This is your one-stop-shop guide for breaking into the world of men’s fashion with your own brand. Before we get into detail, let us address why we focused particularly on men’s fashion in this guide. Firstly, our range is made by men for men. Secondly and most importantly, with the co-founders being young men, we don’t have the first clue as to what works for women’s fashion, which is a whole different kettle of fish when it comes to sizing, branding and marketing practices. So please don’t take offense to the distinction, but a guide like this becomes more valuable when it is focused on a particular demographic.
If you have clicked into this blog post, you are probably in one of two camps:
1. You have a great product idea and you are unsure of how to execute it.
2. You simply love the fashion scene and would like to own your own range, without necessarily having an idea straight off the bat.
In both instances, your first port of call is going to be market research. But with camp number 2, you are going to have a little more work to do. To stimulate the creative juices, it is always a good idea to spend your time looking at other brands, particularly the successful ones across multiple areas of the men’s fashion industry. Is there something they are doing well, which you can adopt for your own situation? Is there an idea on one side of the fashion industry, which you could apply to another area?
This is actually exactly what we did with Signature. We knew we wanted to start an online clothing business, but did not know what route we would go down. We didn’t want to be yet another streetwear or activewear brand, at a time where both markets were beginning to get saturated. So instead we looked at how we could apply some of the things they were doing well but in a new area. Both were beginning to use lycra/cotton and lycra/polyester fabric compositions to provide stretch garments with superior fit and stretch. The concept we first came up with was “UnderArmor” for the office, whereby we would take the fit and performance of activewear, and apply it to smart casual and formal clothing.
Once you have an idea for your product, you are going to have to know who your customer is, and if they would buy your product by conducting market research. This should ideally be a combination of:
- Desk research – As the name suggests.
- Field research - Actually getting out there and talking to as many potential customers as you can through surveys and focus groups.
The audience of your surveys and focus groups will largely come from your underlying assumption about who your customer is, but supported by your desk research.
When we conducted market research for Signature, we started with the underlying assumption that our target market was the 18-35-year-old male who goes to the gym and buys activewear online.
Our desk research indicated a massive upward trend in activewear purchases among this age range. Our conversations with this demographic discovered that the most important purchasing considerations for them when it comes to attire are comfort and fit. This confirmed our starting assumption that the 18-35-year-old man, who is interested in the gym, would purchase a tailored shirt, which has the same comfort and performance of activewear.
We then carried out online surveys and in-person focus groups among our demographic, which indicated that of 100 respondents, 80% of respondents valued comfort and fit as being the most important factor when purchasing clothing. Whilst this was by no means a large research undertaking, the results helped validate our underlying assumptions and had us confident that we were at least heading in the right direction.