How To Start A Denim Line From Scratch (Business Plan)

By Danavir Sarria •  Updated: 03/20/21 •  7 min read

Wondering how to start a denim line from scratch?

Most other resources will tell you to begin by coming up with a “catchy” business name and getting yourself an LLC. I’m here to tell you that is the exact opposite you want to do. Instead, you need to worry about the things that actually move the business forward.

This means costs, launching, and marketing your denim brand.

Mostly because if there are no sales, then nothing else matters.

So with that said, let’s get started.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Denim Line?

If you want to truly learn how to start a denim line, then you first need to afford to start one. 

Ultimately, the cost is going to come down to 2 main factors:

Cost per unit

The cost per unit is how much each individual product costs. So if it costs $50 to make a pair of denim jeans, then the cost per unit is $50. The amount you spend per unit is going to come down to the specifications. Denim itself is not cheap, but if you want to add things like spandex then it’s going to cost more per product.

Minimums are the minimum amount of products you can order. For example, if you’re sourcing your own denim, then you’ll find fabric mills that will say you must order at least 1,000 yards to do business with them. So even if you find a source of cheaper, but denim available, if the minimums are high, it’s going to cost you a lot more money to start.

It’s also important to keep profit margin in mind.

With enough searching, you might be able to find fabric mills and denim manufacturers with very low minimums. This means you’ll be able to start for relatively cheap. However, your margins are going to be razor thin, which means you’re going to need to be more creative with your organic marketing efforts.

With all of that said, I would want to start a denim line with $10,000-$25,000.

It’s possible to start with less than that. It’s also possible you’ll need more to start. So take this as a broad average because your needs and partners will decide your actual startup costs.

Denim Line Business Plan: Build

The easy part about learning how to start a denim line is the manufacturing. The hard part is being able to actually sell your product while making a profit. And it’s even harder to launch a denim line when you’re just starting out because you have no sales data and lower margins.

This is why I recommend you build an organic “pre-launch” audience.

Pre-launch audiences are when you build a small, but loyal audience through an organic channel. Right now, this means starting a denim fashion-related Youtube channel or TikTok. If there are SEO keywords available, then a blog is also a viable channel.

Your goal?

To produce consistent content for 6+ months before you launch.

The types of content you produce should be focused on the audience rather than your product. For example, let’s say you decided to start a TikTok about denim. One great idea is to show different outfits where you can wear denim. This will attract your target audience and it’ll inspire people to buy your products since you’re demonstrating just how awesome it is to wear denim.

This is your core content strategy.

As you grow, you can then weave in pieces of content about your new upcoming denim line. Let people see all the work you’re putting in to actually launch the thing. So once you launch, it’s not a surprise. They’re actively waiting for you to launch your cool products.

Keep it scarce though. 

90% focused on educational/entertainment content

10% focused on your “behind-the-scenes” content

This is how to start a denim line when you have a very small marketing budget.

Denim Line Business Plan: Launch

Let’s fast forward your journey by 6+ months.

At this point, you have a small, but loyal audience. They already know, like, and trust you. They’ve also seen some of your “behind-the-scenes” content. All you have to do is sell them a high quality product and you’ll make sales.

Your next step is to build a “hot list” about a month or two before you launch.

This means you need to set up a landing page that promises new subscribers they’ll receive updates about your upcoming denim line. You may even want to give a discount or some other bottom-of-the-funnel lead magnet to boost your conversion rates. 

It’s called a hot list because this will be your “hottest” subscribers. 

In other words, a high intent audience that will be ready to buy.

You want to promote this landing page to your organic audience so they can sign up and prove their intent in a higher converting medium (email marketing) than a social channel. 

From there, you want to take a “3 round” approach to launching.

This means you want to launch your brand to this list and sell your entire inventory out before you order the next batch of products. You want to do this 3 times so you can determine just how much demand there is for what you sell and gather feedback so you can make changes to your product before you launch the following round.

It also naturally creates scarcity, which helps if you’re a premium priced denim line.

On the 3rd round, you’d want to launch your store permanently.

Denim Line Business Plan: Scale

At this point, you already know how to start a denim line.

Learning how to scale one is a different story though.

First, you still want to keep doing what you’ve been doing. If you can continually grow an organic audience with consistent content, you’ll always be able to make sales with higher profit margins. You should consider your owned audiences the foundation to your success.

The problem is that it’s slow, so you’ll need ads to scale.

The key here is to make sure you have a solid funnel that will allow you to win with ads. The good news is that denim is usually a premium priced product. So you can get away with selling your hero product on the front end. Ideally, you don’t offer a discount. You want to small profit on the first sale, otherwise you probably won’t be able to afford your ads. 

Once you have 1 organic channel and 1 paid channel work though, you’ll need to scale with email.

This means you want to build an ecommerce email marketing funnel so you can turn new subscribers into paid customers and paid customers into repeat buyers. For best results, you’d start with a strong 90 day post purchase sequence so you can maximize your paid advertising efforts. Then you’d want to build out the rest of the email funnel so you can sell to everyone else.

Only after this do you want to worry about other things like Amazon FBA or starting a popup shop.

Danavir Sarria

Danavir is an ecommerce growth strategist that helps DTC brands scale in record time.