9 decisions you need to make before creating your 1st collection.
Before investing a dollar into developing the 1st collection you first need to cover some fashion brand set-up fundamentals.
Ask yourself, would you rush into a big-ticket purchase without doing research first? For example, buying a car. No, most people wouldn’t!
So why rush into spending $K’s on designing your 1st collection without doing due diligence and answering these 9 decisions first.
This post is detailing a proven success formula, that if you take the time now, you will have clarity about who you are (your fashion brand), what your goal is (your product and what pain point it solves) and who you help (your customers).
Here are the 9 decisions you need to make before designing your 1st collection:
- What is your niche?
- Who is your audience?
- What product will you sell?
- What is your pricing strategy?
- What country will you launch in?
- What sales channel will you launch on?
- When will you launch?
- How much money do you need to launch?
- Can you do this by yourself?
Choose to read them all (I think you should!) or click a question to jump straight to that decision!
What is your fashion brands niche?
Before investing $ in designing your 1st collection can you honestly answer that your fashion brands product has a point of difference from everyone else?
Have you researched keywords trends using tools like Ubersuggests?
Are you a gamechanger? What is your brand doing that no one else is? And by this I’m encouraging you to think bigger than just being another sustainable brand, you really need to be doing something unique, desirable, even shocking.
Only once you’ve conducted market and competitor research and you’re confident that you have a unique product that is in demand and even better, that has an active audience ready to buy it, should you then start designing your 1st collection.
Who is your audience?
By knowing who your target audience is, it will ensure that you design product that will answer their pain point as well as their hopes and desires.
You should never forget who your customer is when designing your product. I recommend that you print out a lookalike avatar that represents your target audience and stick it on your wall, along with the below breakdown so that you never forget who you’re designing for.
Follow this framework to know exactly who your audience is.
"By knowing who your target audience is, it will ensure that you design product that will answer their pain point as well as their hopes and desires."
What product will you sell?
To design a collection you need an option framework and this framework needs to broken down into:
- Gender – Male, female, unisex
- Division – Apparel, accessories, footwear
- Categories – Dresses, tops, bottoms, bags, jewellery
- Sub-categories – party dresses, workwear dresses, resort wear dresses
- Size range – Plus size, petite, tall, maternity as well as, alpha or numeric
- Fashionability mix – What % of your product will be trendsetting vs everyday fashion?
- Price range – How competitive are you? Think value.
This will give you a structure to follow to ensure you reduce waste and don’t spend too much money on developing unnecessary styles.
I recommend that you learn more about the role of a product developer in fashion.
What is your pricing strategy?
By knowing what your pricing strategy is, gives you a framework to design too. So what do I mean by that?
If you know that within your dresses category, your competitive pricing range (based on your competitors in your launch market), you will then know the entry and exit price point.
For example $80 – $200.
Therefore when designing your 1st collection, you can manage your costs to ensure you make a profit if you sell your product within this range.
Also, by having a pricing strategy – exit and entry price points. This again gives you a framework when designing to create a more basic, entry product for $80, as well as an elevated product for your exit price point of $200.
This is a great strategy to have to appeal to a wider audience.
What country will you launch in?
Before designing your 1st collection, you need to know what country you will be launching in, to help you to decide what country to manufacture in.
- If you wish to reduce emission, and your carbon footprint, then you may decide to manufacture your 1st collection locally therefore you will need to know your launch country.
- You may choose to launch in China because this year in 2021, China is expected to drive the highest fashion e-commerce sales in the world therefore you want to launch in the biggest market.
Either way, once you’ve made this decision, it will then help you to research further about where to produce your goods and what the logistics of that choice looks like.
What channel will you launch on?
Deciding what channel to launch on is a decision you need to make before designing your 1st collection because every channel has a different audience and different requirements, therefore you need to be clear with who this is.
The most common options being
- DTC – your own channels for example; your website, IG account, Facebook brand page.
- B2B – wholesale platforms like ASOS, Zalando, Iconic etc
- B2C – marketplace model where you ship directly to the end customer whilst using the shop front of say Amazon or Etsy.
To learn more, I recommend you read How to decide what platform to launch your fashion brand on.
When will you launch?
Timing is everything when launching a fashion brand. Why? Because you will have designed a product for a certain timing based on either; the season, the weather, an event, therefore if you’re late and miss its selling period, you risk having high inventory levels and low sales.
Before designing your 1st collection, you need to know what date you will launch your product on – fact!
Once you have a launch date, you then need to work backwards and map out your critical path, mapping in every milestone (lap dips, fitting time, manufacturing time etc) you need to achieve to ensure you launch on time.
Once everything is mapped into your critical path, this will then give you a launch plan to stick to when sourcing, designing and developing your 1st collection.
How much money do you need to launch?
Imagine the scenario where you have rushed into designing your 1st collection, before considering your finances. How would you know that you can afford the designs; fabric, trims, manufacturing costs?
You need to decide now, how much money you have or need to get to fund your fashion brand launch.
To learn more about how to calculate this, read point one of this post – it’s a super helpful article!
Furthermore, if you’re wanting to launch a fashion brand with minimal investment, then this post is for you. It’s full of tips and tactics to save you money: How to bootstrap your fashion brand.
Can you do this by yourself?
Are you an expert at everything? And I’m looking for an honest answer here! …
Does your skillset cover; business, creatives, technology, finance?
I’m assuming no. So why take on-board everything when launching your 1st collection?
I encourage you to seek help to ensure that you offer a professional service to your customers along with a quality product that doesn’t fall apart. Reputation is everything, especially when you’re just starting out.
Consider seeking help via:
- Upwork – for freelancers that could cover copywriting, marketing, web design.
- Carley Johnson courses + coaching – to learn the business side of what it takes to launch a fashion brand.