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Side Hustle: Starting Your Own Fitness Clothing Line
Reading Time: 7 minutes 45 seconds
Fitness apparel is in demand. Whether you own a gym or want to promote yourself as an athlete, a fitness clothing line can be a great investment. Although starting a new business sounds intimidating, there’s more than enough room in the market for you to be a successful fitness apparel entrepreneur.
What to Consider When Starting a Fitness Clothing Line
Millions of people go to the gym every day for a workout. This creates a strong demand for quality fitness clothing. Your idea for a new fitness clothing line is a great start to break into the clothing industry. The next step is considering all the business planning you’ll need to get started.
Understanding the Fitness Clothing Market
There are a few top fitness apparel brands that everyone can identify. But they’re not the only players in the fitness clothing market! Many people want unique activewear, and fitness clothing is a market where specialized products are in demand. Roughly two-thirds of the market is made up of start-up clothing lines and small or medium-sized fitness clothing companies just like yours. Entrepreneurs who develop quality products can be successful. It just takes a solid business plan and good marketing.
Choosing the Right Name and Identity
The name and logo are often the first things the entrepreneur chooses when starting a new business. That’s an important step for your new fitness clothing line. In fact, branding and identity might be part of your initial ideas about your new clothing business.
Your first idea for a clothing brand name might be the one you’ll ultimately choose. When choosing a name, consider your target audience first. Who will buy your clothing? Will it be casual gym users, people exercising at home, or top athletes who want the best quality workout gear? If you’re targeting a particular sport, be sure your clothing brand name makes sense for that niche.
Once you’ve chosen your fashion brand identity, create a logo to fit. In most cases, you’ll want a simple logo that will show up on your clothing in colors that reflect your brand. If building your fitness brand identity seems hard, remember that you’ll connect your name and logo to the ideas you want to portray about your business later when you market your products.
Creating a Budget for Your Fitness Clothing Line
As in every industry, there are some start-up costs for beginning a clothing line business. Your costs will be the lowest if you’re starting an e-commerce business out of your home. You’ll have much higher costs if your business will have a physical storefront with one or more additional employees. Most people starting a fitness clothing line opt for the e-commerce option first. They can build up their brands and gain customers before spending money on rent, employee salaries, and payroll taxes. Start with your available budget first to figure out which choice is best for your new fitness clothing line.
Building an Effective Business Plan
Every start-up business needs to begin with a strong business plan. If you’re planning on applying for loans for your new fitness clothing brand, your bank will use your business plan to determine whether to approve your business loan. They will also tell you how much you can borrow.
A basic business plan will have sections where you describe your proposed business and analyze the market conditions for your product. It should also analyze your competitors, describe your organizational structure, and tell about your products and their target audience. You’ll also need to include a marketing plan, a sales plan, and a financial section that describes how much money you’re requesting and your projected earnings for the first year.
Once all these sections are in place, draft an executive summary. The summary gives a one-page overview of all your business plan information. Although the executive summary is placed at the top of the business plan, it’s best to write it when you’re finished with all the sections so that it’s thorough.
Where to Find Clothing Manufacturers when Starting Your Own Line
Once you’ve branded your fitness apparel line, you’ll need an experienced manufacturer for your products. If you have fashion design experience, you may already have the design completed and just need a printer or manufacturer. If not, you’ll need a company that has both fitness apparel design and manufacturing experience.
Finding and Choosing a Manufacturer for Your Clothing Line
The first step in finding a manufacturer for your fitness clothing line is determining your business model. If you’re selling a brand name only, you might opt for a print-on-demand model. This works well for branded promotional items for gyms and personal trainers. Your brand name and logo are printed as needed on activewear with existing brand labels.
The second choice is a private label, where the manufacturer creates generic apparel pieces with your brand, logo, and label, and eliminates other brand names from the clothing. The third choice is original design manufacturing, which uses your designs to create original pieces of fitness clothing with your brand’s identity.
If you live near an industrial area, you can search for clothing manufacturers near you. You can also find solid fitness clothing manufacturers at industry tradeshow events and through networking in the textiles industry. While an online search seems easiest, it can be risky to trust your new fitness clothing line to a company you only know through a website.
Since quality will make or break your new fitness apparel start-up business, take your time when choosing your manufacturer. Buying local is a great choice, but only if they have experience in fitness apparel. Workout clothes need to fit and move differently than everyday clothing. Considerations include proper fit for safety, fabric type, support, fabric weight, ventilation, and moisture resistance. Your manufacturer and designer should understand all these concepts, especially if your new business will provide custom clothing for athletes.
Most manufacturers can help you source materials, but there are some things you should know. Customers choose athletic clothing for its fit, function, and fashion. Fabrics must be soft, comfortable, and flexible enough to move with the body. Thin, stretchy fabrics may seem like a good choice. But customers don’t want a pair of leggings that are see-through when they bend over. A quality poly-spandex blend fabric is usually thick enough for your customers to be confident in the gym. Mesh and other materials work for some garments.
Get samples before signing any agreements with your fabric source. Test them for stretch, feel, durability, and colorfastness. Quality workout clothes should hold up in the wash. Your customers will buy from a different clothing line if they don’t.
While you want the best quality materials for your new fitness clothing line, cost may be a barrier. Choose the best fabrics you can within your budget. After all, your first impression is the most important to your customers. Get cost estimates from several sources before choosing a supplier. Allow about a week for your manufacturers and fabric suppliers to provide estimates. Then choose the best one based on both price and quality.
Legal Steps to Take When Starting Your Own Fitness Clothing Line
Before you open shop for your new fitness apparel line, it’s important to get the legal aspects in place. You’ll need to consider your business entity type, sales and other taxes, licenses and permits, and other considerations before selling your workout clothes to customers.
Selecting a Legal Entity for Your Clothing Business
The quickest business structure to start is a sole proprietorship. This lets you open your business quickly, and you’ll report your earnings only on your personal tax returns. But quickest doesn’t always mean the best. Consult a licensed accountant before you get started with your clothing line. A sole proprietorship means you’ll be personally responsible for any liability, so it can be risky.
A partnership splits the liability between one or more partners. Corporations and limited liability companies, or LLCs, take away that personal liability, but add more complicated steps to the start-up process. Your accountant or professional business consultant can help you decide which choice is best for you.
Your business will be liable for different types of taxes. Employees and physical storefronts add more tax decisions. Since you’ll be selling products, you’ll have to pay state and local sales taxes on all your fitness clothing line sales. Partner with an accountant you trust before starting your business so that you can plan for your tax filings. You’ll also need to open a business account at your bank to keep your clothing line business income and expenses separate from your personal finances.
Getting the Right Business Licenses and Permits for Your Business
It’s exciting to start a new fitness clothing line. But you’ll need to be sure you take the time to follow all the laws and tax regulations right from the start to avoid problems later.
Every state and local area has different business license and permitting requirements. Consult the U.S. Small Business Administration to learn about requirements in your area. If your fitness clothing business doesn’t have the right permits, you can be fined or even shut down, cutting into your business profits. You also need to ensure that your logo and brand identity are unique. Contact the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register your brand’s trademark and copyright.
Skills You’ll Need for a Successful Fitness Clothing Line Business
Having a great business idea is a good start, but there are a variety of skills you’ll need to be successful in your new fitness clothing line business. Some of these skills can be outsourced, depending on your budget.
Business Acumen and Marketing for a Successful Clothing Business
You don’t have to be an expert businessperson to be successful with your new fitness clothing line. However, you should understand the aspects of good customer service, business operation, and marketing. If you’re unsure about any of the requirements in these steps, hire a professional to help you build your business plan. They can also help create a marketing plan and set up your website or storefront business. You might also need a professional fitness model and photographer to show off your fitness line to your customers.
The Importance of Marketing for a Successful Clothing Brand
Marketing will be a huge part of your success since your customers need to find you to buy your products. You’ll need an effective brand strategy. This usually includes a good online presence on social media with fitness influencers who promote your brand identity. As you make more sales, your customers can become brand ambassadors through reviews and referrals to expand your business. Marketing can be a complex task because your brand name, logo, website, product, and quality and service levels must all match. Customers should get a consistent brand experience when they buy your fitness clothing.
Starting Your Successful Fitness Clothing Line Business
There is a lot to consider when starting a fitness clothing line, and it all starts with an idea. In the end, your customers will expect a quality product that lasts, with a brand identity that they will be proud to wear to the gym. From start to finish, make a list of all the steps you’ll need to take to make sure your business is legal, visible, and has a solid marketing plan. That, along with quality products your customers love, will make your clothing business successful.
Expand Your Love of Fitness
Passionate about fitness and want to do even more? Get certified as a personal trainer with ISSA. You’ll learn about the science of exercise and how to help other people achieve their health and fitness goals. You can even take your course online, from the comfort of your own home. So, what are you waiting for?! Start today!
Certified Personal Trainer
The Certified Fitness Trainer program is designed to equip graduates with the practical day-to-day skills necessary, as well as the theoretical knowledge needed to excel as a personal trainer serving the general public. Along with the necessary exercise science foundation, the distance education program covers client assessment, program design, basic nutrition, and sports medicine along with business and marketing skills.