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September 3, 2013

How to Start Your Own Clothing Label

Launch your own clothing line in seven steps.

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Photo Credit: Harry Morrison/Corbis

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1. COME UP WITH A GOTTA-HAVE-IT ITEM

Diane von Furstenberg did it with the now-ubiquitous wrap dress. Tory Burch had her Reva flats. What's yours?

2. DEVELOP THE DESIGN

Good news: You don't need a degree from Parsons to succeed here. Sketch your ideas on paper as best you can, or ply an artsy pal with free food and drinks so she'll draw it for you.

3. MAKE A PROTOTYPE

You'll need one to show potential buyers. Warning: Prototypes aren't cheap—prices vary widely depending on your materials. Hit up MakersRow.com for referrals.

4. SOURCE YOUR MATERIALS

You'll likely do some serious legwork to find fabric stock that meets your budget and creative needs.

5. FIND A FACTORY

How else will you mass-produce your goods? (Try MakersRow.com—again!—for options.) Be explicit about what you want, and do some comparison shopping. Adjust your startup costs accordingly.

6. FUND YOUR BUSINESS

Your options: savings, credit cards, loans, or investors. (Hi, Mom!) Try Kickstarter and crowdfund your venture.

7. SELL, SELL, SELL

Open a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce site. Or ride the coattails of established players and set up shop on Etsy.


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