Turning your staff into living billboards is not new, but a very efficient step in promoting products and services. Forget complaints about corporate clothing, saying that it makes business faceless not allowing employees to stand out. Look at bank officers, chefs, or road construction workers – uniforms give them a feeling of unity, solidarity, and team spirit. There is a good reason why players in team sports are distinguished as “friends” or “foes” based on their clothes!
- Ways of use and types of branded clothing
- I am ready to produce my own branded clothing: where should I start and how much does it cost?
- Keys to a successful clothing brand
Ways of use and types of branded clothing
Statistics is implacable: in 2016, according to the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), 91% of respondents wore branded clothing. 46% of respondents mentioned using branded clothing for participating in trade shows, conferences or seminars. The main reason for such a decision is the need to stand out among other companies attending public events, visually team up the employees creating a sense of unity on photos and videos.
Therefore, the future belongs to companies offering turnkey conference marketing solutions: exhibit space design, booth construction, branded clothing production, printing of handouts and catalogues.
Branded clothing production is the second biggest segment, constituting 35% of the market. Uniforms for workers, chefs, doctors, shop assistants, managers are constantly in use, therefore always require replacement, thus bringing day-to-day profit to the manufacturers.
It is often the case that the main lines of corporate clothing manufactured are for operation personnel and managers, in order to simplify their identification by the customers. Marketing campaigns and promotions are the third most popular method of using logolized clothing. Corporate colors are worn by promoters, consultants, demonstrators communicating with the target audience and shaping the initial image of the company in their minds.
High quality and individually packed corporate clothing is used by companies as a gift for partners, clients or employees, and more modest options – for building up team spirit during charity events, picnics or corporate events in the office.
Most popular types of branded clothing:
- hat, cap, visor
- polo shirt
- sweatshirt, hoodie or raglan shirt
- shirt or blouse
- seasonal outwear
- jumpsuit or pants
- underwear and socks
Each of these products has ins and outs regarding manufacturing as well as promotion within its own clothing line. We will further review three main business models for branded clothing production, in order to figure out specific aspects, financial and time investments.
I am ready to produce my own branded clothing: where should I start and how much does it cost?
There are 3 classic approaches to branded clothing production:
- Print on request on ready-made clothes
- Cooperation with wholesale manufacturer or niche brands
- Custom-made production
|Business model||Startup capital||Labour cost||Time invested for startup|
|Print on request||$500 – 2,500||low||7-10 days|
|Cooperation with wholesale/niche brands||$2,500 – 8,000||medium||several weeks|
|Custom-made production||$10,000 or more||very high||3-9 months|
1. Print on request on ready-made clothes
Print on request is the simplest and fastest way of branded clothing production. Client’s corporate style elements or logos are printed on standard “templates” – plain clothes of required size.
Templates are purchased in bulk, and clients have no influence of the size chart, fabric quality, color scheme, presence or absence of tags. There are two types of print on request:
- digital textile printing
- sublimation heat transfer printing
Digital printing is performed with a textile printer on cotton-based fabrics. It guarantees photographic quality of the print, thus being perfectly suitable for both logos, as well as copies of paintings. End product can be washed in a washing machine, it is sunproof and resistant to mechanical impact.
Sublimation is a textile printing method where the print is first applied on a special paper, which later transferred onto the fabric with pressure. It is only suitable for synthetic fabrics containing no less than 60% polyester with quality and durability digital printing.
There is also a third method – transferring ready-made stickers onto clothing. However, this method has become outdated due to poor image quality and durability.
You do not have to buy textile printer: there are firms offering this equipment for rent or leasing.
Advantages of print on request:
- low startup investments
- printing on any items
- photographic quality of prints
- affordable cost of custom-made orders
- lack of wholesale savings
- standard clothing models and uniformed size chart
- inability to influence template quality
- lack of extra trimming
2. Cooperation with wholesale manufacturer or niche brands
Unlike printing on templates, cooperation with manufacturers allows you to slightly customize clothing. Minor designer modifications are added to the ready-made line, labels and tags are stitched in, selection of prints is prepared in advance.
The manufacturer customizes templates in batches, so the entrepreneur would have to make wholesale purchases, rent storage facilities, manage surplus, and organize delivery.
By ordering large quantity of templates in advance, the entrepreneur gets a wholesale discount and an opportunity to control end-product quality. It allows you to increase perceived brand value resulting in gaining higher profit.
Wholesale purchase of clothing for printing also allows you to become familiar with silk screen printing – more economically efficient and equally high-quality comparing with digital.
Advantages of cooperation with clothing manufacturers:
- wholesale savings
- potential for increasing perceived value for the end user
- potential markup increase
- investment in wholesale purchase of templates for printing
- managing storage and delivery
- silk screen printing is only suitable for simple images (corporate style elements and logos)
3. Branded clothing line production
Branded clothing line means that the entrepreneur is organizing all business processes on his/her own: design sketches, prints and layouts, selecting fabrics, building up size chart, creating templates and establishing mass production.This is an extremely complicated, long and economically difficult process – it takes around 6-9 months between launching a product and closing first sales. On early stages it is smart to hire contractors – a small workshop or atelier – in order to minimize investments in furniture and equipment. It is also important to find a manufacturer ready to produce small batches, as well as a reliable fabric supplier, ready for small-scale wholesale cooperation.
Right after the initial batch is ready, the entrepreneur should develop a marketing strategy, figure out ways of managing surplus and delivery scheme, in order to supply the clothing to end customers.
Advantages of private manufacturing:
- 100% unique product with a quality distinction from competitors
- potential for increasing perceived value by the clients
- high margin
- high startup investments
- long payoff period (6-18 months)
- long business launching (up to 1 year)
- complicated production process
- storage facility management, delivery and return policy setup
Keys to a successful clothing brand
Prior to starting your own branded clothing production, it is important to understand which elements define success of some companies and failure of others.
There are 4 factors of a successful brand:
Choosing the right niche defines marketing success of the project. “Who am I going to make clothes for?”, “Why does the selected group of people need my clothes – what problems will it solve?”,”Why are people buying from me and not from my competitors?” – here are the main questions you should find clear answers for prior to launching a business.
The more accurately the entrepreneur defines a niche, the easier it will be to enter the market of your choice, deal with existing competition and get the attention of the audience. If the audience is very wide: men wearing hoodies for example, divide it into smaller groups. Make warm hoodies for outdoor workers, hoodies with fun prints for teenagers and bright models for modern art lovers, etc.
Clothing quality includes the following:
- fabric characteristics (durability, naturality, stretchiness, easy wash and iron, safety, etc.)
- stich quality
- dye permanence
- print durability
The higher the total quality indicator is, the more likely the consumers will choose the clothing of the brand for daily wear and return for further multiple purchases.
Design – fit, embroidery, and print are very important. It has to be of outstanding quality and draws attention from the target audience.
You will lose if clothing design is not aesthetically attractive or suitable for potential customer. It doesn’t have to be complicated: many of the best-selling clothing brands are very simple. However, it should be connected with your target audience or niche.
Strong branding is another component of success. It is not enough to produce high quality clothes, you also have to make it stand out in the eyes of a potential customer, add value and importance. All other factors held equal, people will buy the story of the brand to which they relate the most.
Branded clothing production and launching of your own clothing line is a profitable business. However, depending on the business model you choose, it can require noticeable investment of time and efforts. Evaluate all opportunities, calculate the risks and start making your dream come true using our guidance. We are sure that the information, tools and experience offered in this guide will help you reach the goal! Ask questions and share with friends – we will assist you in starting your own profitable business.