Guest Blog by Simon Rawadi, Co-Founder of Slyletica
See Simon speak about Slyletica and the how he uses technology to grow his business at the Law Squared Flagship event, Thursday October 25, United Co Coworking space. Click here to book now!
Activewear has not always been synonymous with fashion. But in recent years, healthy lifestyles paired with fashionable activewear has taken over.
Activewear has found a place that stretches far beyond clothes we simply exercise in.
Activewear as functional fashion means that it transitions from active to everyday seamlessly.
This is not a fleeting fashion fad.
Over the past few years we have embraced living a healthier lifestyle as a whole. It reflects in our wardrobe and why shouldn’t it? With the ever evolving world of fitness, why should there not be an evolving wardrobe to match?
Many stylish activewear brands were born out of necessity. Take P.E Nation - a household brand that managed to enter the market at what seemed to be a very calculated moment. For Co-Founder Pip Edwards this was not the case, P.E Nation was born out of need. The active wear Pip wanted to wear was not available on the market. So Claire Tregoning and Pip created it. The niche was found, and you can see how it has flourished in 2 short years.
Don’t be afraid to fill the hole you see in the activewear market. This is where Custom Activewear manufacturing comes into play.
Here’s how to launch your own activewear brand in five easy steps.
Step 1 - Knowing What you’re selling
Every great activewear brand started like you are now - with an idea. Whether it’s a new idea or an improved concept to bring to the activewear market. You may even be filling needs customers didn’t know they had.
There are a few things to learn about your customers and products before you move into manufacturing your apparel.
Knowing what you’re selling an be broken down into these key selling points: What, Who Where, Why & How? (it’s cliche but it works!)
> Ask yourself these 5 Questions
What are you selling? What is your product? What is your ‘point of difference’ or ‘personalisation’ that will capture your audience? What is your unique brand identity?
This leads you to the next point, your audience: Who are they? What do they like and dislike about activewear products? What is their disposable income for activewear pieces? Find and know your audience, conduct market research. Be thorough.
Why is this product needed for the activewear market? Why will it sell? What was your aha moment? Why do you believe this product will sell? Why does your target market need this? Why do you need this product? Back yourself and your product.
Where will you sell this? Where does your target audience like to spend? Will you be using your own ecommerce store? Will it start out in brick-and-mortar stores? if so, what are these locations? Conducting market research on where your target market shops is key.
How will you sell this? How are you planning to market your product? Is your marketing strategy inline with your product and audience? How are you going to engage your audience to buy? How are you going to be better and bigger than your direct competition? Utilising free social channels has changed the whole game. It’s important to stay on-top of social media, it’s ever-changing.
Writing down these questions (and more), ticking them off one by one will help you start to plan your brand. Ensure you have a detailed business plan to work with. Things like a SWOT analysis and marketing plan will be hugely beneficial too.
In saying this, don’t get stuck in research land. Done is always better than perfect and continous progress is key.
Try to remember, mistakes will happen, expect it. No one ever worth remembering got it 100% right the first time anyway.
Step 2 - Get designing
> This is how you do it
Now that you have your vision for starting your own activewear brand, and you know who you are selling it to, the next step is to get your designs done.
This is where you can have fun. Start a Pinterest board. Save your favourite Instagram bloggers. Cut up your favourite active wear for swatches (it’s okay to let go sometimes) and collage magazine clippings.
It’s through this process that you find your brands aesthetic and voice. Find what you like, don’t like and what works for you and your brand vision.
Fabrication and construction with activewear is much more important than with clothing items such as streetwear . Activewear, it’s in the title – your clothes need to be functional, durable and fashionable. Make sure you stay focussed on what you’d like your final designs to look like. Find items that match the aesthetics you are going for.
Once your design ideas are formed, you will need a design / concept board to put it all together. This will be a visual story of your activewear brand and product. Where all your conceptualising begins to take shape.
Find a good designer that will give you a design board with variations on your product. This will allow you to see your designs front and back and make necessary changes before moving on.
The design/concept boards allows a total visual of your entire brand aesthetics. After putting it together, you may not like the colour you've picked. Or you may see your design and decide you need to add or take things off. Before you get to the nitty gritty, you need a design board.
Don’t be afraid to be direct with your vision. Getting it right here will help you later down the track.
Once your design board is done and finalised, it’s time to move into the next steps, Tech Packs.
> Create your Tech Pack
What is a Tech Pack you might be wondering?
Why do you need a Tech Pack?
A Tech Pack is a set of instructional documents made by your designer. Without a Tech Pack your manufacturer will not know how to create your design. This includes specifications such as size gradings, fabrications, colourways, sizing breakdowns, internal brand labels, care labels, swing tags & much more.
Each Tech Pack will be unique and custom designed based on your concept and instruction. You will need a Tech pack for each garment you’d like to make.
A Tech Pack is gospel when it comes to custom clothing manufacturing.
There are many benefits, but here are a few to help give you a better idea of why you need a Tech Pack:
Accuracy - a Tech Pack ensures that every detail of your garment construction is accounted for. This will help streamline production of samples and ensure accurate pricing can be given for your activewear from the Factory.
Agreement - A Tech Pack works like a contract between you and your manufacturer. You are providing a detailed instruction manual for production. If anything produced did not match your Tech Pack, you have a point of reference to refer to.
Quality Control - When your products are complete, your Tech Pack then becomes your final check. Did you get what you asked for? If not, then back to the Tech Pack you go to see what needs fixing. Fabrication is a huge part of custom activewear manufacturing. You want to ensure you are getting what you asked and paid for.
Archives - Tech Packs are a good thing to keep on file. If your products are flying out the door then you may need to re-order. Your Tech Pack will ensure that all later products will be identical.
Without a Tech Pack your manufacturer will be unable to provide you with a quote to manufacture your new garments.
Step 3 - Get Your Quote
Once your Design board & Tech Pack have been created, you can now move into sourcing your fabrics and getting quotes for the manufacturing of your new brand.
By sending your Design Board and individual Tech Packs, you can now be sure that the factory is clear on what you are trying to create, and how they can create it. From here, the factory will be able to provide you with quote on manufacturing the garments, as well as advise on your MOQ (minimum order quantity) per garment.
Before you send your designs and tech packs away, make sure you avoid these mistakes.
> Trim The Fat And Build A Production Plan
Here is where you start getting a clearer understanding of how much your garments will cost. You can take this time to re-evaluate your garments, what is needed, what is not, and how this affects your budget.
A good example of this is swing tags. If you’re going to be selling online, you can easily forgo the swing tags for launching your collection. It’s an additional cost that can be cut from your Tech Pack in the quoting stage.
You can also build out a production plan for your entire collection. Choose which items to drop first, and which to drop later. This will ensure you stay relevant and focussed on the end game, launching new garments as often as you can.
Step 4 - Start Sampling
You’ve come this far, now it’s time to see your product start to come alive.
There are many types of samples to choose from, and knowing where to start can be somewhat overwhelming.
A factory generally can’t create the exact sample you are after until you have confirmed your order with them. This is because they will need to order all your accessories, trims, fabrics, and colours. Something they are unwilling to do without a deposit from you.
Instead of an exact sample, you should focus on receiving a Fit Sample.
A fit sample should be measured and compared against your Tech Pack. This is to ensure that it is accurately constructed and made to your size grading.
This is also where your patterns are made. Any minor details or changes will need to happen here, before bulk production. You can get as many fit samples as you want. But if your tech pack is correct, and you’ve chosen the right factory - there should be no need for that.
A fit sample is not your final sample. Often it will be in a standard colour, without print and in a similar fabric to what you are requested. The key here is to focus on the Fit of the garment and its functionality. This is key to getting the perfect fit for your brand.
At this stage, you can also ask the factory to source your accessories and send you swatches of fabrics for your review and approval.
Step 5 - Manufacturing and production (putting it all together)
It’s getting close now isn’t it?
Your idea only sprouted a few weeks ago, and now you’re into manufacturing and production!
Once your fit sample has received the green-light, it’s time to move into production.
At this stage, you are ready to receive a PPS (Pre-Production Sample) by placing an initial deposit and getting ready to move into full production. A PPS is sneak peak of your finished product. This is where you make your final say. We can’t change your fabrication, colours or accessories at this point, but if your logo is 2 mm off centre - we can fix that.
Full production takes between 8-10 weeks, so this is the perfect time to start setting up everything else you’ll need to sell your products. This includes your e-Commerce store, pre-sales, social media set up, marketing strategy and brand identity. You’re excited about your incoming product, and now everyone else should be too.
And that’s all there is to it…
If that seems a little daunting, or if you want to get someone to take this off your hands, we’re here to help.
Lucky for you, there are great services available to bring your brand to life. Services like this guide you all the way through. From developing your initial idea, to designing your garments & building your Tech Packs. They can even handle the manufacturing, and show you how to market your brand right.
You don’t need a degree in design to bring your custom activewear brand to life.
Just remember, to follow the 5 simple steps:
The Idea - your ‘Who, What, Where, Why and How’. These five key points combined with a solid business plan will get the wheels turning for your idea.
Design & Tech Pack - Start to bring your activewear product to life. Find your visual inspiration, get your design board created & finalise your Tech Pack. Without this step you will find bringing the idea to production near impossible
Get Your Quote - Now you’ve got your product clearly laid out, it’s time to figure out the cost of production. This is where you can crunch numbers and trim the fat.
Start Sampling - Try, try, try before you buy. Make sure your samples are accurate to your tech pack specs.
Production & Manufacturing - You’ve come this far, you’re on the home stretch. Time to get the product made.
Now it’s time to go to market! By now you should have your brand voice and aesthetic mapped out - all that’s left if your perfect product.
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