I’m Not Going To Convince You To Make This Year The Year You Finally Launch Your Fashion Brand – Here’s Why

It’s that time of year again where people reflect on the previous year and set resolutions for the year ahead. Social media feeds are full of “ins” and “outs” for the year, fitness challenges, and motivational pep-talks about making this year your best yet. From companies in the fashion space, I see posts that encourage you to turn your dream of being a fashion designer into reality. Even though I am a business in the fashion space and work with quite a few start-up brands, I’m not going to convince you to make this year the year you finally launch your fashion brand. Like it or not, there are reasons why starting your own line may not be the right thing to do this year.

It might be a dream but not a priority

If your dream is to start a fashion brand, but for years you’ve kept telling yourself that you’ll get to it next year, why is that? What was holding you back in previous years? Sometimes it is the timing with other things in your life, sometimes it’s money, sometimes it is mental energy. Whatever it is, has that situation now changed? If previous years were not the right time to start, do you clearly know what circumstances are signaling that it is the right time now?

I find that sometimes with the New Year’s motivation to “make it happen”, nothing really has changed other than the year on the calendar. If you’ve been dreaming about something for years, but have not taken any steps to pursue it yet, it may be that your dream just isn’t actually important enough to make it a priority in your life. You like the idea of it, but not enough to do something about it. I know it might sound harsh, but I am not going to talk you into such a big step of starting a business if you’re not that committed to it.

Running a fashion brand takes hard work

The fashion industry is glamorized in everything from TV, movies, magazines, to social media – everything except reality, that is. Working in fashion is 99% hard work and less than 1% what the majority of the population thinks fashion is. If your idea of starting a fashion brand is sketching cool designs, shopping at Mood fabrics, and being a VIP at fashion shows, then you’re going to be disappointed. In reality, running a fashion business is more spreadsheets, selling, coordinating logistics with your factory, and tracking down that order that was lost in the mail. 

You don’t have to know how to do everything in your business as you can hire help in areas that aren’t your strong suit or interest. However, it is rare that you’ll be able to hire a full team right from the start. In the beginning of your business, you’ll be the one doing the not-so-fun parts as well as the fun parts. It takes dedication and hard work to make a fashion business successful. I don’t want you to waste time, energy, and resources to start a brand only to find that it wasn’t the dream life you thought it was. 

Starting a fashion brand is expensive

Launching a fashion brand also takes money. There are start-up costs to any business like legal registration, website, branding, salaries, etc. Then there is the cost of product development, sampling, and marketing. These are all things that will require significant investment far ahead of having any finished product to sell. Product businesses like fashion brands spend a lot of money before they ever make any. Even if you keep things simple, launch with a small collection or single item, and do presales to raise funds for production, you will still have to invest multiple thousands of dollars into your business to get things started. Do you have money saved or a financial plan for how you will get your business off the ground? 

Running a fashion brand is an expensive hobby if you don’t plan your finances wisely. It isn’t a get-rich-quick business. Not everyone is in a place financially to be able to spend this kind of money over a year or two without seeing any return yet. I wouldn’t want you to start the process and then run out of money halfway through – leaving you with less money and still no finished products to sell. I’m not here to put down your dream, but I want you to pursue that dream with realistic expectations and a plan.

The world doesn’t need more clothes

It is fun to design pretty clothes, but the world doesn’t need more pretty clothes – it needs fewer, better clothes that solve a problem. Do you know what challenges your customer is facing? Creating clothing that solves a problem requires an understanding of your customer, her lifestyle, her body, and her values so you can fit each aspect into your design.

There are enough brands out there already who are making cheap, throw-away clothing that leaves us all wondering “who is this even supposed to fit?”. We don’t need more brands who make and sell stuff just to make and sell stuff. If you do start your own fashion brand, do so purposefully. Be clear about who you are making clothing for and why. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and understand her wardrobe challenges. Design and make clothes that solve problems instead of compounding them. If you don’t know who you are making clothes for and what problem your products solve for them, then I don’t think you should start a fashion brand. Maybe just design and make a few outfits to enjoy yourself instead.

The drive to start new things is strong this time of year. Perhaps it is that the possibilities seem as numerous as the blank calendar squares ahead. There are many people who will tell you to finally follow those dreams this year. When it comes to launching a fashion brand, though, I’m not going to tell you that. Starting a fashion brand needs to be more than just a dream or a new year’s resolution. It needs to be a commitment, a long-game plan, and a problem-solving creative mindset.

Leave a Reply