How Long Does it Take to Launch a Fashion Brand?

Last week we looked into answering the big question of How Much Does it Cost to Start A fashion Brand, this week we’ll tackle the question of How Long Does it Take to Launch A Fashion Brand?

Similar to cost, the time question does not have only one answer and the answer depends on different aspects of your brand, such as your product, your target customer/ market, your commitment and availability (time and money), your business concept, business strategy and more.

In my years working with start-up brands I’ve seen brands that launched in 6 months and others that took 5 years. I wouldn’t necessarily say that one had better chances to be successful than the other cause I have seen success stories with both scenarios.

Every new brand that we’ve worked with always said that they want to do it (launch) right (after all they have hired us rather than go at it on their own), but then again everyone has a different idea of what that means, and different resources to work with.


Launching a fashion brand the right way means planning ahead carefully, having the right support system in place (service providers, financial backing, supporters etc.) and a 100% commitment to the project (it doesn’t mean 100% of your time, you can still have a full time job). Having these components in place will make a big difference in how quick can you can get your product to market.

Below are points that will impact how long it will take to launch your brand:

  • Creating a business plan – this is essential for planning, this stage involves quite a lot of research and home work on your end, Re; market research, defining your mission statement, your brand USP (Unique Selling Point), your market positioning, target customer, business concept, sales and marketing strategies and how much cash will you need. Once you have a business plan in place you will also have a better idea of the time-line for execution. I would say allocate 4 weeks max for this stage.
  • Designing the line – This might be the only step where the time line is fully in your control. This stage should take you not more than 4 weeks to conclude. Read here more about time line for design.
  • Developing the products – this stage depends on the type of product, number of products, your development partners and whether you are using existing components/styles or inventing a new one (a new fabric technology, new innovative construction etc.). Obviously an invention will take longer. In the same way developing a fitted jacket will most likely take longer than a tote bag and working with an overseas factory might take longer than locally and so on. This is a tricky part to estimate without knowing the product, but on average you will be looking at least 6 months for developing a line that is using existing components. 

TIP: The development of your first season will always take longer since it involves much more than just developing the products. You are also developing a fit/construction for the first time, testing out service providers/components/concepts etc. and basically setting up the ground for your future developments as well, so be aware of that and plan accordingly by padding your development time. Is this your first time developing fashion product? Take our development workshop to walk you through the steps.

  • A marketing and sales strategy – How you choose to launch your line will have an impact on the time line as well. Will you be selling wholesale or direct to customer (website, home parties, brick and mortar etc.), are you going to pre-sale the line or produce an inventory first to sell from etc. What you’ll need to get ready for each of these scenarios will be different from each other and will require a different time line.

TIP: Plan to launch in a season that best fit your brand (strategically speaking). Think what season would your product work best in and plan around that. re: for example if your line has a resort-y feel to it than Fall/winter might not be the best season to launch in. 

  • Your availability and financial resources -  As expected how much time can you commit to put into your business as well as the financial resources will have an impact on how quick you act on things and move forward. If you still need to hold a full time job to help you pay for the business expenses than obviously you will less time to put into your business and therefore expect things to take longer.

TIP: We’ve seen designers who built their business while still holding a full time job, so that is doable. If you are committed to make it work and know how to manage your time well it can be done. However being dependent on your new start-up business to support you financially at the beginning stages might not be realistic and can add a lot of stress to an already stressful situation, which can lead to making wrong decisions and steering away from your plan. So, whether you are doing it full time or part time make sure to plan your personal finance for the first 2 years.

***Bonus: use this industry calendar as a guide when creating your time-line calendar. Read more here about creating your product calendar.

Creating A Business Plan for Your Fashion Business

Creating a business plan is key for the success of your fashion business! Because without one you will find yourself throwing mud on the wall with the hope that some will stick... 


Buy Now