How To Have Your Own Fashion Line
Many people dream of having their own fashion line and seeing people wear their creations and being a part of this glamourous industry. You can make a lucrative career in fashion. The fashion industry is a giant. $250 billion is spent on fashion annually worldwide and over $20 billion in revenue is generated in the United States. There are over 4 million people employed in this lucrative field.
The next big question is How? How to have your own fashion line. For starters many people go to fashion design school to learn mainly about design, fashion sketching, merchandising etc. To have your own fashion line you do not need a formal education or certificate if you plan on having your own business but many companies require some sort of degree, certificate or experience. There are many fashion schools even online that you can research. The big respected schools that attract students internationally are FIDM in Los Angeles and New York , and Parsons school of design in New York.
Starting A Fashion Line
First, decide what type of fashion line you want to start. There are apparel and accessories, then you’ll have to decide for women, men or children. Many designers or entreprenuers start off in one category then expand their products. A few designers have started off with a full line of products and were successful, but the initial investment and risk is much higher.
Starting a fashion line is similar to starting any other business but you are making the product, Simply put; Make, sell, produce, ship. You will need a sewing manufacturer and sample maker. Then, you sell your product and ship it to the buyers. Of course, there are many details to each stage. Below is a brief outline of the initial steps of starting a fashion line.
Here are some of the categories of the different fashion lines. You can specialize in one or more or your line can grow and expand into several lines.
- Sport wear
- Ready to Wear
- Belts, scarves
Once you decide what market and category you want to specialize in, you should have sketches or computer drawings of your line or product. You do not want to start a fashion line not knowing what type of styles you will offer. Your style or signature is what will sell and stand you apart from competitors. Ideally, you should have plenty of sketches, computer drawings, a portfolio or a look book. All of this will show an image that you are creating.
Once you have edited your collection or line and know what you want to make, the next step is finding a sample maker. For people just starting out and on a budget, I suggest you find a independent sample maker or a company that does small quantity samples and production. There are many independent contractors that offer sample sewing at good prices. You can look in the online classifieds or google “clothing sample makers” or “clothing sample contractors”. This is an important step, so spend time finding a good sample maker that you can keep using for the future. Ideally the sample maker will be able to make your whole line. For example if you are making a children’s line and it consists of 12 dresses, 6 tops and 6 bottoms then they will be able to provide all the samples for each style. Sometimes you run into sample makers that will specialize in one style, such as dresses. You will then need to find another sample maker for your other styles.
If you know how to sew and want to make your own samples, then all you need to do is find sewers or sewing contractors to handle your production when you receive orders.
Once you find a sample maker, you will need to send them your spec sheet or sketch and fabrics. The big sewing contractors often can find your requested fabrics and notions for you but this costs more. If you are just beginning, it is cost efficient and much easier to supply the fabric and notions that you want to use.
You will have to provide the sample maker with your company label and care instruction labels. The care instruction labels are easy and come already made and in stock. Your label represents your brand image. There are a variety of labels and designs to choose from. You can order your labels online as well. They are listed under; apparel labels, apparel woven labels, clothing labels for apparel, etc. You can usually order hang tags for your clothing from these companies as well.
Representatives or clothing reps can represent your line and sell to stores and boutiques for you. They usually charge a flat commission in the neighborhood of 15%. I personally like using representatives especially if your are just beginning. They usually have a customer base already and they will take your lines to the trade shows and show them, the do all the selling for you. You can find reps at the trade shows and at apparel marts. If you a have an apparel mart in your area, look through their directory and find reps that carry similar lines to yours and give them a call or email. Many of the big reps are harder to get because they are more “select” in the lines they want to carry. There are still many other reps that are just as good and sometimes more eager for business. Putting your line on a website is a good idea, that way the rep can view it immediately.
Finding a rep make can take some time and you may consider getting a rep in each region to cover more territory and stores in those areas. Keep in mind that reps usually cover a certain territory and not just one State. Some reps have offices in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas.
If you don’t have a rep, you can show your line at trade shows. Trade shows can be costly, especially if they are out of town because you will have traveling expenses. At trade shows you will need to rent a booth, decorate it and show your line to buyers. If you have no buyers who know about you and make appointments to see your line, then you will have to rely on the buyers at the show that walk by your booth. The good news is, these shows attract thousands of buyers who need to buy inventory. Having a booth in a trade show will give you some exposure even if you don’t get orders. Trade shows is a good place to network, find reps and see your competition and what others are doing. It’s important to walk a trade show before actually being a vendor at a trade show and even launching your line.
Trade shows are a sea of information and you will know so much more by the time you leave, you will be able to have a closer look of behind the scenes of the fashion industry. Many large companies send their staff to all the shows just to walk around and keep up to date. If you are planning to show your own line at a trade show and have a booth it is strongly advised to attend a show before becoming a vendor so you can see how the booths are displayed. This is a big mistake for many new lines. They go to the show not knowing what to expect and end up wasting a lot of money. Some of the big apparel and textile trade shows are the magic shows at magiconline.com, which has some of the biggest shows annually in Las Vegas. There are international shows and regional shows as well, such as California market center and midwest apparel trade shows. There are many more depending on what area you are in.
If you do not have a rep or you don’t do trade shows, you will have to market your line yourself to boutiques and store buyers.Which some people are perfectly fine with this.
After your samples are made and you receive orders you will need to produce the items. Many sample makers often provide production services as well. They should have your sample specs on file and they will make the requested amount of pieces that you need. If you are just starting out, try and find a production company or contractor that has low minimum quantities. It’s important to make sure your production is on time and give yourself some room for delays. If you do not honor your delivery dates the buyers can cancel their orders.