10 Reasons Your Startup Clothing Line Will Fail (And What To Do Instead)

It is very possible to launch a clothing line that is commercially successful, but you’ll find success harder to come by if you don’t get the important things...

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So, you want to start a clothing line and break into the fashion business? These days it seems everyone wants a piece of the apparel industry. Many entrepreneurs want to start a clothing line and market it, but unfortunately not many make it past the year mark.

“The Apparel Industry is fragmented and highly competitive. There are a number of major players, but there are also countless niche stores and private companies that cater to specific demographics. Too, general merchandisers and foreign companies bring more competition to the sector. Consequently, companies in the Apparel Industry need to be nimble and highly efficient in order to survive.” (Value Line)


Starting A Clothing Line

It is very possible to launch a clothing line that is commercially successful, but you’ll find success harder to come by if you don’t get the important things right.

Why do so many fashion designers fail?

Experience is an incredible teacher. Over the years I have seen many startup clothing lines come and go. Here are ten reasons why your startup clothing line will fail and what you can do to prevent it.


  1. You are using a free website.

    Free websites serve their purpose for things like photography and blogging. But how am I supposed to trust a business with my money who decides not to invest in a company website or branded URL?

    With all the scams out there today you need to prove your credibility before you expect customers to open their wallets. Free websites have the sole benefit of being free, but they often make you look suspicious to a potential customer. Let’s try and avoid that novelty feel if we’re trying to create a serious business and trusted brand.

  2. You can’t deal with criticism.

    The Internet has done great things for business and connected us globally. It has also given people a keyboard to hide behind. As your brand grows you will almost certainly end up dealing with criticism; people slandering your vision, an upset customer defaming you online or general online trolls looking for a reaction.

    It can make you feel horrible when someone tries to attack something you have worked so hard to build, but you need to develop thick skin and brush it off. Don’t let someone who is upset in their own life (and had the time of day to get online and anonymously attack you) get you down or make you give up on your goals.

  3. You lack variety.

    If you run a purely clothing-based or apparel line you should diversify with more than a couple of SKUs. With minimum order quantities (MOQ’s) you may not be able to meet overseas and local screen shops prerequisites on a limited budget. But it also means your brand will lack variety.

    The idea of starting with a few items (or minimum viable product, also known as MVP) and building may be a great model for other businesses, however in my opinion: in the ever changing world of fashion you need to compete with brands that offer more.

  4. You’re no sourcing expert.

    Overseas manufacturing may seem like a good option, but it can go downhill fast. They know the game and they know you are inexperienced. They will tell you they have worked for all your favorite brands and get you hyped up. There is no way of really verifying this so you technically can’t prove them wrong.

    If you don’t have buying power don’t expect special treatment. They see a thousand of you every day. However, there are a ton of great independent manufacturers out there you can source from; but it takes time to find them. When you do, always meet face to face. Get to know the operation before engaging in any transaction.

    Always try to find someone at the other end that is trustworthy and working on your behalf. Don’t fall victim to “agent” scams and pay someone you just met online, exchanged a few emails and decided they could be the manufacturing partner of your dreams. Let them prove it.

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