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The Ultimate Guide On How To Start An Apparel Business

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If you’ve been thinking of starting an apparel business model, now is the ideal time. According to Statista, the retail eCommerce revenues from apparel and accessories sales in the US reached $180.5 billion in 2021 and are expected to increase to $295.7 billion by 2025.

And while launching your own apparel business is challenging, following the basic digital marketing and eCommerce practices and applying some leadership lessons can make it possible to create a successful brand. 

In this post, we will go over a few helpful tips on how to start an apparel business and set it up for success. 

How To Start An Apparel Business 

Define Your Niche

Whether you have identified a gap in the market or have unique designs in mind for a specific target audience, it is important to decide on your niche in the fashion industry from the very beginning. Will you be focusing on business apparel that can also be worn on casual occasions? Or maybe sell cruelty-free clothing?

To this end, you’ll need to conduct market research. You can rely on Facebook Analytics to find out about the interests, likes, and behavior of your target audience. You can also search for specific clothing items on Google Trends to see what is popular or conduct competitor research to see what people buy from other clothing brands. 

Create a Business Plan

A business plan is a document that explains the company’s business idea, purpose and goals while also serving as a guide to keeping you on track once you’ve opened your doors. If you want to raise money, provide your business plan to potential investors so they know exactly what they’re getting into.

A good business plan should contain certain elements like an executive summary, business description and mission statement, description of your products, competitor and market analysis, business structure, marketing strategies, funding, and growth forecast. 

​​Your business plan can be as long or as short as you’d like but keep in mind that other people might read it in order to decide whether to invest in your clothing company, so make sure that each part is understandable.

Find a Good Location

The next thing to consider is how you are going to sell your pieces. Will you start with just a stall or open a brick-and-mortar store? Maybe you are working from your home but plan to move into a small studio? Or is your plan to sell exclusively online? 

Whatever option you decide to choose, keep in mind that most businesses must file and pay federal taxes on any income earned during the year. In addition, be sure to get all the required permits and licenses before the big launch.  

Another thing to take into account is the cost. The cost of opening a clothing business is determined by the store’s size and location. In some areas, leasing a retail space is more expensive than in others. The average cost of operating a business is around $48,000, which does not include an upfront payment of the first month’s rent or utilities.

Find/Design the Products You’re Going to Sell

Will you be designing your own clothes or sourcing them from vendors and suppliers? If your plan is to design, you’ll need to think of ways to find a clothing manufacturer that will produce your clothing items in a cost-effective manner. This can mean working with other designers who can help you make clothing in your studio or looking for a factory that can manufacture your clothing line.

If you decide to choose the latter option, consider visiting the local garment district in your area. You can also search for local wholesale companies, designers, and manufacturers on Google. 

Choose the Right Tools

With the right tools and technologies, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, your apparel business can improve its performance significantly. Clothing design, demand planning, manufacturing process, finished product delivery, and revenue recognition, are some of the essential business processes that can be managed with ERP software. By automating operations, ERP software will streamline business management, reduce manual errors, and shorten the delivery time to market. 

Build Your Clothing Brand

Once you’ve set up your clothing business, it’s time to start working on your clothing company’s image and branding. You will need to come up with a suitable brand name, tagline, and company logo. In addition, you will need to think about your color scheme, illustrations and graphics, and product photography.

If you have the required skills, you can do all the branding and design work on your own. If not, you can always hire a professional. To keep things affordable, consider finding the perfect person on freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr. 

Start Marketing

Learning how to run a successful apparel business requires knowledge and a proper marketing strategy. After all, if no one knows your store exists, how can they buy from it? Ideally, you should start working on your marketing plan before your store even opens. That way, you’ll be ready to get started right away. 

Social media marketing is the logical first step. Promoting your brand on social media organically is a low-investment strategy that focuses on creating quality content that engages people to follow and entices them to buy from you. Offering free products in exchange for social media influencer shoutouts is another great concept for a low-budget campaign. If your marketing budget allows it, you can also set up Facebook Ads. The largest social media platform offers amazing targeting capabilities that will help you reach the right people and build your customer base.

how to promote brand on social media
Image source: Pixabay

How to Start an Apparel Business Online 

The online clothing sale market is massive, and it’s only getting bigger and better. Fashion eCommerce has grown steadily for the past decades and currently accounts for about 23% of the total online retail sales in the US. This year, the retail eCommerce revenue from the sale of clothes, accessories, and footwear is anticipated to reach $205 billion!

The most significant advantage of bringing your apparel store online are, of course, the decreased entry barriers. Setting up an internet store can take a few days or weeks, whereas opening a physical shop can take considerably longer and require a much higher initial expenditure.

Some of the steps required to start an online apparel store, such as choosing a clothing niche and creating a business plan, remain the same as for brick-and-mortar stores. However, there are also other major elements you’ll need to consider:

Choose an eCommerce Platform

If you wish to sell your clothes online, you’ll need an eCommerce platform. A solid eCommerce platform allows you to list products quickly and easily, upload photographs, provide product descriptions, and establish a quick and simple checkout procedure.

Choose a Domain Name

Your domain should match your company name but also your products and long-term business objectives. Make sure to choose one that is logical, easy to access, and easy to memorize. Short domains are always preferable to long ones, and names with multiple repeated letters or special characters might result in a significant loss of customers. 

Customize Your Online Store

A good eCommerce website is simple to navigate, easy to use, and adheres to your branding vision. Most eCommerce platforms provide templates that make setting up a store simple, with options to tweak everything from product pages to navigation for a website that performs well and reflects your brand.

List Your Products

Posting your products for sale might sound easy but actually entails multiple elements that you need to take into consideration, such as the quality of your product images and descriptions and the navigation of your eCommerce pages.

How much does it cost to start an online apparel business 

The cost of launching an online business will depend on several factors, including whether you plan to dropship or manufacture products, the number of products you plan to offer, and the marketing strategies you plan to employ. Most businesses, though, can be started for $2,000 to $5,000.

On the other hand, the typical startup costs of opening a physical clothes store are between $50,000 and $150,000. Running a physical retail store also requires paying personnel to maintain the store open on a set schedule, whereas an eCommerce business can be run as a one-person operation that is open to anybody at any time. 

How Profitable Is the Apparel Business 

A clothing store can be quite profitable, provided you know how to operate it strategically. According to research, an average US eCommerce website makes about $150,000 in three months and nearly $330,000 in one year. Another survey from April 2022 showed that the average revenue per customer for fashion stores was $111. These are average numbers, but the income can be upwards of $130,000! This shows that there are great opportunities for merchants to sell apparel online. 

It should be mentioned, however, that in this day and age, when there’s a huge diversity of businesses and the competition is very fierce, establishing a strong and successful online clothing brand will take lots of time and effort. Make informed decisions that are tailored to your company’s needs, with an emphasis on long-term growth.

The Bottom Line 

Now that we’ve broken down all of the essentials for owning a successful clothing business, it’s safe to say that starting and running an apparel business requires dedication, hard work, and patience. However, if you’re persistent in your endeavor and eager to learn, you’ll get to be an active part of the very dynamic and creative fashion industry and perhaps even mentor other people starting this journey. More importantly, you’ll have the freedom to run your own business on your own terms while earning accordingly!