Starting a clothing brand can be a challenging venture. In such a competitive market, and with so many established brands out there, it can be a hard road for your startup clothing brand. But with the right pricing and the right quality, you can make it.
In this article, we'll give you the inside scoop on how being a ‘bridge’ brand will give you the best chance of survival…
Bridge brands have emerged as the perfect middle ground between value and luxury brands, offering consumers really high quality clothing at affordable prices.
At Hookandeyeuk, we specialise in manufacturing and designing for these types of brands, as we love creating good quality garments that last, and that customers are really happy with. Not only that, but from our years of experience working with hundreds of fashion brands, we know that bridge brands have the best chance of survival.
So, what actually are bridge brands?
When thinking about quality standards in clothing, the simplest way to explain it is to think of brands we all know. When thinking commercially, there are 3 main levels of brand; value, bridge and luxury:
1. VALUE (think H&M)
3. LUXURY (think Gucci)
Value brands, such as H&M, cater to the mass market and offer affordable products that may compromise on quality.
Luxury brands, such as Gucci, cater to the high-end market and offer expensive, high-quality products.
Bridge brands, such as Stussy, Fear of God - ESSENTIALS, Palm Angels, and Aries, offer affordable luxury products that bridge the gap between the two extremes.
If you're looking for cheap cut & sew products with low minimum order quantities, then we're not the team for you...there's only one way to get good quality garments at really low prices, and that's by ordering a sh!t load of them!
'Affordable luxury' clothing hits the sweet spot
As bridge brands are the ones that the 'bridge' the gap between value and luxury, it's fair to say that we're talking about the concept of "affordable luxury".
We surveyed 61 people to understand their perception of "affordable luxury" when it comes to clothing...
We asked them what price category they would consider affordable for a hoodie that still offered a luxurious feel. Based on their responses, we developed an affordable luxury scale for clothing manufacture.
Below are the results...
So, there's a reason why we specialise in this type of clothing manufacture.
It's because bridge brands have the best chance of survival!!
Striking the balance between quality and value
We manufacture at an AQL (Average Quality Level) of 1.5 which is considered really good in the clothing industry. Most low MOQ manufacturers only manufacture to an AQL of between 4-6.5 (the higher the number the lesser the quality - see our useful guide to clothes manufacturing quality here).
These clothing manufacturers don't tell you this because they want to offer you low prices to suck you in and then give you shoddy quality which you won't get a refund/remake for as you didn't state the quality level needed before you placed your order.
By manufacturing to higher quality standards you'll be able sell your garments to your customers for a lot more than you would as a value brand, so your profits are much more.
Generally the success of bridge brands is much higher for any start up/growing brand as it gives you the affordability (from your profits) to keep developing new ranges and provides your customers with high quality garments.
This keeps customers returning to purchase from your brand. The only way to start a value brand where you have cut & sew low cost garments that are at a reasonable quality is to have very high order quantities (think 2K-3K per design/colour).
Be aware! Quality Levels in clothing explained...
Don't be fooled! There is no one level of quality in clothing manufacture!
As mentioned above, most low unit garment manufacturers have a very low quality level - they don't tell you this because they want to offer very low prices to pull you in and get the sale from you.
Asking for 'the best quality' from a clothing manufacturer isn't enough. They will give you the 'best quality' they can provide, which may still be subpar. Make sure you ask your manufacturer what AQL (Average Quality Level) they can provide BEFORE you ask for pricing.
Price is based on quality level. Expect to pay more for better quality. If you're paying less than £27 + shipping for very low units (30 a style/colour) then you really need to question the quality and ethical standards of the manufacturer.
Another trick to avoid is that, very often, low cost manufacturers will not tell you the up-front shipping rates, or they won't give you the option to choose from different shipping methods. By doing so, they might not include the customs costs that you'll need to pay when you receive your items, which leads you to believe the production cost of your clothing is much cheaper then it actually is.
Another common tactic is to tell you that your sampling cost is free of charge. That sounds great, but often this is just a ploy to lock you into bulk manufacture. They will say that you have to pay for the bulk manufacture in order to start the 'free' sampling process...and really the sampling cost is just hidden in bulk manufacture costs, so you're not actually getting anything for free!
At Hookandeyeuk, because of our high quality requirements we are not the cheapest clothing manufacturer out there, but you get what you pay for, and we transparent with our costings and processes!
Clothing Manufacture Pricing Guide
If you've got this far in the blog we feel like you deserve a reward, so we're giving you something for free...
This is absolute gold that for anyone looking to start a clothing line....
We do a pricing analysis a couple of times a year where we take the average costing of the most popular garments and put them together in an excel sheet so you can see average costs, what you should be charging your customer and what your projected profits will be.
If you are looking to start a clothing line, we highly recommend using our pricing guide to set your pricing strategy.
If you'd like that analysis, for free, just ask us to send over to you via WhatsApp on +447939591255.
Bridge brand have the highest success rate for startup clothing brands. That's largely because most customers consider the pricing to provide them with a product that they find to be affordable yet offers them a level of luxury.
Get your garment pricing right - Don't be afraid to price above value brand pricing. You've worked hard to create and grow your brand. You need the right profit levels to be able to keep it going. If you undervalue your products, so will your customers. All the large, successful bridge brands started out in the same place you are right now - just an idea. The education and strategy they had around pricing their clothing properly is what made their brands win!
Make sure your quality level is on point - If something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you ask your manufacturer what AQL level they can produce at BEFORE you ask for pricing.
Get your tech packs done right - I've not spoken about this above but thought it was worth a mention! Tech Packs are the cornerstone of a good clothing collection. Getting these done properly at the outset will save you so much time, frustration and money further down the line. Here's a handy guide to getting your Tech Packs done properly, or, if you'd like some professional help with creating your Tech Packs, click here to book a Tech Pack & Design Session with us.
If you'd like some guidance from us on your next clothing collection, we'll be happy to help, just drop me a line on WhatsApp:
Love, Joss H&E xx
P.s. Don't forget - if you'd like to know about how to price your next collection properly - ask us to send you our 'Estimated Pricing Guide'. In this guide we tell you an estimated production price based on brands like Stussy, Palm Angels, Fear of God and Represent along with a RRP and estimated profit level - it's mega useful!