If you’ve been thinking about designing your own apparel line, you’ve probably had your eye on a few brands that will ultimately become your “competition.” You’ve likely been wearing their clothes or admiring them, while also thinking that there’s something missing from the space that you can offer. For example, in the Women’s Running Apparel space alone, you can find full collections by big and small companies all over the world. You could target large companies like Athleta, lululemon, Brooks, Title Nine, Adidas and Nike. Or you could focus on smaller companies like Oiselle, Ciele, Tracksmith and Janji. In almost every category of apparel, there are many different brands to research and review. Understanding your niche among the other companies in your same space will help you with five major points: Market Gaps, Company Values, Target Customer, Branding and Pricing. We’ll go into more detail about each of these below.
Is there an under-served consumer that could benefit from a different or unique product that you can offer?
What products do you wish you could purchase, but can’t seem to find from any other brand?
Define and list out what could set you apart from all the other companies in your market.
Some brands put all of their focus on sustainability in materials and manufacturing. Others insist that performance is the most important feature of their apparel.
What are your most important desires for your apparel line?
How do you want to compare to the other companies in your space?
Do you want to emulate some of their values, or do you want to be completely different?
How old is your target customer? A 20-year-old consumer purchases apparel differently than a 50-year-old consumer.
Who do you primarily want to serve with your product?
What size range are you going to offer in your apparel line?
There is a huge need for more inclusive sizing in the apparel industry. Are you going to adopt that perspective, or keep your size range narrow to start out?
Are there key aspects to each of the brands in your space that you should consider adopting?
Is there a consistent “look,” color scheme or naming method that can help you to define your own brand’s details?
What kind of packaging do other companies use in this space that you can adopt, change or improve upon?
What is the range of prices in which your competitors offer their products?
If you’re planning to sell a $50.00 Tech Tee in your line, will you be over or under priced compared to other brands’ Tech Tees?
Do you need to adjust your budget and line plan to accommodate more competitive pricing?
Once you have a clear picture of the other brands in your space and how you can differentiate yourself, you can start to see how your apparel line will come to life. Knowing your “why” and “how” can provide so much confidence and motivation to keep moving forward with your idea.
I recommend from here that you figure out if you can purchase some of your favorite garments you found during your research. Wear them, test them out and figure out how they’re great and how they can be improved. This will give you numerous ideas for your line, and will catapult you into the design phase.