Starting garment business from home doesn’t have to be intimidating! Learn all the steps to start a garment business with this guide.

1. Starting a Garment Business: What Makes it so Attractive?

Garment business is a cut-throat one, and yet there are reasons why starting garment business is always attractive for new entrepreneurs.

When you start a clothing business yourself, you might have your own reasons. But based on our experience working with start ups since 2007, these are the pros for starting garment business:

  • First, garment (clothes) is one of human’s basic needs. The styles, the sizes, the colours, the fabrics used, etc, might be different, but everybody needs to wear clothes. The challenge is to produce the kind of garment that matches the taste (and pocket) of your target market.
  • Second, despite the belief that designers must be creative, the fact is that most styles are based on the recycled ideas of previously popular styles; with some alterations. A lot of fashion designers make clothes inspired by “back to” 60s, 70s, 80s, etc. Flannel shirt is ever popular among men and according to the history of flannel shirt, this “conservative” style has been popular since early XIX century. And everyone, male and female, always need to have a least a white shirt in the wardrobe. So, starting garment business doesn’t necessarily means making radically new designs. You just have to know how to market them.
  • Third, starting garment business from your own house is something that you are probably able to do, with low start up capital and a limited number of designs. As a manufacturer, we ourselves also started our garment business from our own home in 2007.

So, when you start a clothing business, if you do it right, there is always a chance that your brand will be a success.

Readymade Garment Business: an Alternative Option

This is another type of garment business where finished garments are mass-produced and ready to be sold in bulk. Buyers just have to select the items, place the Purchase Orders, and conduct a simple Quality Control for the finished garments.

This could be an option if what you want is starting garment business without the hassle of making designs. You don’t even have to change the labels! Instead, you can just focus on selling the garment for retail customers.

If you want to start clothing business this way, then this article is NOT for you. This article is dedicated for those who want to own fashion labels, not for those who want to be fashion store owners.


Start your garment business from Bali

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2. Preparing the Designs

If owning a fashion label is what you want, not owning a fashion store, then starting garment business must begin with preparing the designs.

There are two ways that you can choose in doing so:

2.1. Starting Garment Business from Scratch

This method starts with producing sketches of clothes designs. They function as the rough guidelines of how the finished garment should look like.

Inspiration for making sketches can come from many sources:

  • Your bad experience with existing brand’s designs
  • Specific requirement that you couldn’t find in existing brands
  • Affordable version of designs made famous by world class designers
  • etc.

Sketches are very important for producing designs, but they don’t have all the technical detail required to make garment. No matter how good a sketch looks, it doesn’t guarantee that the finished garment would look exactly like the sketch. This probably happens if a designer lacks knowledge about the nature of fabrics used, or the manufacturer doesn’t understood the design and uses the wrong technique.

So, the designer and the clothing manufacturer should collaborate to find the best combination of fabrics, accessories, production methods, etc. that could result in finished garment that most resembles the sketch.

Such collaboration is called “product development”, and all the data is compiled in a tech pack.

We have covered the explanation about tech pack in garment industry in a previous post. We suggest that you allocate a few minutes to read it to understand a complete tech pack can actually saves you a lot of money.

2.2. Altering Readymade Samples

Another way of preparing your designs is to make copies of readymade samples that you can find in stores, then alter some details to make them look (slightly) different. This is easier and faster than making the designs from scratch.

However, starting garment business with this method is bordering on plagiarism. So, the challenge is to make the designs don’t look like a carbon copy of the original sample.

3. Preparing Cost Estimation to Start Garment Business

Before you go any further with your plans of starting garment business, we recommend you to prepare a clothing manufacturing cost estimation. A lot of start ups have inaccurate ideas about how clothing manufacturers work. You can avoid making unrealistic manufacturing cost estimation if you do not overlook the 3 things explained in that article.

The closer your estimation is to the actual cost, the more you would be able to to manage your finances and avoid unnecessary costs. You will also able to decide whether you need to revise your designs and the number of order that you are planning to order from a clothing manufacturer.

4. Preparing the Marketing Plans

Have you ever find a clothing brand with so so design and so so quality, and yet it is so popular? This is proof that with an excellent marketing plan, even a regular clothing brand can be successful!

We have covered the topic of making clothing line marketing plan in a previous post. It’s only a 5 minute reading, we suggest that you spare time to read it. There are 5 uncomplicated steps in there that could really help you in preparing your marketing plans.

5. Learning about Garment Manufacturing Business

Misconception About Sampling

Some start-ups have the wrong ideas about sampling process. It’s not as simple as they think!

FPP Manufacturer

What is FPP Manufacturer? Is there any example? What can it do for fashion labels? Where can you get 1 of this manufacturer?

Private Labelling

Should star-ups employ the service of Private Labelling? What do you get from that service? How much will it cost to use this kind of service?

No designer manufacture their own designs. It’s the job of clothing manufacturer. We suggest that you find some books on garment manufacturing that can help you to understand the garment production process steps. Such knowledge can be useful for reviewing your plans. For example, after you understand the garment flow process, including the sampling process in garment industry, you can decide whether your time table is realistic or you should make some revisions.

But first you need to learn the difference between a dressmaker and a clothing manufacturer. Every machine in garment industry (clothing manufacturing) is designed for mass production. So, if your intention is to have a mass production (even if it is just about a dozen pcs per style) then what you need is a clothing manufacturer.

And of all the types of samples known in the garment business, there are 3 most important types of samples that you the manufacturer has to produce before you can make a decision about the number of orders you want to submit to the clothing manufacturer.

There are different types of service that a clothing manufacturer can offer you:

5.1. CMT (Cut, Make, Trim)

The clothing manufacturer only provide the labour to cut the fabrics, sew them and applies trims like buttons, zippers, etc. Starting garment business this way requires you to assemble your own team for quality control check. And if you don’t know how to source fabrics, choosing CMT service will present you with an extra burden of finding the best deals.

5.2. FPP (Full Package Production)

This is the type of service that is recommended for start ups. Starting garment business using this service allows you to focus on making designs and managing the marketing. The clothing manufacturer handles all the technical stuffs and the headaches that come with them, including the supply chain management.

You can read more about this service in a previous post about Full Package Production Clothing Manufacturer to understand how it could help new designers like you.

5.3. White Label

This is the easiest way to start a clothing business. Even big companies sometimes use this method. You don’t have to prepare your designs from scratch.

You basically use the readily available designs offered by a private labelling clothing manufacturer that you can trust, and choose customization options available (could be in colour options, motifs, length of sleeves, types of collars, etc.) The proprietary rights of the designs are owned by the clothing manufacturer, so anyone willing to pay the fees can use their designs. And, you can put your own label to each finished products. Starting garment business this way is completely legal!


Is garment a good business?

How much money you have to prepare before you can start a clothing business? What are the most common things that start-up labels forget to include in the cost estimation?

6. Finding a Clothing Manufacturer to Start a Clothing Business

A lot of clothing manufacturers advertise themselves on the internet. So for example, if starting garment business from Bali is something that you are interested in and you need to collect information about a clothing factory in Bali, just go to their website. If they are experienced as a clothing manufacturer for start up then perhaps it would worth your time to contact them.

What to Avoid When Looking for a Clothing Manufacturer

Standard practices might be different in the garment industry in different countries, but if you are interested in clothing production in Bali, the followings (based on real life experiences) can help you in finding the right manufacturer for you

  • Too idealistic: sustainable clothing manufacturers in Bali are highly in demand. But in reality, different people or institutions might have different standards of “sustainability”. And if you want to use only sustainable raw materials, it might costs you a lot more than the “not so sustainable” materials. So, starting garment business with highly idealistic ideas might be something that not all start ups could afford.
  • Under prepared: we have an experience where a “start up label” contacting us and some other established clothing manufacturers in Bali, asking for us to submit proposals for garments that they haven’t even finished designing. They want us to compete for our best offers, then the “start up” will choose the winner and start making designs based on the price quoted by the winner. It is never going to happen! No clothing manufacturer Bali would want to propose anything until it is clear what kind of design the client exactly wants.
  • Over protective about the designs: while it is true that some other brands might “steal” your designs, no clothing manufacturer would be able to accurately quote the costs required if you are unwilling to give the manufacturer the complete details of your designs. Instead, you can ask the clothing manufacturer to sign an NDA to protect your designs.
  • Impatient: clothing manufacturers won’t sacrifice their existing production schedule to accommodate requests for samples by any start up. So, as long as the clothing manufacturers are willing to respond to your enquiry about starting garment business with them, you should be patient until they could clear a schedule to produce your samples.

If you need more guidance on starting garment business, PROMODA would be happy to help!