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How to Start a Successful Clothing Business


5th June 2023

Starting your own fashion business can be an exciting venture and can be highly profitable when it’s done successfully. If you are someone with an entrepreneurial mind and passion for the industry, it may well be something you’ve considered. 

Like any other business, setting up a clothing brand requires a lot of careful thought and planning, and you need to prepare yourself for the challenges that lay ahead. Although hugely rewarding, creating a fashion brand can take a lot of work. Keep reading to find out our top tips on how to start a fashion business to help you get started.

5 Steps to Successfully Start a Fashion Business

1. Research the Market

In the busy world of fashion, it’s important that you find a niche in the market, so that your products stand out from the crowd. Have a look at what’s already out there, and think about any potential gaps that you could fill. 

Knowing the market will help you create a brand strategy, and allow you to uncover what your unique selling proposition (USP) will be. When deciding on your product, it’s really important that you choose something you’re passionate about. 

Who is your Target Audience?

Who do you want your clothes to be aimed at? Do some market research into your customer base, and think about how you want to appeal to them and what they want. When determining your target audience, consider the following questions:

  • Where do they shop?
  • Do they identify with some brands and not others?
  • What is their price point?
  • What influences their purchasing decisions?

Who are your Competitors?

Before committing to anything, you’ll need to have a look at the competition. This will help you understand what works well, and which areas you could improve on. 

2. Create a Business Plan

Starting a clothing line is the same as any other business in the way that it requires a detailed plan to help guide you. Identify your goals, and what you want from your products. You also need to consider budgets and how much it would cost to start. This is where a business model comes into play.

Online Fashion Business Models

In the online clothing retail world, there are four types of business models:

  • Print-on-Demand: Print-on-demand is probably the cheapest and easiest online business model. This type of business prints or alters pre-existing clothing based on customer orders. It can include custom processes (for example, a name or company logo) or a predetermined selection of designs.
  • Custom Cut and Sew: Custom cut and sew refers to businesses that design and sell their own products. If you're someone who wants to build a complete clothing line from scratch, this boutique business model could be the way to go. Custom cut and sew allows you to sell unique and customised clothing, but the downside is that is can be a lot of work and money.
  • Private Label: Private labels fall somewhere in between cut and sew and print-on-demand. With a private label company, you can partner with established manufacturers and order unique products to market under your own brand. A selected third party will design, produce and brand products. This business model can prove cost-effective as you can negotiate good rates for bulk buying.
  • Dropshipping: The dropshipping business model allows you to sell clothing that is fulfilled from wholesalers. A customer orders an item and the dropshipper essentially acts as a middle-man and then orders from a wholesaler to deliver directly to the customer. Dropshipping can be cost-effective, however the drawback is that your products won't be unique and other stores may stock them as well.

3. Come up with a Name and Register 

Now comes the exciting part - naming your brand. Names can vary, and there aren’t too many strict rules on what you can call your brand, so use this opportunity to get creative. However, there are some things you might want to bear in mind when choosing the name:

  • Make sure it’s easy to spell and pronounce
  • Ensure it’s available as a domain name, so you can use it for your website
  • Try to choose something memorable and catchy
  • Check that it’s unique, so it won’t get confused with the competition

After selecting your brand name, you should register your business. Most businesses register as a sole trader, limited company, or partnership. 

4. Build your Brand

Building a strong brand is essential to anyone looking to start a fashion business. Your brand is a lot more than just a logo. It refers to your story, what you stand for and your mission.

Your brand guidelines will be the basis for all the decisions you make as your business grows, dictating everything from visual direction to website design. This should also influence who you choose to partner with in the future, for example, if your brand is built on sustainable clothing, you should work with ethical companies instead of fast fashion brands. 

Social media is a great way to continue to market your brand. You can use platforms such as Instagram and TikTok to share your story and inspirations, and allow some of your own personality to shine through, so your audience feels connected.

5. Create an Online Store

When thinking about how to start an online clothing line, you need to consider the following elements in order to successfully create an online store:

Selecting an E-Commerce Platform

If you are selling clothes online, an ecommerce platform is essential. This is how customers will find and purchase products. Popular platforms include WooCommerce (for WordPress), Magento and Shopify. 

When deciding this, assess your situation, and think about the features you need. Some platforms are just the bare bones, and provide a blank canvas for you to customise. Whereas others are subscription-based, and you can use the software without having to build and develop the platform.

Launching the Website

Once products are all in place and an appropriate business plan is set up, you can launch the site. You’ll need to consider the launch strategy, and make sure your social media platforms are set up and ready (it’s a good idea to have them active before, so you can grow your audience and market the launch to your followers).

User Experience

You also want your customers to have a positive journey when they use your website. Therefore, you should ensure to:

  • Write clear and concise product descriptions
  • Include quality product photos
  • Make your site SEO-friendly, to increase organic traffic
  • Set up payment processing
  • Check it works on both mobile and desktop

By following these steps, you will create a user-friendly website that’ll make your customers happy and keep them coming back for more.

Study at the Fashion Retail Academy

If you’re looking to start your own fashion business, why not take the first step and enrol onto one of our fashion business courses? You can learn all there is to know about the industry, and we’ll equip you with the tools you need to succeed. At the Fashion Retail Academy, we have a variety of courses available including Level 2, 3 and 4, as well as undergraduate and apprenticeship courses.

With our BA (Hons) Fashion Business degree, you’ll discover the different functions within the industry, and explore commercial and financial factors that impact brands. This course will enable you to grow your leadership and entrepreneurial skills in order to start your own fashion business.

If the design aspect of starting your own clothing line is something that excites you, take a look at our Level 3 Fashion Design course. You'll develop skills in research, drawing, pattern-cutting and more. 

If you want to study around your other commitments, look at our Online Fashion Business & Retail course, launching in September 2023.

If you think a role in fashion is right for you, take the first step and study with the Fashion Retail Academy. If you have any questions about the courses on offer, send us an email at

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