Starting a Clothing Line: Step-By-Step Guide

All the successful brands that are ruling over the fashion industry once started in a small room, its commitment and dedication that turns into a victorious brands that the whole nation loves. Like you, many people want to start their own clothing line or brand. These people have hundreds of questions in their minds about how to start a clothing line or how hard it is to start a clothing brand?

Author John Cary
NOVEMBER 23, 2022

Starting a Clothing Line: Step-By-Step Guide

Well, nothing is complicated, If you are provided with proper guidelines. The absolute truth behind the success of this clothing line is their passion for clothing. A clothing brand isn't just about trendy and exquisite apparel designs. Instead, your business brand also needs to be well equipped with the trappings of business to get customers.

A good clothing manufacturer needs to master several skills like marketing, manufacturing, production, development, and understanding of the market. All these powerful brands keep reminding us why it is essential to understand the business of clothing.

If you are reading this blog, you must be interested in launching your clothing line or clothing brand. We understand you might have many questions in mind to ask, so to answer them all, and we have put it all together in this detailed blog. So, let's get down to it.

Steps to starting a Successful clothing line

In this guide, we'll cover everything, the in and out of starting a successful line that sells. This blog will help you understand everything from scratch to a hundred about all the process of clothing line along with additional tips so that you outgrow in the market.

Without wasting any further time. Let's get started with this article

  • Polish your fashion designing skills

    The successful designs of top fashion brands such as Nike and Louis Vuitton are considered top brands and found massive success in the fashion industry. These are the brand whose story is famous before the advent of the internet. Nowadays, we live in an era where tailoring can be quickly learned by watching a YouTube video and with just little practice.

    Knowledge about the industry trends is an advantage, be sure to learn standards, design requirements, access resources, and equipment. Customers are looking for something unique that is appealing to the eyes, which is possible with design and experience.

    So if you are good at designing, then with the right marketing strategies, nothing can stop you from reaching the target market and getting speedy sales.

    Many schools offer courses on designing and fashion in different formats from where you can develop and polish your skills.

  • Develop a strong business plan

    The plan is an essential component that helps critically assess the goals to see if they are realistic. Developing a business plan is an essential but significant step that'll help you map the decisions and help your control over the direction of your company.

    At this step, you'll have to choose the goal for your brand. Are you looking to launch a private label brand? Or, if you are a fashion designer, you might wish to open a premium brand with custom designs. To create a well-structured and well-defined business plan, you must first identify your business goals, mission, visions, and goals.

    A strong business plan includes these significant elements

    - Your business model

    - Competitors analysis

    - Competitors' strengths and weaknesses

    - Costs & profits margins

    Put some time into analyzing the end goal of your brand or clothing company, decide what kind of clothes you want to sell and what target group of the customer will be shopping from your clothing business.

    This is one of the few things you need to know before starting a clothing line, as it will guide you later about the design, textiles, branding, and production.

  • Essential components of a good and strong business plan

    - Company Overview: You can give a brief history of your clothing brand or business. Moreover, you can also outline what your business does.

    - Executive summary: This part tells the critical information about the name of your company, company goals, values, mission, and vision.

    - Products or services: In this part, you need to mention the marketing strategies you will adopt. You need to mention a detailed analysis of the customer you are targeting. You can also mention business trends, customer segmentation, demographics, etc.

    - Marketing plan: Here, you need to mention the type of clothes you will sell and how it'll help you gain profit.

    - The strategy of sales: : This includes information about how you will sell your products to your customers, your marketing channel, what will the pricing be, and how it can affect your pricing strategy?

    - Competitive analysis: In this phase, you will analyze your competition. You need to provide a detailed analysis of your direct or indirect potential competitors.

    - Production plan: You can present your production timeline, marketing details, and sales for your clothing.

    - Operating plan: This part will define the operations of your business and describe the different functions of the stakeholders. This part mainly explains the daily working details of your clothing business.

    - Financial analysis: Here, you will analyze the final budgeting of your clothing line, mentioning your initial investment and the timeline for generating profits.

    A business plan will save you both time and effort and benefit a long-term business. Moreover, with a strong business plan, you can even extend the horizons of your business.

  • Identify The Need In the Market/ Find A Niche

    As a newbie, selling all types of clothes and investing your entire capital in different clothing lines is a bad idea. Instead, here you need to understand the market first. You need to research the niche that is not currently being filled or a niche that has a gap, and it can be anything such as sportswear, casual wear t-shirts, shorts, swimwear, hoodies, or anything.

    You need to find it and aim to bridge the gap between the customer and the product missing from the market. You will find a target market looking for the clothing niche you are picking.

    You need to understand the market demand, consumer behavior, and trend and then change according to those fashion plans. So pick a niche you need to operate in and build your target market.

    For example, 80 tees are famous for selling t-shirts with 80s shows and movie designs. This creates a unique image and brand presence in the market. Moreover, they are licensed to make TV shows and movies designed, so there are significantly fewer chances that you'll find their designs somewhere else in the market.

  • Research fashion trends

    Visit different fashion shows, and follow TV shows, movies, and fashion icons to see what they are wearing and the new trend in the fashion industry. People love to wear what their favorite celebrities and fashion icons are wearing. So in this way, you can notice a trend in the market that you can work on.

    Fashion shows, TV shows, and movies are the best way by which you can new designs, and by doing so, you can reach upper levels in the clothing industry.

  • Identify your target audience

    This is one of the most crucial steps, and your objective shouldn't be only to launch a clothing store and sell but also to have strong strategies to locate your target audience for the niche you are selling.

    What is the point of selling crazy, trendy, eye-catching designs if there is no consumer market to buy that product. Pick up demographics, study them, analyze the customer behavior, and identify your customer.

    Adopt the new ways of marketing like social media marketing, and you can easily reach to your desired group of target customers by applying the right strategies on social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, and more.

    Good marketing allows you to connect with your target audience directly and potentially engage them with your clothing brand. By directly focusing on your target market, you can market your brand efficiently.

  • Develop your fashion branding

    To make your brand line successful, you need to figure out how you can make your clothing line look stand out from others. The successful brand strategy is to hone their designing skills for the target market where they feel the most demand for their product.

    Even if you are developing a luxury clothing brand that is already running by your competitors, you can offer a narrow down approach to it, like if you are launching a sportswear brand. You should consider launching comfortable Activewear for plus-size women too. This will help you target a new segment of customers.

    Here are a couple of points you need to think about when you are launching your brand.

    Design: You need to think about the design that'll be eye-catching for your customers. You need to think about the new patterns, designs, colors, and materials that might be your selling points. One of the significant flexibility you have in customized clothing is that you'll be designing your clothing line.

    Niche: You need to analyze and determine what your customers are getting and which type of clothing line you are offering.

    Quality: Your product quality is the best proof of your brand. So, make sure you put the best materials to stand the quality of your brand. Your target customer will highly be disappointed if they find out that the clothing line you are selling falls apart or loses color after washing.

    Brand: You need to consider how your brand will be represented among the customer target in the market.

    You are advised to stay focused, try out new things, adopt the latest trends, follow the fashion, and think from a customer's point of view, making things easier for you.

  • Register your business

    Now that you are all good with brand designing and demographics, have adequate knowledge about targeting your customers and even analyze the startup costs. It's time to do some paperwork that will allow selling clothes legally.

    There are several steps you need to do:

    - Choose your business type and register it: Depending on your business type, you will need to choose what type of business you have, sole proprietorship, LLC, etc. If you are starting a business, you need to register it in the state or city you are operating.

    You must file your clothing business with DBA to register your name to do business, even if it's not required to register your brand within the state.

    - Get business license & permits: To start your business, you will need a general business license to start your clothing business. And in case you are operating a business online, you might be needing couple of permits, such as a sales tax license. In this case, you will also need to get a license and permit from the state and city properly.

    - Get an Employee identification number: When launching a business, you'll also have to apply for Employee Identification Number (EIN) with an IRS. Getting one EIN can help you file your taxes, help you open up a business bank account, and help with business financing.

  • Find a clothing manufacturer

    If you are not planning to source, cut, and sew clothes by yourself, you'll need a clothing manufacturer that works parallel right according to your requirements. Finding a clothing manufacturer can be a daunting process to follow.

    Spotting the custom clothing manufacturer is a pretty tricky procedure. The internet is full of them. You will find hundreds of manufacturers within minutes, but choosing the right one from them might be a difficult task to do.

    You need to consider several factors when choosing the clothing manufacturers like fabric sourcing, tech packs, sample development, bulk production, the scope of their work, and MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity).

    Learn about: how to find a clothing manufacturer

  • Choose a brand name, logo, and market profile

    Now that you spot the right manufacturer for your clothing business, you need to build your brand profile. You need to select your brand name, logo, and slogan (if you wish).

    Consumers like the brand with a compelling story with their brand, so make sure your brand, logo, and slogan give an idea about your brand. While the clothing manufacturer is producing your clothing line, you can work on marketing your clothing brand. In this way, you will be ready to sell your clothing line as soon as they are made.

  • Set up your online presence

    Now that you have marked your physical presence, let's not forget to add an online presence to your clothing store. You need a responsive, well-designed, and eye-catching website. The website is an essential component of your clothing business. Put your clothing items on your website with product details so that customers can browse around.

    Selling your clothes online is much easier, affordable, cost, time and effort efficient. More prominent brands that have captured a large market area are shifting their business online to cater to customers from home.

    Create your e-commerce or custom-made website. Once you are done with it, diversify your sales channels by different platforms like social media, etc. Moreover, you can also join popular market places and sells your clothes there like eBay, Amazon, or Etsy.

  • Market your product and sell

    Tell your story through the social media channels, raise brand awareness, and launch different campaigns and PR activities so that the consumer market comes to know about your brand. Share your content with the consumers.

    Then, set your marketing and distribution goals in the marketplace. Another way to help you adopt new strategies is to consult the marketing professional and fashion industry experts.

    Create your e-commerce or custom-made website. Once you are done with it, diversify your As soon as you hit your sales and distribution goals, look for growth opportunities in the market. This will help you explore different consumer markets and growth opportunities that you can fulfill.

We understand the process of starting your clothing line is not easy. However, Steve Apparel mentions all the procedures and methods by which you can start your clothing brand.

How Much Does It Cost To Start a Clothing Business?

Nowadays, the internet has helped many people start their new clothing line, resulting in the growth of the fashion industry day by day. However, people are often concerned about the cost of starting a clothing brand. It depends on which custom clothing manufacturers you are working with.

According to US Small Business Administration, most American businesses can cost between $2,000 - $5,000 to launch a business. This is just a lump sum amount, and your startup business can cost lower or more.

Here is a rough distribution of estimated costs for your startup clothing line business:

  • Manufacturing costs

  • Costs of Materials and products sourcing

  • Designing and Delivery costs

  • Website and Marketing costs

  • Product photography costs

  • Distribution costs

Manufacturing costs are the highest costs in creating a fashion line, and these costs vary based on your clothing line and how you are buying the clothing products.

A business plan can help you break down the startup costs of launching your business. Your business plan will help you plan effectively. You can set different targets to achieve. Moreover, a good business model ensures that you have enough money for your clothing business to succeed.

It mainly depends on working with a custom clothing manufacturer or buying pre-made clothes. Here is a detailed guide about costing when starting a clothing brand.

Equipment Needed To Start a Clothing Line

Whether you will be working as a clothing manufacturer by yourself or hiring one to make clothes according to your needs, you will need a couple of equipment. The essential must-have thing is creativity and an eye to notice details in both cases.

Aside from it, you will need some basic materials, putting the technical things like cutting and sewing machines apart, you'll need clothing patterns, a collection of different types of zippers, buttons clasps, hangers, shopping bags, gift boxes, display cases, flyers, posters, banners, shelves and racks and a lot more.

There aren't only one or two things that you need to have when starting a clothing brand. However, here is a detailed guide on the equipment needed to start a clothing line.

Things You Need To Know Before Starting a Clothing Line

Those who need to start a clothing brand of their own strongly need to understand the picture. It will navigate you throughout the process at every step of your clothing business journey. Here are some of the must-check that you critically need to focus on, whether you picked your business partners.

Opening a clothing brand looks a little complicated, but things become much more manageable when broken down into steps. To help you with the things you need to know before starting a clothing brand, here is a checklist of the activities that will help you even if you are new in the fashion industry.

Have a look at the big picture:

  • Have an idea that fills the gap

  • Do market research

  • Target your customer

  • Setup your clothing business

  • Get tech packs ready

  • Source fabrics

  • Find the proper clothing manufactures

  • Get the sample ready and approved

  • Marketing

  • Order your bulk production

Important Advice: Even after you are live and selling your brand successfully in the market, don't stop the marketing of your brand, as marketing your product is the best way to catch the consumers' attention.

If you are selling online, you should have a strong strategy for social media or email marketing, and if you are selling on Facebook, then Facebook ads are the best way to reach the consumer market and earn some serious cash.

What Are Some Terms That Everyone Should Know For Starting Up a Clothing Line?

So, if you are working now in the apparel industry, you are more likely to hear some new and confusing terms. So to simplify things for you, here are some terms that everyone who is running a clothing line should know. So let's get started:

Whole seller/ Distributor

A Whole seller/ Distributor purchases from the clothing companies and then ships the product to their warehouses. And then ships your products to you.

Resale license

A Resale license means that with this license, you can easily buy whole sell or distribution goods without paying the sales tax. It's a permit to run a business within the state.

Decorator or manufacturer

A decorator or manufacturer is someone who puts the design over your clothes according to your requirements. This can be your design, artwork, screen printing, embroidery, custom labeling, etc. They can be called print Demand Companies.

They are also known as the manufacturer of your clothes because you can also be able to purchase clothes and customize them- a stop-shop for all your needs like Steve Apparel.

POD or Print on Demand

Commonly used terms in the e-commerce business or when selling online, most of them want a unique design on their shirt. This could be anything. Your customer can quickly tell or elaborate on their design requirements, and as a seller, you need to fulfill those requirements.

Drop shipping

It refers to when the manufacturer of printing on demand directly ships the order to your customer's doorstep.

DTG (Direct to Garment)

This is an advanced method of printing where the design is ready and printed simultaneously over your garment. Most POD manufacturers use the DTG method to design your clothes.

Screen printing

One of the most traditional ways in the printing industry. Different screens for each color are set together for this method, and then each color is printed over the shirt. It's a standard printing method for small quantities.

Blank shirt

As the name tells, it'll be a blank readymade shirt that you can customize with your design or artwork. You don't need to start from scratch.

Cut and sew

This means that you are getting started from scratch. You cut the shirt according to your size and then sew it along with the custom design for your t-shirt.

Fabric weight

It refers to the weight per square foot of fabric of the shirt. The more heavy the weight of fabric, the heavier the shirt becomes. If you are looking for a lightweight shirt, then be sure to choose a light fabric for it.

Single count

It defines the number of cross-sections in the t-shirt with 1 square inch of fabric. You are most likely to get the higher single count with the fabric's tighter knit and soft feel.


This means the styling or the cutting of the shirt.


Triblend is the softest and lightest shirt in terms of fabrics and feel. It's made up of cotton polyester and rayon. It's a perfect fit giving a vintage feel and the comfort factor.

E-commerce platform

So, as we told you before, e-commerce is when you are selling online to the customer. You can set up an e-commerce website where your traffic will be driving, generating sales from there.

Market place

A marketplace is like a directory or larger website where your store is present, and other stores are. Customers have different options in the marketplace like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, etc.

Do I Need a License to start a clothing line?

Yes, you need a license to start your clothing business and sell clothes, whether online or through a brick-and-mortar store. Whatever you are selling, you need to get an appropriate license and permits to run your clothing business.

To do business, you need to register your brand within the state you are selling in. This will make you an authorized entity to manufacture clothes and sell them to customers. Brand owners who hire manufacturers to make clothes also need a license to operate.

Follow the whole procedure of registering your clothing business.

Is it Profitable to Start a Clothing Line?

Yes, because the fashion industry is increasing day by day, starting a clothing brand is an excellent and successful business idea. Following the proper marketing techniques and working with an expert clothing manufacturer is necessary.

A good reputation makes your business successful, whether online or in a physical store because that's what attracts the consumer's eyes towards your brand. On the other side, a lack of preparation or no planning leads to underperformance.

Is Starting a Clothing Line Worth It?

Yes, everything is worth it if you have got enough passion for it. With the right team of people you are working with, you say that starting a clothing brand is worth it. So, yeah, we can say that opening a clothing brand is worth it. You need to be willing to run a clothing business.

You just need a concept or idea for great clothing, and here starts the initial stage of your business. You might have aesthetic designs, but you couldn't find the right clothes to get your line into the market. You need to find your customer market, and there are some things you need to consider as a seller.

If you are going to open a clothing brand of your own, you will be the boss of your business, which is one of the great benefits of opening a clothing line. In the business's initial stages, you will be working 24/7 as an entrepreneur do. The entrepreneur is someone who makes a great idea happen.

You can start with one of the recent trends in the market: the private label clothing that most brands and businesses are jumping into. The brands and businesses produce more private label clothing as it provides easy and flexible options. The manufacturer develops a blanks shirt that lets the customer purchase the blank t-shirt and customizes it according to style, and the brand can place its brand logo.


Do I need a license to start a clothing line?

Yes, to operate a clothing business, you need a license. Generally, you need an Employee Identification number if you have employees working for your brand. Moreover, you will also need an Apparel certificate or garment certificate.

You'll need a license from the state you are working in.

Is it profitable to start a clothing line?

Yes, since the fashion industry is growing day by day, creating new opportunities for new brands. All you need is a unique idea and a good manufacturer partner on your side to manufacture your clothing line. And with dedication, consistency, and efforts, your clothing business can be profitable.

Is starting a clothing line worth it?

Yes, it's worth starting a clothing brand. You need the unique ideas on your side for your clothing line, and be sure to target the right audience. By studying the demographics, you can easily win the game in the marketplace.

Author John Cary

About the author:

John Cary is a keen fashion blogger who primarily provides detailed guides and advice about anything that comes under fashion. He has worked closely in the fashion industry, which enhances his experience and makes him more passionate about the fashion industry. When it comes to clothing and fashion John Cary makes absolute sense.