Launching a fashion brand is no walk in the park. Between curating the perfect collection, coordinating with manufacturers, and planning a killer marketing strategy, there are a million things to check off your to-do list. And let's face it, not everything will go as planned. As someone who's been there, and done that, I'm here to spill the tea on the top 7 roadblocks that might throw your fashion brand's launch timeline off track.
1. Manufacturing Delays
Don't underestimate the time it takes to go from a sketch on paper to a physical garment. A single hiccup in manufacturing can set back your entire schedule. Common issues include fabric shortages or delays, bulk material rejections, and quality control issues. PRO TIP: Always have a backup plan and build in some buffer time.
Research multiple manufacturers before deciding on the best one.
Include contingency time in your launch schedule.
Consult design and development experts who specialize in your product category.
2. Budget Overruns
Starting a fashion brand isn’t cheap, and costs can quickly spiral out of control. Whether it's unanticipated material costs, unexpected shipping fees, or sample remakes, these setbacks can lead to delays while you scramble to secure additional funds.
Set a realistic budget, then add a 25% cushion for unforeseen expenses.
Minimize surcharges by managing and understanding your MOQs early on.
Keep meticulous records to understand where every dollar goes.
3. Design Revisions
Your first sample rarely looks like your final product. Tweaks and revisions are a natural part of the design process, but they can be time-consuming. Not to mention, each round of changes has to be communicated clearly to your manufacturing team—another potential time sink.
Be crystal clear in your design specs and tech pack details.
Limit revision rounds by reviewing digital mock-ups before physical samples.
4. Late Fit Approvals
Ah, fit approvals—the silent brand launch killer. You might think that once you’ve got your prototype, you’re good to go, but it’s not that simple. Each minor adjustment has to go through a new round of fit testing, and sometimes, multiple iterations are necessary before you nail that perfect fit. It might mean going back to the drawing board, literally, which translates into weeks of added time.
Remember that the fit can make or break a garment in the eyes of your consumers, so it’s crucial to get it right. Just remember, it's not just about how good it looks; it's also about how well it fits.
Plan ahead for fit approvals to keep your timeline on track and your stress levels in check.
Follow up with your factory regularly to ensure that fit samples stay on track.
Decide on your fit models early on and include them throughout the full design process.
Use a 3D garment technology like Clo3D or Browzwear to pre-check the fitting via a digital avatar.
5. Grade Checks and User Wear Testing
Often overshadowed by flashier parts of the process like design ideation and fabric sourcing, grade checks and user wear-testing are easy to forget but vital to your brand's integrity and longevity. Neglecting these steps can lead to uncomfortable, ill-fitting garments, not to mention a slew of negative customer reviews that could haunt you and your brand for seasons to come.
You might be wondering…what are grade checks? A grade check involves taking your base size pattern and grading it to create the additional sizes in your range. Sounds simple enough, right? But one tiny mistake can exponentially multiply into a major mess as it trickles down to every size. This process can take more time than anticipated, especially if the graded sizes don’t hit all the right notes on your bigger or smaller sizes.
Before you send your collection down the mass production line, it's crucial to have it tested by actual users, ideally in your target customer profile. Wear-test feedback often brings to light hidden issues like fabric performance, garment durability, and fit that are almost impossible to predict in a lab setting.
Use specialized grading software to ensure accuracy across all sizes.
Organize focus groups or beta testers for real-world wear testing.
6. Heat Seals, Hangtags, and Polybags
You’d think these small finishing touches wouldn’t be a big deal, right? Wrong! Custom hangtags, branded polybags, and heat seals are often last-minute additions that can seriously delay your launch. Manufacturers usually need these components well in advance, and lead times can be longer than you'd think.
Finalize + figure out these details early in the process, ahead of placing your purchase order.
Ask your factory if they can supply generic, non-branded options whenever you can.
7. Supply Chain Interruptions
In our globalized world, your materials might come from one continent, get processed in another, and be assembled in yet another. Political unrest, natural disasters, or even global pandemics can disrupt your supply chain and delay your launch.
Diversify your suppliers and consider local options whenever possible.
Invest in supply chain insurance, especially if your first order.
Launching a fashion brand is a dream many of us share, but the journey is filled with bumps and roadblocks. Being aware of these potential delays and having a plan to tackle them can save you both time and sanity.
Don’t let your fashion dreams stall before they've even started! Arm yourself with knowledge and a solid plan. Subscribe to our newsletter for more industry insights and actionable tips to keep your fashion brand on the fast track to success.