Whether you're an innovative designer bringing fresh ideas to the fashion market or a manufacturer or supplier looking to grow your customer base, there's no denying that the fashion industry is a tough nut to crack.
As an SME, trying to make waves in a market jam packed with established, capital rich high street names can seem a daunting task, but it's far from impossible as long as your eye-catching product is backed up with adequate branding and sustainable investment.
With the New York and Milan pre-fall fashion weeks just around the corner, we've brought together these handy tips to help you grow your fashion business and work your way to the top of the tree.
Network, Network, Network!
It's too cliché to brand any success in the fashion industry with the 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' moniker, but the reality is that your next big success is unlikely to land straight on your lap!
Engaging with other players in the fashion industry who have the capacity to help drive your business forwards has never been easier thanks to the plethora of trade shows, fashion shows and online platforms which can provide a treasure trove of new business opportunities.
In today's digital world, it's essential that you invest in a strong online presence through social media such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter as well as your own independent website. Image is everything in the
fashion industry and these online channels need to cover many bases.
As well as offering potential customers a first impression of your products and services, you'll want them to engage with your business through blogs, social media posts, loyalty schemes and industry discussion.
This will not only help to push your company up the
online search rankings, but opening up dialogue between you and your customers will help to increase
your reputation within the fashion community.
Raising Capital From Specialist Lenders
Unless you're in the minuscule percentage of individuals who have the luxury of large capital reserves when launching and growing a new fashion company, the chances are that you're going to need investment to get things moving forward.
Surrounding yourself with business partners who have experience within the industry is integral to your future success and the same can be said of your investors and lenders.
There are companies out there such as Capitalise.com which can help SMEs to source finance from those with experience lending directly to the fashion sector. The importance of finding a lender that understands the specific financial challenges face this industry cannot be overstated.
The rise of innovative alternative funding methods has been a key facet in taking fashion businesses to the next level.
If you find yourself taking a number of credit and debit card payments through a card machine, then it's well worth considering a merchant cash advance. Rather than being locked into fixed monthly repayments which can be a nightmare for seasonal businesses, you'll pay back a small part of your outstanding balance each time a transaction is made through your EPOS terminal.
Buying new equipment and machinery for a fledgling fashion empire typically comes with large, upfront costs attached which is why asset finance has become such a prominent aide for SMEs. Assets can either be leased or purchased with the costs spread over long enough term to keep the repayments affordable. You can find a full breakdown of the most popular financing options here.
Invest in Uniqueness
From organic cotton fashion labels in the design world to state of the art textile production tools in the factory, the ever changing landscape of modern style combined with rapid technological advances means that there are plenty of opportunities to be unique.
Standing out from a burgeoning crowd is going to rely on the originality of your product and branding, and you'll want to invest a serious amount of time driving these USPs home to your customers.
It all starts by understanding your target audience and creating a focused brand identity from launch. If you're creating a luxury product aimed at high end retailers such as Harrods and Selfridges, then ensure that your branding is geared towards these retailers.
You can be incredibly creative when it comes to building your reputation online at a fraction of the costs when compared to operating a full, physical retail outlet. Take advantage of this in the early days of business to try and find workable, well-received marketing campaigns that speak to your audience.