Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Ariana Marinelli
The fashion industry is a very competitive business filled with talented, creative people who set styles and trends. Even a small designer with plans to grow should develop a business plan. A business plan will help crystallize the designer’s vision as well as gauge the worth of activities to accomplish business goals.
Will you be the next Vera Wang and become known for exclusive gowns and wedding dresses? Are you interested in making cheaper goods for a mass market consumer that could end up on the rack in Kmart? Answering these questions will affect every aspect of your business plan.
Develop an overview of the situation in the fashion marketplace in which your business will operate. What are the fashion trends that you’ll capitalize upon? Who are the key competitors in your sector? What are the prevailing pricing structures in your sector? Where are efficiencies being realized in manufacturing and distribution? You will need to do your homework to answer these questions; in the process, you will come to know more about your business and your vision than you would have known otherwise.
Position Your Product
Determine what your product offering will be. Fashion is characterized by businesses at all levels of the spectrum from haute couture to Chinese imports. Within the fashion universe, you’ll need to determine what kind of fashion house your business will represent. Your business plan will need to demonstrate your unique product offering in words and images. Fashion trends change from season to season, but you’ll need to capture the broader essence of your product as a business liability.
You will need to select a name for your product line as well as legally trademark your label. Your design logo is part of your positioning your business.
Manufacturing Your Goods
Discuss how you will mass produce your product line if mass distribution is your business’ goals. Most clothing is manufactured overseas, and you’ll need to address the expertise of the company that will be manufacturing your fashion line in your business plan. You will need to note who your suppliers will be in your business plan.
Targeting a high-end customer will allow you to charge significantly more for your designs, but your cost of goods will also be higher since you’ll need to use finer materials.
Financing Your Business
Determine your source of funding to create and manufacture your clothing line. Your business plan should reflect how you will balance those two opposing forces. You’ll need to state how your pricing and costs will result in profit or loss for a year or more depending on the extent of your plan’s scope.
Distribution of Merchandise
Discuss your plans for distributing your merchandise. Outline your plan for contacting store buyers operating in your area of the industry in person and at trade shows like Magic, the huge fashion apparel trade show. Make appointments to show them your clothing line as well as any press materials about yourself and your company. If your product is haute couture, you’ll want to reach out to specialty stores and individuals such as celebrities and offer them samples to feature in store or to wear on the red carpet.
Marla Currie has written professionally since 1995. She is editor and publisher of The Urban Shopper, an online magazine whose consumerist content is targeted to Black and Latino females. In addition to short fiction, Currie is author of "The Humours of Black Life," a nonfiction work. She has a master's degree in advertising.