Fashion is a notoriously expensive and non-profitable industry, so for anyone looking to get their big break, crowdfunding can solve two big problems: initial funding and mass sales. The only thing though is that since crowdfunding is an exploding industry and anyone with an idea for a clothing brand is posting a campaign. This means sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are swamped with fashion campaigns competing for backers’ money.
How then are you supposed to use these platforms to launch your fashion line, get the exposure you deserve, and fund your dreams?
In March 2016, SUAVS Shoes launched their new line of lace-up shoes on Kickstarter asking for $20,000 to cover the manufacturing costs. After 24 hours, they were fully-funded and they finished the 30-day campaign with over 840 backers totaling over $80,000 in funding. What makes this even more impressive is that they did not spend any money on advertising, which is what most online sources attribute as the key to crowdfunding.
I sat down with the founder of SUAVS to pick her brain for how she was able to create such a strong campaign and have such explosive support for the brand. For anyone looking to launch a fashion line on Kickstarter these are the top 3 pieces of advice from SUAVS experience.
- Know your niche
Fashion is unlike most crowdfunded products, in that the consumers of a particular clothing brand will all share a common-thread in some part of their lifestyle. People who like boat shoes will probably also like golfing and polo shirts. People who like basketball shoes will probably also like street art and statement hoodies.
Before you can ever put together a fashion campaign, you need to understand the specific crowd you want to fund you. Making a generic fashion item for broad appeal might offer you more potential customers, but it also pits you against more competition and prevents consumers from truly seeing your brand as a part of their life.
So, the best first step is to sit down and describe your target customer with extreme detail. What other fashion brands do they wear? What do they look for in clothing? What do they do for fun? What do they do for work? This level of detail will allow you to not only craft the perfect product for them, but also let you better speak to the customer when you ask for their support.
- Fine-tune your aesthetic
The worst thing you can do when you want to describe a fashion brand to someone is to use words. Not only does this prevent any creative stimulation and will often result in miscommunication, but it also will likely never get read.
As you put together your campaign, you need to include massive amounts of images of the clothing on various models in a number of situations. Also, whenever possible you need to replace words with graphics. This will increase the amount of information you actually convey and will give you more opportunities to add in the aesthetic touch of your brand.
Overall, your goal is to have someone see your campaign and resonate with what they see without ever having to read a single word. From there you will have captured their interest and the text will only seal the deal.
- Focus on the community
Community-building and harnessing the support of that community is key for crowdfunding, but also important for fashion brands in the long term. You need to develop a core community of customers that is so in love with your product that they will shamelessly blast it on social media, buy anything you release, and constantly wear the gear.
While this can be hard to do before you have the product in hand, getting some samples made and showing it to friends and family to build immediate close support is a must. As you set up social media accounts, getting these close friends to be your disciples and share the page and pictures will let you get anticipation for the release. Just as with pop-up shops from Supreme and the Kardashians, this anticipation is enough to cultivate a community and lead to mass sales on the first day.
From there you need to do everything you can to engage with your target customers and continue to convert people to the religion of your fashion brand. If you did your job of sculpting out a niche properly, it should be easy to find and convince people to want to join your brand’s community.
Crowdfunding can be tricky, but a well-run campaign is all you need to get the initial resources and traction needed for launching your own fashion brand.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.