How to start a Sportswear Brand
So, you’re thinking of starting a sportswear brand but not sure how to do this, what it entails or where to start.
In 2019, we decided to launch our own brand to highlight the process and walk the walk alongside talking the talk. Our brand is called FR3ND and we produce performance men’s shirts which launched via the crowdfunding site “Kickstarter” to again showcase a possible platform to help finance start-ups.
This is the process -:
Understand the gap in the market or the USP your product has. Once you fully understand this, you then have a target market/consumer in mind, and this will help drive the rest of the brand's directions. Without this, you’re going to really struggle to understand whom to sell to and why they would buy your product.
FR3ND is a classic, smart city shirt that is packed with performance features but with eco credentials that are as sustainable as possible. Our target market is therefore an educated, planet caring professional that required a smart shirt to stay smart and offer real benefits to the wearer to keep them comfortable and smart for days of wear. This is something unique to the market as easy care and crease free shirts are currently made from polyester blends or cotton with chemical treatments to stop them creasing, both toxic to the planet.
One of the hardest aspects of starting a brand is the brand name and logo. You need to create something that resonates with the consumer, links to the product offering but critically, hasn’t been used before or won’t confuse your brand with another existing brand.
FR3ND represents the friendliness of the brand toward not only the planet because it’s as sustainable as possible but also because the shirt is friendly to you. You can wear the shirt for several days without any odour or creases appearing. Allowing you to wash less and travel with fewer items.
The “3” in the brand name represents the 3 core values of the brand –: SUSTAINABLE – LUXURY – PERFORMANCE.
The logo is simple and modern and with the wordmark being “FR3ND” and the icon being the “3”
The fun bit starts now, and this is about the product. We had a very clear objective of making the world’s best, non-iron, shirt that is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible. The design of the shirt needed to be classic and timeless, but the key difference would be in the fibres we selected and therefore the performance of the shirt. FR3ND shirts are made from sustainable sourced superfine merino wool and all of the components are natural or recycled. The performance advantages of using superfine merino wool means the shirts are packed with 18 performance features, way more than a non-iron cotton or synthetic blended shirt.
Finding the right suppliers is critical to launching a great brand. Get this wrong and consumers will notice as the product doesn’t deliver to their expected standards portrayed by your brand. You can’t claim you are a luxury if your product quality isn’t exceptional or you're sustainable if you use synthetics or chemicals to produce the product.
We knew we had to use the best superfine merino and therefore made sure the fibre was produced in New Zealand and Australia and was a certain grade to make it superfine. We then ship the merino wool to one of Europe’s oldest shirting mills to get spun into an exclusive fabric for FR3ND and then we ship this to Portugal to one of Europe’s oldest and highest quality shirt makers who only specialise in quality shirts. By doing this, we are guaranteeing the quality will be exceptional as we are only using the finest ingredients and suppliers that really specialise in the products we are looking to produce.
This is usually the biggest hurdle any start-up has to face. Not only do you have to fund the design and sampling stages, but you then need to make sure you have enough investment in place to pay for the stock, website and marketing.
We decided to launch FR3ND on a crowdfunding platform and chose KICKSTARTER as it’s the best platform for fashion and consumer goods. We created a simple film and produced a comprehensive campaign page to explain the benefits of our product and its USP. In return for the crowd’s support, we offered them a small discount and a limited edition run of the first batch of shirts. A simple but effective campaign that produced 200% of the target goal required to go into bulk production.
This allowed us to not only deliver stock to the crowd but gave us additional funds to buy stock to sell on our own website.
The next stage for FR3ND is to deliver the stock to the crowd and then start to market the FR3ND website and brand. This will include film, photoshoots, collaborations, PR and online marketing and will help drive traffic and awareness to the brand.
Hopefully the above gives a good understanding of the processes involved and if you click the links you will see how we built the crowdfunding campaign, our website and also understand the USP of the product.
If you are interested in starting your own activewear brand, but need guidance and assistance along the way, get in touch and see how we can help.