How to build your own successful fashion brand
If you are determined to build your own fashion brand, you will need stamina, conviction and self-confidence, as well as heaps of creative talent and vision. Whether you have just left fashion college or you’ve been working in the industry for a while and want to break out on your own, how you set up and start will define the way forward for your brand.
Reconnaissance and research
Let’s assume you are a fashion addict – you know your Marc Jacobs from your Proenza Schouler and you have a good handle on current fashion and design trends. But do you know your target audience? Who is going to buy the designs you produce? Can you identify them? This type of preliminary research is key to success or failure for your venture. Experience working in the industry for other designers, brands or retailers will help inform your opinions and is invaluable. From the inside, it is easier to spot gaps in the market or niches that need filling – perfect for small startups rich in ideas but low on resources.
Nuts and bolts
How will your business be structured and funded? If you only have experience of fabrics, tailoring and all that creative clever stuff, perhaps it’s better to get an expert to advise on business contracts, paperwork and accounts. Completing tax returns and sorting out your VAT will be a distraction when your focus is on putting together a killer collection. This is where contractor accountants can be a huge help as they are used to helping out small businesses with all the basics that can sometimes get overlooked when you are busy.
Many brands start out small on a market stall and organically grow into something big. Wayne Hemingway of Red or Dead fame is a good example – his fledgling brand first appeared in Camden Market before turning into an iconic and multimillion pound enterprise years later. Today’s technology allows you to put your collection online – there’s no need for physical premises, your website is the shop window. Such arrangements shave chunks off startup costs and enable smaller players to carve out a path for their brand whilst keeping tight control on overheads.
Being your own boss means covering a lot of bases. In order to stand out, your brand must be distinctive. The flipside of that is that your designs may be copied. You will need to engage with issues such as copyrighting your brand to protect the hard work, time and money invested. Marketing and promotion of your designs plays a crucial part in whether you sink or swim. Court potential clients on social media, attend events where they might go, and develop interesting and intriguing advertising campaigns that underscore your brand’s core values. Network with other newcomers in complementary fields (advertising, marketing, photography, graphic design), and enter into reciprocal relationships for mutual benefit. Keep abreast of technological developments in the fashion and design world so that you keep your expertise and skillset optimised for success.
“Building a fashion brand takes time and commitment, but if you’ve got energy, enthusiasm and heaps of style to throw at it as well, you’re already halfway there” – Wayne Hemingway
The editorial unit