The question every business wants to know is will they achieve success, and that's no different for fashion startups. During my consultations and mentoring sessions, I get asked a lot if I think a client's idea is a good one, so here are my tips on success for fashion startups.



1. Have Belief.


First and foremost, you need to believe in your idea, brand and product. If you're feeling half-hearted about it then it's not the road for you. The clients who have most success are those who relate to a passion in their life. You might be a gym buff who's dream is to see your brand worn in an athletic setting. Or how about your passion for yoga? Do you live in your studio apparel and want to launch your own line?

Starting up a new fashion business takes courage, determination and commitment, so make sure you're choosing something that will spur you to keep going.


2. Understand Your USP.


In business circles you'll hear that you need a U.S.P. to become successful. But what is that and how does it relate to fashion? A unique selling point is something that sets your brand apart from the rest of the world.

This U.S.P. can come in lots of different formats and relate to both the product and the business. Some examples of what can make a business unique are:

  • your products fill a gap in the market

  • your prices bridge a gap in the market 

  • the way you sell is different

  • the types of fabrics you use are unique

  • your brand supports a charity

  • your brand is ethical in trade and manufacturing processes

  • your brand is eco-friendly, organic or fair trade



3. Innovate.


I'm always amazed by my clients when they come to me with an idea for something totally new, that's never been seen before.

Innovation is a great way to boost your success. If you've tried to buy a product and couldn't find it, then you've identified a gap in the market to fill, and that's half the battle. Chances are, you're not the only person looking for that product, and there is an untapped marketshare waiting to buy it. You just have to get it out there!


  • Clothing that includes new technology or fabric development

  • Garments that perform a function

  • Apparel that is for a certain age, size, body type

  • Clothing that solves a problem




4. Be an improver.


Another set of clients that do well with their startups are those who take an existing idea but make it better. Perhaps you love a particular type of apparel but wish there was more choice on offer. Maybe you feel certain brands or markets are lacklustre and need a boost or refresh. You might already use a type of product and realise it doesn't quite perform how it should. These are all things you can improve upon by:

  • Making garments fit better

  • Manufacturing with more premium fabrics

  • Offering a better choice in styles

  • Improving how a product performs eg. in the gym or outdoors

  • Giving customers more accessible price points

  • Injecting fashion into a stale market

If you have an idea for a fashion startup, and want to chat with an expert or get help starting, just get in touch for an initial consultation here or drop me a line info@thefashionexpert.com


Michelle Ramsay

The Fashion Expert®

www.thefashionexpert.com


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Updated: Mar 19


5 issues factories have with fashion startups.

There's no doubt that launching a clothing line is tough. It takes dedication, knowledge and time. Many of my clients find dealing with manufacturers the hardest part. It can take a while to find a good fit for your product, and the sampling process can feel laborious, so making sure you've got your process streamlined will help.



Make yourself a desirable startup client.



Often start-ups take an unconventional approach with factories, because they don't know any better and this sometimes leads to frustrations from potential suppliers. In turn the startup can feel deflated, deterred and not sure how to move forward. Learn the processes involved and educate yourself in the stages of manufacture.


I've put together the top 5 issues factories have with fashion startups and some tips to help you avoid these.


1. Lack Of Design Information


One of the biggest time wasting approaches I see amongst start-ups is contacting a prospective manufacturer without any tangible information in the form of completed CAD designs, tech packs and size specs. You might know what you want to launch in your fashion range, however a collection of photos, rough ideas and a vision is not going to cut it with a factory.

At best you'll end up with some cobbled together samples that don't represent your ideas. At worst you'll come across as unprofessional, a newbie they'll have to hand-hold and probably someone they don't have time to coach.

This raw information is what you should discuss with someone like myself - a designer, not a factory. It's tempting to be pro-active and find a factory early on, but you have a much better chance of striking a professional relationship with a potential supplier if you can hand over factory packs for each style.





2. You Don't Speak The Fashion Language


Understanding the correct fashion terminology will help you extensively when discussing your designs with a factory. Take some time to find out the relevant vocabulary that describes your styles, whether that be the fabric quality, the types of trims being used and any special details that make up your design. This information should be itemised in your factory packs from your designer, but make sure you can converse with your supplier in the language of the industry and understand the details. If you can't then use a fashion consultant who will have your back every step of the way.




3. Unrealistic Expectations


Being aware of minimum order quantities versus price per unit is incredibly important. It's great to have target prices that you hope to produce something for, but if you only want to produce something small like 50 pieces per style then the price is going to reflect that small order.

Equally so, your small MOQ may have an affect on how many colours you can order per style, how specific you can be with base fabrics and how much it will cost to produce anything specific to your brand such as branded hardware.


4. Unworkable Timelines


When you hand over your designs for manufacture, the samples won't appear instantly. Your prototypes will take less time than your bulk production, however you should always allow enough time for re-sampling, allowing for your factory's workload and general turn around time. Each factory will have a different lead time, often booked up weeks to months in advance depending on the time of year. Just because you're ready to go doesn't mean you can dictate timescales for your suppliers. Utilise a realistic fashion calendar to plan your critical path.



Be realistic with times and expectations


5. Unwillingness To Compromise


It's great to aim for that gold standard with your collection but sometimes a little compromise goes a long way. It may be your factory can't source the exact composition of fabric specified in your tech pack, however if they have an alternative does it also do the same job? Sometimes your need for small MOQ's might dictate what you can do in terms of design for branded items like buttons, badges, labels and trims. You may have a better chance at getting what you're looking for by using an available quality and branding that.



Understand where to compromise.


In summary the main takeaways here are:


1. Prepare your designs in a professional manner with all technical and sizing information in place.

2. Do your homework and liaise with your designer to understand what it is you're asking for.

3. Research MOQs.

4. Be realistic with your timeline.

5. Compromising will get you a long way.


If you need help launching your fashion brand then get in touch and we can discuss your needs - info@thefashionexpert.co.uk


Michelle Ramsay - The Fashion Expert®


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Fashion Startups' Guide To Apparel Manufacture

If you're a budding fashion entrepreneur trying to navigate your way through the minefield that is the fashion industry, you might be feeling a little lost as to what happens next.


You're probably feeling in the dark to the steps needed to launch your brand, such as design, sampling and manufacture. How do you start to take that raw idea and get it manufactured?


If this sounds like you and right now you're lacking a plan then you're not alone. Finding good, reliable information about the fashion industry can be really difficult for startups and those trying to break into it.


That's why I wrote The Fashion Startups Guide To Apparel Manufacture. and here are 5 reasons it could be well worth your investment.


1. You'll gain insider knowledge instantly


Working with start-up brands for over 5 years now I know exactly the things you're going to ask before you've asked them. With this in mind I've created an easy to understand e-book that takes you through each stage you'll find yourself at on your journey from idea to manufacture. You will start to understand the processes, the terminology, and the language of the fashion industry, as well as key expectations a designer, manufacturer and supplier will have of you.


2. Your confidence will triple


Armed with this new found knowledge, you will be much more at ease knowing what should happen next. You will be able to start formulating your plan of action and strategies for your brand in terms of design, sampling and manufacture.


Fashion Startups' Guide To Apparel Manufacture


3. It'll help you get ahead of your competition


Without a clear plan of action it's easy to make mistakes. It can be tempting to jump on into the dark and have a go, but unless you learn your craft you'll never get it right. Take some time to invest in this new venture, learn your stuff before you plunge in and get ahead of the competition with proper guidance and information.


4. You'll save money long term


I see a lot of disasters! Clients that come to me to mop up a previous mess where they have spent a lot of time, and worse still, hard earned cash! When you don't know the correct processes you should be following, it's easy to get duped by false promises. Sometimes it's not always the fault of the factory. They can only produce based on the information you give them. If it's light on professional content, and lacking in skilled detail, you're likely to get a sample that reflects the poor input. This guide will show you the protocol of design, techs and specs, as well as walk you through sampling and production. Getting things right first time round means a more cost effective outcome. Suddenly a small initial investment seems like a game changer!


5. You'll become a more desirable client to a manufacturer


Unfortunately fashion startup brands are not the most desirable clients for a clothing factory. They've seen the unprepared brands asking them to make a garment based on a photo, and realise a lot of these clients need to be guided or prompted which sounds like a lot of hard work for them. Unsurprisingly, a lot of initial enquiries are ignored. This e-book will teach you everything a factory needs from you to successfully manufacture your collection. If you follow the steps in the guide, you'll be a much more desirable client through your organised approach and professional attitude.


If you'd like to start off your fashion launch the correct way then you can buy the guide here.

© Michelle Ramsay Design Limited 2020  |  Registered In England Number 11252084

Registered company address 10 Stadium Court, Stadium Road, Wirral, Bromborough, CH62 3RP 

info@thefashionexpert.com  |  Tel: +44 (0) 7528 659 583

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