How To Start a Clothing Line Business With No Experience

Written by

Darren DeMatas



Written by

Darren DeMatas


Reviewed By Our team of writers and content creators are experts in ecommerce and we fact-check every claim in our work to ensure it’s accurate and up-to-date. (Learn about our editorial guidelines.).

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Finally ready to launch and grow your own clothing line?

Going from idea to design, manufacturing, and marketing is enough to make anyone’s head spin. Trying to start without enough information will make it more time-taking and back-breaking than it should be.

Even if you don’t know how to sew a stitch, you can still launch a successful fashion business and own your business. In this guide, you’ll learn how to start a clothing brand. This step-by-step resource includes tips from over a dozen fashion pros and CEOs.

Learn Clothing Line Business 101

Before learning how to start a high-quality clothing business, you need to know the prospects. Sure, the fashion industry seems to be in demand, but you have to get stats to ensure that whatever you choose is still viable years from now when you start. Look at fashion trends, the growth over the years, and predictions.

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 1

The State Of The Apparel Industry

The clothing industry has recorded steady growth over the years. In 2023, U.S. retail ecommerce revenue from the sale of fashion apparel, footwear, and accessories is set to reach over 207 billion U.S. dollars. Even conservative reports still show growth. On Statista, we see that the online fashion retail sector could reach 300 billion dollars in sales by 2027.

Fashion Market Growth

The market keeps changing because of customers’ tastes and the environment. Keep that in mind before choosing products. Decades ago, you needed to suit up to work, then have casuals for the night out, and so on. Now, many companies allow casuals on all workdays.

Habits have changed

People want better quality clothes that they can wear at work, going out, or home all in one – and then just general comfy clothes they can chill in or work out in.

See Some Of The Leading Sectors To Get A Starting Point For Research

  • Activewear: The global activewear market is growing at a 6.5% CAGR rate. By 2024, it should be almost double the value it was a few years ago. Start looking for smaller pockets in this industry. The female market is growing well, showing a 7.7% CAGR.
  • Streetwear: In the last decade, streetwear has become a steady trend. It’s not just in online searches. The entrance of top brands like Louis Vuitton has made this expand from just the streets to become a luxury market. As a result, it’s contributing a steady $15 billion to the luxury fashion market. That’s only one side of it. Many small businesses in the streetwear niche are getting millions of dollars from investors because the potential is enormous.
  • Baby Clothes: Despite a lesser number of people wanting kids, the increase in materialism, trends like “mini-me,” and more parents allowing kids to move their purchase decisions has caused this market to keep on growing. The US market is currently the largest revenue source despite not having the highest number of children. Source.
  • Shapewear: Shapewear is another product niche that’s winning. Research shows a 7.1% CAGR forecasted in 2028. Given the $4,211.1 million in revenue that came in five years ago, we’re looking at more than double that over the next ten years. Source.
  • Footwear: The market is expected to generate around $320.44 billion by 2023 from the $246.07 billion that was recorded in previous years. The market is tilting towards comfortable athletic shoes and casuals – the sneakers market alone is predicted to pull in $95.14 billion. Source.

Clothing Lines Business Models That Work

Starting a successful clothing line is more than knowing how to design clothes – you need to familiarize yourself with the ecommerce business models that are available for clothing lines. This will determine how you handle your inventory and find products & suppliers for your clothing brand.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Antthony

Print On Demand

If you’re into words/small designs on clothing line items, or you’re not too much into drawing styles all the time or selling someone else’s, print-on-demand might work for you. Some stores mix it up with other print-on-demand products like mugs. You could print by yourself or start to use apps like Printful.

Print-on-demand absolutely works successful business model when you narrow down to a specific ideal customer. For example, you can niche towards lifestyles.

Print On Demand Business Example

Inkitout is one brand that has gotten this down. It targets tattoo fans.

Custom Wholesale

There’s regular wholesale; then there’s custom wholesale. With regular wholesale, you stock up the clothes and sell as orders come, but with custom wholesale, you customize the pre-made clothes to fit your vision when you start. You can embroider, print, and tweak, as long as it suits what you’re going for.

This requires more capital from crowdfunding or angel investors than print on demand to start, and you’ll have to store inventory. But, with a solid business plan, it can work well. It’s cost-effective to get products because of the bulk.

Custom Wholesale Clothing Brand Business Example

Perfect Sculpt is an ecommerce wholesaler that sells in the shapewear and lingerie niches. The strategy that works for them is selling to retailers (with an MOQ) and selling directly to the general public.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Patrick

Cut And Sew/Private Label Ecommerce

If you want to differentiate your own line completely from other brands when you start, then this is the way to go. Arika Sato has her own private-label clothing brand.

ARIKA SATO clothing line business

For cut-and-sew, you design, sketch, source fabrics, sew, plus ecommerce marketing. The process of getting designs turned into clothing might take months, especially if you want to sew more of them. It’s hard work, but you’ll benefit from these tips from other fashion brand business owners.

For private label

You do the designs or tweak those of the manufacturer. Here, you have to find a manufacturer to cut and sew the fabrics into the starting clothing design that you’ve specified. So, you’re paying for full production. There’s potential for higher perceived value from your audience.

Custom Couture Business Model

Custom couture fits each garment to the individual customer. People like custom clothing, so the passion is there, but it will most likely cost you a lot to start, meaning that you have to charge more than the average ecommerce clothing company.

Custom Suit Ecommerce Clothing Line

Hockerty does it. It creates and sells custom suits by providing many options for customization to website visitors.

Additional Resources

Research The Fashion Market and Identify Competitors

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 2

You need a product AND a specific target market. Casting a wide net will not increase your probability of success; targeting everyone will leave you with a hard business to market and much more competition. Instead, find your niche so that you can market easily and get through to a passionate audience.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Andreu

Broad Niche For Own Clothing Brand

A broad niche is a sector in your industry that you want your business in, for example, a boutique. Selecting a broad niche is usually easier than getting a micro-niche, especially once you have a general idea of the type of fashion business you want to go into.

These are some of the broad niches in the clothing line market:

  • Activewear
  • Swimwear
  • Women’s corporate clothes
  • Men’s corporate clothes
  • Sleepwear
  • Underwear
  • Female casual clothes
  • Male casual wear

Micro Niches

Your micro niche places you in the exact spot of your target audience. It’s your specific target audience + the specific product, for example, casual clothes for tall women. It’s crucial to have an idea of this as an ecommerce startup. Once you develop your personas, you can drill down even further.

Some of the starting clothing line microniches are:

  • Creative workwear for plus-size women
  • Print-on-demand dog lovers’ apparel
  • Meggings
  • Fast fashion for men
Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Brian Lim

A Clothing Line Could Be Discover A Market Problem

Make a list of problems that you want to solve and research. You might think that you have found an in-demand market, but if you don’t get data to validate what you have discovered, you will miss key points that should influence growing your business idea.

Your research will help you narrow down your ideas to the best ones. Also, some markets are so saturated that gaining traction will be so hard compared to others.

Research Manufacturers And Explore Your Product Ideas For Your Clothing Company

It’s hard to truly dial in your products without first time exploring what’s out there. You need to research potential manufacturers and try some Google searches. Before you do that, you need to know the capabilities you’re looking out for. If you choose to private label for your starting clothing line, then find those that provide custom changes and do not only sew your label in.

Into the AM Clothing Line

Also, get pricing from many and compare. Check out what they have done previously to get inspiration. You can also check out Alibaba and other marketplaces to see similar apparel that manufacturers are making to have an idea of their finishing, processes, and factory. Then get initial samples.

Research Your Competitors To See What’s Working

Every market has competitors. Even if you’re bringing a new idea, there are still competitors – probably selling the old style.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Mike

Research your competitors, and check the price point of their products. Many people are not willing to pay higher when there are many lower-priced options, especially if you’re just starting a business. Do some digging to see what their social media presence looks like. Also, check out their designs and products, and see the reviews customers are leaving. This should give you an idea of extras that your target audience is looking to see.

Research on Amazon for small business

Look at their brand messaging. The more you know about their messaging, the more you can differentiate yours from it and make your brand unique.

Find out their traffic strategy.

  • Where do they get backlinks from?
  • The topics/keywords that they rank for

Ahrefs and SEMRush make getting this information easy. Put in your competitor’s URL. You don’t need to know many – just know one. Both tools can get you the others.

SEMRush Market Research Competitor Analysis

Develop Your Personas To Tailor Your Messaging And Brand Right

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Tara Sauvage

You can’t effectively market your products without understanding your target audience. You need insights into who your customers are.

There are many ways to research your TAs. You can use Facebook audiences, online forums, and surveys. Collect information that allows you to build a fictional person that you’re selling to.

Get these to build your persona:

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Location
  4. Hobbies
  5. Profession
  6. Pain points
  7. What they need/want your product for
  8. What’s important to them when buying
  9. Concerns they have before buying

You can take an educated guess for some of the information here, profession and name, for example. Build more than one persona.

With effective target audience research and buyer persona mapping, you can tailor your messaging, product, behaviors, and concerns to the groups in your persona that you are selling to.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Lillian

Additional Resources

Draft a Business Plan and Start Gathering Costs

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 3

A detailed business plan is not only for brick-and-mortar businesses. Drafting your business plan will prepare you for potential challenges and opportunities in your market as a startup fashion entrepreneur. While drafting it out, pay attention to:

  1. Your value proposition
  2. Your business model
  3. Market analysis
  4. Marketing and Sales strategy
  5. Start-up costs like tech and POS
  6. Financial projections and management

As you prepare your business plan, ensure that it’s flexible because market and customer behaviors change. I chose not to go in-depth into the business plan because I did a step-by-step in this article. There’s also a template that you can fill out that will impress investors.

Cost Analysis

Break Even Point

Understanding how much it costs to get your products, set up your store, and keep it running will help you set the right pricing point, plan your marketing, and reach your break-even point at the right time.

These are the costs to consider:

  1. One-time Fixed Costs: These costs do not change regardless of your inventory. It includes business registration, website setup, and branding.
  2. Monthly Software Costs: You’ll need marketing automation, cross/upselling apps, and fashion POS to operate and manage your business. Most great ones aren’t free.
  3. Production Costs: This includes the cost of producing it (yourself) or getting it from your manufacturer and the price you’ll pay to get it shipped to you/fulfillment center.

I have prepared a free startup checklist and business plan. It’s totally free.

Set Up Your Business and Get the Legal Stuff Out of The Way

Before you set up your online store or get products from manufacturers, there’s one thing you should do – set up the legal part of your business. Check if the brand name you have in mind is available.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Jessica

You should at least incorporate your new business and get your licenses before contacting suppliers. You might also need to trademark your concepts.

Do the following:

  • Choose a business name
  • Register your company
  • Get your business licenses and permits
  • Get your Employer Identification Number
  • Open a business bank account

Additional Resources

Design and Source Products For Your Clothing Line

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 4

Having your designs in your head and on paper are two different things. Except if you plan on being the sole fashion designer, tailor, and all in all, you need to transform your design into things that your manufacturers can understand. It will save you a lot of time in back-and-forth.

Concept Stage

This is where you make sketches or take pictures of what you want to design. The designs will help the factory know what you want. You’ll need to get a designer to digitize your ideas using software like Illustrator. If you’re going to do it yourself, learn how to design clothes on digital.

Create A Tech Pack

Tech Pack Example


A tech pack is your product’s blueprint. It minimizes errors in sampling and production because it shows your manufacturers the exact steps and materials that you want, and helps you track production development.

It should have:

  1. Measurements
  2. Detailed explanation of your concept and artwork
  3. Fabric type
  4. Stitching
  5. Color of material and stitching
  6. Accessories (if any)
  7. Label and tag information
  8. Packaging and tracking instructions

It’s a whole lot of work, but you can either get a consultant, designer or use online tools to do it.

Source The Fabric And Materials

Furious Goose Clothing Line

You need to give your manufacturer’s details on the fabric, zips, elastics, interlinings, straps, claps, and other materials that you want. These tiny details are often overlooked.

Explore materials

First to get the quality, composition, weight, and color that you want. When you launch, you want your products to impress your customers so that they spread the word and come back. Find out from manufacturers the materials that they can get on their own and the ones that you need to source for them.

Screen Printing, Artwork And Labels

Know the options available for tags, labels, artworks and such. Also, before recording it in the tech pack, measure the placement of the designs, and your labels (print or tag), then record the exact measurement and placement down, be explicit.

Make Both Digital And Physical Pattern Making

For the sake of consistency, cut your design into patterns that can be used for production. For example, a sleeveless t-shirt will have the bodice pieces and shoulder straps. Do it on the digital angle to send to your manufacturer electronically in your tech pack, and physically as well. Pattern making will keep your style throughout.

Ensure that you grade it up and down for the other sizes in your own clothing line.

Final Samples

From the initial samples that you received earlier, pick out the ones you like best, update with your tech pack, and get final samples from your clothing manufacturer. Ensure that you look closely to check for improvements and potential issues to filter out the manufacturers that don’t get your concept right.

Test Your Product

Always test your product before you go for mass production. Test it yourself and get extra eyes and hands as well. Get feedback from family, friends, and other third parties – possibly, potential customers and influencers. Get the thoughts of people and make necessary changes.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Arika Sato

Agree On Timelines With Product Suppliers

Agree on the production time with the factory. Ensure that there’s enough time between the end date of the manufacturing process and the launch date. You should have a section in your tech pack on timelines and following up.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Jake

Find Out The Production Lead Time

Production time is one thing, the lead time is another. Your items can be produced today but shipped in six weeks. Find out what the lead time is. Beware that any changes you make later on will affect the lead time.

Inquire About The Packaging And Delivery Options

Your packaging can add to the perceived value of your product. You could re-package each item yourself, but wouldn’t it be easier if the clothing manufacturer does it for you? Find out the packaging options that they have as well as the delivery.

For the first set

You might want to have it delivered to you instead of your Amazon fulfillment center. Find out how they deliver to your country and get the prices for delivery, and the potential customs you might need to pay.

Don’t forget

Check the apparel and raise any issues fast if things don’t look as you specified.

Consider A Sourcing Agent


If all the steps of finding the right clothing manufacturer and making sure things don’t go wrong seem like a back-breaking task, get an expert. There are sourcing agents and tools like Sewport to help you get through it.

Additional Resources

Craft Your Clothing Line Brand

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 5

Beyond the product, what will be the cornerstone shared interest with your target market?

Luxury Fashion Brands

Your customers will position you in this pyramid, and your relations and communication with them will influence where they place you.

Study Brands

It helps to study the brand positioning of some of the top clothing line brands to get inspiration of qualities you want to incorporate. People are most likely to buy from a brand whose story they can relate with. It’s even more important in the apparel industry because people buy clothing lines that connect with their identity so your brand will become an extension of how they see themselves.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Karl Shaw

Brand Differentiation Strategies

Mike Vensel

Beyond the difference in color and fonts, what else do you have? If you think that just showing a lifestyle is enough, then you’re wrong. I can’t count how many businesses are in athleisure. If you can’t differentiate and evolve out of the same box most of them are in, you won’t sell as much.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Tara Sauvage 2

Think of the points of differentiation that you have against competitors and choose the top three to focus on. Your strategy might fall in:

  1. Service value, like quick help through live chat, exceptional customer service, etc
  2. Your brand personality/mage
  3. The people that represent you (employees, influencers, etc.)

Product Differentiation Strategies

The most popular product differentiation strategy is price and features, but those two are very easy to copy by your competitors, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful. Other product differentiation strategies are:

  1. Looks (luxury, vintage, etc.)
  2. Better buying process (personalization, experience)
  3. Better fabrics and other materials
  4. Better packaging
  5. Pain-points that only you remove

Customer Value Statement

Your value statement describes why people should buy from you. It incorporates your value proposition, which should be the desired after-state that people should have when they buy your clothing line from you. What psychological or self-fulfilled needs are they getting from wearing the apparel that you produce?

Value Proposition

Your value proposition should be simple, memorable, desirable, and unique, encompassing:

  • Your target customer
  • Statement of need
  • Your products
  • Category
  • Benefit

Use The Community

For example, if you sell to petite women, you can create a community sharing how hard it was to get dresses that fit until they got to you, that’s good. Not only are you showing value, but you’re also creating a sense of belonging for potential customers.

Brand Positioning Statement

One way to look different is through a unique brand proposition. That will have your:

  • Brand’s outlook
  • Voice
  • Philosophy/personality
  • Why people should buy from you
  • Vision/mission

Brainstorm what should motivate people to buy, create a catchy tagline, and think about a short mission & vision.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Shannon

The mission should be focused on how you want to get your vision to life, what you do, who it’s for, and how you do it. Your vision should be focused on why you’re in business and what the ideal future is like for the brand.

Additional Resources

Product Marketing & Pricing

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 6

Product marketing and pricing both go together because this is how your products will be presented and sold. You need a solid plan in place.

Tips On Starting A Clothing Line Heather

I’ll show you the basic offers that you should have, how to set pricing, and take photos.

Have Offers And Promotions To Get Sales

Rave Gear

You should have the basic offers and promotions set before you launch. Have a loss leader/tripwire product that you use to get the first sale. For those products, you’re not thinking of profit, but ways to get people to try your clothes, get their emails to market to them, get money through down/up/cross-selling, and score a second sale. iHeartRaves runs seasonal storewide promotions on their Rave Gear.

Margins (Floor And Ceiling Prices)

To set prices/margins, calculate how much it costs you to get your product. That includes how much your manufacturers/suppliers charge per item and the price to ship each item from the factory to Amazon or whatever fulfilling partner you use.

Look at competitors’ stores

See what the ceiling and the floor prices are for the exact same benefits and (possibly) quality of fabrics. The ceiling price is the highest, and floor is the lowest. Set the most that you think you can sell yours within those two ranges while still having a 70-100% markup on your expenses.

Set your floor prices as well

That’s discounted rates. Make sure that you’re still making a profit from your core products. If your initial markup was 70%, you could set 30% markup as your discount price. So, you’re still showing customers that there’s a 40% discount while still making a profit.

Get White Background And Lifestyle Product Photos

Get a photographer or learn how to take professional pictures, and use this product photography guide and take candid product photos. Have different angles – back, front, side, seam, closeup, each color/variation, etc.

Have the clean white/blank background so that your own clothing line will pop off and be the center of attention. Also, take lifestyle photos; someone wearing the clothes on a typical day with an appropriate background. For example, activewear while running or in a gym.

Also, have promotional apparel together. If you’re giving bundles as your upsell, get a picture of the whole look together.

Additional Resources

Launch and Promote Your Online Store

Start A Clothing Brand Online Chapter 7

Choose the right ecommerce platform for your business. WooCommerce, Shopify and BigCommerce are at the top of my list, but you might want others.  Something highly customized might need an open source platform like X-Cart. When designing your store, make sure that your images and colors are rightly placed to give off what you stand for.

Many stores still have product photos that are difficult to see on a small screen or a lengthy checkout process. In fashion, people are going to be coming in from Instagram to your website.

You want to make sure you design for mobile screens – mobile obsession is the most important trend in ecommerce now. Make yours seamless and compelling. Responsive design isn’t enough, you need to cater to mobile users.

Learn how to promote your brand using content marketing; produce content, get links from other sites through guest posts, sponsor a fashion show think New York, and leverage social media. Also, reach out to bloggers and influencers – IG is the place to be now.

Which Platform has the most influence on shopping habits? Infographic, we have facebook at 23% Instagram at 51% Pintrest at 22% Twitter at 3% and Snapchat at 1%

On average, you might spend between $130 to $1,400, or more depending on who you contact., but the good thing is that users are ready to buy. It’s a ripe market that you can gain from.

It doesn’t end there. Once you start getting orders, study your customers to see what they like and don’t.

Additional Resources

  1. 25 Successful Marketing Strategies From The Fashion Industry
  2. 15 Instagram Marketing Tips to Spread Your Ecommerce Brand Like Wildfire
  3. Instagram Influencer Marketing
  4. BigCommerce Vs Shopify


The cost to start a clothing line can vary greatly depending on your goals, the scale of your production, and the materials you choose. On average, starting a small-scale clothing line can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,500, while larger-scale businesses may require an initial investment of $15,000 to $50,000 or more. Key expenses include design and prototyping, fabric and materials, manufacturing, marketing, and eCommerce website setup. Keep in mind that these figures are only estimates, and your actual costs may differ.

Creating your own clothing brand involves several steps:

  1. Market research: Research your target market, competitors, and trends to identify gaps and opportunities.
  2. Concept and branding: Develop your brand concept, including your target audience, unique selling proposition, and brand identity (logo, colors, fonts, etc.).
  3. Design and product development: Create sketches, technical drawings, and prototypes of your clothing designs. Refine your designs based on feedback and testing.
  4. Sourcing materials and manufacturers: Find suppliers for fabrics and materials, and select a manufacturer that aligns with your budget, quality, and ethical standards.
  5. Marketing and promotion: Develop a marketing strategy that includes social media, email marketing, influencers, and public relations to build awareness and generate sales.
  6. Sales channels: Set up an eCommerce website, and consider partnering with retailers or wholesalers to expand your reach.
  7. Order fulfillment: Establish a system for managing inventory, packing, shipping, and customer service.

Starting a clothing line requires time, dedication, and creativity. Some essential skills and qualities include:

  1. Fashion and design knowledge: A strong understanding of fashion trends, design principles, and garment construction is crucial.
  2. Business acumen: You’ll need to develop a business plan, manage finances, and make strategic decisions to grow your brand.
  3. Marketing skills: Successful marketing is essential to build brand awareness and generate sales.
  4. Networking and relationship building: Establishing connections with suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and influencers can help you grow your clothing line.
  5. Adaptability and resilience: The fashion industry is constantly changing, and it’s important to stay flexible and adapt to new trends and challenges.

Yes, there is potential to make money in starting a clothing brand. However, the success of your brand depends on various factors, including your product quality, brand identity, marketing efforts, and target audience. The fashion industry is competitive, so it’s essential to differentiate yourself from other brands and offer unique, high-quality products. With hard work, dedication, and a well-executed business plan, you can turn your clothing brand into a profitable venture.

Ready To Start A Clothing Line Brand?

I hope these tips for starting a clothing line answered the questions you have. Starting a clothing brand isn’t a walk in the park, but consistent hard work can get your a successful clothing line business.

Start researching the niches that you like and getting your designs digital. Don’t forget – having a site with products doesn’t mean you have fully launched. Promote it and work hard to keep customers coming back. Remember that your customers are more likely to find inspiration from external sources like influencers and bloggers than directly from you, so use them.

Do you have any concerns that I didn’t address? Reach out in the comments, and I’ll reply ASAP.

About the author

Photo of author
Darren DeMatas
Darren has an MBA in Internet Marketing and 10+ years of experience marketing retail, manufacturing and Internet marketing corporations, 7-figure brands and startups online. Follow him on TwitterLinkedIn

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