Emerging designers think BIG which is amazing in the fashion industry, you want to be creative and innovative but many designers still lack knowledge of growing the business side of their brand. It’s evident that designers don’t think about long-term growth and fail to strategize the growth of a brand and realistic expectations. You also have to consider that when you first start your brand you are typically a very small team and perhaps even an army of 1. You are handling everything on your own, as much as we would all love to have someone to help, hiring someone immediately is not feasible for most emerging designers.
What we find is over commitment by the brand in the beginning that hinders them in the future? So, when we get the question of how big do I start with my first collection, I redirect the question and ask, what is a realistic plan for getting YOUR business off the ground?
Starting With a Smaller Challenge
“Do not aim to create a full collection until your business is ready to handle it"
If you are in the decision phase of creating a whole collection or starting with one product note your goals, budget and time. Be realistic if you see your brand starting off completely wholesale or if you are going to have your own E-commerce space for your customers. With wholesale you want to give retailers options to decide from but you can also start with 1 category and grow from there.
Having your own E-commerce allows you to grow in your own timeline and availability and also gives you some room to understand what your customers are looking for from the brand before trying to sell wholesale. Even if you wholesale out to a retailer you want your collection to have an identity and story, starting off slow and growing allows you to really understand what your customers expect from your brand. (Read about how to create a brand experience online).
Note: Building a lucrative brand from E-commerce before going wholesale could help with cost. Designers are excited about wholesaling but forget that your brand must be able to afford the upfront costs that wholesale will require.
Start in a particular category with a signature piece
With designers looking to keep up with fast fashion, creativity has seemed to take a back seat in the industry. Designers are trying to be everything to as many customers as they can. Instead try starting in a particular category and grow from that.
Categories such as:
The power of the “Signature Piece” has become less popular with the desire to create quickly. Finding your brand’s signature piece can help you build a more well-known and well-rounded brand. What current items or style can you put a new twist to? or what do you think may be needed in womenswear for the work place or girls night out?
Start with one type of product
Don’t be afraid to start with one type of product, whether you are clothing, accessories, makeup, tech, footwear or hair brand. Designers tend to start with an assortment of items, especially if they don’t see the current product moving the way they hoped. Instead of fixing the issues they add more and more products. Master one area first, get to know what else your customers would like to see and start a plan to slowly add it in.
Full collection route: Think Retail
“You want buyers to have enough pieces to decide from, to avoid being overlooked.”
If you do decide to put the time and energy into a whole collection. Start with 10 to 12 of cohesive pieces. If you are looking to tackle bigger retailers and boutiques you want options making 10 to 12 a focus allows you to give yourself a smaller area to be the most creative. Don't just throw in different types of products from different categories to makeup your collection, plan out your brand style and understand your strongest design skill as a designer. I have also seen brands start with 5 to 7 pieces, especially for clutches, handbags, accessories and beauty products. Always note what type of retailers and boutiques you are looking to place your products in, visit these locations and get a feel of their product selection. Are they buying a few pieces or whole collection, the setup, the buying time frame, etc.?
Stay updated on the fashion calendar
No matter if you decide to push a whole collection or one product learn the fashion calendar, market trends and what customers are looking for. Designers get caught up in their designs and limit themselves because of the lack of seasonal trend research. Keeping up with the information allows you to understand what buyers will be looking for, what styles are popular.