design team, fabrics, fashion, fashion brands, Fashion Business, fashion illustrations, fashion labels, fashion sketches, freelance fashion designer, mood board, pre-production samples, Product design, product development, proto, selling price, Size sets, Supriya Ghurye, technical designer
Today, several professionals from domains other than fashion choose to set up an apparel or accessories business when they look for a switch in careers.
However, starting and running a fashion label is no child’s play. For one, consistency is important as a certain form of apparel attracts and retains customers with specific preferences. Then, there is the actual design process itself. Moreover, you need to make careful choices about every aspect of business such as operations, production and sales.
Given all these elements, is there a way to streamline the process of creating and running a fashion label? We say yes! This article helps you understand some of the basics.
- What Is Your Plan?
All those adages about failing to plan stand true in the context of fashion design. Plan out every single aspect of your label, including the ‘known unknowns’, or risks. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What is the niche I will be operating in?
- Who is my ideal target consumer?
- How can I stay consistent with design even as trends change?
- Will I launch the entire collection at one go?
- How do I reach my ideal consumer? Which platforms (online/ offline) are they currently present on?
- How is my production team and process going to work?
- How can I gauge interest for my product?
- What is my distribution plan? Which sales channels will I be selling through?
Asking questions and answering them in granular detail helps you plan your business’s finances, your own commitment and exit strategy if any, your pitch to future investors, and most importantly, your parameters for when your creative business is succeeding or failing.
- Who Is Your Team?
No one can live as an island, and it holds true for creative services too. The business idea may be your vision, but you still need an execution team. Specifically, in the fashion domain, you have several steps to think of- design, production, marketing, sales and analytics.
This is where a team of experienced professionals can come in handy.
Today, it is more a norm than the exception to outsource design to a skilled team that understands your business considerations and your target audience very well. Such a team can help you plug gaps in your own creative process, work with you to design a saleable product and help you understand the nuances of what makes a readymade garment viable.
- How Are You Making It Happen?
Now that you have a sound plan and an excellent team, you can shift gears up into execution. You can either choose to create and sell in small volumes or you can go big and outsource manufacturing.
In both cases, your design team can help brief the production team about the expected output, tweak the samples and smoothen out any kinks while manufacturing the products.
Every product requires a storage facility, and this is something you need to think of very carefully. Too much inventory can eat into your working capital, while too little can cause you to lose out on sales.
- What Is Your Selling Price?
In the planning stage, you would already have considered the pricing aspect. It is always good practice to have an optimistic price point (the standard price a few days’ post launch), a moderate price point (your launch price- early bird offer) and a pessimistic price point (your product price during sales season). Ensure that all of these prices stay above your cost price.
Once the manufacturing process is complete, reconsider your price points and adjust for any incidental expenses you may have incurred.
- Where Are You Selling?
There’s no doubt that your choice of sales channels establishes your label’s position in the market. A product sold at Harrods is expected to be higher in price and better in quality than one sold at Primark.
Sales channels also determine your operational model itself. Do you have stores of your own, or do you stock products in some other store’s aisles? Perhaps, you’d like to ignore the offline channels entirely and sell exclusively through certain marketplaces.
The choices you make determine not just how your fashion label is run, but also the means you employ to reach consumers and bring them to these channels.
Once all of these steps have been completed and your fashion label is a real, quantifiable business, do remember to review and course-correct. Understanding what your consumers want and tweaking your label to suit those needs is the best thing you can do to build a sustainable business model and a fashion label that everyone is waiting to wear.
Stay tuned as we go into detail about each of these business aspects in the coming months. Subscribe to our newsletter and we promise you’ll be the first one to know when we publish. Meanwhile, here’s something to get your brain cells working on the business aspects of fashion.
Supriya Ghurye is the founder and owner of Fuel4Fashion. She is a Freelance Fashion Designer and Brand Consultant helping fashion brands to create great products from idea to launch. Fuel4Fashion social links: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram