Starting A Streetwear Brand .
(020). How do you start a streetwear brand in London if you have no experience and a limited budget ?
With the current insatiable demand for new streetwear designs, there has been an explosion of emerging new streetwear brands. Many of these new brands are run by novices on a sharp learning curve and a limited budget.
Many of these new brands will not survive, because they do not understand the basics of how the clothing industry works, and they have no expert guidance on how to start and run a streetwear brand.
That is where The London Pattern Cutter comes to the rescue. We supply all the help and experience that you could possibly need to get going.
We have worked with dozens of London based streetwear brands over the years, helping them maximise their chances of success. The following is a list of eight tips that will help your new business venture be successful.
Fashion Startup Workshop.
At The London Pattern Cutter we off a unique one-to-one fashion startup workshop custom tailored to streetwear in general, and your own business in particular.
TIP 1. Collect Garments That You Like.
It is really important to gather together garments that you like for each type of style you are designing for. Its not cheating to use an existing garment shape as a reference point for your own designs. You are not stealing the design, just using an existing shape. You may want to use several existing garments as reference for one of your own designs.
It is best to use garments from a respected streetwear brand, because you can be sure that there was a lot of development behind the original shape.
It is absolutely vital to save money by getting your designs right first time round. If you need to make extra samples, unsustainable costs will soon mount up. Dont assume that even the best pattern cutter will interpret your design exactly as you want it to be.
If you are not experienced as a designer, then your technical sketches may be less than ideal. You can help by providing sketches of front and back for each design. Dont worry if your sketches are not very good.
TIP 2. Compile A Look Book Of Ideas.
A look book of images, ideas and inspirations will prove invaluable in order to help you develop your designs, and to convey your ideas to your mentors, designers and pattern cutters.
TIP 3. Avoid Poorly Designed Tech Packs.
We get this all the time. Inexperienced clients come to us with poorly designed garment tech packs made by inexperienced tech pack designers charging exorbitant fees.
If you have to provide a tech pack, make sure that it is made by a very experienced professional. This is not a job for an amateur. There are lots of so called tech pack designers in London, but few are experienced enough.
We prefer not to use a tech pack at all for sampling, unless provided by our own excellent tech pack designers, using information direct from the client.
Tech packs are generally recommended for production however. But lets make the sample before finalising the tech pack.
We know exactly what information we need from you, and how it should be presented. Please speak to us before paying out good money on a poor tech pack.
Poor tech packs are a major cause of problems in the sampling process. Many factories insist on tech packs for sampling because they dont really know what they are doing. But if they follow the tech pack and it is wrong, then they avoid responsibility for the results.
TIP 4. Choose The Best Pattern Cutter.
Choosing the right pattern cutter is vital to success with a streetwear brand. Its not just a question of choosing the most experienced pattern cutter, although that is also vital.
You need to choose a pattern cutter who is experienced in the type of garments that you want to produce. It is no good having the best tailoring pattern cutter make your streetwear patterns if they are not also experienced in streetwear pattern cutting.
Normally the factory pattern cutters should be avoided, because they will not be real pattern cutters at all. It will often be the fabric cutter who makes the factory patterns and grades the sizes. We cant emphasise enough how important it is to have well cut patterns.
The best freelance pattern cutters should be able to act as an invaluable mentor, with access to the best clothing industry professionals, including sample machinists, graders, and factories.
TIP 5. Use UK Production.
There are many advantages to manufacturing abroad, and sometimes offshore manufacturing would be essential for success. But for most of our clients I would suggest to avoid all the temptations and stick to UK production to get started.
We have yet to come across a startup client who has chosen offshore manufacture and has not had disastrous results. This is because they have all decided to go it alone from the outset.
New startup entrepreneurs need to get some grounding in how the fashion industry works before becoming too ambitious. This is best done locally, with small production runs.
TIP 6. Think About Your Sizing.
It is vital to decide on the grading rules before actually grading the patterns. You need to know what market you are aiming at, what size range you want to cover, what increments you want between sizes and how many sizes you want in total.
For streetwear I tend to think that a bigger increment than normal is needed. For the start-up on a limited budget this is useful to cover a large range of sizes with fewer patterns. This brings the cost of production down dramatically.
TIP 7. Employ A Fabric Sourcing Service.
Sourcing fabrics and trims is an extremely time consuming part of starting a fashion business. The costs of fabrics and trims constitute a large part of the overall costs of garment production.
Finding reliable suppliers who are willing to sell small quantities at good prices to new labels is hard. It is best left to professionals who know where to look and how to deal with the suppliers.
Use your time more effectively by doing the things that you do best and most efficiently.
TIP 8. Choose A Mentor.
Every startup needs a mentor. That mentor should be someone with vast experience in all aspects of the garment industry. They may be primarily a designer, a pattern cutter, or a garment tech. But they must know the industry inside out, with useful contacts and invaluable information.