A guide to starting a clothing brand in South Africa

A guide to starting a clothing brand in South Africa

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 relevance in a short space of time.

A lot of people also put so much time into 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 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 make the designs for you. That’s what we did with our brand, we made 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 got 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 R125. 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 photoshoot. The first batch is made entirely for a professional photoshoot.

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 photoshoot

You will need a few models to do a photoshoot 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 photoshoot 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.

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This Post Has 36 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for your insight on starting a clothing company…it was very informative.

  2. Thank you so much for this info really needed it as I’m about to embark on that journey

  3. Thanks for this!
    Any recommendations for wholesale garment sellers?

    I’m looking to print my own tshirts and on other garments but most of these local places only really sell back tshirts for company branding etc.Is it best to purchase internationally as they will have more trendy styles? If so could you kindly recommend a few websites I can check out

    1. Hi Jamie. Did you find a wholesale garment seller? If so, would you mind sharing info?

  4. Hi Thank you so much

    May you recommend any clothing manufacturers in Cape Town

    Kind regards

  5. Hi thanks for that clothing advice, can you please recommend the good and quality manufacturers in gauteng where i can buy streetwear clothing in bulk.

    Regards Beauty

    1. Should call me at 0797915108 . I can design anything for you at affordable prices , I will be happy to even show you my workshop and my work

  6. Thank you so much for such information. It’s very helpful. I won’t lie you’ve just opened up my mind. I say that because I’ve just registered my clothing brand with the help of this article.

    Now my question is:
    1. Is it compulsory to do both registering and trademarking at the same time?
    2. Can you recommend any good quality nstreetwear suppliers in cape town?
    3. How do I set up a website?

    1. I am so happy to hear that Zosu 🙂
      1. No it’s not but you have to trademark as soon as possible.
      2. Unfortunately, I am from Gauteng but I would recommend that you go to Google and search for t-shirt printing shops that are in your area. They usually have a lot more than just T-shirts to offer.
      3. I will send you an email with regards to that.

      1. Sibabalwe, kindly share also with me, I’m from Gauteng. Thanks

    2. We are manufacturing all kinds of clothes but we’re based in Johannesburg . We will be more than happy to design your sports wear brand. Call me at 0797915108 , lets talk

  7. Hi thank you for sharing this valuable info with us. It has always been my dream to start a clothing line. I have all these ideas in my head and I didn’t know where to start. Is there a way to contact you besides leaving a comment here?

    1. Hi Mongezi, I will send you an email soon. Thank you 🙂

      1. Thank you for tge info really opened my mind , registered the company , I need to contact you on the side if you font mind

  8. This was very helpful thank you very much ?

  9. It was very helpful, I apricate especially because I plan on opening my own clothing brand. thanks

  10. It was very helpful, I apricate especially because I plan on opening my own clothing brand. thanks `very much

  11. thank you so much ,may you please recoment good garment/clothing manufacturers

  12. Hi, thank you so much for this advice it’s helped a lot, I’m interested in starting a sportswear brand I have no idea how to go about doing that I’ve recently moved to Pretoria is there any place close to Pretoria that can help with the supply of material

    1. I am glad you found this information useful :), we are not based in Pretoria, please search for the place online or ask around. Good luck on your journey.

  13. This is so informative thank you. Could you please recommend quality manufacturers in Gauteng. Thanks

    1. Good day . I own a clothing design Shop in Johannesburg I make all kinds of clothes for big companies and small businesses . I have a very good track record , should give me a call so we can discuss further about your clothing line

  14. Good day

    Very informative. Thank you
    Could you recommend manufacturers in Gauteng.Please

  15. Thank you so much for this guideline, I now know where to start. Thank you so much. I would like to read more of your content as I grow. I’m in Durban and I would like to manufacture my own clothes in the future.

    1. Thank you so much Mandisa, please tell us when you finally start so that we can publish an article about your business.

  16. Thank you so much for sharing this information with us, it gave me an idea of what I want to walk into.

    Is there a way we could talk more, besides on this article? Got a few questions regarding this.

    1. Yes, send me an email using the contact form on this website, I appreciate it 🙂

  17. Hi, thank you so much for this info. It was very enlightening. Much appreciated. I need to ask you a few questions though. Where can I reach you?

    1. Hi Van Rooyen, you can simply fill out the contact form on the contact page and I will get back to you.

  18. Hello

    I hope this finds you well. I just need advice on the plan I have. I’m thinking of starting my own clothing brand but I don’t know how I’m going to go about the people who can make or design them. I was thinking of hiring last year fashion students – thoughts? Also what equipments is needed besides a sewing machine?

  19. Hi Innocentia, I’m also based in Pretoria. Would you mind if we walk this journey together if you have not started yet? Thanks

  20. Hi, I just read your helpful article about starting a clothing line. I would like to chat a little further about this, if possible. Would I need a lot of capital to start out? Would I have to hire someone to do the pattern making before looking for someone to sew it?

    1. Just checked it out, very impressed. Great job 🙂

  21. Hey
    Thanks for an informative video. I am looking for a company which can manufacture hoodies and t-shirts for me to launch my brand. Please help.

    1. Hey David, where are you based?

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