How to Startup a Fashion Line

  • Fashion design is a hot area for entrepreneurs. With the benefits of globalization, one can start a fashion business using skills and resources worldwide. Entrepreneurs bring creativity and niche focus to fashion design, two keys to success. While these facets are a major part of apparel design, technical skills and value chain knowledge of the fashion business are cornerstones to translating creativity into a profitable fashion collection.

    Usually a fashion business fails in the phases of Design and Development. These occur before the fashion designer even starts production. Like many complex problems, fashion design is best solved by focusing attention, resources, and analysis to the initial step. If you correctly perform Design and Development, then you avoid costly problems and repeats in the Production and Marketing phases.

    Here are ten steps to apparel design to guide the entrepreneur starting up a fashion business.

    1. Look around! Study inspirational samples of the style you plan to produce. Touch and feel it, and research its fabrics, trim, and hardware.
    2. Create a merchandising strategy. The merchandising strategy looks at fashion design from the perspective of the fashion buyer. A fashion buyer concerns herself with whether a collection will sell in their store.
    3. Create technical sketches of your apparel designs. You need one sketch for each piece in your collection. Technical design sketches are more complicated than drawings. These sketches specify angles, stitch patterns, fit, trim placement, trim sizes, and pattern dimensions.
    4. Study fabrics for creativity, durability, and cost. Inexperienced designers prioritize the fabric’s look and appearance. An apparel designer must consider fabric’s impact on production costs and response to repeated laundering and wear.
    5. Design prints that make your apparel unique. Ensure the fabrics can hold the print effectively.
    6. Choose buttons, zippers, and metallic strips (trim) that give your line an edge. Ensure that fabrics, prints, and trim complement each other. E.g., a piece remains firm with a metallic button sewn on.
    7. Create the detailed technical packet. The technical packet is the “order” that a sample maker understands. A professional technical packet can have 5-8 pages per piece of the collection.
    8. Interview and qualify sample makers. Sample makers specialize in different apparel designs. Do not expect a sample maker to have expertise in widely different categories. E.g., men’s blazers versus women’s lingerie.
    9. Use a fit session to determine the fit of the produced samples on models. The designer must check for correct stitching, fit to body, and patterns. Note problems on the technical packet and return to the sample maker for the final, perfect sample production.
    10. Design Look Books that portray the uniqueness of your samples to fashion buyers. The Look Book is 10-20 pages of collaged images that convey to the fashion buyer the type of consumers and situations perfect for this line.