Finances – How Much Do I Need To Start?
Every day at Bryden, we have enquiries asking us about how money is needed to start their fashion brands and the costs of manufacturing their products.
We thought it will be great to share with everyone on the costs involved of starting a line so that you can budget wisely and know how to sustain it in the long run. In this post, we will touch on some of the initial costs involved in starting a clothing line.
Cost: $50 – $500
As mentioned in Starting A Clothing Line – The Basics, if you’re not designing your collection, you will need to hire the appropriate designers. You will need fashion designers to produce sketches, technical drawings and tech packs. Graphic designers will be required to produce illustrations and pattern designs for prints. This would be one of the first few things you spend on.
Depending on your budget, you can choose to hire in-house designers or freelance designers. Thanks to the Internet, hiring help is easier than ever. On websites like Behance, Fiverr and Upwork, the cost of a freelance fashion designer could range from $100 to $300. A graphic designer could range from $25 – $500 depending on their skills and experience.
I will recommend a budget of $200 – $300 per design, as that can get you an experienced designer to produce technical drawings and detailed tech packs.
Do take into consideration the complexity of designs as well – if you need complex and intricate styles, it is likely that these will come at a higher charge.
Pro tip: You get what you pay for. Don’t go for the cheapest option as you could end up spending more time and money trying to settle on a suitable design.
Product Development & Sampling
Cost: $100 – $1000 per design
After your designs are ready, you will need to produce the collection. You’re going to have to develop patterns, source and buy fabrics, trims and notions for your designs. Different types of garments have different complexities and thus, different costs. The cost of making a printed winter jacket is definitely higher than a t-shirt with a graphic print.
You can expect to pay $100 – $1000 for samples and this cost depends on what help you need. Some pattern makers may only provide help on pattern making alone while some will help with grading and sewing the garment. Other service providers may provide an all in one package which can be cheaper.
Sourcing for fabrics, trims and notions is a tedious process and can cost a fair bit, whether you’re doing it on your own or engaging third-party help. Additionally, the type of fabric, trims, notions and the extent of customisation (if any) will add on to your costs.
From our experience in helping Indie labels from London, New York and Los Angeles, these places have local fabric markets with a good range of fabrics. I will suggest going to your local fabrics markets to get cutouts of the fabrics you want and send them to your overseas manufacturer to help you source for the fabrics.
This way, you can ensure that the fabrics you like will be easily matched by your manufacturer and won’t end up spending extra time and money to getting the fabrics right.
When I in the early phase of setting up my t-shirt label, I incurred a lot on shipping costs because my manufacturer didn’t offer help with fabric sourcing as they found it a hassle. I had to source for fabrics from different suppliers, who shipped from a different location that raked up up my courier costs. At that point, I was thinking that ‘It will be so wonderful if my manufacturer could provide me with a range of fabrics and combine them to send to me. That will allow me to save on all the shipping charges that are piling up and will be so convenient! That experience inspired me to offer our clients the convenience of having fabric options, sourcing and customisation as part of Bryden’s service.
After this sourcing phase is finalised, the next step will be to find a manufacturing partner. One of the key things to consider when finding a suitable manufacturer is to find one that can communicate well and understand your ideas.
For my own label, I had to travel overseas many times to meet my supplier due to the many errors in sampling. The travelling incurred a hefty expense for me, which was tough for a start-up brand but was necessary to get things moving. So bear in mind the costs of travelling if you decide to go for an overseas manufacturer.
Once you’ve settled on a manufacturer, you will move on to sampling. During this phase, you will test if the chosen fabrics, trims and notions work on the final garment and if the workmanship of the factory you’ve selected is satisfactory. An average of two samples is usually required before moving on to the bulk order stage.
Pro Tip: Choose a partner that can help with your sourcing, tech packs, sampling and customisation to keep your costs low.
Domains: $10 per domain
Hosting: $29 – $79 per month
Today, websites are almost necessary for clothing brands. Ask yourself this question, how many times were you tempted to walk into a store that has a beautifully designed space?
Apply the same logic when creating your website as it serves as your storefront. It’s imperative to remember that an online shopper’s attention is even shorter than in a physical store, so you have to bait them good.
Depending on your needs and preferences, you could choose to engage a web developer to build your e-commerce store for you. Engaging a developer that can handle both front & back-end development would cost a fair bit as they will build a site from scratch and can customise an entire website to your liking. Web developers usually charge $1,000 – $10,000 depending on your requirements.
Yet, with resources readily available on the internet today, you could easily build a site on your own. There are options like Shopify, Bigcartel, Bigcommerce, Squarespace and Wix for example that are user-friendly and only requires basic front-end development i.e. layout design, font choice, placement of buttons etc., which are ideal for brands that are starting out.
Bryden’s platform of choice is Squarespace. We felt that the interface was well designed and suited our company’s design aesthetic. Its website building tools are also intuitive and easy to use. Additionally, their offer of giving a free domain for the first year is a fantastic deal for anyone starting out. (This is not a sponsored plug from Squarespace, we really like the platform.)
Based on my own experience in running my own online stores, I’d actually recommend Shopify as it has a very strong ecosystem of third-party apps, themes and customer support that can help you to create a great e-commerce store with all the bells and whistles needed to stand out.
Pro Tip: Find an e-commerce platform that has beautiful themes and allows for easy customisation.