RL Productions/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Clothing lines come in many varieties. You might make, distribute and profit from your own clothes, or you could use your name to market a product someone else manufactures. No matter how much involvement you intend to have in the process of making the clothing, though, starting a clothing line is challenging and success is not guaranteed.
Investigate the Market
Just like any other business, a clothing line requires market research to succeed. Investigate the types, styles and price points of clothing that are selling well, with special emphasis on data for your geographic region if you plan to open a brick and mortar store. Locate successful owners of clothing lines and evaluate what they've done well. For example, a local clothing designer might have succeeded with a specific demographic because of her commitment to eco-friendly clothing.
Find a Niche
You'll have the best chance of succeeding if you offer something people can't get elsewhere. Of course, no piece of clothing can be fully unique, but a strong brand identity and a line that departs from what's available at every mall can be helpful. For example, you might create a line based on a specific vintage era, sell clothing that always has some lace or offer children's clothing made from organic cotton.
Build a Following
The advent of the Internet makes it easier to build a following before you even launch your brand. Create a blog, website and social networking fan page to begin drumming up interest. Post photos of your clothing, blog entries about fashion and style and detailed information about what sets your brand apart. Offer customers a discount code for when your store opens. Sending free samples to bloggers and fashion magazines can help you gain publicity, and search engine advertisements and magazine advertorials can help create awareness of your line.
Distribute Your Products
The final step in creating your fashion line is to distribute your products. If you plan to be your own distributor, a sales website or a store on a site such as Etsy are both relatively low-cost ways to get started. If you have funding, though, a brick and mortar store can draw in passersby and create a loyal following, particularly if you offer stellar service. If you're not prepared to run your own store, you'll need to sell your products to a distributor or group of distributors.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.