The reason your products aren’t selling

Breaking down the broad strokes of selling clothing online

One of the biggest problems small brands struggle with is not being able to sell the product that they have in stock. Many times, they are under the impression that putting a logo on a shirt, and posting the shirt on instagram is enough. The product is not going to sell itself, no matter how cool your logo is. Seriously, after your friends and family spend a couple bucks on the first shirt you make, what’s next? What makes a person that you never met want to buy your clothes, again and again? Think about your own spending habits — how many cool pieces of clothing do you see on a daily or weekly basis? Tons. Yes, they are cool and you might stop and say that’s a cool shirt, pretty sweet. BUT, taking money out of your wallet and saying “I need to have that shirt” is a much different thing.

As a founder of a clothing brand you have two jobs. Your first job is building the vision, the culture, the lifestyle, and the community around your brand. Your second job is creating products that appeal to the community you have built. This includes sourcing these products at prices that make sense and fit into your brand identity, and allow you to turn a profit.

Simply put, your two areas of focus should be:

1. Marketing / Brand building
2. Production / Distribution

It’s helpful to look at these two aspects as slightly separate from each other. It is important to consider your overall goals and how these fit in. They are quite different. Marketing and brand building is how you will attract customers interest in your brand. Production and distribution is how you will create and deliver the products to your customers. Without one, there is no two and without two there is no need for one. Let’s break it down:

1. Marketing / Brand Building

This aspect of your business is where you should spend most of your time and energy in the beginning. This is the factor that is going to set you apart from other clothing companies. Although you may think you are selling clothing, what you’re really selling is a lifestyle, a feeling, a vision, and an image. This is different from other types of businesses where a superior product or unique product is the differentiating factor. Yes, you want you product to be unique, and yes you want a superior product, but as a small startup brand with every little money to spend this is not where you are going to thrive. The reason a small brand is such an attractive thing to start is because you do not need to create a superior product to break out as a huge success. Consider the fact that no one in fashion can really protect their style as intellectual property in a legal sense. Put simply, your not patenting your new style of sweatshirt or joggers. Furthermore, you would actually prefer that your new style of clothing is adopted by other brands because that only increases the interest in your brand as one of the first movers into that style space. The point I am trying to make is that in fashion and streetwear, how your market your product and the brand you build around it is more important than the actual product itself. This may come as a surprise, but especially if you are starting a brand on a tight budget, you need to play to your strengths. Your strength in this position is being the scrappy visionary who builds an undeniable energy and community around a brand identity. This is what sells clothes. People will want to align themselves with that energy. That is what makes them say, “I need to have that shirt.”

2. Production / Distribution

This is where you get to mold the creative ideas of your brand into a physical piece of work. This is when you take the energy you have created and bring it together into something that people want to wear. Most small brands start here because it is the fun part. If you are someone with an online store, and Instagram, account, and $1000 worth of products sitting in your garage, its most likely because you started here first without first building your brands identity. Don’t worry though, it’s not too late. Just take a step back, and re-read the first section of this post. So…This aspect of your business is getting your ideas in order and sourcing your products. You may be making graphic tees, or cutting and sewing whole pieces. Either way, you need to look around for the right supplier for your needs. The next step is taking these products and getting them into the hands of your community. Most often, this means an online store. I could spend 100 pages talking about all the details of these steps. For the purposes of this post I will leave at this for now.

This post is strictly to help align your thoughts with the broad strokes of how to build a successful brand. This post is strictly to help align your thoughts with the broad strokes of how to build a successful brand. I want to see every brand succeed. The unfortunate truth is that only the best will rise to the top. My goal is to give you as much info as possible to help you skip the mistakes I made, and get a head start on rising to the top.

If you like video explanations instead of articles, here is the video series I am working on →

If you want all the information bundled up and laid out in actionable order, go here →

As always, hit me up if you have any questions!

-Ben