Activewear has always been popular, as nothing comes close to the comfort and functionality it offers to those leading an active lifestyle. However, it has exploded in popularity in recent years as more and more people embrace athleisure fashion and health-consciousness in their daily lives. In other words, if you’ve always dreamed of owning an activewear clothing line, now it’s time to act.
But how exactly can you go about turning this dream into a reality?
That’s what this guide is here to help you with. Keep reading to learn how to start a fitness clothing line, setting it up for success from the get-go.
How to Start an Athletic Clothing Line in 10 Steps
Embarking on any business venture is no easy task. But when entering an industry dominated by activewear giants like Nike, Adidas, and Lululemon, you genuinely have your work cut out for you.
But there’s no need to panic. Consumers have always and will always recognize quality, innovation, and authenticity. So, as long as you start a fitness clothing brand that embodies these values, you can carve your niche.
Start with an idea. Think of something the activewear industry is missing or something that can be significantly improved. From there, follow this 10-step guide on starting a fitness clothing line and enter the competitive market with a bang.
Step 1: Hit the Ground Running With In-Depth Research
Most creatives have been there – you think of a genius idea, only to find out something similar has been on the market for years. So, it might be best not to get too excited about an idea before doing extensive research.
Luckily, the internet has made this research virtually effortless. Start by researching the most prominent players in the game and gradually narrow down to specific niches. Take notes on what’s popular and what seems to be only a fad, look for gaps in existing activewear collections, and gather inspiration. You might even come up with new concepts beyond your initial idea as your research progresses.
The ultimate goal is to truly understand the market you’re entering and the competition waiting for you there.
If you like a more “hands-on” approach, forget about the internet and head to local activewear shops. Try on many different styles to understand what fits the best, which material feels the most comfortable, and what type of designs you find the most attractive.
Step 2: Carve Your Victory Path Through a Niche
Finding something unique in an industry as crowded as activewear is nearly impossible. So, don’t get discouraged if you encounter other fitness brands selling products similar to your idea. What matters is that the niche isn’t completely saturated, and there’s enough room to grow.
Armed with your findings from market and competition research, you should be able to find a niche (e.g., a specific sport or exercise type) where your activewear line will be able to stand out. A significant part of this search is zeroing in on your target audience.
Think of your ideal customer – who they are, what they need, and how your products can enhance their lifestyles. Knowing who you’re designing activewear for will help you carve out a distinct identity and create specialized products that will resonate with your audience and, thus, become a hit.
Step 3: Develop a Game Plan
There’s no doubt about it – creativity is what fuels your business venture. But the key word here is still “business.” Even the most innovative ideas need structure and strategic implementation to succeed. In other words, you need a business plan.
Though each business plan is unique, the document should generally include the following information:
- A summary – What is your company all about?
- Business description – What is your business model? What makes your business different?
- Market analysis – Who are your main competitors?
- Business structure – How is your business organized and managed?
- Product description – What are you selling?
- Marketing strategy – How will you attract and retain customers?
- Financial projections – What are your financial goals for the next few years?
This might seem like a lot of information for a stage near the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. Still, it lays the foundation for your future success. Besides knowing precisely where you’re heading with your business, you can use this plan to apply for a startup business loan or bring investors and partners on board.
If you think you’ll be stuck on this step for a long time, we’ve got good news. As you’ll see below, many items on your business plans are separate steps for starting an athletic clothing line.
Step 4: Tackle Branding Like a Pro
Sure, the quality of your activewear line is what will keep your customers coming back. But it’s the branding that will initially draw them in. You need a compelling and memorable brand identity for your product to stand out in such a saturated market.
Of course, it all starts with a brand name. Think of a name that perfectly captures what your business is all about. Alternatively, go for something catchy and cool, like Fabletics. Whichever route you take, remember to check whether your desired name is available before getting too attached.
With your brand name down, you can move on to a logo. If you’re lucky, you’ll hit the jackpot almost instantly, like Nike with its iconic swoosh. But even if it takes a while to get it right, there’s no need to worry. The same happened to Adidas and Puma, and look at them now!
Step 5: Score Financial Backing
In the best-case scenario, you’ve saved money for some time or have a wealthy family member to lend you a hand, and you can self-finance your activewear venture. If not, you can still start a fitness clothing line. You’ll just need some financial assistance.
This is where the previously discussed business plan will come in handy. Use it to apply for a small business loan, a merchant cash advance, or a business line of credit. You can also look for an investor willing to support your activewear business in exchange for equity.
Step 6: Ace Your Activewear Clothing Line Design
Now that you know the budget you’re working with, you can move on to the fun part – designing your clothing line. Since this step requires numerous considerations, let’s break them down into key aspects.
Defining the Range
The first step in designing an activewear clothing line is determining what the line will actually encompass. Determine how many clothing pieces you want to launch initially and what they are.
The most crucial consideration in this regard is for these pieces to be tied with a common theme. Whether it’s a specific sport, a workout regimen, or a lifestyle concept, a cohesive theme will give your activewear line a strong identity.
Choosing the Materials
The material should top your list of priorities when designing an activewear clothing line. After all, activewear is all about feeling comfortable and performing at optimal levels. The ideal material(s) for your clothing line will depend on the type of activities your target audience will engage in wearing it. Generally, activewear clothing materials should be high-quality, durable, and moisture-wicking. Other than that, consider the following factors:
- The fit. Loosely fitted materials will work for a line leaning more toward athleisure than activewear. If you want to sell workout clothes, you’ll need fabrics with a supportive fit for a full range of motion.
- The weight. The weight of your fabrics will depend on your activewear line’s designs. Summer sports and activities like running call for lightweight fabrics like bamboo. In contrast, winter activities might require slightly heavier, insulated materials for warmth and protection from the cold (e.g., merino wool).
- The ventilation. The more extreme activity you’re designing your clothing for, the more ventilation it will need. The choice of material can significantly help with this aspect, as can additional elements like mesh paneling and cut-outs.
Adding Specialized Features
As you research more, you’ll quickly realize one thing – starting a workout clothing line is significantly different from starting any other type of clothing. Why?
Activewear is among the clothing types that require special considerations and features to be usable and successful. For instance, you might need to add reflective details, which benefit people who enjoy nighttime sports. Or, your line might need strategically placed compression panels to improve blood circulation and provide muscle support.
Whatever the case, adding these features will ensure your activewear line doesn’t only look good but performs exceptionally, too.
Designing Your Activewear
With all the details ironed out, it’s time to begin sketching. Do it yourself, or hire a designer and get to work!
Step 7: Go for the Gold With the Right Manufacturer
This stepStep 7 is where your vision finally comes to life. Finding the right clothing manufacturer is vital for the success of your activewear line. Get it wrong, and your idea will only look good on paper while being unwearable in reality.
Conducting in-depth research will also help you with this step. You’ll want to ensure your chosen manufacturer fits your needs and preferences to a tee.
If you’re lost in the sea of clothing manufacturers making promises and offering deals, let us help you make the right choice. Go with Appareify, and confidently take your activewear line from idea to creation.
With Appareify, starting an athletic clothing brand is a breeze. The company will help you produce a long-lasting activewear line that excels in performance, breathability, and flexibility. Best of all? You’ll be able to oversee the entire manufacturing process, ensuring each garment is up to your standards.
You can even choose Appareify’s private label services and let these experts take care of every step of starting a fitness clothing brand, from design to packaging. With their in-house research and development team, years of experience, and sustainable manufacturing practices, you can rest assured your dream is in good hands.
Get in touch with Appareify to learn more and inquire about sampling, production, and shipping details.
Step 8: Assemble Your Dream Team
You might think you can manage your activewear brand on your own. But “It takes a village” is a common saying in sports for a reason. No brand or athlete has ever made it big without a team of dedicated individuals pooling their expertise and efforts.
Of course, you might not be able to afford a full-scale team from the start. So, consider freelancers or part-time employees for essential roles until your brand grows.
Starting a gym clothing brand usually calls for a project manager, marketer, and sales assistants. Over time, you can add in-house positions like designer, market researcher, stylist, and photographer.
Step 9: Steer Your Line to Victory With Top-Notch Marketing
To give your activewear line a real chance, you must market it properly from the get-go. The great thing about marketing is that it can iron out any perceived drawbacks in your line. For instance, you might fear your products aren’t unique enough to succeed in such a competitive market. But as long as you find the right marketing angle, you can position your activewear line for success.
While you can explore numerous marketing avenues, digital marketing might be your safest bet. With a well-designed e-commerce website and striking social media channels, you can do wonders for your business.
An efficient marketing strategy will also help you create substantial pre-launch buzz, drawing potential customers in before your line is even out. Take lots of high-quality photos, give a sneak peek of the line, show the behind-the-scenes, and do anything to generate excitement before the official launch.
Step 10: Ready, Set, Launch
As all the puzzle pieces come together, there’s nothing left to do but launch your activewear brand. If your budget allows it, host a launch event to introduce the product of your hard work to the public. Even if you can’t afford such a launch, an online promotion can be just as effective. Plus, it allows a much wider audience to attend and feel like a part of your story from the beginning.
Crossing the Finish Line
And there you have it – a guide on how to start an activewear line in 10 steps. Though these steps might look challenging, especially for a novice, remember that every successful brand starts from scratch. With a solid idea, fierce passion, and reliable partners like Appareify, there’s no limit to what your activewear brand can achieve.