How to Start an Online Apparel Brand With the Help of Social Media

Thomas Hilton

Thomas Hilton

Ecommerce Print Business

Starting a clothing brand from scratch is more accessible than ever, thanks to the countless online resources that facilitate relatively low barriers to entry for young, unestablished brands. While many people still prefer to support brick and mortar stores, apparel and accessories accounted for 29.5% of all 2021 eCommerce sales, a number projected to continue its rise.

The most significant advantage to launching an online apparel brand versus a clothing store with a physical storefront is the lower barriers to entry and investment required. Brick and mortar clothing boutiques average $50,000 to $150,000 to open, along with the substantial time commitment that may be weeks or months. In contrast, establishing an online storefront can be done in a few days or weeks and won’t typically break the piggy bank — unless you try to go too big too soon.

While it’s not an exhaustive guide, this article is intended to familiarize you with how to start a clothing brand online. If you’ve got one great t-shirt idea that you think would be popular, this list is also for you.

Regardless of your ambition for the size of your brand or the number of designs you’ve got on deck just waiting for production, we hope this guide provides some beneficial information on how others are launching clothing companies and how you can too.

To keep this article short and sweet, we’ll assume you’re interested in launching an online apparel brand that sells t-shirts and other items with screen-printed designs or similar embellishments such as embroidery.

Step 1: Come Up With a Brand Or Design Idea

First of all, decide what kind of brand you will be and what products you’ll sell. You’ll eventually need a business plan, among other things, but before you can plan your business operations, you need to know who your brand is and who your audience will be.

A large part of brand development is determining what clothing niche you’ll target. Will you offer screen-printed t-shirts, bags, and hoodies that feature the artwork of individuals you’ve connected with or personally designed? Do you want to put your logo on established brands, such as Lululemon athleisure wear, a clothing niche projected to continue its growth? These are popular methods for creating a clothing line and arguably the most achievable for a new online apparel brand.

Choose something you’re passionate about and find a way to be a unique offering that stands out from the crowd of eCommerce clothing brands.

Step 2: Choose a Business Model/Manufacturing Process

There are many different solutions for getting your designs on products and products into customers' hands. One of the most approachable options is choosing a promotional products company, like Stitchi, which handles every aspect of the creation and distribution process.

If you’re not planning to screen print products yourself or source a screen printer to produce product lines in batches, which you’ll then have to store, the most common choices in eCommerce clothing are:

  • Print on Demand: Print on demand businesses screen print or alter clothing items with custom logos and designs on an as-needed basis. When a customer orders an item from your eCommerce store, it’s printed and shipped. This option has the lowest overhead and doesn’t require product storage.

  • Custom Cut and Sew: Custom cut and sew companies design, manufacture, and sell their own products. This is usually quite costly, requiring significant investment and know-how.

  • Private Label Clothing: Private label companies partner with manufacturers to source and brand products for individual sale. This can be costly, as you’ll need to find a manufacturing partner and pay an upcharge for branding their products.

Step 3: Decide On a Distribution Process

There are various methods for distributing your brand’s products, from holding inventory at your home or office and shipping yourself to hiring a third-party distributor. However, the easiest and most cost-effective methods for new clothing brands are either using a Print on Demand company or partnering with a promotional products company like Stitchi to handle the ins and outs of design, sourcing, and shipping.

Step 4: What’s Your Marketing Plan?

There are many options available for marketing your clothing brand, including Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising, SEO blogging, social media marketing from your brand page, and social media marketing with the help of influencers.

We’ve included a few tips for social media marketing below, and you can learn more about how to market your online clothing brand in our education section.

Social Media Tip #1: Optimize for Mobile

Mobile-optimized shopping experiences are vital for fledgling clothing brands and a valuable tool for reaching your audience. Worldwide mobile commerce sales were approximately $4.9 trillion U.S dollars in 2021. Mobile sales contributed a 72.9 percent market share. Mobile optimization will ensure your company doesn’t miss out on reaching the majority of online shoppers.

Social Media Tip #2 Take Advantage of In-App Shopping Features

Facebook shops and Instagram shopping make your customers’ browsing and shopping a seamless experience for them and the brand. Users can browse your catalog and checkout without leaving the Facebook or Instagram app. It’s a win-win-win situation for Facebook/Instagram, your online apparel brand, and the customer.

Social Media Tip #3: Engage Your Audience and Social Media Following

Start by determining which social media platforms you’ll use to promote your clothing brand. A good starting point is the social media channels where you have the highest follower engagement rates. Schedule some posts on different platforms that follow a beginning, middle, and end pattern with engaging visuals, varied content, and simple links. Don’t forget to ask your audience for shares and pictures of them wearing your products with a unique hashtag that encourages others to “join the movement.” Building inclusivity and brand community is a powerful instigator for continued brand growth.

Step 5: Evaluate Sales and Adjust Operations

Regularly evaluating how each product is selling and its return on investment (ROI) will help you determine what’s working and what’s not. Adjusting the operational process and product lines and tweaking your marketing efforts over time will help to keep your brand fresh and optimally aligned to reach your audience.

Get Started Building Your Online Clothing Brand

While this has only begun to scratch the surface of creating an online apparel brand, we hope this guide has helped familiarize you with the process. The first step in preparing for any new business endeavor is becoming well-acquainted with how it works.

You can learn more about starting online clothing brands, like how to design custom logos and market your products, at Stitchi. You can also drop us a line if you’d like to know more about working with a promotional products company to bring your brand to life.

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