not to say that your brand name should not appear anywhere on your design. It is just stating that your brand name should not be the star of the show.
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Ideas For Making Your T-shirts Stand Out
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1. Have it manufactured from scratch fully designed by you
2. If you have it manufactured you can have different cuts, multi-color body, stitching etc.
3. If you have it made from scratch you can really add your own touch
4. If you have it made from scratch you can then add your graphics for greater impact
5. If you have it made from scratch you can pick some great fabrics
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Ideas to Make Your T-shirt s Stand Out If You Are Just Adding Your Designs to Blanks
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1. Do something very creative with the artwork design on the chest and the back
2. Use Sublimation Printing on Full Front, Full Back or Both
3. Instead of plain ink etc. – used a raised 3d print technique for your artwork
4. Add patches and actual labels
5. If you have a nice logo – focus on the logo
6. Add other artwork  elements around your name on the design
7. Come up with artwork featuring a catchy slogan
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Fashion Design Advice.
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Look at the image I put up of the Harper Apparel T-shirt. You have to ask yourself, why would people care about my t-shirt? Sure, my mom loves it. Sure my friends may love it. But why would the retailer downtown love it? Would a customer in another country love it? Would a fashion magazine editor find your piece editorial? Why would they care? If you have to begin your story talking about your personal struggles, or that you don’t have experience, that you are self-taught, or that you are just doing the t-shirts to promote a cause then you have not given your designs a life of their own. The method of just putting your plain brand name across the chest probably only works for celebrities. As an ordinary person or line, you are held to a higher standard when it comes to design.
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Often new designers think they need many pieces and a large collection to break into the fashion industry. In reality, you should focus on one style and become great at it. For instance, if you do jeans – do jeans. If you create t-shirts – stick to t-shirts. Don’t try to do too much because it will prove expensive. Narrowing your focus will help you keep cost down as well as allow you to become an expert of the style you choose. For example, say you decide to use the same dress silhouette over and over but you add beautiful prints to each rendition. People will love you for your beautiful prints and you will establish an identity for your brand. Then from there you can branch out. In close – Stand Strong In Your Design & Creativity and You Will Be One Style From Touching The World!
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how to start your own clothing line
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Article by Michael Harper of StartMyLine.com

10 Steps to Launching Your Own Fashion Label

Quick Start – The Basics of Starting a Clothing Line – From Design to Runway

Where Do I Start? 10 Steps to Launching Your Own Fashion Label

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Step 1 – Do You Have The Passion to Start A Line
 
Starting your own fashion label is serious business. So we present to you 10 steps to how to start a clothing line successfully. Before you begin journeying down this road you should be sure that you are ready to put in your heart in to it and your time. Ask yourself are you committed to your fashion dream. Realize that starting your line isn’t something that is done overnight. It is a building process where you make small steps every day to becoming the clothing brand you envision. So you sleep on it and decide that you are indeed ready to start a line and that you are ready to fully commit. Once you are ready to proceed you should think about what type of clothing line you are interested in starting. 
 
 
Do you want to start a t-shirt line, denim line, men’s line, women’s line or even a line of clothing for kids or teens? Basically think about whatever aspect of fashion is the most appealing to you that you feel you will be good at. This will serve as your preliminary goal. Your goal may change as you get deeper into getting your line going. Another thing is you want to surround yourself with positive people. When you share your vision with others there may be negative people that try to say you can’t make it because they couldn’t make it. If it is your dream to become a fashion designer and have your own line then you should give it a go. The only failure in life is not trying.
 
 
 
Step 2 – Researching How to Start A Clothing Line
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When starting any business endeavor researching that industry should be the first thing you do. This is a critical step towards making sure you have a solid foundation. Ask any business expert and you will hear the same – Research is King! With that being said, you are on the right site for researching how to start a clothing line. Since 2004, we have been helping aspiring fashion designers such as you with resources to help start a line, design your line, get it made and in stores. The best resource that you can get today is the one and only – Official Step by Step Guide to Starting a Clothing Line Course. This book will walk you inch by inch through starting your own line. We highly recommend it! You can also check out our How To Start a Clothing Line Blog Post.
 
 
 
Step 3 – Your Name, Your Domain Name, Your Trademark, Your Legal Company Status
 
The next important thing in starting your line is choosing a brand name that represents your design aesthetic and who you are as a designer. Your brand name should reflect that type of clothing you design. You want to think long and hard about your name because you don’t want to have to change it later. You remember those possible people we talked about in step 1? Let them know your brand name to hear their thoughts on it. If you have a team already – you guys should equally discuss your name and give great though to it.
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Then you will want to register your domain name – today you can get one for .99 cent with Godaddy. Your domain name being available is a nice indication that your name will be available for trademarking. Doesn’t mean that it is but it is a step in the right direction. If you want you could also do a trademark search first to make sure the name you want is available in your category. Once you have locked down the name you want and it is available – you should begin formally registering your business with your local government. You will want to set up your clothing line as an LLC in most cases. For information on trademarking your clothing line, setting it up as a L.L.C. etc. please get the Official Step by Step Guide to Starting a Clothing Line. The website to check to see if your name is available in the USA would be US Trademark Office.
 
 
 
Step 4 – Set Up Your Fashion Team As You Start A Line
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Starting a clothing line will keep you busy. It is extra challenging when you are doing everything on your own. Find some others that are as passionate and committed to creating a fashion line. Getting friends or family to help you officially or unofficially can also be a source for filling your team positions. However, you want to make sure your team members are committed to your vision. If you have business partner(s) they are also a part of your team. Delegate the day to day duties among your team utilizing the strengths of each member. A true team working together on a common goal can render beautiful results. It also can help you out in areas where you may be weak.
 
 
 
Step 5 – Start A Line: Designing Your Clothing Line 
Designing your clothing line is the most exciting part of the process as you start a line. This is where you let your style shine through the garments you create. So how do you go about designing your line? You will want to have a computer program for designing clothing. Digital sketches are essential in the fashion design process. Manufacturers prefer clean digital sketches over hand sketches. If you can’t draw that is okay because you need to be able to produce professional digital sketches anyway. Now you could hire a fashion designer who can take your ideas and turn them into sketches.
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This would mean you would need them to be available to any changes you want made to your designs. It also means you have to work around their schedule if they aren’t directly on your team. There is nothing wrong with hiring a designer. However, you could choose to learn how to design yourself. Although is learning how to design clothing yourself hard? Yes and no. It depends on how you go about it. You could purchase a fashion design program like Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Design Software System. Digital Fashion Pro comes with training and allows you the ability to create professional fashion sketches, and it is easy to learn and use.
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FCS, CTE, Fashion Design Class
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You could also enroll in a fashion design or illustration class. In reality, there is not a right or wrong way. You could choose to do all of these things. After creating your fashion sketches and designing your collection you are ready to move to the next point in step 5. You should decide which designs you want to focus on. After you get a consensus of what your best designs are you will need to create technical sketches for them. You can do that with Digital Fashion Pro as well. Then you create spec sheets for each of your designs. Specification sheets contain your measurements for the style, regular sketch, technical sketch and other relevant information for your design.
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This document makes up your tech pack – it is needed to get your clothing made by a manufacturer. Spec sheet templates are available on the Fashion Business Center we offer on our site. By now, you are probably realizing how many of the important things you need to get your line started are on hand right here at StartMyLine.com. You can also begin visiting the fabric store to pick out potential fabrics. You could also get the Fabric Swatch Kit we have on our site as well. 
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Step 6 – Find a Clothing Manufacturer to Make Your Clothing Line
Finding a clothing manufacturer(s) for your line is the next phase in creating your clothing line. You want to evaluate your manufacturers based on price, product quantity requirements, garment quality, lead time and location. You want to make sure you, and your manufacturers are a good fit for each other. One thing that is important for new clothing lines is finding a manufacturer that can make small quantities. They are out there. However, you need to know how to approach them to get to make small quantities.
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This is a technique that is taught in The Official Step by Step Guide to Starting a Clothing Line Course. Once you find manufacturers that you are interested in – you want them to sign a confidentially agreement before you begin transmitting your designs to them. In order for them to make your clothing samples and even your clothing line, they will need your tech pack as discussed in Step 5. Overall understanding how to work with manufacturers is one of the most important elements of getting your design going. Refer to the Official Course for the reality of how to work with clothing manufacturers to make sure your line excel.
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So how do you locate apparel manufacturers? One easy way is to get the Ultimate Fashion Contact List E-book featured here at StartMyLine.com. This list features over 400 clothing manufacturers from around the world that you can contact in order to get your line made. It is an excellent resource to have. Learn more about Apparel Manufacturers and how to work with them here.
 
 
 
Step 7 – Financing Your Line – How Much Does It Cost to Start a Clothing Line
Financing your line is probably the most critical issue you will face when starting your company. Banks typically do not loan money to businesses that aren’t buying physical assets such as machinery and buildings. If they do, they will want some form of collateral. However, there are other ways to finance your clothing line such as investors, home equity, friends, manufacturer financing, etc… Nevertheless the one thing you need to be able to convince any investor to fund your clothing line, is they have to believe in your vision. How do you get them to believe you may ask? The answer is to present your line to them in a manner that shows you are ready to succeed. How do you do that?
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You have to have all of your ducks in a row. Such as a website, a business plan and clothing samples to show them. In addition, present them with artwork and sketches that display your fashion vision. You must also be able to talk about your manufacturer(s) in detail (location, prices, quantities and lead-time). Inform them that you have retailers who have agreed to carry your line in their stores, and that you have signed purchase orders on hand. Tell them about your social media presence and the number of follower you have on the various social-networking sites. Show them your advertising and marketing plan, sample ads or photo shoots you have done. In addition, give them the background on your team and all of your accomplishments thus far, etc. Basically you want to present them with overwhelming details as to why they should invest in your vision. The Official Step by Step Guide can help you in those areas. Also check out the Secret to Finding Investors for Your Clothing Line Here.
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The cost of starting a fashion line will vary per clothing company. There is not a one size fit all answer. The cost depends upon many variables such as where your line is being manufactured, minimums, piece-price, how large your collection is and your marketing cost, etc.; use our resources to help you come up with a valid estimate of how much it will cost to launch your clothing line. If you are a new company, sometimes it’s best to start small by only doing one or two styles; for example, if you started out with T-shirts first you could introduce two different designs to the market. The nice thing about T-shirts is they serve a dual purpose one in the area finances and two in the promotion area. From a financial standpoint, your company can start selling to customers immediately and in turn those paying customers will eventually become walking billboards that promote your brand. Additionally, you should also be prepared to order and pay for a small production run to test things out.
 
 
 
Step 8 – Selling Your Line / Tradeshows
 
Before you begin putting your line into production, you need to determine which styles will work the best for you. You don’t want to order lots of different styles only to find out that stores aren’t interested in them. You want to shop your designs to local retailers to start off with. Get their feedback and tweak your designs to match the consensus. Yes, you may end up changing something you really love about your design to please the buying public, but that may be a compromise you have to make. You can also attend apparel trade shows to market your designs and get pre-orders. You can use The Official Step by Step Guide as a resource to guide you through that process. Additionally, set up e-commerce website so that you can sell your clothing from there. You also want to be active on social media like with utilizing Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.
 
 
 
Step 9 – Order Production Run / Shipping It to Customers and Retailers / Direct Customers
 
You have done steps 1 through 8, and now you are ready to place an order for your first sample production run. You first have to have your clothing manufacturer send you your production samples then once you approve them go ahead with the full production. There are many important detailed steps in this undertaking. Please see The Official Guide Course for this comprehensive information that will walk you through the entire process. Prepare for your order that is coming in by deciding where you will warehouse the clothing. Determine what shipping company you are going to use to ship your orders out. Begin shipping your orders to retailers, direct customers and family and friends who are going to support you by buying your apparel offerings.
 
 
 
Step 10 – Marketing, Marketing, Marketing!
 
While we have saved marketing as Step 10, in reality, it should be started the moment you think about starting a line. You want to decide how you will go about marketing your line to each channel of end customers. These customers include the general public plus retailers. Utilize social media, paid advertising, publicity campaigns, etc. to reach your customers. Formulating a solid marketing plan is essential to making your line a success. Be sure to include a marketing budget in your business plan. Now there are companies that have become successful without spending huge amounts on marketing and have relied on social media and word of mouth. It is possible to do.
 
* Want a total solution with all of the steps – a complete detailed walk thru of starting your line, tools to design it, manufacturers to make it and more – Check out our Fashion Mogul Package.
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4 Must Have Items For How to Start A Clothing Line, Fashion Designing & Becoming a Fashion Designer

4 Empowering Resources To Help Aspiring Fashion Designers & Beginners Start, Design, Manufacture a Professional Clothing Line Like a Pro!

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Fashion designing & starting your own clothing line is super exciting! Whether you have one great fashion idea or many – execution is everything! Beginning the process as a aspiring fashion designer to launch your fashion label brings questions such as how to start a clothing line the smart way, where to start, how to find clothing manufacturing, how much will it cost, finding investors, how do you design your clothing, the software to use for fashion designing & creating your clothing designs, how many pieces should be in your collection and how to ultimately get your line sold in stores. We are here to help! Let StartMyLine.com be one of your main resources to help you start & design your own clothing line like a pro / become a fashion designer. 

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Here Are The 4 Amazing Items That Can Help You Launch Your Own Clothing Line Successfully + Info On Each One:

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  1. Designing Your Clothing Line / Creating the Design Sketches: Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Design Software 
  2. The Business of Starting Your Own Clothing Line: Official Step by Step Guide to Starting A Clothing Line Book
  3. Finding Manufacturers To Make Your Line: HA Ultimate Fashion Contact List eBook
  4. Creating Measurements For Your Styles: Spec Book For Garment Measurements

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 Design: Designing Your Own Clothing Line 

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1. Don’t hire a fashion designer to design your line because you can do it yourself and save time and money. You may be wondering how can you do that if you can’t Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Design Software For Designing Your Own Clothingdraw, can’t sew and never went to fashion school. Great news – you can still have a successful fashion career or clothing line without them. There are few key points you should consider. The first is you must be able to have professional digital fashion sketches to represent your designs. You don’t want to send amateur hand drawn sketches to a manufacturer or seamstress. Remember you want to be professional! Clothing manufacturers, sample makers and seamstresses can spot an amateur right away by their sketches. Make sure you are sending manufacturer-ready digital sketches that are clean and accurately convey your design idea.

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A highly recommended tool to create your fashion designs with is Digital Fashion Pro Fashion Design Software (DigitalFashionPro.com). It is affordable and very easy to use even for first time users. Plus you do not need to know how to draw at all to use it – which means that anyone can crank out industry standard digital fashion designs. It is widely used in the fashion industry by beginners, professional fashion designers, clothing lines and schools in over 50 countries. You can design Men’s and Women’s T-shirts, Jeans, Dresses, Jackets, Shoes, Handbags and more. Being able to use in-system digital fabrics + the ability to add your own prints, artwork, logos & fabrics are huge pluses! Digital Fashion Pro Discount Code: linestart. Learn more about Digital Fashion Pro

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must have items for fashion designers - fashion designing - start up a clothing line

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 Start: Professional Help With Starting Your Clothing Line 

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2. Don’t just start your line without knowing how everything works. Read articles online but a true recommendation is the Official Step by Step Guide to Starting a Clothing Line Course Book. You will definitely find this item highly valuable. This course will give real world advice and tips related to starting your clothing line, designing it, working with manufacturers & quality issues. You also get very valuable insight on marketing your line and how to get retailers to carry your collection. Learn about working with sales reps, pricing, wholesaling, collections, protecting your designs and creating a budget for your line. If you want to know the ins and outs of getting your label up and running effectively then this guide is a must have!

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 Make: Finding Clothing Manufacturers 

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3. Next you want to be able to contact a few different manufacturers to make your line. You want to judge them based on quality, price, quantity, turnaround time and proximity to your headquarters. A terrific resource for finding manufacturers in your country and outside of your country is the HA Ultimate Fashion Contact List of  Over 500 Clothing Manufacturers eBook.

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 Creating Measurements For Your Designs 

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4. Next you need to be able to create spec sheets and measurements for your designs in order to present them to manufacturers. This is another key indicator to the companies that you are going to work with that you are indeed worthy of their time. The best manufacturers want to work with the best lines to whom they potential growth, profit opportunity and long term cooperation. They will not waste their time, offer their best pricing or devote significant resources to your line if you appear inexperienced and unprofessional. See #2 resource above as well.

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Presenting professional digital fashion sketches and a sound business appearance are critical when trying to get the best manufacturers to work with you. It is also highly recommended that you submit your digital sketches, garment measurements in an industry standard way. Here are two resources that can help you with spec sheets and garment measurements / grading: The Fashion Business Center and the Spec Book with Standard Garment & Body Measurements.

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See The Fashion Mogul Clothing Line Start-Up Kit – Complete Package of Tools to Launch Your Fashion Label – Learn More Here > 

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Good luck on getting your line started. Drop of a line once you get up and going 🙂 If you need specific advice – ask us.

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Register Your Clothing Line Name – AD: Be sure to Lock down your domain name for your clothing line with Godaddy – .99 Cent Domain Name right now if you haven’t already. Getting the domain name you want for your line is important and will inspire you as you get things going. For our full article on 10 steps to starting a clothing line – see it here.

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Article by the StartMyLine.com Team which has over 15 years of experience with helping beginners go pro all over the world..

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how to start a clothing line - fashion design software - fashion designing

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how to start your own clothing line

The Secret to Raising Money to Start a Clothing Line

The Secret to Raising Money to Start a Clothing Line

The Secret to Raising Money to Start a Clothing Line & Getting Investors

 
 
This article will cover the follow points on financing a clothing line start-up:
 
  • My Fashion Industry Background 
  • How to Raise Money to Start Your Own Clothing Line 
  • How to Find Investors 
  • Where Should You Start First to Start a Clothing Line 
  • Overcoming the Challenges such as lacking experience or drawing ability etc.
 
 
First let me say that I know this is a long article on the secret to raising money to start a clothing line. I apologize for the length. But I will say that if you read it all, my hope is that you will feel empowered and share it with others. You will know where you should start in terms of creating your own clothing line. I wish I could have made it shorter but I wanted to make sure I touched on all of the key points. I want to make sure you guys know that you have options. You no longer have to continue to let the things that have been holding you back or perceived personal shortcomings continue to hold you back. This article will go over how you can overcome all of your obstacles and go from aspiring fashion designer / beginner to creating and running your very own professional fashion brand.
 
 
 
My Fashion Industry Background
 
 
I have been working in the fashion industry for over 15 years now. It has been a truly wonderful experience overall from starting a clothing and now working at StartMyLine.com / StartingAClothingLine.com. Once upon a time, I had created a website and I wanted to make T-shirts for it. I used a graphics program I had purchased to create the artwork for the T-shirts. I contacted a local embroidery shop to make the T-shirts. I was probably ordering about 20 at a time or so. Realizing I needed a little help, I asked some friends and family to join in to help. Together we sold the T-shirts all over town. By that time, I had forgot about the website I had created. I became more focused on the Tees and starting a clothing line.
 
 
Then one summer we decided we wanted to get a booth at a music festival that was coming to the city. We all took money out of our paychecks at our regular jobs to buy 750 T-shirts. We sold $15,000 worth of T-shirts during the 3 day festival at $25 a shirt. It was amazing and it felt really good. At that point, I started thinking that I wanted to do jeans as well. I didn’t think the name we were had at the time represented where I envisioned the line going. We all agreed and we changed the name and trademarked it. Our clothing line was born. But how would we get the ultimate funds / loan / investor to really start a full-fledged clothing line?
 
 
I couldn’t really draw either but I was full of ideas. I was hand sketching my ideas out and manufacturers did not want to work with my hand sketches. They wanted computerized fashion sketches where they could see the detail etc. I developed a method of designing using the computer to create our clothing sketches. This fashion designing method would later become the foundation of Digital Fashion Pro. I realized why keep drawing the same silhouettes over and over just to add different designs to them.  
 
 
Back then, there was not a website like ours that had a detailed plan of action on how to start a clothing line, design it and work with manufacturers. Everything we were doing was by trial and error and believe me – we paid dearly for that. The cool thing is now our clients don’t have to start a clothing line by trial and error. You have our Official Step by Step Guide to Starting A Clothing Line Course. It will guide you through the path successfully as you get to take advantage of our direct fashion industry experience. 
 
 
“The Secret to Getting Investors is to Invest In Yourself First” – M. Harper
 
 
“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” 
– Mark Twain
 
 
 
The truth of the matter is I was just an aspiring fashion designer with an idea when we started our clothing line. I was not born rich nor did I have a wealthy family. I was just an ordinary guy with an ordinary job. The same can be said for our whole team at the time. So how did we get the financing to do our clothing line? There is a secret to it! The secret is you have to be willing to invest in yourself first. If you aren’t willing to invest in yourself then who will. My business partner Jay’s favorite saying is, “Don’t say you can’t afford something, you should ask yourself how can I afford it?” This means you have to be resourceful. 
 
 
 
Before I get into the specifics of funding a clothing line venture I will ask you to consider these statements. A few people have written us over time and asked how they can start their clothing line for free? Is anything in life really free? Well talk is. But besides that, there are few businesses that you can start without spending any money at all whether it is on start-up cost, inventory, business licenses, etc. If you have ever had this mindset, please look at starting a business differently. 
 
 
Again, if you aren’t willing to invest in you then who will. Another statement we have heard is what company will just make my clothing for me for free and I’ll just be responsible for bringing my grand design idea to them. I will not spend any of my money. I’ll let you take all the risk and I want the most proceeds because after all it is my idea. If you believe in this myth, please wake up immediately! No business works like that. This is the mindset of a person who is either unwilling or think they are unable to invest in themselves. No one will hold your hand for free so that you can potentially make millions of dollars all at their expense. It simply doesn’t work like that. Sorry. If it did we all would be rich because we all have ideas right?
 
 
Think about it. If you were going to start a real estate agency. You would first have to pay for real estate classes and your real estate license. If you wanted to start a lawn service, you would have to learn a few things about lawn care and buy equipment. You get the point, there will always be a need for you to invest in yourself. You should be up to the challenge and realize that is your responsibility if you deem the dream you have worthy of chasing and achieving. Too many times people do not believe in themselves enough or make excuses as to why they can’t go after their dreams. Don’t let this be you!
 
 
You can even compare getting investors for your clothing line to an artist seeking a record deal. Ultimately the record label is investing in the artist when they give them a recording contract. Who is more likely to get a record deal – the artist who walks into their office that sings really good or the artist that walks in, sings really good, has invested in their own professional demo, has invested in their own promo pictures, sold some CD’s / downloads, has their own website and has been out touring. You get the point. People love people who invest in themselves. We are all obsessed with stories of how entrepreneurs took matters into their own hands first and found success. You will be the next one with a success story!
 
 How to design your own clothing
 

Why Would an Investor Want to Invest In Your Clothing Line?

 
 
There are people everyday saying I want to start a clothing line or I have a clothing line. Let’s face it, we all know that talk is cheap. Investors want to see proof of concept. They want to know that you know what you are doing and what you are talking about. They want to see a business plan. They want to see your fashion design sketches, your website and clothing samples. If you can sew great! If you can not sew don’t let that stop you. Just hire someone that can sew your designs like a seamstress, sampling service or get a clothing factory to make your samples. Now back to investors. They want to know how and when they will get their money back. They want to know your yearly projections. And more than anything they want to believe in you and your vision. The way to get them to believe and get excited is by doing everything I just mentioned above. You have to show them that you are ready and willing to make your clothing line happen.
 
 
In reality, your clothing line start-up cost, has to come from you. The start-up cost I am referring to is you obtaining the fashion business tools and information that will give you the educational background to start a clothing line, design it, work with clothing manufacturers and ultimately get your line in stores. An investor wants to know that they will get their money back. They need to be able to trust that you know what you are doing. With that being said, trial and error would not be the best practice especially if there is help available. That is where the signature tools we offer can help you with creating your fashion label. 
 
 
Once you have say our Fashion Mogul Package + Spec Book for creating garment measurements you will be equipped to do all of the necessary background work to get your line going. You will be able to plan out your clothing line, get trademarks, create logos, create fashion sketches, find manufacturers, know how to work with manufacturers, know fashion jargon, learn how to design clothing, know how to create spec sheets, how much money you will need to start the clothing line, know how to effectively sell your clothing line to retailers, best practices for shipping your clothes to retailers, how to handle accounts payable, credit terms and much more. This package is deemed our Go From Aspiring Fashion Designer to Professional Clothing Line kit.
 
 
 
You ever heard the old saying that banks only loan money to people who don’t need it? Why is this? Well for one because the people who don’t need a loan have the appearance / collateral / bank account that makes the banks feel like they will get their money back. The same is true of an investor to a certain extent. They want to feel like you are on your way and you just need a little help. They want to know that you know what direction you are going in. They want to know what your goals are and how you plan to get there. Therefore, trying to raise money without knowing about the fashion business and actually creating your own designs is a mistake. It is possible to get investors, we did, but you have to appear / actually be ready. So don’t say I want to start a clothing line but I can’t afford to start one. You can! You just can’t put the cart before the horse. 
 
 
Also when you talk to potential investors you want to be able to talk about what apparel factory will be making your clothing and a little about them. You want to be able to talk about how much you will be paying for certain styles and how much you will sell them for etc. To have this detailed information means you need to be operating like you have an actual clothing line even though you may not have ordered any inventory yet. All of this may sound like a lot, but once you know exactly what to do by following our proven plan it will become more simple. That is not to say there won’t be speed bumps but overall you will be able to execute starting your own clothing line with confidence. Remember you have to become a salesman to sell investors on your clothing line. Any great salesman knows that to sell effectively you have to know the ins and outs of whatever it is you are selling.
  

How Do I Find The Actual Investors For My Clothing Line?

 
 
When we were first starting our clothing line we funded the start-up cost out of our own paychecks from our regular jobs. We recommend you do the same. Collaborate with a few friends or family members to help you with the start-up cost if you can’t do it all on your own. Start-up cost again are the business tools you will need to adequately move from being an aspiring fashion design beginner to knowing about how the fashion industry really works and being able to create your own designs that are manufacturer ready. 
 
 
People / investors around us were so impressed with our designs, our samples, our name and what we had accomplished that they wanted to invest. People had been seeing our clothing on TV, in magazines and people wearing our clothing line around the city. We would get what we called “short term small investors.” These people would invest small amounts, say for us to pay for a small production run and would get their money back with a little interest plus free merchandise. These people were family, friends, friends of friends and co-workers. Now people want their hard earned money back so you better make sure again you know what you are doing.
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By starting out our clothing line small but having our business in order – a few pivotal events transpired. Prior to becoming an investor, a guy had purchased one of our offerings from a local store. When he wore the piece, he received a lot of compliments on it. Things happened and when we met, he told us the story of him buying one of our pieces and that he was a fan of what we were doing. Another time, we were at the Saddle Ranch Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA and a guy liked what we were wearing (our own clothing line) so much he offered to put us in contact with a few industry contacts. Again, none of these wonderful things would have came about if all we did was sit on our clothing line ideas. Instead, we chose to fight for our dream.
 
 
You also have to make sure you have customers waiting for what you are making. We often had people even pre-ordering our clothing before we even made it because they had seen the design or actual clothing sample. All these are ways that you can finance your clothing line. Most investors are people with some type of ties to you. When you begin approaching larger investors is when you really have to know what you are taking about and have your business in order. These investors will be extra critical of your plan and they will want to see proof of concept. They will not ever be sold on just your idea alone. They won’t care that you have a hot idea for a clothing line. 
 
 
You can also use crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo to try to raise funds for your clothing line. Your clothing line start-up cost should not be a part of the money you are seeking. No one should pay you to learn what they already expect you to know. Not to mention, you have a moral responsibility to be as educated as you can be concerning starting a fashion brand prior to seeking investment. Plus only real research will tell you how much money to even seek. You want to be spot on in every aspect. Crowdfunding can work as long as you demonstrate a solid plan and have professional fashion design sketches, samples and prototypes to show. 
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Successful Fashion Designers Who Did Not Go To Fashion School

Successful fashion designers who didnt go to fashion school and cant draw

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Successful Fashion Designers Who Did Not Go To Fashion School

Often aspiring designers let things hold them back from going after their fashion dreams. After all, it is only human nature for many of us to go down the path of least resistance. We often talk ourselves out of doing things and can give a million reasons why we believe we are correct. Why is that? The main reason is we like comfort.

 

Anything that takes us out of our comfort zone we see as dangerous or that the mountain to get there is too high to climb. We see too many obstacles standing in our way. But in this piece I want to look at a few fashion designers who didn’t let their lack of fashion training, drawing skills, ability to sew or the fact they didn’t go to fashion school deter them.

 

The list of successful fashion designers that did not go to school includes some of the following names: Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Kimora Lee, Nicky Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Mark Ecko, Jay Z, Justine Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Russell Simmons, Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Colin Heaney and we can’t forget Damon John of Shark Tank. Some of the people listed above may have already had money or been famous when they started. That is true but for some like Damon John he started from the bottom and worked his way up. He only went to fashion school for a year before launching his hat and t-shirt business that eventually turned into a multi-million dollar fashion empire.

 

Then there is Charlotte Beecham of Charlotte Simone. She is a 27 year old fashion designer from the UK who never went to fashion school, could not sew or draw when she started out. Her story is fantastic because it breeds what we advise our StartMyLine.com Clients which is to start small with a couple of styles and grow from there. For one it is cheaper to do it this way and for two you can specialize in something and become great at it. Damon John did this with hats and Charlotte did it with her line of gorgeous statement piece scarfs. Charlotte has managed to grow her brand into a multi-million dollar a year business with her line being sold in many high-end retail outlets according to an article posted on Bloomberg.com.

 

Next take Donna Ida Thornton, Britain’s jeans queen, who took her love for designer denim and turned it into a global fashion powerhouse. According to an article on DailyMail, she arrived in London at the age of 25 (now 43) with no fashion experience at all. We also can’t forget fashion designer Leah McSweeney of Married to the MOB. She also didn’t go to fashion school or have a fashion background but turned her love for t-shirts into a multi-million clothing company.

 

There are many other success stories of ordinary people that decided to pursue their fashion ambitions such as one of our StartMyLine.com Alumni Misha Mendicino of Mendicino Designs. With fashion business tools like Digital Fashion Pro and The Fashion Mogul Edition, aspiring fashion designers can get a head start by being able to create their own fashion sketches even if they can’t draw and get detailed advice on launching a fashion label.

 

At the end of the day, what all of these designers have in common is that they didn’t listen to the voice in their head telling them what they couldn’t do. They fought through their fears and let their persistence and passion be their guiding force as they decided to not try is to fail.

 

Article by M. Harper – Co-Founder of StartMyLine.com 

 

References:

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-10/how-to-build-a-multi-million-dollar-fashion-empire-with-a-scarf

 

http://www.Startingaclothingline.com/html/famous_fashion_designer_that_d.html

 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3818871/My-light-bulb-moment-Denim-designer-Donna-Ida-women-discover-joy-great-pair-jeans.html

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leah_McSweeney