Perhaps you’re feeling like you want to diversify, leverage your art, mission and time by birthing your own clothing line? Artists have many mediums to place their message, yet stepping outside of their comfort zone is often a challenge, especially at the beginning. It’s possible to produce a collection in 90 days — you just need clear focus and ambition to move forward. It’s feasible and tangible to realize your collection, whether you are a designer, lawyer or salsa dancer. Where do you begin? Here are suggested action steps to get going.
Sample & Shoot in 90 Days
First things first: create samples. According to Marta Miller of Lefty Production Co., a full-service production company will be able to produce your samples in this time frame. Miller also suggests that young brands partner with a development house that can guide them through the process to avoid mistakes and frustrations.
It’s also important to keep it simple. Pick two or three styles you like in a few color variations. Do a photo shoot, pre-sell and cut-to-order, advises Lusine Mkrtchyan of PremierSource. This will allow you to grow slowly, be uniquely you and get feedback in the market as you go.
Blank It, & Be Unique
Why worry about something as important as fit? Blanks are the perfect medium. When you want to focus on your art, creativity and building your brand awareness (your tribe), it is best to worry about fit later.
Affordable and attainable to anyone looking to have a line, “blanks” are anything you can decorate, such as t-shirts, tops and bottoms, hats or aprons. Blanks make a huge impact, come in fashionable styles and work with a wide variety of trends, allowing you to be as creative as you like and make your collection your own.
For example, traditional T-shirts have grown into a wide range of styles and body types over the years. You can pick your body type, and from there, dye it, screen-print and embellish to your needs. When you are done, add your own label — it is uniquely your own collection!
You Have Choices
Many blank firms have the fit perfected, so you can focus on value and serving your business. There’s a fit for every size, so you can make something super cool, fresh and high-end that’s all your own.
There are many types of blanks to peruse. You could select from popular, trendy brands like Bella & Canvas, which offers fashion styles like the Bella crop fleece sweatshirt. Signature pieces like this are “super popular” and can be “worn with the high-waisted jeans and or pants,” according to Elsie Acevedo, owner of Deluxe Screen Printing Inc., the first female-owned and -operated screen printer shop in Los Angeles.
Acevedo also mentioned that high-end boutique collections are choosing AS Colour for its quality and styles, along with Upcycle LA, a collection made from plastic water bottles and recycled cotton. Other sustainable options include trendy brands like Next Level, Alternative or Los Angeles Apparel. Bayside, Coloseem and Cotton Heritage also offer a mix and variety.
“T-shirts are the international language of love,” said Mark Seymour of Next Level.
It’s hard to disagree; it’s “Disneyland for the T-shirt Industry” if you visit the Imprinted Sportswear Show in Long Beach, California, according to Chris Slivar of Deluxe Screen Printing. There, you can preview new trends and fashion forward styles from T-shirt manufacturers and suppliers. You can also purchase your blanks from a distributor, such as TSC or Broder Bros (since brands sell in volume), or work directly with screen printers. Deluxe, in particular, offers various brands and fashion styles, such as bleaching effects, color blocking and fashion tie dye. They are seeing a trend for french terry hoodies for this fall/winter, with cropped garments continuing to hold strong, from tees to fleece.
Screen printers may also have exclusive styles. A screen printer like Deluxe will always show a brand multiple surfaces such as stripes, cheetah or camouflage to make something unique. Tie-dye is always trending, and busy styles can look cool with the graphic.
“You’d be amazed,” said Acevedo.
If a private label is what you’re aiming for, use pre-designed pieces as the backbone to assert your creativity. You will move rapidly if merchandise and production is already available. A great place to source offerings is at seasonal trade shows.
It’s best to find pieces that already reflect your vision, so later you can embellish and add your own label to make them your own. Another resourceful trick is to find a brand you admire, and find out if they are interested in offering private label. You will be amazed to find out which brands offer this, as they have their capabilities set up and this is a way to leverage talent and revenue.
Now that you know, you can be in the business of fashion with a collection in 90 days. Get off the fence, and see you at market in 90 days.
Looking Good Yaya