Starting a new fashion brand? Here’s how to launch on Kickstarter

Fashion choices have been a big part of our self-expression for ages, and they say a lot about us before we speak. The right outfit can boost your chances of getting that dream job, and the wrong one can keep your dream partner in your dreams. People put more thought to what they’ll wear than they do into which can of baked beans or box of cereal to buy.

This is why there are barely any shortcuts to the engagement and storytelling involved in marketing a fashion brand online and selling to clients. Fortunately, Kickstarter offers a large audience you can tell your fashion brand’s story and even get them to buy your products.

How best can you launch a fashion brand on Kickstarter?

Some fashion startups have received pledges nearing $4m on Kickstarter. Since that big sum has your attention, let’s talk about how to successfully launch a fashion brand on Kickstarter:

Select a category

Fashion is such a broad industry that you can hardly offer various products from the onset. That’s like trying to swallow a whole banana at once *slaps knee*. Instead, it’s wiser to select a category, like underwear, beachwear, sports and fitness, or whichever you prefer.

Pick a category where even newcomers without big names can get a slice for themselves. Just like football can only have one Tom Brady at a time, the fashion industry won’t let you be Luis Vuitton, Hermes or Versace right off the bat. It is also important to choose a category that could easily propel you into other categories later in your journey.

Conduct research

Once you know what kind of fashion products you want to produce, Kickstarter immediately becomes your friend before you even start a campaign. It’s like having a cheat sheet for an exam. You can browse through different fashion campaigns on Kickstarter and take notes.

One of the important things to find out when researching is how other brands differentiate themselves. Are they touting comfort, or are they trying to appear sexy? Maybe some of them are promoting sustainability by making clothes from recycled materials, while others just offer more pockets and secret pouches or sleek packaging. This will help with strategy.

Whatever the unique selling point is, identify it. In fashion, these choices affect your costs considerably. Greater comfort usually means more expensive material, and durability often means better stitching or going seamless, so things don’t tear and leave others in stitches.

Don’t get too obsessed with the competition. Talk to the people you want to make these products for. These talks will help you confirm or dispel assumptions about what people really want in a product. For example, you might be pushing strapless bras, yet many of your peers are okay with conventional underwire bras. Maybe all they want is better lift and lace edges.

Reach out to experts

When the idea is clear, you’ll need a prototype and a design pack. The prototype helps ordinary people to envision your concept and have a tangible item to try out. You can’t just keep talking about what it will look and feel like. You’re not a preacher trying to build faith in a congregation. People will want to see or touch the product at some point.

On the other hand, a design pack is more like a stencil, with accurate measurements that the factory can follow and scale up or down when manufacturing the final product.

You may try doing this yourself if you have some pattern cutting and design skills. However, going with a factory’s in-house design team could be safer. This is because they often have more knowledge of the necessary adjustments in measurement and technique required when dealing with different fabrics and trying to maintain a desired look and fit.

Draw up a business plan

Remember that at this point, your expenditure hasn’t probably gone that far beyond creating samples. But with the knowledge you’ve amassed from interacting with designers and manufacturers, you can sit down with a professional and draft a business plan.

The primary goal is determining the scale at which you’ll be profitable. You need to know how much less it will cost to manufacture the product for more customers. Eventually, you’ll determine how much money you need to collect and which costs you’ll have to minimize.

A solid business plan helps you exude confidence when working to different stakeholders and makes manufacturers more likely to work with you. You’ll have a clearer picture of what concessions to ask for, and they can also tell you how much they are willing to compromise.

Partner with service providers

Now that you’ve your numbers, it’s time to deal with service providers, mainly; the factory and shipping agent. It’s not always as easy as going with whoever made you a prototype.

Once you’re talking about mass production, many other factors come into play. For example, you’ll have to think about the quality of the materials, compliance with labor regulations and other working conditions, ease of shipping to customers, and a lot more (what if you need a circular knitting machine?). If word gets out that you’re working with people with a terrible record in any of these aspects, that could quickly ruin your crowdfunding campaign.

But don’t worry, you can find suppliers on platforms like Makers Row, Sqetch and Utelier. You can also try Facebook Groups, forums, trade shows and other fashion-related events.

What can you do to become a hit on Kickstarter?

When you finally get one that meets all your needs, have them make you a small consignment that you’ll use in your online campaign. At this point, it’s time to start looking for the big stacks, which is when you set up the Kickstarter campaign. Here are some Kickstarter best practices to follow, especially for launching fashion brands:

Create amazing promotional content

Fashion has a lot to do with the look of things, so you’ll definitely have to go hard on your visuals. If your budget allows, have some models in your promo video. You can always get the Kardashian of your family or friend group to pose in the attire and channel their inner diva if you’re low on cash (just make sure the script and directing are excellent *wink*).

The audience should get as many different views as possible (static shots, panning, zooming, some up-close shots for detail, different colors, some twirling and maybe even blowing a few kisses). Give them a sense of the feeling that comes with using the product.

Let the people in the video look lively/bubbly (like they enjoy the product). Aside from the video vibe, summarize the vital business details. These could include the fact that you have producers on standby and the number of units you want to roll out in your first go.

Have an engaging page layout

Ensure all the vital details about the product and the campaign are laid out coherently to keep a visitor wanting to know more. Each point should have a neat photo to go along with it.

Display catchy slogans that condense the message in each section. And present everything like a story rather than just a list of points. Tell people the “why” of it. Let them know how an event in your life or someone else’s life made you take the mission more seriously.

Hold a massive pre-launch

Tell people your dream on social media, via email, as a guest on podcasts and vlogs, and through as many other channels as possible. People should know that you want to have a successful fashion brand one day, way before the Kickstarter campaign.

They should see this dream evolve from words to pictures and also see you develop some uniqueness and a broader mission. At this stage, you’re looking for diehards who’ll invest first without caring about the hype. Once the campaign picks up steam, you’ll be able to revisit statements from your pre-launch to show people just how far you’ve come.

Get a solid Kickstarter pledge manager

There’ll be many details to keep track of, like color, size, and other elements of an order. However, with an account on a good crowdfunding pledge manager, you can easily manage each backer’s order, the rewards attached, your Kickstarter shipping scheme and more.

And since fashion requires high engagement, you can use the survey features of tools to learn more about backers while selling to them. Because of all the other public relations tasks like buying ads and drafting press releases, you may easily neglect the backer experience.

This would be catastrophic to your goals since everyone who intends to give you money needs to feel persuaded and properly cared for. So, you should offer enticing shipping rates and provide rewards that speak to the audience and make them rush to pre-order. A well-managed Kickstarter fashion campaign can prop up an underdog, get quality and affordable products to the masses, and raise sums that make the big players jealously suck their teeth.

Gerald Ainomugisha is a freelance Content Solutions Provider (CSP) offering both content and copy writing services for businesses of all kinds, especially in the niches of management, marketing and technology.