The first collection that a designer creates is in many ways one of their most vital. Your idea of starting a fashion brand is starting to become a reality. As with most realities, however, there are more technical, financial, and practical constraints that you’ll come across each day. You want to bring all of your ideas to life, but it’s very often not viable to. So what do you do?
For Your First Collection, Start Small
Many famous brands have started with either a single item or a small series of items for their first collection. An important theme of starting any successful brand is staying focus. To create a quality garment you should give it the attention it deserves, and you can’t give equal attention to 20 different styles at once. At least not in the early stages.
Think about what is the most practical item for your brand at first. Rag & Bone started with jeans. Wang started with knitwear. Stampd started with a hat. Presumably, unless you launched your brand solely on the artistic merit of your designs, there’s an attempt to fill a gap that you saw in the market. Devote your attention to creating the product that will fill that gap.
Gradually Introduce Variety
Naturally, you don’t want to have only one or two items, and you want to look like a legitimate brand. You can overcome this by offering different colors/patterns on the items that you’ve made, or by adding a few basics to your collection that are easy to produce, high-margin, and preferably one-size-fits-all. When my brand Hood Bohemian started, our top seller was our branded beanies. As we added items like t-shirts, sweaters, and tank tops, we took care to ensure that we respected a lot of the practical constraints of a first collection but still had enough variety to satisfy ourselves.
So the answer to the main question is different for everyone. I’m speaking from the perspective of somebody who owns a streetwear brand, didn’t go to fashion school, and was bound by many of the same realities as other young brands. One thing that I’ve seen, heard, and experienced is that regardless of your style of clothing, be sure to focus. You can’t make the world’s best bomber jacket, or the world’s best handbag if you’re not only juggling the formation of a new company, but also twenty other items with a (presumably) small team. So, focus.
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