How to launch your clothing line

My Name is Ray, I run, design, and own Lowdtown Friends & Freaks.

Today I’m going to be covering the branding of a launch. I know everyone has their own theories, but here are just my two cents.

So why is the launch of your clothing line so important?

Well, that really shouldn’t be a question, because EVERYONE knows that your launch is maybe the single most important release for your clothing company. So let’s cover what we’ve learned so far… You now understand how much money you’ll need to run and start your company, and you now have a kickass website. So what’s next? You need to have some badass products for your release. Of course, this whole preparation would take several weeks or maybe months, so let’s pretend that the process has been sped up, and you’ve already done said things.

So here are a few things you should already know about your company before thinking about the launch:

brand name 540x360 How to launch your clothing line1. What is the name of your brand?

  • Simple enough, a name is very important to a brand, obviously. Coming up with the perfect name takes a lot of thought and time.

2. What type of clothing company are you?

  • Are you a streetwear brand? Are you a brand that focuses on simplicity? Do you sell products with zombies and gore on them? Either way, you have to have a clear idea of what category of people you’re catering to. Honestly, it’s difficult to start a brand that has too many focuses.

launch a clothing line demographics 540x311 How to launch your clothing line 3. What is your target demographic?

  • It’s kind of hard to have an exact idea, but you should at least have a certain audience in mind. For example, my target demographic is quite broad (around ages 15-30, mostly male), but the point is that you have an idea of what kind of people would wear your clothes. If you think that anyone can wear you’re clothes, you’re probably wrong. Try imagining Grandma Josephine wearing your punky-graphic shirt, and you probably would think twice.

4. What is your price range?

  •  It’s a good idea to know what the price ranges of your t-shirts are. If you want to be a “high-end” brand, you have to price your shirts accordingly. If you want to be a very exclusive brand, and want to have high prices, it’s a little bit more of a dilemma. With exclusive brands, you want to have a following before you have high prices. People probably won’t buy your $70 shirts unless they’ve been following you from day one, so keep that in mind. I want to be kind of exclusive with my brand, but I understand that I won’t get a following unless it’s more affordable at first.

So now that you have those questions answered, let’s get into the nitty gritty. I realize that I didn’t really answer the first question, so let me ask it again?

Why is the launch of your clothing line so important?

Well, to put it bluntly, the launch is pretty much your single most important release of products. If you make a good impression on people with your awesome products, people will become loyal to your brand, and you’ll have repeat customers. Also, if your launch is weak, people will get a weak impression about your brand. So basically, unless you have a strong launch, people will not immediately feel attached to your brand. Think of your launch as your chance to make your first impression on the new super hot girl (or guy) in high school. Unless you make that great first impression, you might ruin your chances of getting to know her in the future.

So now let’s get into what you want in a perfect launch.

Products at Price-ranges:

The first subject we will cover are obviously and most importantly the products.

I’m probably not the best example of “the perfect launch”, but a great launch consists of many products at many price points. Ideally, you want to make sales no matter what it is. The idea is to make customers, not so much to make money. The money can come later, but right now you want a fanbase and a following. So I’ll set a few examples; so here you are with your brand spanking new t-shirt brand, but it’s not a good idea to just have t-shirts. You want to be a brand with variety and diversity in your product range because you plan to expand in the future. So you have 3 groups of products at different price price points.

1. Badges, Stickers: this is for the people who don’t have too much money, but still want to buy something.

2. Posters: this is for people who don’t have quite enough money for shirts, but still want to buy something memorable.

3. T-shirts: this is the main product you want to move.

So as you can see, there’s sort of a hierarchy of products. The badges and stickers are for anyone with the least bit of money. Posters (or whatever comes midrange) are for the people in between. T-shirts are for the serious spenders who came to your website with a purchase in mind. And of course, there should and can be a group with a higher price range for maybe hoodies or something. One thing that I think is clever if you don’t have the extra dough to buy a high price range item is to set up bundles. For example, you can sell two shirts for a discount (save $5 if you buy two shirts), that way you make it more enticing to buy more than one product. It’s just food for thought, folks.

Is timing important for your clothing lines launch?

There’s a little bit of debate about this part, but is timing of your launch important? Some people think no, other people think yes, I’m kind of on the fence about this sort of thing. I guess, if you get lucky and you’re around a holiday season (mainly Christmas), you can sell more shirts at your launch than you normally would, but I really don’t think it matters. What does matter, however, is how often you release your shirts.

There’s pretty much two ways you can release new products.

1. You can release new product(s) every set amount of time. For example, you could release something new once a month, which is what I’m planning to do. And for bigger companies like Threadless, they have the funding to release new products every week. The benefit of this is that people will know when new products are coming out, and this will quickly create repeat customers. However, this is also a double-edged sword, because unless you’re very good at managing your time, you can lose your customers’ trust. So if you end up releasing a week late for your monthly release, you might end up hurting your own brand.

2. The other way you can release products is by season. This is the more typical and traditional approach. This way, you can release a whole bunch of products at one time. Ultimately this is also a great way because you can build a lot of hype for your new releases. However, the disadvantage to this way is that you have to live up to the expectation. If you build up a lot of hype and you only release one mediocre shirt, I’m sure your fans wouldn’t be that thrilled. But this way is also much more flexible with time, so you don’t have the time restraints like the first way. You can pretty much release new things as long as you let people know. It’s also a good idea to keep the seasons in mind, since you only have a set amount of releases per year, you should have products that maybe relate to the season. For example, if you’re releasing towards Christmas, you can maybe add a holiday-themed shirt into the mix.
launch a clothing line cupcakes 540x359 How to launch your clothing line

The theme of your clothing line

So at this point, I’m assuming you’ve already thought about the products you’re going to release for your launch. If you’ve thought-through your branding, make sure that your launch has a cohesive theme. For example, my theme is Lowdtown, a quirky and fun town where all these creatures live. For my launch tees, I decided that I wanted to have two shirts (Chuck the Rock and Townster) that were based on the theme, and one shirt that was more for branding (LTFF Logo Tee). Make sure that people understand your theme from the get-go. I can’t stress this enough, but this is your chance to make a good first impression on your customers, so make sure your launch really represents your company. A great example of a company that does an awesome job with the theme is Johnny Cupcakes. Check out his store in LA and there are moving ovens that open and close with steam coming out, frosting pouring out of the pipes, oven doors to the stock room, everything goes along with his theme.

Conclusion

So that’s pretty much my thoughts on making a good launch. Just remember that you want to make a good impression. Don’t care too much about making money; because the important thing is that you want customers. If people email you telling you about how much they like your brand, be sure to respond with nice, thoughtful emails. Don’t sound like a robot, at this point, it’s important to create a relationship with your customers. You can get more business-minded in the future, but for now think about making a good impression. Good luck!

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  • Tina Chandler

    I need some advice?!! I have my own line of clothes, purses sunshades coming out. For my first shipment I do not have enough money to get into a monthly rent, but I need to get my product out in the market. We are only starting with around 100 swim suits and some purses. I live in Dallas tx. What should I do? Eventually I need a graphic artist or someone to help me with my own designs. I have a manufacturer already in place, but they would like for me to put my designs together first. I do not have a website yet, as this all just got thrown into my lap not too long ago.

  • http://www.jonathankruse.com Jon Kruse

    I’m not sure what your question is.

  • http://www.getfamousproductions.com Alison

    great article, thank you!

  • http://- Rio Cartman

    great info..thanks

  • Nigel

    good article. I am working towards releasing a t-shirt line next month. As well as offering discounts, we are also looking at launching a design competition to build buzz around the brand. Hopefully it works out.

  • patrick

    i wanted to know what are the basic steps i should take as far as registering my clothing line name, trademarking. do i need to take any particular steps for this.

  • http://(comingsoon) tami s.

    so, i’ve got my first capsule-collection of tees made. 3graphics,3 styles. i did the photoshoot on Oahu (i love how it turned out) have two features on blogs, but i have yet to launch. here was my plan, in order:
    nice hangtags, (my tees are retailing at $65)
    biz cards
    website – simple, clean with a link to an online store page like bigcartel or etsy
    lookbook – might print these myself and do like 20 books for buyers/editors
    (will also do a digital version to submit to blogs)
    so, i live in Hawaii and was planning a trip to L.A. armed with my tees, lookbooks, a big smile and was going to try and make some appts. w/buyers for my ideal shops…..
    good plan? bad plan? any suggestions?
    could post a link to the blog postings so you get a feel if you want.
    mahalos!

  • http://www.lowdtown.com Ray

    Sounds like you’re off to a good start. However, I’d like to make a comment about your order of operations. You’re saying that you want nice hangtags and business cards before you have a website up and running? Sounds a little backwards to me. As I said in another post, your website is your most essential tool when you’re first starting off, so that should be a priority over all else.

    Also, you said that your tees retail at $65. To me, that sounds pretty steep, but obviously I don’t know your market, and it sounds like you’re going for a higher-end t-shirt line. That’s all fair game, but be sure that your shirts are actually selling before you make any big moves. Two features on blogs are good, but you need a lot more buzz to be able to sell these in stores if they really are that good.

    Going to LA sounds like a huge step if you’re really just going there on a whim. Try not to rush anything, you don’t have to be an overnight success. Though, if you really want to do that, find out which stores you’re planning on going to and definitely make appointments. Tell them before hand that you want to stop by and drop off a lookbook and show off your tees, because it’ll all be pointless if they’re not interested when you get to LA. Personally, I would wait longer, because a lookbook with only 3 designs doesn’t really sound all that impressive to me. Besides, it might not even be necessary to go see the store in person. I’ve sold to several stores in which I literally got the deal through email and shipped them my stuff. Take it at your own pace, and don’t rush things!

    I hope that helps, good luck!

    -Ray

    Email me at: ray@lowdtown.com if you have any more specific questions.

  • J-Costello

    Good Looks on The Info. You The Man. I’m Planning On starting a Indie line. And all the info u have on this blog is great. I jus wanna say thanks again and wish me luck.

  • http://www.jonathankruse.com Jon Kruse

    Good luck. It isn’t easy but worth the reward if you put the time into it.

  • shayjones

    Can you email me your other links…this is very usefull..id like to know more however possible.

  • anup

    hi can u all suggest a name for my new outlet,,which has mainly tshits and other party oriented fashion accessories,

  • Jayde Beaumont

    You make me more confident i can do this :)

  • Allakom79

    can you check out my store website and tell me what we should work on or improve?

    http://www.krasastore.com

  • Rajenaispencer

    I'm not an actual designer, but just had a baby boy. I love fashion, I went to Nordstroms and bloomingdales the other day… They had in my opinion absolutely nothing!!! And that's when I said “I'm going to launch my own exclusive all boy infant/toddler/kids clothing line… But where would I get the material to start? The artists who draw??? I DEFINITELY WANT THIS… but need HELP?

  • Folake

    Thank you SO MUCH for your help Ray!!!!!!! I greatly appreciate you taking time out to share your knowledge and wisdom. You are truly helping others, and your passion for what you do is contagious. Continued success with school, the blog and your line!  Sincerely, Folake

  • Knight and colonel

    This is the 3rd of ur article I have read and I honestly think you are doing a great job and have loads to offer.

  • Pgilmore

    I'm starting a line of ski apparel clothes for men, women, and children, and I'm curious if anyone knows any good, and fairly prices t-shirt manufacturers that sell blanks that we can place our logo on?  If you know of any that have new and trendy styles that would be very helpful.  Thanks in advance. :)

    Happy Gilmore :)

  • Joel

    1.Is there a article that shows me how to get started from point A to B?

    2.I already have a LLC from a different venture which I pulled the plug on and was wondering if I can just get another DBA and tie my t shirt brand into it?

    3. Is there another way to protect my brand name while starting to avoid the copyright & trademark fees for now??

  • Misscleva09

    Very helpful, thanks a lot. I’m working on relaunching my brand Cleva Collections…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1390370277 Kanon Kulpa

    I would recommend trademarking your brand, however, with the development of a website and a product with your logo on it does afford you a small edge in court should you have to prove that you were in business under that brand before the other party. BUT, this is not a guarantee that your brand will be protected forever, especially at a national sales level.

  • Cameron DaEntrepreneur

    I have my brand name and a theme and concept for my brand, but I think im rushing into trying to get them out to the public without a lot of money. my first batch of tees are my brand name and logo in black, which are 200 tees in quantity and 7 different colors. only the white tee w/ black logo have XL and the other 6 are just 10 med. and 10 large. So do you think the sizes should’ve all been the same or am I good as in just testing the waters.

  • Cameron DaEntrepreneur

    I already have a brand name and logo established with a theme and concept, but isn’t trademarked yet (feel free to point me in a good trademarking direction). Im working without a lot of money, but my first batch was 200 tees in quantity, with seven different colors. The original logo will be used on these tees in black. I only have one color, which is the white shirt w/ black logo, that has XL tees, the other six are 10 med and 15 large. do you think they should’ve all been the same size and do you think I should sell without my website first?

  • Erika Spiteri Bailey

    how many outfits should my collection have?

  • bjon86

    What should be in a lookbook? What would you say is a solid lookbook?

  • jonkruse

    Anything that captures your brand and connects with your audience. Professional looking photos are always a plus.

  • bjon86

    What I mean is, are we talking about 5 Tee designs and maybe some other product like bags and/accessories or should have maybe 10 Tee designs?

  • jonkruse

    If you are selling more then shirts you should probably have pictures in your lookbook of the other products your selling.

  • Antonio L. Lopez

    Im new to this forum, but I share the same idea!! Baby clothing is so undervalued. I feel it could be a promising market. Here is my email. Lopez.Antonio_96@yahoo.com, Id love to talk it over with you and at least help with the thought process.

  • Yusuf Kurniawan

    So, i have started my clothing line a month ago, and i’m on my way in re-designing my website. can you please share your clothing website to me? it is not for a copy purpose

  • Ashley Burgess

    Hi I’m Ashley B. I want to become an designer of my own line. I have the name of the brand, the audience I am for sure going to approach, (very positive), creative ideals and ideal for days. a price setting, and theme. but I want to be the designer, not the one actually making the clothes. but I need a qualified stream tress or company to invest in my ideal. I’m very artistic which is why I’m in school now for graphic design but that is not my passion. Even though I know my audience to a t and my plan will become a success I don’t know the right path to go. do I go to fashion school? or do I keep networking and pray to God someone invest in my dream? also Im not RICH! what do I do?