Boss Lady

A full guide to creating a new line for a fashion brand

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Women dominate the fashion and clothing industry. It’s a fact that the clothing industry has thrived for so long because of the women’s fashion capital that is Paris. Although men’s fashion is still dominated by London, much of the consumers of this industry are female. That means that on both sides of the channel and around the world, women have a greater impact on the fashion industry as a whole. So if you own clothing business, and you would like to bring forth a new line of clothes, how should you go about it? Well, in order to be successful you will need to approach this vast new project, holistically. Every inch of your business, workers, resources and industry perks, have to be brought to the surface to participate. It’s such an exciting task, but don’t underestimate how complex it can be. How should you begin?

Working with your CDO

Since you already own a clothing brand, you will have noted how difficult it can be to keep the idea you had in your mind, into the end product you produce. It’s by no means an easy task because essentially, it’s like a game of Chinese whispers. You might want the new clothing line to be a certain way, while your designers, skilled workers and other members of the C-suite, want it another way. Before it gets to the manufacturing stage, flesh out the design and ethos of the line as much as you can. The more thorough you are in the refinement of your clothes, the less that can go wrong.

Firstly, understand that nobody else apart from your head designer should be informed and spoken to about the ideas you have. The reason being, at this very early stage, you don’t want too many voices crowding in, not allowing one solid idea to be planted. The Chief Design Officer (CDO) will be the first person you speak to. Together you will make the first-ever sketches of your new line. Your CDO is more critical at this stage than at any other because you’re trying to be as creative as possible. Right now you don’t need someone with a more practical mind to tell you what is or isn’t feasible. Your aim is to get your ideas down on paper, see what you like and what you will want to change.

Informing the C-suite 

Have you decided on what designs you’re going to go with and why? Good, because the next step is to explain yourself and the reasons for your project to exist. Inform every member of your C-suite that you’re going to be having an executive meeting about an important new project. This should gear up everybody’s minds and let them know something big is on the horizon. During the meeting, you should be presenting your ideas and the overall aim of the project. Take the time to create this presentation, using the sketches that you made with the CDO. Share your thoughts about consumer reception, predicted costs, manufacturing solutions, time of release, expected profits and competitive validity, etc.

After you’ve finished your presentation, you will open the floor for open discussion. Bear in mind that you will immediately face some C-suite members that will want to alter the designs but also others that will ask very important questions. This is the point where a CEO shines or crumbles. If you believe in your designs and you have a strong central ethos for the clothes, you need to stick to your guns. It’s not to say that you can’t take on board valid criticisms, but compromising to the point of destroying the original concept, will mean the project is no longer yours. Show strength in leadership by convincing the doubters in the room and remember, you have chosen these people to be in your C-suite for a reason; respect their opinion as well.

Budget and resources

It’s important that you have left a safe-gap in your budget just in case you run over it. The most concerning issue for your budget will be material procurement. Then it will be the question of how many man-hours it will take to produce your new products? Time is money so you cannot spend too long in the production of the products, yet completed too quickly and quality will suffer. Aspects of your budget will include, the salaries of your workers as this expenditure will add to the total cost of the project. Using resource scheduling software, you can plan the cost of running the machines and other equipment that it takes to make the products. The software allows you to plan each project and task in great detail. This includes allocating workload, assigning group and individual tasks, setting time schedules for everything as well as picking plants, warehouses and factories for the project.

Next will come to the cost of marketing the new line as introducing the products to the consumer, will have to be done in an innovative way. Brand new products always require dedicated marketing campaigns. Nothing from the old products can be carried over; no images, videos or online hashtags. Everything has to be authentic so factor in the cost of video marketing, live streams of your clothing appearing in fashion shows, PPC ads, YouTube 5-second adverts, seasonal marketing space and Google AdWords, all need to be budgeted.

Order a series of samples

Any business that’s introducing a new product or service, will always go through a test and evaluation phase. Building a few prototypes will allow you to do this. However, this shouldn’t be difficult as you can use your existing supply chains. Usually, suppliers will charge you higher for small orders, but since you most likely already have ties with some suppliers, you can use their materials in small quantities. When the materials arrive, send them to your skilled workers such as sewing machines, cutters, fabric specialists, etc. Again, your CDO will play a critical role in making sure the prototypes are made to the spec of the sketch designs. Once the prototypes have been completed, they will need to be brought directly to you. Have a think about them and see what works and what doesn’t.

The first phase into reality

So, you’ve got the prototype pieces of clothing, now it’s time to take them to another executive meeting. At this point, you will have to take on board the advice of your C-suite ranks as their opinion is paramount to the feasibility of the entire project. Now that everyone can see what kind of designs you’re going for, materials, fits, cuts, stitches, lines and general customer satisfaction will be far better understood. This is the first phase of the reality of the project. Your test model will be wearing the clothing completely in its open bare form. All the stitches and cuts will be seen and thus, the personality of the new clothing line will be under scrutiny.

The issue of cost for the products will be front and center. Concerning the materials you’re using and the quantity, what will be pricing point and will it match the target demographic? You may find that along the way, you venture outside the desired sizes and create a product for every demographic. This is frequently done with shorts, dresses and halter tops for example. Tracking every good idea must be done visibly so everyone in the room can take notes. Thus, writing on a whiteboard, all the relevant and most feasible changes to the product line, will support the growth and maturity of the project.

Testing the waters

Fashion brands will often hire people just off the street to wear their products and gather their thoughts on them. So, send out your marketing team and task them with hiring a group of members of the public, to come to a private event where they get to pick out and try on various and or all the products of the new line. Allow them to take the products away for a week so they can wear them in the real world. Recall the group back after a week and absorb all their opinions. Your marketing department will be tasked with jotting down and recording everyone’s opinion so they can be discussed in the boardroom in the run-up to launch day. Obviously, payment at this stage is then given to all those that participated in this real-world test run. 

The launch day event

A private event with media invitations is the best way to launch a new clothing line for your business. Invite industry figures to give your event authority. Hiring models to wear the products and having your own catwalk to show off the pieces will be the main body of the launch event. It will be the first time the industry and the consumer gets to see your brand new products. It’s important for all your C-suite ranks to dress the part and be prepared to do interviews with all the press at the event.

It’s a fantastic time to be alive and working in the fashion industry. There’s nothing that you can’t do in this day and age. The process is much the same as it ever was, except you have more options in software, material procurement and marketing strategies.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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