Wondering how to start a streetwear brand with no experience? Perfect. Because in this guide, I’m going to show you exactly how to do it even if you’ve never built a business before. Huge promise, I know. It is possible though.
But first, it’s important to frame things correctly in your head.
Streetwear is cool and there is nothing more awesome than to see people wear your outfits. However, that’s something you’re only going to be experiencing about 10% of the time. You might not already be a professional, but you will need to if you want to see any success. If you understand that, then let’s not wait any longer.
Let’s get into how to start a clothing brand like Supreme.
How To Start A Streetwear Brand With No Experience: The Secret No One Tells You
If you’re a streetwear fan, but have no experience as a businessman or businesswoman, then you probably have already noticed many of the levers of what makes streetwear special, but you don’t fully understand why it works.
Here’s the gist… the best streetwear brands are luxury brands.
This means the real key to learn how to start a streetwear brand is to learn how to build a luxury streetwear brand. This already changes the conversation you should be having with yourself. That’s because luxury brands are not like regular brands.
Regular brands are based on function, quality, and value.
Luxury brands are based on status, exclusivity, and scarcity.
This means they are polar opposites of each other. It also means if you ever want to build a streetwear brand like Supreme, you can’t mix them up. You have to go all in on building status, exclusivity, and scarcity into your brand from the start.
Fortunately, this isn’t too complicated.
All you have to do if you truly want to learn how to build a streetwear brand is to follow the tried-and-true streetwear model, which we’ll go over later. But for now, you have to do everything you can to make a “unique” brand.
How To Differentiate Your Streetwear Brand
If you’re in the streetwear business, you’re in the fashion business. This means you have to differentiate your streetwear brand just like every other fashion brand does.
The good news?
You’ve already started by sticking to the streetwear category.
However, it’s not enough.
There are thousands of streetwear brands, with the most popular ones absolutely dominating the category. So if someone is going to buy streetwear, why should they buy anything from you when they can get Supreme instead?
Whatever you say, don’t say “price”.
This is the one differentiator you can never use, especially if you want to be considered a luxury streetwear brand. The price is what creates the exclusivity you need.
What you can focus on is…
Style like your colors or designs
Categories like shoes or pants
Audiences like skateboard culture
Marketing like certain collaborations
Origin like manufacture location
The key here is to not just be a luxury streetwear brand. It’s to be the only streetwear brand in your category. So play around with the different factors until you come up with something where the only place to get what you have is from you. Of course, when you actually market the business, you want to focus on promoting the one differentiator, not all of them.
Whatever you do though, stay as far away from Printful or Printify as possible. You’ll never build an iconic streetwear brand with POD.
Want to go more in-depth on this? Read anything by Al Ries & Jack Trout.
How To Create A Streetwear Brand Name
Streetwear brands have very interesting names. You can usually tell if a clothing brand is streetwear from just the sound of the name alone. However, don’t let that confuse you. Coming up with a name for your brand is not about being clever or creative.
The goal of a streetwear brand name should be to stand out.
So after you’ve picked your differentiator, you want to list out the top 10-20 direct competitors in your niche. You want to look at all of your competitors’ names and see what makes them the same. Your goal is to now figure out a name, that if added to that list, would sound different.
You do that by coming up with a name based on your differentiator.
Ideally, through metaphors.
For example, if you want to go after the skateboard niche, you’re going to go after brands like The Hundreds, Supreme, and Pop Trading. Now let’s say you decided your differentiator is that everything you make is faded black, so you call it Black Out.
That was a quick example meant to get your gears turning.
Amazon has nothing to do with forests, but it is the perfect representation of the word “massive” because of how huge the real Amazon forest is. That’s the way you want to think about your brand name.
This may just be the most fun you have when learning how to start a streetwear brand before you start spending some money to start.
How To Promote A Streetwear Brand
Finally, the exciting part.
As I mentioned earlier, the best way to promote a streetwear brand is to treat it like a luxury brand. This means a huge emphasis in status, exclusivity, and scarcity. So if you’re just starting out, the best thing you can do is take advantage of your constraints.
Do NOT launch tons of stuff.
Instead, stay strong by sticking to your category. Use the fact that you can’t afford so many SKUs by playing up the exclusivity and scarcity. In fact, you can use the age old tactic of “drops” to get you the traction you need without having to rely on discounts.
From there, you have to get the word out.
Luckily, the streetwear category is straightforward.
Streetwear entrepreneurs are masters at collaborations and influencers. But what most people don’t tell you is that this is out of necessity. Collaborations and influencers are some of the cheapest ways to promote your brand to people who already love streetwear. This means that a marketing strategy without collaborations and influencers is actually incomplete. You should be looking to do something with an influencer at least once per quarter, but ideally at least once per month.
When selling apparel, you can’t just just sell online. The economics behind it just aren’t built for pure ecommerce. You’re going to need in-person retail sales as well. However, you can’t just put your product anywhere though. Remember the keyword, luxury. This means targeted boutique retailers that already carry high end streetwear brands. The best part? If you do both content marketing and influencer marketing well enough to give you positive growth, you can just present that to a retailer and they’ll let you in.
Content marketing is critical for two main reasons. The first is that it’s essentially free, especially when you include email marketing with Klaviyo. Because the economics of apparel is tight, where you can get sales without having to paid Facebook ads is a massive win. Second, it attracts buyers rather than pushes for them. Luxury brands stop being luxury once they always have to constantly push their wares and discount their stuff. Instead content marketing allows you to attract people who will happily pay full price. It’s a double win the most other strategies won’t give you.
How To Start A Streetwear Store
Eventually, you’ll want to start a streetwear store.
This is the hallmark of luxury brands because true luxury has to be experienced. That’s very hard to do over the internet. It’s also not really possible to do this through a boutique retailer because you aren’t controlling the experience. This is why every true luxury brand is dependent on their own branded stores to deliver luxury experiences. Likewise, if you really want to learn how to start a streetwear brand, this should be on your mind.
The problem? Retail space is expensive.
So a streetwear store is not something you should invest in until it becomes an easy yes. In other words, wait until you’re a 7 figure brand to really put money in a place. That or you have funding from investors to pay for the retail space.
Once you have the money though, the first step is to plan the store.
If you look at every luxury store, you’ll notice that it’s a very minimalist, yet upscale experience. There’s also sales reps waiting to help you. Lastly, you’ll want exclusives in your stores to give people a reason to come in.
Once you have your ingredients, it’s time to pull the trigger.
Of course, the idea isn’t to just have 1 store. You eventually want to expand into multiple locations. So don’t look to make a superstore like Sears. Instead, it’s much smarter to have multiple boutiques.