We’ve all heard the warnings about startups: 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18 months; don’t expect to make a profit for at least the first two or three years; American fashion brands and retailers are on the decline, etc.

However, like most statistics, the devil is in the details, and this case, the details offer a more promising outlook.

According to the Small Business Administration, about 75% of new businesses survive at least the first two years, and roughly 50% survive at least the first five years. This five-year survival rate has been on an upward trend too. In 2016, for example, nearly 49% of companies hit the five-year mark, an increase of 3% from 2015, according to the Kauffman Foundation.
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This is good news for the fashion industry, which has certainly seen its share of ups and downs.

So, what makes some new clothing lines succeed and others become a statistic? In many cases, it comes down to how well a new entrepreneur can navigate the three key stages of product production and bring an innovative product to market.

Design and Development

The design and development phase is one of the most important stages of a new fashion line. It’s the time to create a value proposition, differentiate your product in an ultra-competitive market, develop a concept for your collection, and determine the specifications that describe your collection.

When gathering inspiration for your line, you’ll want to hone these details:

● Your business model

● The styles in the collection that will work together to tell a cohesive story

● The fabrics, trims, graphics, and embroidery details for each piece

● Fit and construction

● Quantity you’re planning to produce of each style

Under the umbrella of design and development, sourcing covers every aspect of an article of clothing, including material, trims, buttons, zippers, elastic, etc. You can source the material through an agent, online, a trade show, or a full-service development shop. Once you source the materials, you should complete a few samples and prototypes that you can then hand off to clothing manufacturers to use as a reference.


In many ways, this is where your vision comes to life. Using your sample and prototype, a manufacturer will produce your designs to the specifications you provide.

You have two options when it comes to production: a domestic manufacturer or a foreign producer.

US clothing manufacturers tend to adhere to stricter labor and environmental standards, which can be an asset not only for your overall brand identity but also if your line requires specialized materials or a specific deadline. Foreign manufacturers will likely have cheaper labor costs, but often require high minimum orders and high tariffs that can add up to costing as much as US prices.

You will likely have to draw on different professionals to complete each of these key phases. Failing to do so could result in delays, cost overruns, or quality control issues.


In addition to designing and manufacturing your clothing line, you’ll also have to market it in order to make sales and build buzz for your brand. You’ll need a professional website that showcases your product line in a clear and enticing way with high-quality photos.

There will also be branding, logos, and labels to decide upon and produce, in addition to a high-quality look book or catalogue to display your products. A strong social media presence and strategy can help drum up interest in your product, in addition to compelling ads.

An Alternative Option

There is another option, however. And that’s the in-house approach. Indie Source consolidates design, sourcing, and manufacturing expertise under one roof, alleviating the time and stress of finding professionals in each field.

Indie Source offers apparel manufacturing and consultancy services that cover every aspect of launching a clothing line. You can access product development, manufacturing, and creative marketing experts who will help bring your vision to life and help you navigate the complexities of the fashion industry. They’ll even help you market your finished product.

About Indie Source

Based in Los Angeles’ fashion district, Indie Source is a full-service clothing development and marketing firm that is changing the way apparel comes to market. With in-house experts across the development, production, digital design, and consultation phases, Indie Source can help bring your vision to life. The innovative company is among the top clothing manufacturers in the USA.

Launch your fashion line with Indie Source at Indiesource.com