I’m not going to break it down into the “amateur, indie, and professional” categories, because they aren’t that relevant anymore. If you’re thinking about starting a serious clothing brand that has the potential to succeed, it only needs to be broken down a single way.
Ok so here it goes… starting a brand costs a lot of money! If not what you think selling T-shirts at the club , because that doesn’t happen anymore. Unless you have really famous friends or know a shit load of important people, you’re going to need money if you want to be serious. The fact of the matter is that the indie t-shirt scene is incredibly saturated, more than you would even believe. Trust me, unless you do something really really special no one is going to care about your “awesome” label. There are labels popping up every single day saying that they’re the next big thing, but unless you have the means to impress, no one is going to care.
Let’s think rationally about how much money you’re going to need. If you don’t have enough money to start a boutique , the most important thing you need is a website. Getting a custom e-commerce site made can cost a lot of money. Unlike blogs and other sites, it is essential for an e-commerce site to have excellent UX/UI because it has to be as easy as possible for someone to choose and buy your product. The site has to showcase your products well. If you’re selling something, you want the product to be the highlight, and not be distracted by the intense illustration in the background. The aesthetic of the website has to look professional and complement your brand. If I see a nice clothing, but it’s paired with a crappy website, I’m going to assume that the clothes probably are bad quality too, regardless of the design. With a crazy nice website, you can even charge a premium for the same outfit, because people will think that the quality must be superior to Clothing Brand X with the crappy website.
However, this obviously does not come cheap. If you’re looking into getting a top of the line site that shows everyone else that you’re serious, you’re looking at a couple thousand. But if you’re willing to put down that amount and get the proper professional treatment, I guarantee you that you’re already better than 90% of the new brands out there, because it shows that you care. Nothing’s worse than a cookie-cutter default site because you’re automatically dropping yourself into a sea of the thousands of other mediocre brands.
Outsourcing or sewing your own? Outsourcing works best for us because it is cheaper and the manufacturing company will provide all the labels, hang tags, bar codes etc..etc..for less.
EXAMPLE: 100% pique cotton polo shirt at below wholesale price $5.50pc and adding your labels and hang tags which can cost .30each (and the minimum order is 1,000 labels per design). You will need several different labels. Care label, main label, hang tags, price tags, bar code. 5 labels x .30 = $1.50 now that shirt can cost you about $7.00/pc not including embroidery, logo or your design.
If you want your brand to be taken seriously, every bit of branding matters. Make professional stickers, hangtags, polybags, mailers, etc. You need to spend money to make money. It’s all about looking at your brand objectively. We all fall in love with our own products, but can you look at your own brand from the eye of the consumer? What looks unprofessional and poorly done, what could be improved on? Those are questions you have to ask yourself before presenting something as a finished product.
If you’ve managed to follow everything on this list, I’m hoping that you’re in the top 5% of new indie clothing brands out there. Summarizing everything we just looked at, I hope you understand the weight of starting a serious clothing brand. We’re talking about: $1500+ for a professional website; $1000+ for professional branding and logo design; several hundred for photography; $1000+ for designs; however much you’re spending on your products; and money for mailers and stickers. In total, I’d look to have at least five grand, if you want some decent capital to start with. Obviously these are just my thoughts on the subject, and there have been brands that have cut corners and succeeded, but not everyone would be able to do that. If you’re starting up your brand as just a hobby and for shits and giggles, that’s fine by me, but if you’re seriously saying that you’re going to be the “next big thing,” you better be backing your words up with the quality.