After having started a clothing brand and running it for 3 years in South Africa, this is a collection of my experiences in running a clothing brand in South Africa. Due to the current economic climate, a lot of people are forced into entrepreneurship in South Africa. A viable business can be your own custom clothing brand, they are relatively easy to start. You will need some capital to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
A lot of people are embracing “buying local” the sector that is benefiting the most from this is the local clothing sector. Here is how to start a clothing brand in South Africa.
1) Come up with a concept
We have no shortage of clothing brands in South Africa, you need to develop a concept that stands out. What type of clothing do you want to manufacture, who are you targeting? Will it be a streetwear brand, Formal or just casual? When I started my brand, I knew that I wanted to create something for the Youth, it would be a streetwear brand.
2) Decide on the brand name
After you have come up with a concept, the next step is deciding what the brand name will be. When choosing a brand name, try your best not to go with what’s trending but pick a name that will resonate with your target market. A lot of people starting a clothing brand in South Africa make the mistake of using catch phrases as their brand name. You can’t do that, catch phrases are usually what’s trending at that time and will quickly lose their significance in a short space of time.
A lot of people also put so much time in to coming up with a name that has a meaning, look, your name doesn’t have to have any meaning. A lot of names that I come up with for my projects are not inspired by anything, they are just names that are easy to pronounce and will portray the brand as if it’s important. It also doesn’t have to be descriptive at all, what’s descriptive about Adidas? The name that I came up with for my brand was “Gazol”, because it just sounded good, I thought about it in just about 30 seconds. It doesn’t have any meaning but it worked incredibly well.
You also need to check if the name doesn’t already exist, it’s a mistake that many of us make, go to all your social media platforms and type out that name. Then go to CIPC and search for that name (to be discussed in detail below).
3) Make a few designs
You will need to come up with a few designs, tangible designs. These designs are just part of the proof of concept, you will also use them to ask for feedback. It’s really important to get a feedback before even beginning when starting a clothing brand in South Africa because the people are the ones who are going to buy your brand at the end of the day.
There are a lot of designing apps and tools online, if you are not tech savvy then hire someone to do the designs for you. That’s what we did with our brand, we make multiple designs then chose the best ones. The designing process must not be strict, allow your creativity to guide you. If you do not have any creative ideas then you will definitely need to partner up with a creative person who will handle that side.
A logo should also be established at this stage, while logos might not be important for other businesses, they are extremely important for clothing brands. Your customers will wear your logo everywhere they go, make sure that it’s good and easy to recognize and distinguish.
4) Get feedback
After having made all these designs, you will need to present them to a few people and hear their opinions. You will get a lot of opinions, everyone will have something to say, most of them will be suggestions on how to improve, get feedback from people you know and strangers. People you know might care about protecting your feelings, strangers won’t care about your feelings, they will tell you the honest truth.
For our brand, we just posted a chain of statuses on WhatsApp with our designs, don’t be afraid of people stealing them. Just do it, a lot of our WhatsApp friends had a positive response, they even made pre-orders and reposted our designs on their statuses. This was a great sign that we were headed in the right direction. We generated so much hype with our designs that we go calls from artists asking us to dress them up for their performances on events.
5) Register your clothing brand
You need to register your clothing brand to protect it, someone can go and register it then sue you for using their name. You need to register it and trademark it.
How to register a clothing brand in South Africa
- Go to the CIPC website and register It there. The best option is to register it as a private company, the cost of registering a clothing brand in South Africa is R175. That also goes for registering any business.
- Trademark your logo, you will also need to trademark your logo, the cost for doing this is around R3 000 to R4 000.
That way you will be protected and no one will fake your staff.
6) Produce your first sample
You need to produce your first sample of clothing and a few extra garments for sale. Don’t produce your first batch based on the number of people who ordered, produce based on the different designs you have and the models you will need for your photo shoot. The first batch is made entirely for a professional photo shoot.
If you are starting a T-shirt printing clothing brand then you need to find a place to buy plain T-shirts and a place where you can print them. This also goes for beanies and Caps, if you are manufacturing unique garments then you will have to do everything on your own or find people who will do it for you and pay them.
7) Do a photo shoot
You will need a few models to do a photo shoot for you. You don’t have to hire any professional models if you are out of budget. Just get a few people to volunteer. Make sure that the photos are impressive because those are the first photos you will use in your marketing campaign.
8) Open a website
A website is very important for any business, especially for a clothing brand in South Africa. You will need to open an E-commerce website (preferably), that way, people will be able to buy directly from your website instead of hitting up your WhatsApp. Don’t skip this step.
Post all the pictures from the photo shoot in the website, that way you will be able to just give people a link to view your work instead of sending pictures to everyone that asks for them.
9) Don’t rush
Don’t be in a hurry to find a space to sell from, especially if you are starting out and don’t have a lot of budget. Don’t burden yourself with expenses before even making the first sale.
10) Market your clothing brand
After all these steps you have to market your brand, you will most likely have a few customers already from word of mouth. Your models will likely do word of mouth marketing for you. You can also invest in doing Facebook ads, you will need a website to have an effective Facebook ads strategy.
This was a guide on how to start a clothing brand in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.