So you want to start your own menswear label? Congratulations! This is an exciting time for you and we’re here to applaud you on taking the first step. But before you jump into the deep end there are a few details you have to work out so you have absolute clarity about your business.
Invaluable and often difficult lessons must be learned and it’s better if you do that in an established and secure environment that can cope with a hiccough or two.
Your own start up enterprise could be shattered by one accountancy error or one ill timed invoice. Learn from someone else about every aspect and listen hard. The more you learn now the better you will later.
Pictured – A-COLD-WALL*
If you feel you have the self belief and determination then start working on your business plan. Here research is vital; ask yourself questions about your customer, who are they? What do they want? What will they pay? What is important to them? Why will they buy from you? Why will they return to you?
Build up a definite picture of your customer and then centre your entire business around them. Now would be a good time to develop a thick skin. You should accept that you will continuously be judged for the work you produce and you mustn’t let that affect you. It is a subjective field and people will have opinions about your designs.
You should have bags of determination, be prepared to work hard and know that you are entering an industry where you will never be bored. The fashion industry changes constantly and you will change with it, evolve, improve and exceed. If you love what you do and surrender yourself to your passion you will succeed.
Pictured – Gosha Rubchinskiy
With that being said, here are our top 5 tips for getting you on your way to designer stardom….
1) Think about your market
When launching a menswear line, your customer is key. Consumers tend to look at products out of necessity, thinking about what they need and what they’ll use- so put them first. While womenswear tends to be more adventurous when it comes to newness, menswear consumers are more traditional, so a little more handholding is needed to guide them to newer designs.
In addition to thinking about your consumer in terms of design, it’s also important to think about them in terms of where you plan to sell your product. In an ideal world, when launching a brand you’d be able to open a few stores and have a seamlessly integrated e-commerce platform, but chances are you don’t have an infinite amount of money to do this on top of launching a brand. Allocating resources efficiently is necessary when starting out.
2) Seeking Inspiration Online
The Internet is a great resource for finding inspiration. You can find things never knew existed and be inspired by content that you didn’t know was out there. Some of Brian’s favourite accounts to look for inspiration are Daniel Arsham, Andreas Aresti, and Madbury Club, as well as Street Etiquette and High Snobiety.
Instagram has become that new community go-to for all things inspirational. However, a word of warning with Instagram, everyone has the same amount of access as you, so there’s bound to be overlap as people see and are inspired by the same things.
Pictured – Off White designer Virgil Abloh
3) Do your market research
Formal and informal research matters. While it’s important to scour the Internet to keep an eye on the latest trends and stay up-to-date on retail news, being out in the field doing market research is crucial. Trade shows are one of the best places to conduct this kind of field research.
For menswear, we recommended checking out the likes of Liberty Fair for top new brands and the environments created at the shows, as well as Capsule, which does a great job of bringing emerging and under-the-radar brands to light. Once you’ve conducted your research, creating mood boards are a great way to keep you focused on your vision as you develop and create your line.
Pictured – Only The Blind Can See
4) Define Your Brand
The menswear market is significantly less saturated than womenswear, making it easier to stand out and gain the spotlight when you achieve something amazing. Despite this, it’s still important to stay true to yourself and develop your personal story.
Two key ways you can make your business model different: the first is to find a void in the marketplace and fill it. The second is to have a unique perspective on the world, and harnessing that to create your brand and find success. Authenticity is key, and when it comes to brand aesthetic you’ll want to be aware of current trends but avoid chasing a look that isn’t yours or you’re going to fail.
5) The Importance of Social Media
With the amount of content on social media, it can be hard to stand out as more than noise in a sea of people trying to “make it”. When it comes to setting yourself apart from everyone else, you’ll want to place your product with personalities, influencers and brand ambassadors that represent your vision. These people should appreciate your product while having enough reach to give you exposure. If they like your product, chances are their followers will like it as well.
Keep in mind that while menswear Instagrammers play a role in providing brand exposure, menswear customers tend to be more distrusting of celebrity influencer style and tend not to drive brands in the same way the womenswear market does.
Also, feel free to bypass any digital channels that don’t feel right for your brand. While you need to be on social, you don’t necessary need to be on every communication channel out there- is your consumer on Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook? And where are your resources best served to bring the highest ROI?
Pictured – Hera London
So there you have it, all the tools and advice you need to get the ball rolling and on your way to style success. Make no question about it, the road won’t be easy and ultimately it will be down to you to make it all come together. If you have the ambition and passion, then there’s no reason why we won’t be rushing to bag your latest collection drop before it sells out, in the months and years to come. Best of luck.
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