You've probably started a clothing line because you're creative and passionate about sharing your designs with others. Becoming a cult favorite might not be high on your priority list, but having a large customer base does make it easier to keep doing what you love.
These inspirational fashion brands have it figured out. Here is how they have appealed to fans and built a following, plus steps you can take to improve your brand visibility.
This streetwear label is a favorite with celebrities including Michael B. Jordan, Eva Marcille, and Apolo Ohno. The brand boasts 864,000 followers on Instagram and is known for its signature smiley face basketball and its DNA collection. Founded as Chinatown Market in 2016, Ma®ket rebranded earlier this year following violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander community.
For Ma®ket, this sense of community is key to success. According to High Snob Society, Founder Mike Cherman was inspired by New York's Canal Street and has done a fine job of mimicking bootleg tees and hoodies commonly beloved by shoppers in that area. Cherman commonly references pop culture in his designs, creating bold and distinctive streetwear that often sells out.
After starting his career at Nike, Cherman built this brand with custom t-shirts, hoodies, and sweatpants long before COVID-19 made these items wardrobe staples. Customers like this brand because the clothes are comfy and affordable.
But Cherman truly built his business on relationship management. His earliest clients are young. Instead of ignoring them or responding to customer inquiries with a canned response, Cherman responded to each one. He listens to customers and uses their input to influence designs, often finding pop culture inspiration in his followers.
Interacting with your customers makes them feel valued, which helps increase your brand loyalty.
Founded in 2017, Rowing Blazers has quickly gained cult status among fashion enthusiasts. The New York-based brand has been photographed on celebrities including Dwayne Wade, Pete Davidson, Tan France, Mindy Kaling, BTS, and many others.
Its founder, Dr. Jack Carlson, is an archaeologist who was once a member of the U.S. Rowing team.
Rowing Blazers offers sporty styles that appeal to the preppy in anyone, and they look good on people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. One way in which this company has built its following is by collaborating with other brands and organizations on limited-edition collections, which lends a level of exclusivity to its clothing. Given Carlson's sports background, it's not surprising that the brand has done collections with the NBA and U.S. Rowing. It has also created a collection with Sperry and Harry's New York Bar, which is a well-known city institute.
These collaborations are not the only way Rowing Blazers has improved its visibility. The company also runs an affiliate program through which content creators and people who run internet shopping sites can earn a commission for referring buyers directly to the Rowing Blazers site.
As a small business owner, you don't always have access to big-name personalities, but you can leverage your current customers through affiliate marketing and loyalty programs.
This west coast streetwear brand was founded in 2018 by Joseph Perez and David Levy and has quickly risen to popularity.
Cherry LA has created a sense of nostalgia, its designs are reminiscent of 90s styles that were popular in Southern California 20-years ago.
Cherry LA does not often post to its Instagram page, yet the brand has amassed over 127,000 followers. This notoriety has largely been built on followers like Bella Hadid who tag the brand in their own Instagram feeds. Much like Rowing Blazers, Cherry LA launches limited-edition collections, which makes the brand more exclusive and coveted by its fans.
But the root of Cherry LA's success lies in its designers. A quick glance through Joseph Perez's Instagram feed shows glimpses into his laid-back personality and distinct Los Angeles skater style. Similarly, David Levy highlights trips to the beach or simply relaxing in Southern California's outdoors. These designers create clothing that they would wear and they infuse their personalities into each item. Their authenticity shines through in their clothing, which is also well made and built to last.
Australian brand Black Milk has been around longer than other cult faves on this list, but its followers are no less devoted. Black Milk offers fun, colorful styles that stand out. New releases often sell out, and the brand's fans love showing off their new items through social media.
Black Milk grew by cultivating an online community. The brand uses its own Instagram followers on its website, which appeals to customers because it's easy for them to see themselves in the clothes. Black Milk also encourages members of its Facebook community to meet up in person and trade clothes or make new friends.
Knowing how to create an online community will help you build word of mouth, and it's an effective customer relationship management channel.
How You Can Learn From These Brands
Success doesn't happen overnight. Building a small business takes work and dedication. Each of these brand founders spent months connecting with the right customers and building their client base. Their journey could have been simplified with Pietra.
We connect your DTC brands to top suppliers who can help with manufacturing and order fulfillment. You don't have to spend hours creating custom t-shirts like Mike Cherman who built Ma®ket in his off hours following his day job working for Nike. Some of these brands are still experiencing shipping backlogs, even with limited inventory.
You can use Pietra to distribute your orders, so you can focus on design and stop worrying about logistics. Most importantly, Pietra offers you visibility, which is key when you want to start a brand. You can list with us and invite customers and fellow creators to join your community. You can also find other artists for collaborations and exclusive collections.
Starting a fashion business takes time and sacrifice, but our tools can help make it easier. So be inspired by your own community, create clothing that is authentic to your personality, and build a community to elevate your business. Need help turning your clothing line into a well-known fashion brand? Contact us today!