Have you ever had a dream of creating your own fashion line? I have worked in the fabric branding business for quite a while, and I have had the honor of interacting with hundreds of established and aspiring fashion designers. The delight of working with such an enthusiastic group of people is incalculable and I have learned a LOT about the business. I would like to share with you today some actionable pointers on how to succeed in the fashion design world with your first start-up accessories or clothing line.
The biggest piece of advice that I can offer is to go very hard on your efforts with low-cost digital marketing and SEO. It has been my experience that unless you have a super niche product, basic paid advertising is of limited use. This includes AdWords and Facebook ads, just to name a few. This can eat up thousands of dollars VERY quickly!
First, you want to determine if your marketing strategy includes wholesale to various retailers, or only direct to client selling, which is a whole other animal. It could include both. If you’re selling to large big-box retailers, you absolutely have to make sure that your profit margins and your production capacities when needed are enough to cover wholesaling. And understand, you will likely need to wait anywhere from 60 to 120 days or more before receiving payment for your shipment to these big outlets. Keep in mind that you will have to cover months of expenses before you get the final payoff. Can you afford this?
To move forward with this strategy, this involves doing much outreach calls to the purchasing managers, which will require a lot of patience and fortitude on your end. If you are a startup, it might be better to walk into individually owned boutiques and talk to the owners face to face. A lot of times, these retailers can pay for products straight up and the profit margins will be better.
You are going to need to put together a professional website with compelling copy. Many professional clothing websites just have photos with very little copy on the homepage. While very common, this is a huge mistake. You absolutely must put value propositions and call-to-actions in easy to see places on your landing pages that direct your client what to do.
You will need to do search engine optimization because when this is done correctly, search engines such as Google will give you valuable free or low-cost traffic. You will need to very carefully optimize avoiding “spammy” techniques, as well as do outreach and form relationships with various thought leaders and influencers in fashion design. This will eventually result in obtaining authority backlinks. This is what we’ll get you the free traffic.
Finally, be very wary of trade shows. Although there are some good opportunities out there that can get you discovered by various purchasing managers, it is very expensive to cover booth and travel costs and still break even in most cases. Trust me, I have done a number of trade shows, and I can’t tell you how many vendors lost out big time. It is much more profitable to do individual outreach to various retailers and to make your website and products visible via social media and search engine optimization.
It is a tough business being in fashion design because it taxes both your creative and analytical resources to the max. Usually, designers and creatives, in general, aren’t always savvy with business and marketing acumen, and business folks aren’t always creative. So it is a combination of these two skill sets that will spell success for your fashion line. Good luck!
Mary Wingo has been in the fashion fabric labeling and supply business since 2008 and has worked with many hundreds of clients on their labels, websites, and digital marketing. For more information, please contact her at https://roxwellwaterhouse.com/