There’s no cheat code to catapult a fashion brand to the top of the market. But when the success journeys of many startups in the fashion industry are juxtaposed, there are many overarching similarities that aspiring fashion entrepreneurs should notice and learn from. Here are the five traits that distinguish the most successful fashion startups:
1 | They have clearly defined goals and objectives
There is no success until ‘success’ is clearly defined along with ways to measure it. The right vision and objectives breathe life into the operations of a startup. When worst comes to worst, an inspiring vision drives steadfastness and innovation to overcome challenges.
The most successful startups establish early on what they aim to achieve. They live by goals, metrics, and timelines that guide every bit of their day-to-day operations. The result is a clear roadmap that makes it possible to survive and grow with ease and cost-efficiency.
2 | The best fashion startups stand out
Young brands frequently fall into the temptations of copying and pasting tried solutions. This is the greatest sin that torpedoes 80% of startups before their second anniversary. How do you escape this morbid statistic?
There is no one size fits all approach in the fashion industry. Everything—including products, markets, and business models—needs to be tailored to your particular business. Flourishing startups have never shied away from investing the time and resources in this.
Uniqueness is a question of what sets you apart from other brands. It is recognizing the impact and audience you wish to reach with your products and marketing those aspects to consumers who connect with what you’re offering.
Successful startups are able to find this differentiating factor, which then becomes the building block for their brand story and personality. Choosing to focus on perfecting the unique aspects leads to increased brand recognition and supercharges brand value in the long run.
3 | Successful fashion startups grow fast
Most fashion startups walk a never-ending path before they reach their profit potential. The right business model should deliver fast growth and profitability while maintaining a balance with sustainability.
The idea is to not blow out resources before attaining maturity. But most investors and the rest of the market expect to see momentum. Many startups have missed out on funding merely for the reason of their slow growth. The best fashion startups aim for double-digit growths after the first year and triple that after the second year, because low growth often leads to one miserable end—running out of cash.
Of course this is not an indication to force growth just for the sake of it. If you’re doing it right, then combining quality products, a solid business plan and budget, and creative marketing should allow you to scale quickly sustainably. The best clothing and fashion brands find ways to capitalize on the initial passion and the initial customer interest for rapid growth, often through savvy fashion marketing practices and thorough market research.
4 | They form strategic partnerships with clothing manufacturers
Lone wolves stand no chance of survival in the wilderness. Similarly, fashion startups that don’t have the right relationships often find it impossible to make profits and survive. The right collaboration accelerates the time to market, reduces costs, and leads to more growth.
One of the great ingredients for success in this industry is smooth designer-manufacturer relationships. The best startups have mastered how to do that right. It starts with understanding your needs and finding the right manufacturer that offers comprehensive support.
Very few fashion designers have the time to learn the nuances of the manufacturing process. Their talents most often lie in creating, visualizing, and producing genius sketches and garments. But especially in startup fashion, you may find yourself taking on every role in a company and wearing entirely too many hats (real talk, that’s not avante garde, it’s just crazy). In this case, it pays to find a manufacturer that can fill more roles than simply churning out product. From creating tech packs to production budgeting, material sourcing, even marketing support, seek out industry savvy partners who can support your startup while respecting your creative freedom.
5 | Agility is in their DNA—be prepared to roll with the punches!
Continuing to pump resources into a dead venture is one of the costliest mistakes in the fashion startup environment. The best businesses operate on high alert to identify what is working and what is not, to evolve and improve agility.
Startups in the fashion world must build versatile teams. They must possess the ability to adjust goals, plans, business models, and marketing strategies as their business and consumer base evolves. Some brands have even made bolder moves to stay alive, including tearing everything down and starting again. The more versatile the brand, the higher the chances of success. That means constantly improving your product, perfecting your vision, and delivering the best user experiences informed by user feedback, data analysis, and marketplace simulations.
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
They say there’s nothing new under the sun, but the fashion industry constantly defies that by reinventing styles and experiences to keep life interesting and new. However, just because your products change with the seasons doesn’t mean your business model has to reinvent the wheel! Learning from and emulating other successful fashion startups is a great start for achieving your goals.
If there is one thing we’ve seen plenty of in our business, it’s the full range of do’s and don’ts for starting a fashion line. Our team at Indie Source has helped over 300 brands launch their own product lines, and we’ve built a comprehensive model that supports fashion startups from conception to collection and beyond.
Check out Our Services in the nav menu to learn how we support our brand partners (even down to fashion marketing and product photography!), and borrow from these success tricks to guarantee the best success for your brand!