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Got a head full of fashion ideas but not a clue on how to start? Here’s how.

Got a head full of fashion ideas but not a clue on how to start? Here’s how.

Simple Guide

Create A Brand Plan

Starting a new fashion brand is an exciting venture whether you are a university graduate producing your first collection or an established business looking to expand into new areas. One of the first things to think about before jumping feet-first into your new enterprise is to establish your objectives and brand plan to get the ball rolling.

Some of the best ideas never make it to the prototype stage; so ensuring you have everything you need before you get started in the production process will help to make this stage smooth and simple.

Establishing your business and brand plan is the first stage in making your dream a reality, so asking yourself some important questions will ensure you set both short-term and long-term goals for your new business.

Define Your Reasons For Creating A Clothing Brand

The fashion industry is competitive but with the range of resources available, it is becoming accessible to people that have the passion and drive to create unique clothing. Thinking about why you want to start a new clothing line can help to identify your target audience and also define your niche in the industry.

Define Your Target Market

Many businesses fail because they do not identify the audience they are talking to. For small fashion businesses, this is particularly important as you may not have an established voice in the industry and will rely on targeting specific customers to bring your ideas to life.

Think Big (Or Small)

One of the main reasons why people enter the fashion industry is that they can see the potential for their designs to flourish. This entrepreneurial spirit helps to create a vision for the future and enables innovative business owners the chance to plan ahead. Creating a vision usually involves big plans but in fact, they can often start small too. In clothing production, designing and manufacturing small runs can often lead to exclusive and sought-after collections, so defining your long-term vision should be suited to your brand and target audience.

Set Out A Timeline

Time is important in any sector and when you are bringing a product to launch having a timeline and set milestones in place will ensure that production stays on track. Creating a calendar for clothing production can be a tricky task and there are several factors to consider when setting out dates for your overall objectives.

If you are able to provide a timeline, this will also give clothing manufacturers a better understanding of your goals. It is also important to be realistic. Although some manufacturers will be able to accommodate quick turnarounds, this could result in errors in the process, which in turn will set you back further than expected.

There should be enough time in your planning and production process to navigate and correct errors. Working closely with your clothing manufacturer will give you the opportunity to negotiate turnaround times and consider the factors they might encounter when producing your clothing. You should always give yourself enough time rather than too little, as this will reduce the scale of errors or external mitigating factors that could affect production.


Whether you are creating a small clothing collection or are hoping to start a new retail chain, setting a realistic budget for your brand is essential. There are several steps in the clothing production process and accounting for every aspect will ensure your cash flow can keep up with your plans.

A good way to keep track of everything is to create a costing guide, which showcases the associated costs for each item you plan to sell. This guideline will also assist in setting the final price of products and give you an idea of the type of profit you could expect from your first run. 

Budgeting for clothing manufacturing costs also gives you the chance to research suppliers for your price point. By comparing costs, you can see weigh up the pros and cons of each manufacturer before committing.

Another important element to consider when planning your clothing production budget is where your supplier is based. There are a host of options to choose from including UK clothing manufacturers and overseas options, and this could assist you in determining costs for shipping, logistics, convenience and time allocations for communication.

Being realistic and ensuring you have contingencies in place will give you a clearer idea of your requirements in order to plan and produce a profitable collection.

Product Development And Clothing Production

After you have successfully created a brand plan and have a sufficient budget to move onto the production stage, learning how to utilise your resources will ensure you work with the best clothing manufacturers for your business ideas. In the past, getting started in the apparel industry would have been a difficult task for fashion industry outsiders. But with D&J, it’s all very simple, we can manage the production process and budget effectively.

Types Of Clothing Manufacturers

Another deciding factor when choosing a clothing producer is what services they provide. There are two main areas to consider when looking at production and this is whether you need a factory to produce straight from your specifications and tech pack or you require a full-scale service from pattern creation through to the finished product.

ODM (Original Design Manufacture)

ODM stands for Original Design Manufacturer (detailed introduction), which is also known as white label clothing manufacturer or as private label clothing manufacturer. This method of clothing manufacturing lets a factory create clothing products out of their own designs and specifications but will let you put your own brand labels on these clothing products. This method is convenient for those who do not have any designs and ideas as the factory can right away provide them for you. It would be up to you to decide which design you choose for them to manufacture or mass produce.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer (detailed introduction), which is a more flexible but also complex way principle. This method of clothing manufacturing lets a factory create clothes based on your designs and specifications. The products will have your brand labels and can be customized at any time to your liking. The factory is simply your worker if you pick the OEM clothing manufacturer route, all of the designs and ideas are completely yours but for them to create.

However, you need to be open to suggestions from the factory itself to keep a harmonious relationship between you two. Open communication lines are also the key to becoming a successful OEM clothing entrepreneur or a private-label clothing line. Their inputs to your product will be instrumental to your company in the long run since they are experts in what they are doing and they will also embrace your product/s as their own.

D&J do both OEM and ODM, we support small startups to global megabrands.

Creating a Tech Pack

When developing your ideas for your new fashion brand, you’ll have an initial concept image that will provide the basis for your clothing line. Rather than just giving a clothing manufacturer this basic outline, producing a tech pack can help to identify all the small details required to make your finished product.

A tech pack can help to minimise errors in the production process and if you can provide as much information as possible such as measurements, colours and fabric type, this will make the process smoother. A tech pack not only provides a solid foundation to get production started, it also ensures everyone is on the same page and your design is easily translatable to the manufacturer.

How To Communicate With Clothing Manufacturers

Effective communication is key when bringing your clothing line to production so considering what type of questions you might ask and understanding the processes will assist in getting accurate information the first time. As a new business, the terminology might be overwhelming and knowing the type of pitfalls to avoid will guide you through this experience.


No one expects you to know everything as a new business owner but grasping the basics can help get you through an initial conversation with a clothing manufacturer. If you are not able to clearly explain your ideas and vision, you may not get the correct advice or quotes back when enquiring, which could result in time-wasting and potential errors in the long run.

Understanding Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs)

It is commonplace in clothing production for manufacturers to have a minimum order quantity (MOQ’s) when creating designs. In some cases, you may find that factories can only produce bulk quantities, as smaller runs prove more expensive. Deciding the number of garments you require is an important part of the planning process and considering styles and sizes will also assist when ordering quantities.


Samples are an essential part of the production process and are useful during the initial research and planning stage, but also vital before final production. Samples will help you establish whether the feel and look of the clothing is right for your brand and whether the quality is suitable. Later in the production phase, your final sample will need to be checked before you commit to your final run. It is worth noting that some suppliers charge for samples, and these can be a higher unit cost than your finished product. This cost should be factored into your brand plan and forms an essential part of the planning process to ensure everything is correct and perfect for your new fashion collection.

Discussing Timeframes

Setting timeframes and keeping a clear line of communication open with suppliers is vital to ensure everything goes to plan.  Working with your manufacturer to get a realistic timeframe will ensure that expectations are met. Negotiation may be required at this stage, as you may require a quick turnaround but reaching a mutual agreement will be beneficial to both parties to keep your brand launch on track.