How to Start a Leggings Line
Starting a leggings clothing line is an exciting venture. In womenswear and teen markets – nearly all women of a certain age owns at least one pair of leggings or yoga pants. Whether athleisure is a trend that will fade is an open question but for now it appears there are no slowing down in sight. Women are more likely now to buy a pair of leggings before even buying jeans. The jean market has been decreasing steadily and the pure popularity of everyday leggings is definitely a factor. Super easy to wear with a sports tops, tanks, t-shirts, sweaters, hoodies or even high fashion blouses makes leggings a must for any wardrobe.
So how as an aspiring fashion designer do you break into the leggings market? With so many mainstream and independent brands producing leggings in their collections how will your brand stand out? How will you be different? Will your brand focus on moderate or high-end leggings. Will you produce your line with premium fabrics or economical fabrics. What will be your target market and your signature style? Will you focus on solids or the use of creative prints in your designs. There is so much flexibility with how you can design your leggings. This article will take you through the steps of designing your own leggings line.
Step 1 – Create The Designs For Your Leggings
I am an advocate that before officially launching a business and forming registering your business that you first need to test the waters a little bit. Throughout history most successful entrepreneurs started out just doing something they love. Once they realized that they were really good at their passion they then decided to make their business official. With this in mind is why I say creating the fashion sketches for your leggings designs should come first before you official start your leggings line. You want to get good at creating your designs and showcase your sketches to others to get their feedback. You want to talk to people who buy leggings and ask them what do they like or what they don’t like about a pair of leggings they own. You want to ask them what is something they wish all leggings had. This information can then be used in your next round of designs. Next create many different designs then get feedback to determine which styles people love the most. Choose to go with your top reviewed styles for your first collection.
Now how do you design your leggings and create the sketches for it? That part is easier than you think. First let me take you through hand-sketching your leggings design. If you can draw and you just really want to do things in a way that is not the primary way of designing in the fashion industry then you can. Hand-sketching is still an art. It is also a great way to get your initials designs out of your head wherever they may hit you. If you can draw fantastic. If you can’t draw your sketches may not look like much. In fact, you will not want to give your unprofessional hand-sketches to a manufacturer because they will see you as an amateur. Also imagine drawing your leggings sketch and the print that goes on it. Then trying to make changes to that hand-sketch is also difficult. With that being said, most designers and clothing lines in the industry use clothing design software programs.
Using clothing design software will help you create professional leggings fashion sketches that you can then use to give to your leggings manufacturer. Software such as Digital Fashion Pro allows you to create your leggings sketches using customizable vector templates so that you don’t have to know how to draw or keep drawing the same silhouette over and over. Digital Fashion Pro also allows you to swap colors, fabrics and prints in and out of your design. This is why digital designing is what most of the industry is doing. Fashion designers are using software like Adobe Illustrator, Digital Fashion Pro, Corel Draw, Lectra, Browzwear, Optitex, Clo 3D and C-Design. Investing in one of these programs is a must as a beginner as well. You want to from the beginning create professional sketches and increase your skill level. Not to put so much emphasis on Digital Fashion Pro but it is a great program to help beginners go from beginner to pro.
Step 2 – Officially Starting Your Leggings Line
Now that you have a few designs under your belt and people are loving you upcoming collection it is a good time to officially establish your business. During this process you want to focus on registering your business, getting a trademark for your fashion brand and creating your business plan. You want to develop a mission for your leggings line. What will your line stand for? What part of the leggings market are you trying to address. You want to create a marketing plan for your line. Hire or bring together a team to help you in your venture. You may decide that you want to look for investors but wait until Step 3 before you look for investors and I will tell you the reason why in Step 3. During the phase of starting a leggings design company you also want to research other brands and the industry in general. There is help for you such as the Official Step by Step Guide to Staring a Clothing Line Clothing Line Start-Up Kit that can help you with creating your line. Get a domain name for your leggings line asap – Check Out Godaddy. (Godaddy Ad). Here is an in-depth article on how to start a clothing line.
Step 3 – Getting Your Leggings Made
The next step in creating your line of legging is getting your designs made. When getting your designs made you want to decide are you focusing on fitness, leisure or both. As a new designer starting out you may want to choose one or the other. This will help you better target your market. Another distinction of this choice dictates what type of fabrics you will use. Are you using high-end performance fabrics or fabrics that would be more leisure friendly. Keep in mind that producing leggings using high-end end performance fabrics will be more expensive to produce. Once you have your professional digital leggings sketches, technical sketch, artwork files and measurements (Tech Pack) you can then approach a sample maker, seamstress, leggings manufacturer or even an on demand garment printer that prints your designs on existing legging blanks. Once you get your first round of samples you want to make sure you do fittings with fit models to make sure your leggings have a great fit. As they say in fashion – fit is everything!
Now that you have a few samples made it is time for you to again make sure that you show others to garner interest. It is at this stage too that you may even want to pitch to investors. This is a great time to do so because you have your business plan completed at this point, design sketches and actual samples. Investors want to see that you have made progress and have something tangible that shows them that you are serious. You will also want to take photos of your models in your leggings to create your lookbook.
In terms of manufacturing your leggings you want to pay close attention to quality. Different fabrics stretch differently and have different characteristics when prints are applied. You want to make sure your prints are lining upon the garment just the way you want. You want to be sure the fabrics you are using don’t shrink when being washed or that your prints don’t easily fade. If customers have issues with your product quality they will not buy from you again. During this step you additionally want to develop your pricing. What will each pair of leggings cost to produce? What are the minimums? What should your mark up be. In general you ideally want to mark up your cost by 200% for wholesale and 400% for retail. Example: It cost you $15 to make. You then wholesale for $30 and consumers pay $60 at the store.
Step 4 – Launching Your Leggings Line
Now you are ready to launch. You have your business affairs in order. You have your manufacturing in order and the like. Hopefully at this point you have also put in work towards building your e-commerce site or deciding which platform you will sell your leggings on such as 3DCart (Ad) or Shopify. You want to have a blog / website to serve as the home for your fashion brand. Using WordPress can help you there. You can also hire someone to build your website. Create a press release to announce your line and kick your marketing plan into action. Approach retailers that you want to carry your line. Sell, sell, sell and re-order popular styles. Develop new styles and expand your line. See more information on starting a clothing line here.
Article by Michael Harper – Author, Fashion Designer, Fashion Entrepreneur