How to Start an Upcycling Fashion Brand
The fashion world is one place where you can let your talent shine through. From high-end couture to street style, there’s no shortage of where you imagine can take you. The competition is equally fierce, making breaking into the industry harder than most others. Does that mean it’s impossible? No, you just need to find a way to make your mark. That said, the fashion world always needs a brand that believes in sustainability. Upcycling is a great way to reduce waste of textiles and water usage. If building an upcycled brand appeals to you, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to learn how to start an upcycled fashion line.
Learn the Basics
In addition to understanding how to create patterns and source products, you need to understand business basics. If you aren’t already in school, you could think about earning a degree in business management. With this degree, you’ll learn how to start a business, pitch to investors, and even manage your finances. If you’re not sure how to pay for it, you could apply for a student loan. Student loans can help cover the cost of tuition, books, and other school-associated costs.
Refine Your Vision
As you set out to revolutionize the fashion industry you must remember that every successful brand starts with a vision. What makes your upcycling brand unique? Think about what makes you stand out from your competitors. Upcycling isn’t just one type of clothing; you can focus your efforts on vintage wear or choose to only create pieces out of recycled denim.
Build a Community
Even before your first launch, you need to build your community. There are online forums, in addition to in-person events, where you can start networking with other entrepreneurs. You can also start building an online presence to position yourself as an authority about upcycling.
Research and Ideate
Research the most successful brands in your niche to see what they’re up to. There are plenty of upcycled brands you can learn from. Your goal should be learning how to refine your focus, not copy what they’re doing. Upcycled fashion can either be made from previously discarded garments or transform vintage apparel into new designs. The goal of upcycled fashion is to spare clothing from landfills by turning it into something new. Alternatively, you can produce upcycle fashion from the start that is intended to be remade or repurposed later.
When you’re just starting out, you probably won’t have a manufacturer who sources materials. At this stage, you should look for places to source your own materials to get a feel of which textiles you want to specialize in. Look for those that are in line with your sustainability goals and help you define yourself as an eco-fashion brand. Materials may be bought overseas, or you could look for someone who produces them locally. You may also consider outsourcing by researching ethical clothing manufacturers in foreign countries. In many cases, you can even directly hire your own seamstresses outside of the U.S. who can deliver great quality products using the materials you source and ship to them.
Focus on Quality
Quality should also be your number one focus. There are far too many brands that churn out different collections every season that really aren’t the best quality. Materials like cotton, hemp, banana leaf, bamboo textile, and recycled acrylic are all potential options to consider. Stand out by producing high-quality, limited-edition clothes that you offer each season. Only make what you need. You can order a small bulk with limited availability, then have clothes made to ship and build that into your business model. This saves money, labor, and materials, and it’s a major selling point for an eco-fashion brand.
You also need to practice sustainability in other ways, which you can share online. You could implement a Plant a Tree program where your company partners with an alliance in countries affected by deforestation and plants one tree for every purchase made. Sustainable fashion can also be sold at a higher price point because it is ethically sourced, made, and is biodegradable. While it may have a higher upfront cost, sustainable or eco fashion also can net a much higher profit because it allows you to target an audience with a bigger budget and deeper desire to make an impact with their products.