How to Start a Clothing Business: 6 Steps to Success

Do you have a passion for fashion? Maybe you’re excited to be the source of the next trend, or to provide customers with items that fit and feel good. Maybe you’re even a designer looking to start a clothing business that helps people express their personal style! 

Nowadays there are more ways to sell apparel than ever—from the classic brick-and-mortar shop, to pop-ups and online storefronts. So which method is the best fit for your small business? Our guide will cover the basics and help you kickstart your clothing business. 

What does starting a clothing business involve?

When you start a clothing retail business, you’re in the business of curating your customer’s closets. This involves choosing and sourcing products from designers and manufacturers—whether through large-scale suppliers, or by working directly with local makers and artists. 

With so many options, how do you pick? You want to know who you’re speaking to and what they want to say with their sartorial choices. Make sure you consider your: 

  • Brand identity
  • Target customer
  • Price point

Then, get ready to stay tapped into current and future style trends. In an industry that relies on the novelty of its product, your job isn’t simply to handle the day-to-day realities of a retail business—it’s also to anticipate what your customers might wear next. 

Luckily, the fashion industry is booming—according to industry reports, the global apparel market is expected to reach $2.25 trillion by 2025. With the ease and speed of online shopping, there’s never been a better time to start a clothing business. 

However, it also takes hard work to get that market share. Be ready to continuously update your shelves and provide excellent customer service. If you weave together perseverance and the right strategy, you can make your business dreams a reality.

Woman organizing a clothing rack

Starting a clothing business: 4 key considerations.

The retail clothing industry provides business models of all shapes and sizes. Choosing between options like dropshipping, print on demand, or wholesale is crucial for minimizing startup and operational costs. So before you go all-in on your business plan, consider:

Your niche.

With so much competition, it’s critical to differentiate your brand. What styles will you stock? Will your apparel cater to feminine, masculine, or androgynous presentations? Who do you want to purchase from you and how do you want them to feel when they buy from your brand? 

For example, different clothing businesses have different approaches. Boutiques are small stores that often serve a specific aesthetic with limited options. Luxury retailers sell high-end apparel from prestigious brands, so they’re often seen as exclusive. Other stores might stock maternity wear or specialty apparel like workwear or lingerie. 

No matter what you choose, it’s important to do research to understand the lane you’re in. Remember that customers will buy their clothing from many different sources. Your job is to become known for a specific product or style, so that you become a customer’s go-to business for that empty hanger in their closet.

Sourcing inventory.

When selling clothes, your product is your business. If you’re sourcing clothing externally, you need reliable suppliers and manufacturers for your product lines. Make sure to thoroughly vet potential vendors for quality and turnaround times. Consider putting together contingency plans if any stock issues or delays come up.

What if you’re making your product in-house? Well, sourcing inventory doesn’t just stock your shelves. The process ensures you can meet customer demand and maintain your competitive edge, so make sure your production line is sustainable and scalable. 

Unique selling points.

What will make your clothing brand stand out? Maybe you only use sustainable materials, or offer customization that can’t be found off-the-rack. Think about what experiences you can provide to customers that they can’t find anywhere else.

Knowing what makes you unique and aligning it with what customers care about can result in real business impact. For example, over 70% of shoppers say they are willing to pay more for sustainably produced goods, and 42% of global customers purchase eco-friendly and sustainable products. With how competitive clothing businesses can be, a unique selling point can be the head-turner that helps your brand stand out in the crowd.


Perhaps the biggest question you need to answer about your clothing business: should you sell online, in person, or both? Opening a physical storefront is different from operating exclusively online. Many brands also choose to do both. 

When it comes to clothes, customers often like to try before they buy, but just as many customers might buy and return from online stores. Learning how to start a clothing line means asking: Will you reach your target audience through a physical store? And does your business model lend itself to in person sales? Consider the costs, marketing, and staffing needs that come with the route you choose. 

How to start a clothing business in 6 steps:

Now you know who you’re selling to and what you’re selling them—what comes next? A detailed clothing business plan is crucial for handling shipping, fulfillment, and online customer service, as well as identifying your target market and unique selling points. Follow these steps to launch your clothing business:

1. Develop a clothing line business plan.

A business plan is the roadmap to any successful business. Each business plan looks different, but a general guideline should cover:

  • An executive summary that encapsulates the entire plan 
  • A company description that answers key questions about your business 
  • A market analysis section that leverages your market research
  • A section on mission, goals, and objectives. 
  • A description of your products or services
  • A marketing plan detailing your unique value proposition and promotional strategies 
  • A financial plan that includes a proposed budget, projected financial statements for five years, and outlines any funding requests. 

Clarifying your brand identity, target customer profiles, and product plan will be especially important for your clothing business.

Every small business starts with paperwork, as  you’ll need to register with your business name and structure to truly launch your clothing business. You should also have a good understanding of employment and tax requirements in your area. Work with a legal expert to make sure there are no loose threads.

Additionally, when starting an online clothing business, take the time to research any specific legal and regulatory requirements, such as obtaining a business license and adhering to e-commerce regulations.

3. Source your product.

Whether you’re producing your own clothing line or curating apparel, you’ll need suppliers. Have conversations with potential partners to decide which one will be the right fit, factoring quality and turnaround times. This is also a good time to sort out packaging and distribution. Both customer satisfaction and the reputation of your brand rely on your product source, so don’t rush through this part! 

4. Establish sales channels.

You know what you’re selling, but how will you get it into your customers’ hands? Will you sell on your own website? Considering how to start an online clothing store means being social media savvy. 

Set up your site and online presence on other social media platforms like Instagram and Tiktok. Remember that attention is a valuable resource online, so make sure purchases are simple to make and secure. 

If you’re opening a physical retail location too, secure a customer-friendly space in a location where your target audience can find you. Put some thought into the environment and display of your physical space—if a customer can’t find what they’re looking for, you’ll miss out on a sale!

5. Hire and train your retail team.

If you’ll have employees, you need to bring on the right sales associates and managers. Promote your open roles and interviews online using a clear job description. Then, onboard and train your new hires so they’re ready to work.

Ideally, you want experienced workers who can offer a welcoming customer service experience and handle all the day-to-day tasks of your business. But remember that employee training can go a long way to building the team that will lead your clothing business to success.

6. Implement your marketing strategy.

Your marketing angle should have been back-of-mind this whole time, but it’s time for it to take center stage. A strong marketing strategy drives customer awareness and sales. Remember to cast a wide net and cater to your audience by considering:

  • Social media
  • Paid ads
  • Direct mail

Here’s where your market research comes in. Researching how to start a clothing company should have revealed important details about your target audience’s preference. Make sure your marketing method reaches the right audience so that your clothing brand stands out in a competitive market.

Marketing campaigns aren’t something you set and forget. You should know what your potential customers are paying attention to. Data shows that the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 143 minutes per day, and 70% of shoppers are looking to Instagram for their next purchase.

What does this mean for your clothing business? It means that placing your marketing time and effort in the right place matters. Aim to get in front of as much of your target audience as possible and leave a strong impression when you get there!

Why choose Homebase for your clothing business?

At this point, your to-do list might feel like it’s bursting at the seams. Starting a clothing business is no simple feat, but you don’t have to take every step alone. Here’s how Homebase can help.

Optimized staff scheduling.

Delivering a positive customer experience requires having the right staff on hand at the right times. With Homebase, you can create optimized team schedules tailored to your specific needs.

Using forecasting tools to predict hourly traffic and sales volumes, you canbuild schedules aligned to those demands. Homebase makes it easy to copy over schedules week-to-week. You can also view employee availability and requests to avoid scheduling conflicts.

Time clocks and payroll integration.

Our everything app combines time tracking with payroll processing. So your employees can easily clock in and out from a tablet or their mobile device and their worked hours will be automatically synced to timesheets, without you lifting a finger.

By the end of the pay period, those timesheets will convert automatically to payroll processing without any  manual data entry. With just a few clicks, timesheets turn into paychecks. You can even set up paid time off policies and track balances and accruals right in Homebase.

Control labor costs.

Homebase helps you maintain control over labor spend. Custom reporting and forecasting tools provide visibility into labor budgets versus actuals. That way, you can make informed decisions based on alerts for early clock-ins and overtime. This can help to cut down on costs and time theft.

Team communication tools

Once you’ve built your team, you’ll always have something to share with them. Whether that’s a new product announcement or a back-and-forth about shift details, you can use messaging to connect immediately with your team. 

As your business grows, you may want to connect with specific employees or locations. Homebase lets you create dedicated groups for specific teams or locations so you and your team can always be on the same page. 

Get your clothing business tailor-made for success with Homebase. 

Starting your own clothing brand can be incredibly rewarding, offering endless potential for creativity and success. From defining your niche and developing a brand identity to getting all the operational logistics lined up, a lot goes into making your clothing business a reality. 

Once your new business is up and running, Homebase can help you manage your team so you have more time to stay on top of all the latest trends. From time tracking, to scheduling, to payroll, your business can thrive from the get-go. Get started for free today.

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