KOA Clothing releases its first original design t shirt “Kiss of Death.” One of a kind t shirt guaranteed to attract attention. Use code KODeath10 for 10% off your t shirt order! LINK
Naked Sunday is a street wear label from the heart of London. Our collection features stories portrayed through a fusion of vivid photography and illustration. We are offering free shipping worldwide. Use code: IATT LINK
With the success of the newest WCBH winter collection, they will have a 2nd drop with some new items coming out in early February, before the spring summer range. Use the code “IATTWCBH” to save yourself 10%. LINK
Authors Bio: Thorsten Hunsicker is a Master Degree Fashion Designer who started his own Clothing line called Urban Gorilla in 2011. Today he is also Head of Sales at the Multilabel Distribution RevierHelden in Germany.
When you think about starting your own clothing line you have to consider a lot of things, like designing your first styles, comparing and setting up an online store and finding the right manufacturer for your stuff (I think that Adam from I am the Trend
and Threadbird got you covered very well in this regard!). But most people forget to think about the financial side of the fashion business when they are starting out.
Bootstrapping your startup clothing line out of your own pockets can be a serious problem, and sooner or later you will not be able to finance a bigger production run anymore. And then what?
Until January 18th, 2013 we are still running a crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo to help us finance a complete collection, a booth at a trade show, as well as a roadshow to find retail buyers. But to be honest, not all is going according to plan. Actually we know exactly why and it is even our very own fault. Let me show you how we set up the campaign, what we did right and most especially what we did wrong, so you can do better with your own project.
Step 1 – Planning is everything
Define your goals. You must know how much money you will need to raise first. One basic requirement for every crowdfunding campaign, is to set up some perks. These are goodies that you have to award to the people that make a donation to your cause. You might think of it as if they actually get something in return for their money. Of course you cannot make this a 1:1 value ratio, else you will not actually earn a dollar.
Next you need to define what you want to archive with your campaign. Maybe you set this up like some kind of preorder for a specific product or you want to finance the production and at the same time you sell out the first stock of products. In this case your campaign would act like a storefront for your items.
If you do it like this you have two choices: you only produce what has actually been ordered, or you order the double unit quantity because you should at least cover two times the actual production costs with your sales. That way you have the same quantity of products again for free to sell at the original price and make a good 100% profit out of it.
Maybe you need to reach a critical mass or quantity or just proof your concept for a retail buyer or just want to give something special back to your community, so whatever your goal is, you need to have a clear focus of what you need to archive.
Step 2 – Choose the right platform
There are a lot of crowdfunding platforms, but in social reality 2.0 only two of them are actually any good:
It might be the best known platform and thus it gets the most traffic. But that also means the most featured campaigns. If you will stand out better or sink in the masses is something I cannot tell you. Fact is that it gets a lot of attention in the biggest media outlets like Mashable, Techcrunch and some others. If you make it to their frontpage your server will hopefully not go down because of the traffic avalanche!
Our own campaign is running on Indiegogo as they have some huge benefits for international brands. Meaning first, that you do not need to have an US bank account to start a campaign. It is possible to use your Visa or PayPal-Pro (business) accounts. Second, you can make your campaign flexible, which means that even if you do not reach the total sum of your funding goal, you still can keep all the money that has been raised.
Step 3 – Set up your campaign
Write down everything a customer should know about you and make it fun to read. We wrote about our awesome guerilla marketing campaigns, when we went to summer music festivals wearing a gorilla mask and our logo T-Shirts. You never believe what happened to us! We literally stopped the show, were made fun of, poked in the nose, and made a lot of kids cry. But we had the most fun in our lives doing it, received 150 Facebook Likes in 2 days and were asked to pose for about 1000 pictures that in turn were often uploaded to Facebook galleries…
Just make sure that you include all the details about your products and why it is so important that you help them out with their donation. Make sure how you will spent the money and of course give something back with love. That is how we come to the next step…
Step 4 – Create the most awesome perks
Make sure that you give something valuable in return for people´s donations by offering incredible unique and fun perks. Your supporter wants to get a piece of you, so beware that the perk is directly related with your project, person, brand or cause.
When you run a clothing line the most obvious thing to do it setting up perks that include any combination and value packs of your stock or especially created limited edition items. We went a few steps farther by offering unique pre-production samples, custom made hoodies, our signature Gorilla masks, as well as handcrafted photoshop mockup files and ready made spec sheets that we use for our professional productions. There is nowhere in the whole world were you can get your hands on these. We even offer an exclusive custom production for retail buyers that take the most valuable perk.
As the perks grow in value bundle everything together in as many different combinations as possible. Be creative. As usual.
Step 5 – Get your marketing tools ready
A drawback in every crowdfunding platform we were looking at, is that they mostly gather a tech savvy crowd. Fashion projects usually do not perform as well as a tech design type. That is why you need to deeply implement a great marketing strategy right from the beginning!
Update your campaign regularly and do your marketing every day. Reach out to all your social followers as often as you can without spamming them in the process.
There are some handy tools that you can use to boost your traffic and I urge you to peruse all of them as best you can. To get you started check out Outbrain, Trada, Onlywire and BuySellAds.
Step 6 – Don´t forget about guest posts
This is a guest post, obviously. I want to help you guys out with some valuable information. But at the same time this is a marketing tool for us. Think about it: When you read this, we have reached someone from outside our usual turf. That means that at the end of the day we might have reached a potential new customer (if you like our stuff).
What you should do is predefine a group of as many relevant high level blogs in your focus group and write a blog post that contains valuable information and is focussed exactly on their niche. Include some open call to action to engage with you or even help you out when they liked your post.
Make sure to write that posts upfront, no matter what. That way you have them ready as soon as you need them and don´t have to start creative writing in the middle of the project. When you get rejected from a major blog, don´t be discouraged and offer it to another blog that is somewhat lower in the food chain.
The worst mistakes we made our first time around
Well to be honest our campaign will most likely be a fail, but that is completely our own fault and here is why:
We did not engage much marketing at all. We spend 100 dollars on a targeted Facebook ad, that does not seem to have drawn a single visitor to our website. Hm, that alone is an interesting fact for another guest post. I am quite sure it is the wrong strategy for engaging social networks.
Apart from the one that you are reading, we actually have written no other guest posts so far. Well it is another 10 days, so if this one is accepted, maybe I still write another one. But that is not a great idea so late in the project as you need to gain traction early on to make it. Remember that you should have them written and ready before you start the campaign, no matter what!
Maybe we even picked the wrong crowdfunding platform. We think that Kickstarter might have been better, but you need to own a US bank account and as we are from Germany, we don´t.
Set lower entry perks to engage the masses. Every Cent counts, so even a complimentary pledge of just 1 USD would lower the barrier and raise your funds.
We did not spend money on advertising. If you take a look at the advertising tools I named above, you can nail down that much possibilities when you have the dollars to support your project. Filter out why you don´t need and focus on your target audience and set up some advertising.
No updates to your campaign will signal that you don´t really care about it. Should have done that regularly as well!
And a last word of advise: JUST DO IT! (hm, I hope this text is not under some copyrights:)
Do you think crowdfunding will work for fashion brands? Let us know in the comments.
Just received some awful news that Skummie Kory has passed away after a lifetime battle with muscular dystrophy. Kory was an impressive and inspirational artist whom I had the pleasure of dealing with while running IATT over the years. My deepest condolences go out to his family. He will be missed.
Rest in peace.
Grab a deal in The Arcane January Sale. 20% off of all products in the store until the end of the month. Just use the code: NEWYEAR at checkout to receive your 20% discount. Offer expires 31 January 2013. HAPPY NEW YEAR! LINK
Brave & The Bold is a new clothing brand from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. We launched in late 2012 with our debut collection of Carbon Neutral Tees. For a 10% discount enter the cart code: bravecode13 LINK
The all new “Camp Collection” by Forever Gold Clothing, is now available online! The collection includes an incredibly warm hoodie, wool 5 panel hat, and two military style belts! Use IATT at checkout for free shipping! LINK
In celebration of launching their first line, PostUp is offering free shipping on all online orders until Jan.15th! Don’t trip, PostUp! LINK
Online series Wastelander Panda has released a tee to support the making of their new episodes. Use code “pandatime” to receive 15% off all orders. LINK
From now until New Year’s get 35% off the entire range of party horror tees, sweatshirts, prints and more. Lots of new sale items for under $10. Just enter code DEATHMAS at checkout. LINK
Plain and simple: the internet has killed the majority of original thought. It’s now easier than ever for an individual to duplicate nearly every aspect of their competitors’ products, marketing strategies, and overall business practices. Simply competing at a product and pricing level is no longer an option. Out-pricing your competition is a short-lived advantage and ultimately devalues your own offering. Competing head-to-head with quality is again short-lived as competitors can easily link up with the same manufacturers, artists, and contractors to produce products with equal quality and design.
So what does this mean for you? How can you edge out your competition in this technology-driven day and age? It’s not simple, but with the right focus it can be done. I’m not saying you should abandon everything in regards to remaining competitive with your pricing and the quality of your goods. But this alone will not elevate your brand above others; everyone else with even an ounce of business sense is going to be doing the exact same thing. So what do you do? You shift your focus upward and compete at the brand level. In the highly-competitive fashion industry, customers ultimately make their purchases from the brands they like the most. Not necessarily the brands with the best artwork or even the lowest prices. As an entrepreneur in the fashion world—you are selling a brand—not a product. Everybody can print on quality fabrics, everybody can create quality artwork (either by themselves or through contracting), and everybody can work with top-quality manufacturers. But not everybody can sell a brand. There are lots of ways you can sell customers on your brand and yourself as a brand owner. Below are three ways you can start competing at this level almost immediately with little to no cost.
Interact with fans/customers
We live in a “social first” society. Customers expect to be able to get a hold of an actual person and not receive some automated response or even worse, no response at all. Actively engage with your fans on social media outlets, answer you customer emails, and be honest. Talk to them as a person, not as a corporation. Most importantly: have fun, there is no reason to keeps things all business all the time. Your fans aren’t reaching out to you so they can talk with a robot, they want some genuine interaction, give it to them. Offering awesome products will create fans, but connecting with those fans will create customers. Your competitors might have more fans, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have more customers.
Step out from behind the curtain
Think of your favorite brands. Chances are you know who owns them and you have become more loyal to that brand because of it. Too many brand owners stay behind the curtain and don’t want to be upfront with who they are. If you want to remain mysterious, that’s cool, but doing this will limit the chances of customers really connecting with your brand. From the highest tier of corporations you have men like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs; in our independent fashion world you have guys like Johnny Earle and Bobby Hundreds. All of these guys have been extremely upfront as ambassadors for their brand(s) and have seen great success. People like to know who they are supporting, especially when that support involves spending their hard-earned cash.
Offer a complete story
Branding. This one word is more important in the lifestyle and fashion industry than any other. Your customers are paying for a name, a reputation, and a lifestyle. Think of it this way: take a book, remove a few chapters, then ask somebody to read it. What do you think would happen? It’s obvious, the story wouldn’t flow, the conclusion wouldn’t make sense, and well, the book would suck. Branding can be viewed the same way, if the pieces of your story don’t make sense, customers won’t be compelled to continue on. Independent fashion is not an impulse buy; chances are the majority of your customers will visit your site several times before they actually buy something. Every time they visit your site they are reading a little more of your story, building a connection with your brand, and eventually this will lead them to the conclusion of making a purchase.
Be deliberate with everything you do. If something doesn’t fit your brand direction, no matter how cool it is, don’t do it. When you are consistent with everything you design, produce, and market, your customers can easily identify with and “buy into” what you are selling. Once you’ve defined your direction, stick to it and do everything you can with writing, design, product offerings, and marketing materials to support it. Solid branding is what makes or breaks a clothing company.
Short-n-sweet: competition is everywhere—and if you’re talented—your designs, style, and ideas WILL be copied. That’s the harsh reality of the internet, current technology, and lazy individuals. Remain competitive with the basics of quality and pricing, interact with your fans, be someone people want to support, and offer a complete brand message to ensure yourself a spot in front of the pack.
Soft City Clothing is a new London based brand formed in late 2012. To celebrate our launch we’re offering free first class shipping in the UK with the code: BOP and free International shipping with the code: INT LINK
Ass-kicking apparel sure to reanimate even the deadest souls. And, an infectious blog beckoned to bring clarity to all of the pixilation. Use code “IATT” for 10% off total. LINK
Its a sad day in the indie tee world as Snakes & Suits have decided to close up shop after 5 years in the game. Snakes & Suits was one of the first brands I ever covered on IATT and a brand that I have admired over the years. I was also lucky enough to be their screen printing rep at Threadbird for the last few years!
Well sad stuff aside, everything over at Snakes and Suits is drastically marked down with all tees at $10 and hoodies at $20, so make sure to swing by and stock up!
Here is note from the founders of S&S:
After 5 years of hard work, we regret to inform you that the adventure known as Snakes & Suits will be coming to an end. We created Snakes & Suits as lifelong friends and we will end the same exact way. Our lives have all taken on new paths and we feel it would be a disservice to the brand and to it’s fans to continue on while not being able to give 100% focus back into it. We are very proud of what we were able to accomplish. Looking back on the last 5 years, the thing we’re most proud of is that the company became much more than a clothing brand. It became a symbol for friendship and support. Some of our closest friends and supporters sport life long tattoos reflecting that. Endless respect to all of you.
Thank you to all our friends, family and most importantly, the fans. You’ve changed the lives of 3 individuals more than you know. Best of luck to each of you in you own endeavors.
All remaining items have been reduced in price as a thank you and a chance for anyone interested to grab the last pieces of our existence. All shirts are $10 and all sweatshirts are $20.
-Eric, Johnny & Tony
I wish Johnny, Eric and Tony the best moving forward!