How do I start a clothing line

Founding a fashion label: starting your own business as a fashion designer

4/5 (4)

Young designers make it popular with the audience in the “Guidos Masterclass” TV format: they show the creative process behind the development of a collection and fight for the prize as the best young designer. With the winnings, they can launch their first own collection and really get started as a fashion designer. However, if you want to set up your own business as a fashion designer, you need a lot more besides money.

Personal requirements: Training not necessary, but recommended

To start a fashion label, you don't have to have any specific qualifications. But those who want to assert themselves in the fashion industry are usually passionate about what they do. Many fashion designers are characterized by their special creativity and passion for their jobs and fashion. There are various ways to make a name for yourself in the coveted industry and to found a fashion label and bring it forward. It doesn't always have to be a passion for designing clothes. Marketing of fashion and fashion management are also exciting for many and exert their charm. Finally, a renaissance can be founded and managed by employing fashion designers and purchasing all of the services required to run a label.

In any case, from the technical basis, there are no mandatory requirements that you have to officially present in order to found a fashion label. In other words: anyone can set up a label. However, it is highly recommended that you acquire basic skills and abilities related to tailoring and / or designing and selling fashion. This makes it easier to get started, gives you an understanding of the work processes and makes it easier to set up a business. Practical and helpful knowledge can be acquired, for example, in the following apprenticeships and courses:

Apprenticeships:

  • Tailor
  • Fashion draftsman
  • Fashion seamstress
  • Production mechanic specializing in textiles
  • Textile laboratory technician
  • Clothing technician
  • Product tester

Courses:

  • Fashion design
  • Textile design
  • Costume design
  • Textile and clothing technology
  • Fashion, trend and brand management
  • Textile business economist
  • Fashion management
  • Textile management
  • Fashion and design management

Register fashion label: choice of legal form and the resulting regulatory steps

A fashion label can have various legal forms. The choice of the legal form naturally also has an effect on the official regulations that have to be met. For example, anyone who founds in the legal form of a GmbH (limited liability company) or a UG (entrepreneurial company) must have an entry made in the commercial register. Of course, a fashion label can also be founded in the legal form of a sole proprietorship. In all three cases, a business registration with the responsible trade office is required. At the same time, founders must fill out the tax registration questionnaire and apply for a tax number. After the business registration, the trade office informs the responsible bodies such as the IHK or HWK about the start of the activity. They will contact the founders in writing, request the relevant information and arrange everything else.

Special case of freelancers

If you have a degree in fashion, graphics or jewelry, you can also work as a freelancer. However, the assessment of whether a trader or a freelancer requires an individual examination. If the responsible tax authorities come to the conclusion that you as a fashion designer are responsible, personally and creatively active, they can award you the status of a freelancer. Freelancers enjoy the benefit of having them noHave to pay trade tax. This also means that there is no need to register a business. In addition, the artists' social security fund could be interesting because the contributions here are significantly lower than those of statutory social insurance. Creative professions such as fashion designers receive a financial advantage over the statutory insurance option after examining their professional status and admission to the KSK.

Protect fashion labels as a brand

In order to protect themselves against imitators and copies, it is worthwhile for founders to consider whether a trademark protection at the German Patent and Trademark Office makes their own fashion label legally more secure. Brand research is worthwhile at the beginning, because this way founders can be sure that the name and design are not already taken. The trademark protection law has changed since the beginning of 2019, on the one hand the term of protection and on the other hand new, modern trademark forms are now integrated. Now noisy sound marks, multimedia marks and holograms as well as quality seals and test marks can be included in the trademark protection. If you focus on the development of certain, unique fabrics or designs for your label or as a freelancer, then the acquisition of patents is worthwhile. However, you can also register a design protection for your design, so certain appearances of the products are legally protected for some time.

Conclusion: Founders of a fashion label should seek competent advice when choosing the legal form. The tax and legal consequences that may arise are too far-reaching. In addition, it is particularly worthwhile for fashion designers or young labels to have their own brand protected. Brand protection is the most important thing in order to optimally protect names and labels against imitators and copycats.

Tips for a successful fashion label

But before the fashion label can be set up, the prospective self-employed must be fundamentally clear about the business concept. The concept can be structured, for example, in the form of a business plan in which the business idea is formulated in all details. The areas of purchasing and sales deserve special attention. Which services create added value from the purchased goods or raw materials and how high should the margin be? Is the label going in the direction of luxury or low budget? The calculation is based on the basic idea and realistically depicts the business concept under financial aspects. This already shows how important a certain understanding of numbers is for the operation of a fashion label.

Sell ​​online or offline?

Digitization ensures that more and more people shop online. Online shops can now be set up with just a few clicks. The main work is in the presentation of fashion. Depending on the direction of the fashion label, it is worthwhile to hire a good photographer who skilfully stages the individual pieces. The fashion market is heavily flooded, so that a detailed and skilful presentation of the individual items of clothing is absolutely necessary. Customers also want to examine the goods online from all sides, so that each item of clothing requires an individual photo series.

In addition to online sales, offline sales are of course also an option. For example, a boutique or a tailor's shop with a showroom would be suitable. Here, buyers can touch the goods and check the quality by touch. Having your own shop is not a must, but it is certainly an important presentation platform.

Bringing corporate identity up professionally

There are numerous platforms on the Internet on which a logo can be developed. But a logo is only “the tip of the iceberg”. It represents the fashion label and should therefore also be professional and unique in order to stand out from the market. It is worth investing in a good graphic designer or an agency. The corporate design must match the entire company policy and make the corporate philosophy tangible. In order to develop a suitable logo, it is therefore imperative to clarify the pillars of the new company. This process can be initiated and implemented in a relatively short time with the support of a management consultancy or advisory advertising agency. When it comes to a serious fashion label that should establish itself in the long term, a professional approach is recommended.

The representative logo should be so catchy that one look is enough to know who it is - brands like Adidas and Nike, for example, have done this very well. The label's logo can also be wonderfully integrated on a stamp that is used in every external communication. The logo or a seal, for example, is ideally suited as a print on shipping packages in a "handmade" look - the possible uses are diverse and give a special touch. Packaging in particular is gaining in importance for fashion labels, so that attention should also be paid to small details. Airy tissue paper, stickers with seals, greeting cards and a packaging design with branding convey a high-quality look and that certain something for the label.

Successful online marketing via Instagram & Co.

More and more small labels can be found on Instagram, Facebook & Co., which are conquering the Internet and the fashion industry and making a name for themselves. Labels have also emerged from this in the meantime. There are many ways to start a fashion label. Many bloggers who also grew up on social media have meanwhile supplemented their business with their own label and designed their own fashion. Particularly successful examples are blogger Vicky Heiler with her fashion label VIKTORIA LOUISE, blogger Nina Schwichtenberg from FASHIIONCARPET with her label BANÚ or Franziska Fröhlich with her jewelry label fafe collection, who also reveal more about the processes behind their labels. Online marketing is indispensable for a fashion label today, because brand awareness and sales for your label can be boosted via Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and more. Social media can be used to increase brand awareness and influencer marketing can also be a booster for you. There you can give insights into your work behind the scenes, show the style of your label and of course build a fashion-enthusiastic community that will ultimately buy your fashion. When it comes to online marketing for fashion labels and fashion designers, social media is extremely important.

Conclusion: There are many ways to become a fashion label

The fashion world is multifaceted and offers career changers and creative minds exciting opportunities. Establishing with the help of business angels such as the investors in the Lions' Den or with professional support from experienced fashion designers such as Guido Maria Kretschmer is certainly lucrative and offers promising contacts in the fashion industry. But even on a small scale, a fashion label can sprout, flourish and grow. Contacts and network partners can hardly be replaced in fashion and previous experience and knowledge make it easier to set up your own fashion label. But it also depends above all on the founder personality, the business idea and the implementation.