How To Start A Clothing Business

How To Start A Clothing Business

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The South African clothing industry is a talented one.
clothing-store

Content in this guide

  1. Create a blueprint for your business
  2. Name your clothing line and company
  3. Register the business
  4. Basic design skills
  5. Production Plan
  6. Manufacturing
  7. Get the pricing right
  8. How to find a clothing manufacturer
  9. Networking is a valuable tool
  10. Market your line
  11. Online marketing
  12. Workshops and training

 

The South African fashion industry has the talent to develop original products with inspirational style and creative detail to compete very well with popular international brands. However, designers too often fail to deliver through lack of basic planning and business acumen,” says Amanda du Plessis.

Du Plessis launched the retail consultancy Evolution 4 years ago to help top South African brands to realise their potential. A doyenne in the industry, she started her career as a buyer at Truworths, developing in-house ladies wear and accessories ranges.

She joined Stuttafords as a brand manager where she developed three private label ranges – Define, Excursion and Oaktree – and managed six local and international brands. She left Stuttafords to head up retail development at Polo before starting her own consultancy.


 

1. Create a blueprint for your business

There are a number of business matters that must be in place before you can start a clothing line.

  • No matter what kind of business you start, you must have a business plan.
  • In the plan, you must consider all the costs and include your goals. Once you have done this, everything else will fall into place.
  • Start small. Many business ventures begin small; then grow with time, lots of hard work and patience.

 

2. Name your clothing line and company

Think of a creative and catchy name that represents you and the product. Once you have worked out a name, you must protect your label by registering the name. Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) in Pretoria is responsible for the registration of companies, trademarks and patents. Contact them to register your brand name and logo. Protect the brand name under trademark law as well, but don’t forget to do a trademark search before you register it.


 

3. Register the business

Set up a business entity by registering the business as a Close Corporation or a Private Company and get all of the necessary licenses and tax registrations that are required by the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

Related: Steps for Registering Your Clothing Business


 

4. Basic design skills

clothing-design

If you want to start a clothing line, you should have some design skills such as sketching, sewing, pattern making and textile knowledge.

The Design Process

Before you start a clothing line, you need to understand the design process as a whole. Research current trends to predict what styles, colours, and fabrics will be popular

  • Conceptualise an idea
  • Sketch preliminary designs
  • Select fabrics

“To have a successful business, you need to have items that are more accessible to a greater audience both price and style-wise. This does not mean that you need to create pieces for the mass market. Instead you need to consider a range of pieces and prices within your collections,” explains du Plessis.


 

5. Production Plan

Formulate your production plan — that’s going to do what, how much it is going to cost, what needs to be produced. You’ll need to create a sample, or have a sample created for you. You can then use this sample to get orders. Take the sample to fashion shows, trade shows, retailers, craft shows, etc.

Related: Free Operational Plan Template


6. Manufacturing

hanging-suits

Providing that you have your designs and range set out on paper, that patterns have been cut and fabrics sourced, the next step is to manufacture a range of professional samples.

“In South Africa it is difficult to find a reliable CTM (Clothing and Textile Manufacturer) willing to make a small range. You could employ seamstresses to make the clothing on your premises until you can no longer cope with demand, or better still create a group of seamstresses that work for a few designers and pay them for finished product instead of paying a daily rate.”

“This way you will know your actual cost and your labour component will be more productive. Once your units gets closer to 100/200 units you could approach a CTM to manufacture the line,” advises du Plessis. When dealing with a clothing manufacturer, prepare a list to find one that is the right fit. Find out the following:

  • How much will it cost to get what I need?
  • What are the turnaround times?
  • Do you provide samples before finalising production?
  • How soon will I receive the sample?

The textiles, clothing and footwear industry in South Africa is well established, but has been under siege for some years due to the negative impact of cheap imports. The effect of cheap exports is exacerbated by the reduction of import protection; this stems the flow of illegal imports and the effect of the discontinuation of export incentives.

“There are very few mills left in South Africa that produce apparel fabrics, and most of the fabrics are imported thru wholesalers therefore designers will not always have  exclusivity on designs, this however creates an opportunity for designers to create their own look by adding value to basic cloths by printing, embroidery or draping” says du Plessis.


 

7. Get the pricing right

Consider everything that goes into making your clothes when deciding on pricing.

  • Fashion material costs (material, cotton, buttons, zips, etc).
  • Salaries for you and any employees.
  • Advertising and marketing costs.
  • Manufacturing costs.
  • Other expenses, like utilities, supplies and equipment.

Make sure that your target market can afford your clothing range.

Related: Smart Marketing Ideas for Your New Business


 

8. How to find a clothing manufacturer

Sewing-machine

This requires lots of legwork. Start by browsing through the internet. There is a global clothing manufacturer register on clothingregister.com that lists manufactures in South African and around the world.

“Word of mouth is a good way to find a good small manufacturer,” recommends du Plessis. Talk to other designers at fashion shows and industry events and find out who they recommend. It is a good idea when your units become bigger to include a “penalty clause” so that you are protected in the event of a late delivery by the manufacturer. , says du Plessis.

Now you are ready to launch the range

Once the samples are made, you need to contact buyers at stores where you believe your target market would shop. Not only do you show them samples, but you should also show them the different styles, colours and fabric swatches. If they decide to buy, request a written order including the delivery date and payment terms.


 

9. Networking is a valuable tool

Never hesitate to network. You never know who you could be discussing your business venture with. It could be a prospective client or even a possible partner.


 

10. Market your line

clothing-store-layout

Spread the word by wearing your own designs and telling anyone who asks you that you made it.

  • Make use of free social networks such as YouTube, MySpace, Facebook and Twitter to raise your clothing line’s visibility.
  • Write press releases and distribute them to newspapers and fashion magazines.
  • You could open your own boutique, but you would have to prove through your business plan that the shop will be profitable. It’s a risky route
  • Sell your line to a retailer; try to set up a plan whereby you sell your clothes through other clothing retailers.
  • You can also take your samples to craft fairs, flea markets, fashion shows and trade shows.

 

11. Online marketing

Online sales can be a great addition to your sales plan. Either you can use your own professional website, or you can use online marketplaces such as FashionCircus.net, or LA Showroom on http://www.lashowroom.com/ and for news, events and forums dealing with the South African fashion industry go to ifashion.


 

12. Workshops and training

“One of the opportunities for the South African design schools is to address the business side of design and to equip the designers with the correct tools.” says du Plessis. Many academic intuitions offer Fashion Design courses including Lisof (London International School of Fashion), The University of Pretoria and the Design School of South Africa. Evolution runs regular workshops to help and guide the industry in South Africa. Watch evolution projects for workshop announcements.

May 19, 2016
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  • Ash

    Fashion industry is growing at a faster rate than any other industry. and new clothing businesses are emerging every year. From all clothing businesses, Custom clothing is tops the list. As people have become more style conscious and they prefer wearing perfect fit clothes. Ecommerce platforms like Stitch has made it easier for people trying to launch startups based on online clothing business.

  • http://www.fatbit.com/ Veenu Sharma

    Custom clothing is a very profitable and most popular business idea among startups these days. Starting a custom clothing business has become very easy and quick because of the emergence of new e-commerce platforms like Stitch. Stitch is a ready made website script that has been adopted by many startups to launch their own custom tailoring business at an economical price.