Difficulties of Starting a Fashion Brand
A look at some of the key challenges fashion brands face on the lead up to their launch.
Starting a fashion brand has never been more appealing. With the influx of e-commerce and social media, the barriers of entry into the fashion world seem lower and easier to overcome than ever before. However, designers and emerging labels still face many challenges on their way to launching a new brand.
First of all, the amplified competition and the ever-increasing demands (of more conscious and research-ready consumers), makes it difficult to reach the customer. Besides that, there is the difficulty of finding something totally new, something unique.
Finances will always be a major factor when a designer or entrepreneur is planning and preparing for the launch of a new label.
From investments into the manufacturing of stock, to the finances behind marketing and promoting your brand, and the needed cash flow for the day to day running of the business. Generating this needed capital can be one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face.
Finances should be taken into account at the very beginning of the journey, with budgets, forecasts, and cash flow projections. These should be created and monitored at every stage of the process. Generating financial capital can be done through personal or business bank loans, friends and family or through crowdfunding platforms.
Finding the Right Expertise
When it comes to having a complete skill set to design and launch a new fashion brand, it often links back to the challenge of generating enough financial investment.
Having the expertise on every level – from design and marketing to the actual manufacturing of the collections – manpower can certainly be a challenge for new, cash-poor and inexperienced start-ups.
One option that many new and emerging brands take is outsourcing additional necessary skills.
This might be outsourcing specific skillsets through freelance professionals or using digital platforms to find international manufacturing when starting out without any industry connections.
Creative & Commercial Balance
Often the idea behind a new fashion brand is packed with enough creativity for designs season after season with a back story that could fill many more seasons.
However, this creativity also needs to be balanced with a commercial mindset in order to succeed, which is often a challenge for very creative and artistic designers.
To overcome this challenge, designers and brands must find a happy medium between expressing their creativity through the outlet of their brand and designing commercially for their market, no matter how niche.
Competition in the Fashion Market
Differentiation is key when starting a new brand. To be different, designers need to be very aware of the direct competition in the niche for their label as well as the further reaches of the industry.
Having a unique-selling-point is key to allow a brand to find its own place in the market.
This is often told through brand identity and story with a real ethos that exudes through every design, marketing material, and retail outlet, both on- and offline.
Knowing Your Customer
Designing clothing you love is often what comes most naturally to a fashion designer. However, and this very much links with our point above, knowing your target customer inside and out is incredibly important.
Knowing who your customer is will help to guide you with not just designing the collections.
It will also help how you present your brand identity and image, how you market yourself as a label, and how you choose to retail.
Many designers can get lost in their creative mind and forget to narrow down on their customer or customers, which makes it difficult to design a line and brand that really speaks to them.
Lack of Business Background
A point that closely links to the other challenges of starting a fashion label is the overwhelm that many designers feel when it comes to the business side of starting a brand.
Although having incredible designs and manufacturing is essential, to launch and maintain a successful brand, knowledge about marketing, branding, finances, human resources and so much more is what propels a brand into a thriving business.
With all the challenges that emerging designers and new brands face when entering into the fashion industry, Young Designers United is dedicated to help new-comers and give them the exposure their brands need.
Working as a fashion community, YDU selects and supports brands with retail space in the centre of Amsterdam, exchanging knowledge, advice and business expertise.
Join the Young Designers United platform and share experiences with us, learning from each other and supporting new and emerging designers and brands within this competitive and eternally dynamic industry.