So, you want to start a clothing company?


Each day, we process around 300 quotations for customers who are looking to buy clothing for a number of reasons.

We have workwear customers, we have marketing or advertising agencies, we have clubs or societies, sports teams, event organisers, we have schools, emerging brands, established brands, corporate behemoths………………………………………………..and plucky entrepreneurs.

These visionaries come in all shapes and sizes but the one thing that unites them is that their emails always start with the same six words…

“I am starting a clothing company”

These simple words carry so much promise. An acorn that properly nurtured, could be the next global brand, revered by celebrities and the coooool yoof .All registered in a tax haven.

Before you get to spend your millions however, you need to confront a truth. It is not really a ‘clothing company’ that you are starting; it is a ‘brand’.

So what does that mean?

A ‘brand’ is the major enduring asset of a company. If managed correctly it will exist in the mind of consumers long after the bricks and mortar have been sold off for bigger premises.

A ‘brand’ is an idea. It has values that go beyond the name and the symbol you decided to go with. It represents and reflects the aspirations and beliefs of your consumer and it has ‘equity’ that can rise and fall, be positive or negative, be the ‘thing’ that engenders loyalty or disdain.

The bad news is that developing a brand costs money or takes a long time. You need to be backed by a truckload of cash or be prepared to endure the marathon that lies in front of you.

Just so you get the head-start you deserve, here is some info from the boffins who have intellectualised marketing…..

Your brand needs to be ‘positioned’ in the market place by carefully considering the following.

  • 1.Attributes. The product under the umbrella of your brand should communicate some quality or feature regarded as inherent. An example of this would be the Mercedes brand which most would agree suggests ‘well engineered’ , ‘well built’ , ‘durable’ , ‘high prestige’ , ‘fast’ , ‘durable’ , ‘expensive’. The company regularly uses one or more of these attributes in its advertising. If we consider clothing, what attributes do you want that align with your brand values? If you are a surf brand, maybe you need to have some environmental attributes such as ‘organic’, ‘made from sustainable sources’, ‘made from hemp’, ‘carbon neutral’. If your brand is sports focused, you could incorporate some of the previous attributes but you need to be also thinking ‘technical’. Your garments need to ‘perform’ and that usually means ‘tough’, ‘wicking’, ‘lightweight’.
  • 2.Benefits.Your customers are not buying the attributes, they are buying the benefits. Therefore, attributes must be translated into functional and emotional benefits. For example, the attribute ‘organic’ or ‘carbon neutral’ will translate into the emotional benefit that the consumer is being considerate to the environment and acquires a positive feeling from your product. The attribute ‘tough’ might translate into the functional benefit that means the consumer will not have to replace the garment with an extra purchase in the short term.
  • 3.Values. A brand is a mirror or an amplifier that says something about the buyers’ values. Your job is to find the specific groups of consumers whose values coincide with the delivered benefit package.
  • 4.Culture. It is possible for a brand to represent a certain culture. Mercedes represent German culture, which has successfully communicated its own brand attributes of high quality, precision and efficiency.
  • 5.Personality. It is common for brand managers to ask themselves ‘if our brand was a person, who would they be?’ Consumers might visualise that Mercedes is a wealthy, middle- aged business executive. The brand will attract people whose actual or aspirational self- image matches the brands image.

All of this super intellectual malarkey suggests that a brand is a complex symbol.

In most cases, starting a ‘clothing company’ does not start with these considerations.

It usually starts with the idea of printing up a few t-shirts to sell to your mates. The ‘feel good’ and ‘street cred’ might have been a strong enough motivator to do it again, and again, and again.

Next comes the website, next comes a little bit of digital marketing on facebook, next comes a lucky/cheeky little endorsement by an opinion leader (someone cool who your demographic connects with), next comes a retailer picking up your summer collection, next comes the investor and next comes your full spectrum integrated marketing campaign which will catapult you to that tax haven.

This trajectory is not guaranteed. You need some mystical luck, a massive amount of hard work and a decent name to start with.

The textbooks will tell you that selecting the right name is a crucial part of the marketing process. A good name can add greatly to a brands success but finding that name can be a difficult task.

We say b****cks.

We say that a ‘brand’ can be called almost anything. We say that a ‘product’ is where you have to be careful.

If you are selling a refreshing cold drink, then Oasis is perfect. If you are selling a cholesterol lowering margarine then Pro-active is excellent, Time-out is a great name for a chocolate snack positioned as a coffee break pick-me-up.

These names have been created to be co-synchronous with attributes and benefits of the product.

If you consider ‘Virgin’ as a brand name, what on earth have those connotations that are part of that words genetic code got to do with anything that Richard Branson is involved in?

Volcom means nothing.

RVCA means nothing.

Hollister means nothing.

Perhaps being vague, having no actual definition is clever. It means that you can project anything onto the name.

If you called yourself Billabong, you are always going to be a dusty watering hole in the subconscious of many.

So…..once you have your name, registered it with the appropriate Trade Marks Register so no one can nick your intellectual property, you are ready to start your R&D (research and development) phase.

This is where we come in.

There are over two thousand products on our website.

Unless you have been kicking about in this game for a while, you may not know where to start.

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  • 1Am I premium, middle or low end? There is nothing wrong with occupying the lower, cheaper end. There are hundreds of products, which have a ‘value’ proposition and are well made.
  • 2Are environmental accreditations important to my types of customers? Not everyone cares to be honest and if they do not care, it is irrelevant to unnecessary load costs into your product.
  • 3How old are my customers? This will affect your product choice enormously. We have slim fits for your z generation, comfortable fits for your sofa surfers and tailored chic for your cash rich baby-boomers.
  • 4What is the actual function of these clothes, are they required to perform in a particular environment?
  • 5Is embroidery my thing or is screen-printing my thing. This can often channel your selection, as not all garments are suitable for all processes.
  • 6How much peripheral branding, tagging, relabelling do I need?
  • 7What is my selling price, what is my cost price?
  • 8Where am I going to store the stuff and handle shipping?

Luckily, we have all the answers and your life is going to be soooo much easier once we assign you your account manager.

Even with our expertise, this is not going to be easy.

Put your best foot forward and click here to begin your journey.

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