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Photo by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash

A Guide to Starting an Online Clothing Brand

Whether you’re considering a side-hustle or a full-time clothing store, it’s important to get the fundamentals right first. Building an e-commerce store has never been easier, but because of that, there is increased competition – making it harder because it’s easier. When thinking about if you stand a chance, you need to know if you can stand out.

Brand Identity and Target Audience

Building a clothing store in a fairly saturated market means you must have a brand identity. Without a brand, the customer can just buy your clothes elsewhere, direct from the source, or even copy your designs themselves with a print-on-demand service.

When we think about branding, we think about logos and labels, such as the personalized labels by Wunderlabel. These are essential, but first, we must look at the market itself – what is already out there, and how do we fit into that?

Creating an incredibly unique brand identity is difficult to do in isolation, so it’s best to do plenty of market research and identity your target audience. Creating a brand identity off the back of that will mean having a great brand name, logo, and market profile. Think about how you will display your products, what models to use (if any), and how to communicate in line with this identity. For example, how your brand conducts itself on social media and interacts with customers – even what font you use on your website.

Brand Story

The above is where many people stop and think it’s enough, but it isn’t. Of course, there are a ton of logistical things to sort out when starting a store, but we still must nail this branding stuff.

Believe it or not, customers need stories to buy into your clothing brand. You cannot rely on great design (both in terms of the clothes and the website) alone. You need to communicate the brand story.

A brand story is like a narrative that articulates the feelings created by the brand. An example of this could mean sharing the story behind the owner of the business, who is the face of the brand. You don’t need to be the face of it, though, as just defining your mission and brand personality is enough, as long as you convey this consistently.

Again, expressing this on your website alone isn’t enough. It needs to run through the core of all communication channels, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and so on.

Choosing a stock strategy

It’s difficult to cover everything that you need to do when starting a brand – from setting up website hosting to setting goals. There’s a lot to be done. But something that says a lot about what type of business you want to become comes down to how you manage your stock. Here’s why:

Many people looking to earn a quick buck will look to print-on-demand services. So, you offer your designs on a website (often a marketplace site), and if someone pays for it, you just send through the order, and the t-shirt gets printed and shipped by a third party. The other option is to design and buy your stock in bulk, making you in charge of deliveries, returns, and stock management.

The drop shipping method is popular because it requires little capital and little time to get started, but it rarely leads to a successful and scalable clothing brand. What does it say about your brand story if it says one thing but takes weeks to make a delivery and isn’t even hosted on its own platform?

That being said, there are pros and cons to both paths, and the last thing you want to do is buy the stock you cannot shift because it’s untested. This presents the possible benefits of using a hybrid of the two – where print-on-demand can test the viability of new designs. Then the latter is used to scale the growth of sales.

Featured Photo by Clark Street Mercantile on Unsplash