Interested in designing and selling your own clothes but not sure where to start? We’ll walk you through the process from creating your business plan to selling your finished garments. 

Understand Your Market

Who are you making clothes for? High end formal wear? Hoodies and T-shirts? Somewhere in between? Start out by creating personas for your ideal customers. Include the following demographic information: 





Income level

Education level

Marital or family status


Ethnic background




Customer personas are a helpful tool to envision your potential customers and determine whether or not you’re serving them well. 

A group of stylish young adults at a meeting

Create a Business Plan

 Think of your business plan as the road map to your clothing company. It should include your goals for the next couple of years and how you plan to achieve them. Treat it as a living document that grows and changes as reality happens and changes your plans. Here are the components of a typical business plan for a small business: 

Executive Summary

Key information like

  • Business name
  • Business mission
  • Goals and values

Company Overview

A brief history of your business and what it does at a high level. 


Your offerings and how you plan to make a profit from them. 

Marketing Strategies

A detailed summary of your target audience and how you plan to reach them. 

Sales Strategies

The channels and techniques you will use to sell your products. 

Competitive Analysis

A description of all direct and indirect competitors. 

Production Plan

A timeline for the production, marketing, and sales of your products. 

Operation Plan

A detailed summary of the day to day operations of your business, including who does what. 

Financial Analysis and Projections

A budget analysis, noting what you’ll need from investors and how you’ll use the investment money. 

People in professional clothing taking notes at a lecture

Find Your Niche

The key to a successful clothing brand is offering something different that a lot of people will want. But how do you figure out what that is for you? 

  • Follow trends
  • Focus on your strengths
  • Think about how your pieces will work with pieces you don’t sell
  • Research profitable items and trends
  • Consider gaps in the fashion industry
  • Get inspiration from other brands

A rack of various colored pants

Build a Strong Brand 

Branding is all about consistency. Creating a brand style guide will help you plan and maintain this consistency. While you’re creating it, ask yourself questions like these: 

  • What brand identity do I want to project?
  • How saturated is the target market?
  • What makes my clothing line unique? What can customers get from my clothing brand or clothing line that they can’t get anywhere else?
  • Is there a price point that hits a pricing sweet spot in my target market?
  • What is the most important part of my customer’s experience?

Register Your Clothing Line Business

Choose a Business Entity Type

First, decide what type of business you want to operate and register. There are six business types, each with different registration requirements, liability structures, and tax requirements. They are 

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • General Partnership
  • Limited Partnership
  • C-Corporation
  • S-Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Three people gathered around a computer

Sole Proprietorship

One person or one married couple is the sole owner of the business. It is most commonly used for freelancers and consultants, but it’s also doable for retail businesses helmed by one person. 



Easy to start

Owner is personally liable for business debts

No paperwork requirements

More difficult to get a business loan

Easy tax filing

Divorce can unravel the business


General Partnership

A general partnership is the default ownership type for registered businesses with more than one owner. It has a lot in common with sole proprietorships, except it has more than one person. 



Easy to start

Owners are personally liable for business debts

No paperwork requirements

More difficult to get a business loan

Partners divide the profits and losses

In some states, one partner is liable for another’s negligent actions

Easy tax filing

Partner disputes can unravel the business


Limited Partnership

In a limited partnership, there are two kinds of partners: general partners, who operate the business and assume liability, and limited partners, who only act as investors. 



Good option for raising money

General partners are personally responsible for business debts

General partners get the funding they need to run the business

More expensive and difficult to register than sole proprietorships and general partnerships

Limited partners can leave without dissolving the business

Limited partners may face personal liability if they take too active a role in the business



A C-Corporation is a legal entity that is separate from the owners of the company. Owners or shareholders, a board of directors, and officers all have a say in the business operations. 



Owners don’t have personal liability for business debts

More expensive to register than sole proprietorships and partnerships

Eligible for more tax deductions, lower self-employment taxes for owners

The company pays taxes on the corporate return and the owners pay taxes on the personal return

Ability to offer stock options

More formalities like hosting board meetings, keeping meeting minutes, and creating bylaws



The main difference between a C-Corp and an S-Corp is that S-Corps don’t have corporate-level taxation. The limited liability is similar.  



Owners don’t have personal liability for business debts

More expensive to register than sole proprietorships and partnerships

No corporate taxation

Limited stock options compared to C-Corps


More formalities like hosting board meetings, keeping meeting minutes, and creating bylaws


Limited Liability Company (LLC)

An LLC is the best of both worlds. They offer the limited liability of corporations with less paperwork and fewer formal requirements. 



Owners don’t have personal liability for business debts

More expensive to register than than sole proprietorships and partnerships

Owners can choose if they want to be taxed like a partnership or a corporation


Fewer formalities than corporations



A person looking at graphs with a smartphone in one hand

Register Your Business

Whether your business entity type requires you to register with the state or not, it’s a good idea to file a Doing Business As (DBA) to register your brand name. Trademarking your clothing line also offers legal protections for your work. 

Get a Business License and Permits

Regardless, you will likely need a business operating license to officially start your clothing line business. If you’re operating from your home or starting the business online, you may also need specific permits. Consult your local and state government for details relevant to your area. 

Get an Employer Identification Number

Applying for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS isn’t always required for all businesses, but having one is beneficial for filing taxes, applying for a business bank account, and seeking funding. 

A person looking at tax documents

Design and Develop

Now it’s time to create your designs! From coming up with the ideas to executing them, there are a lot of choices to make that come with unique challenges for first-time fashion entrepreneurs. This advice and asking for help from more experienced fashion designers can set you on the right path. 

Keep a Sketchbook

Any completed design starts with a quick sketch. Many designers start fleshing out their designs on paper before they use software to get more detailed. 

A sketch of a kneeling figure

Components of Marketable Clothing

  • Durability
  • Performance
  • Aesthetics
  • Perceived Quality
  • Design Innovation 

Source or Design Fabrics

Finding the right fabric suppliers takes some networking. Knowing other people in the industry can lead to contacts with fabric agents, wholesalers, and mills. If you live in an area where your supplier options are limited, designing your own fabrics is also an option. The availability of online tools has made it much more feasible for new designers than it has been in the past. 

A pile of pastel colored fabric

Focus on Creative Tasks

Running a business has a lot of moving parts. But if the administrative tasks are getting in the way of creation of the actual product, consider outsourcing them. 

Price Your Products

Before you launch your new clothing line, you have to set prices. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you set a price point: 

  • How much your customer base is willing to pay 
  • The price of similar products
  • Production Costs 
  • Import Tax
  • Packaging
  • Shipping
  • Marketing

Choose a Clothing Manufacturing Method

When it comes to manufacturing your clothing, you’ve got options. Which business model is right for you depends on what products you sell, what services you need, and your own capabilities. 

The dresses section at a clothing store


Print-on-Demand (POD) is a popular business model for screen printing casual wear. It’s most commonly associated with T-shirts, but is used for other types of merchandise as well. 



No or low set-up costs

Not cost-effective for large quantities

High-quality prints 

Few vendors offer volume discounts

Ideal for small order quantities or one-off prints

Minimal print product selection 

Many different clothing options 

Sparse finishing options 


Custom Wholesale

Custom wholesale businesses purchase pre-made garments from wholesalers and customize them by hand. 



Very cost-effective in large production runs

Not cost-effective for big clothing lines with different items, colors, and sizes

Most vendors offer volume discounts

Limited to simple images and designs 

Bigger profit margins

Minimum orders typically require 10 to 25 units per color/size


Cut-and-Sew and Private Label

With this business model, the designer designs clothing, then has it manufactured to their specifications by a manufacturing partner. 



100% custom clothing – you design it yourself

High startup costs

Increased perceived value from customers for unique clothing

Many moving parts and you’ll have to take care of everything by yourself or using your own team.

Bigger margins since you’ll have less competition when you sell unique clothing items.

It takes many months to prepare and launch


Custom Couture

Custom couture garments are hand-made for each client. This business model is much more labor intensive than others, resulting in a higher price for the garments. 



100% custom product

Much smaller target market

Huge perceived value from wealthy customers

Requires you to have a strong brand

Biggest margins

It can take years to gain credibility as a couture brand


Models on a runway


Build an Online Store 

If you’re not selling online, what’s the point? Many new clothing lines start off selling on Etsy, Amazon, and social marketplaces, but your own website helps to set you apart from the competition and show the world that you’re a legitimate business. 

Set Up Your Online Clothing Store

Setting up your own website may seem intimidating if it’s your first time, but using the right website builder with helpful ecommerce tools makes it a breeze. 

  • Use your fashion brand’s colors
  • Prominently feature your logo
  • Write copy with your target audience in mind
  • Showcase your aesthetic
  • Use professional photos

The inside of a clothing store

Fund Your Own Clothing Line

Obviously, running a business costs money. The start up costs for a clothing brand include: 

  • Business Registration
  • Website Development and Hosting
  • Editorial and E-commerce Photography
  • IT Hardware
  • Office Supplies
  • Stock
  • Storage Space (if needed)

Most of us don’t happen to have that kind of money lying around, so how do you get it? 

A boardroom table


Creating a fundraiser on GoFundMe, Kickstarter, or similar platforms is a popular way to raise money for all kinds of causes. Crowdfunding allows you to bypass traditional finance gatekeepers, however it can be risky. It works best if you have a network of supporters and a large social media following. 

Private Investors

A private investor, also known as an angel investor, is an individual who invests in a business in exchange for ownership equity. The benefits of private investors include reduced financial risk for you, access to the investor’s business knowledge and experience. However, keep in mind that regaining their investment is often their top priority. 

Business Loans

There are several types of business loans for a variety of needs. The best choice for your business will depend on how soon you need the money and what you plan to use it for. Some examples include: 

  • Bank loan: 
  • SBA loan
  • Business term loan
  • Business line of credit
  • Invoice factoring and invoice financing
  • Equipment financing

The exterior of a bank with Roman-style columns

Promote Your Clothing Line

Now it’s time to get some eyeballs on your clothing designs. Even if you don’t have the budget for a robust marketing plan, here are a few ways to get started. 

Get on Social Media

Building a strong social media presence can go a long way in creating a successful business.  

Start a Blog

Blogging has several benefits for new businesses. It boosts your SEO profile, drives traffic to your website, gives you more social media content, and establishes yourself as an authority in your niche. 

Partner with Influencers 

The fashion industry is a natural fit for influencer marketing. You may not be able to afford the latest TikTok teen star, but partnering with influencers whose style and target demographic match yours could do wonders for your brand awareness. These people have large followings of people who value their opinions. Harnessing that is a powerful form of social proof. 

A young woman posing with a pair of sunglasses

How Sav Can Help

A successful clothing line, or any online business for that matter, starts with a beautiful website. From buying a custom domain to selling your products, we make it easy and affordable. Start building today!

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh is an in-house content writer for Sav. They live in Chicago with their cat, Polly. Yes, Harsh is their real last name.