Nowadays, you can sell virtually anything on the web and starting a clothing line can be a straightforward business. When done right, you can even turn your brand into a household name in a few years’ time. People need to dress up if only to cover their bodies and be presentable and that is why clothes sell easily. But if you’re up to the challenge and you’re into scoring really good finds, how about opening a vintage clothing store online?
If you love the thrill of the hunt and you are a fan of the classics, learning how to start a clothing business specializing in vintage pieces might be right up your alley. Fashion has always been defined by historical events and key milestones of the past. In every era, you will find key style trends that will represent that decade. The 70s had denim cuts and psychedelic prints, 80s had the day-glo color palettes and goth-inspired looks and the 40s are all about dresses and A-line silhouettes. There’s always something from these decades to bring back into the present and you’ll find a very lucrative market for vintage clothing because of the clamor to bring back the glory of past fashion trends.
With that being said, here is a guide on how to start a clothing brand to get you started.
1. Identify your niche
Every business starts with a niche. When it comes to vintage clothing lines, you want to choose a decade to specialize in (20s, 70s, etc) or you might want to create a line for evening wear or loungewear. It’s also a good time to start planning price points - e.g. couture vs. vintage designer pieces vs. items with vintage feels such as band tees.
Some business owners opt to create a tshirt business that features vintage prints. It’s not thrifting per se but it still falls under the vintage fashion category. Ultimately, you want to go for an angle that you really like. You’ll find it easier to source pieces when you base your shop on your own desired aesthetic. You already have sufficient knowledge of the brands and pieces that look good because you have been wearing this style yourself. Aside from personal preference, the market will also influence your choice of niche. Vintage spans several decades so you have a lot of wiggle room depending on the era you chose. Make sure that the suppliers are not too limited or that the market is not too saturated with businesses like yours.
2. Start sourcing for your clothing line
This can either entail looking for suppliers if you are creating a vintage-inspired clothing line as in the case of vintage-print tshirts. However, if you’re purely offering vintage pieces, you will need to start scouring the thrift racks, develop relationships with corporate suppliers such as Salvation Army stores or family dealers. When you’re just starting out, you will probably find yourself spending a lot of time thrifting. It’s important to go as often as you can and find out when stores are getting shipments or putting out new items. Have a plan and a clear view of what designs you’re aiming to find and make sure to inspect all the items you have sourced before you purchase.
3. Maintain your inventory
Learn more about proper storage of vintage items and follow care instructions on the labels to keep the pieces looking pristine. Now is also a good time to befriend a local dry cleaner with experience in handling vintage fabric and a good tailor to help you make adjustments, repairs and alterations as needed, especially if you cannot make them yourself.
4. Take photos of your clothing line
The key to the success of any online store is great images. Lifestyle shots may be a bit unrealistic for a vintage clothing line given that the pieces are likely very fragile. But you can still make things interesting by taking photos from different angles. You might want to shoot how the piece is styled on a model to give customers an idea of the fit. Aside from capturing action shots, you want to take photos of the detail - e.g. buttons, stitching, original label and any notable flaws.
5. Get your website up
Now that you have the specifics of your clothing business all sorted out, the next step is to come up with a website where you can house your brand. Brainstorm clothing line name ideas with close contacts. You can even do a focus group to get a sense of what kind of clothing brand logos would suit your new company well.
Creating a website is a straightforward process of setting up an account with Strikingly, choosing a template and adding the Simple Store section. This gives you a good framework for your online store. Because you don’t have to deal with the technical details of website building, you can focus on aesthetics and navigation. Implement color schemes that will work great for your branding and the image that you want to convey. Connect your site to a secure payment gateway like Paypal, Stripe, AliPay or WeChat Pay to enable customers to complete their purchases online. Take advantage of the seamless social media integration so visitors are constantly updated with your other online profiles. Constantly work on refreshing your content to keep users engaged. Add a live chat feature so you can attend to inquiries in real time.