Many people wonder how they can get their start in the fashion world. What are the steps involved in creating your own brand? And what order do they go in?
In this article, my goal is not to overwhelm you with all of the details (this article would be far too long), but rather to give some insight into the broader process of creating your own accessory/clothing line. An introduction of sorts.
At the same time, it is important to recognize that what I say is not the universal truth. I can only give advice based on my own experience. It’s up to you to figure out what specifically suits your project and your needs.
Some of the questions that I hear most frequently are:
Should I start by creating my website?
Should I start by creating my business card and logo?
Should I start by looking for supplies?
When should I start creating my own collection?
All in good time! These things all come later.
It’s normal to want to begin with these milestones -- these tend to make us feel accomplished and motivated. Nevertheless, it is best to begin by formalizing the fundamentals of your brand.
Here, in my experience, are the 6 key steps in creating your own fashion brand.
1— Brand Positioning
This is an essential step that everything else (products, website, logo, communication...) depends on. It’s crucial and cannot be rushed!
Finding the positioning of your brand will take time, research, and reflection.
It’s all about defining the tangible elements (material, design, logo...) and intangible elements (values, ethics...) that will characterize your brand and distinguish it from the rest.
The goal here is to make your products more desirable than the competition.
Consider this to be the identity card of your brand, the manner in which it is perceived. If your products are created to evolve with the times, this identity will only change a bit, if at all.
It is in this stage that you define your price range, analyze the competition, and determine the type of clientele you want to attract. In short, how you are going to market. It is not the most exciting step, but it is necessary for brand success.
2— The Design
Here, we begin to look at the concrete, the tangible. This is where you develop your concept and outline your products.
You begin by doing research on shapes, materials, and colors. You then create what is called a moodboard. Here you gather up ideas, words, images, or materials that are meant to express your concept. You can create this on paper or on your computer.
But in a world full of quality products, how do you make yours stand out? How can you make a good design? This is where that first step makes all the difference!
A classic error when creating a fashion brand is the desire to please everyone. Let me tell you right now: it’s impossible! You need to remain true to yourself, your personality, your hopes, and your dreams!
A good design is borne of desire to fulfill a need. “Darn, it’s too bad that there aren’t any bags like this.” or “I would really like a wallet like this, but I can’t find one.” The goal of a fashion designer is to always be listening and on the lookout for new fashion expectations.
Finally, start small! When beginning this process, it is normal to be bursting with ideas. But trying to create many different pieces right off the bat could be risky and expensive...
Begin by thinking about one or two flagship models. This will allow you to construct the image of your brand considering your target clientele while also minimizing your risk.
3— Finding Your Suppliers
Once your positioning is clear and you have designed your first models, you will need to find the right workshop.
If you do not have a workshop in mind, you will need to begin by doing some online research. Make a list of the workshops you find that interest you and correspond with your criteria and brand positioning (manual labor, organic materials, origin country, working conditions for the artisans...).
You can also use your gut instinct here. You can identify a town or region that is known for its artisans, its workshops, its textiles, etc.
This is where you really put in the effort to find your future collaborator, by visiting the workshops in-person and speaking with the locals. This definitely leaves more room to chance, which makes it more exciting (or more nerve-wracking, depending on how you look at it!). This is how I found the workshop I use in Andalusia...
But whatever happens, don’t rush this process! It is crucial that you have a strong relationship with your supplier. Nothing is better for cultivating this relationship than going to visit the locals in the workshop and speaking with the manager and the employees in person. Trust is important here!
If you are thinking of producing your products abroad, make sure that you can communicate in a common language, or find a translator.
This is when you make your first patterns, the first templates, the fact sheets, and then send everything to the factory.
This will get you a first draft of your product. If the prototype meets your expectations, you can begin production. If not, you need to put the modifications you want on the fact sheet and resend them to the factory.
This is a veeeeery important stage that can take a lot of time. What’s important is that when all is said and done, you have a product that meets your expectations, without any defects.
Do not get discouraged if this step feels like it is taking an eternity, especially the first time around. I know that all of this waiting can be frustrating, but you’ll just need to grin and bear it. For me, it took 7 prototypes and almost 2 years for my Noué bag to be designed exactly how I wanted it...
Since this process is not something that you can learn about in school, and because I did not have anyone to give me this advice, it took me time and mistakes to get to the right result, especially with the creation of the fact sheets (which were in Spanish, in my case).
I hope that you now realize that bringing an idea into reality with every detail exactly how you want is not as easy as it looks.
5— Sourcing Talent
In order to keep from having a nervous breakdown waiting for your prototype to be perfect, you need to remain active and continue to move forward with your project. Here is where you can create your website, order your business cards, make your logo, and organize your first photoshoot.
Whether you are a designer, photographer, graphic designer, or bartender, if fashion is truly your passion, then you will find the motivation to stick with it, even during the rough parts. This determination is certainly indispensable, but it has its limits...as well as (more often than not) your financial
With all of this motivation and a small budget, young designers are often tempted to plunge themselves into solidarity when embarking on such a huge adventure. Might as well say this right off the bat: you cannot do all of this on your own! Even if you teach yourself a heap of useful skills (preferably indispensable skills), you will realize that you just don’t have the time to do it all. You will recognize that despite all of your efforts, you simply cannot be good at everything.
It is for this reason that sourcing talent is important. Obviously, it would be ideal to have a graphic designer, a designer, a photographer, and a website developer on hand...in short, all that can be useful in the creation of your visual identity and online store.
If you don’t know anyone in these trades, don’t panic! Today, there are several freelance platforms that allow you to find the person you need for one-time jobs. If your budget is limited, seek out help from students.
6— Heading to Market
That’s it! You’ve made it! Your collection is exactly how you imagined, your website is ready, and your logo is perfect. You can be proud of yourself and savor this moment!
At this point, it can feel as though you’ve reached your goal. Considering all of the time and effort you have put into your project, you may believe that the hard part is over and that everything can calm down.
But in fact, the adventure is actually beginning!
This is where you advertise your brand, make yourself known, and especially sell your creations; if not, all that you have done already will amount to nothing.
Finally, the positioning of your brand is going to determine how you advertise and distribute your products. Knowing which social networks to use, what content to publish, your selling prices, your margins, whether to sell online or in store fronts, or a little of both, takes all of the steps of the budding creator...
Now you see that creating your own brand is easier said than done. It is a long and hard path, but that doesn’t mean that you should be discouraged!