So, you want to know how to start a fitness clothing line. Brilliant! If you follow the right steps, you can have your fitness apparel brand up and running within days.
If you are passionate about health and fitness and put the work in, the sky really is the limit with this kind of business. One of the founders of Gym Shark, Ben Francis, started his fitness clothing company in his bedroom at his parents house and they hit over $100 million last year. Of course to come even close to this level of success, you will have to put the work in. We have laid out how you can get started in 5 easy steps below.
How to Create a Fitness Apparel Line in 5 Easy Steps
- Pick a Brand Name
- Create a Logo
- Create an Online Shop
- Source Custom Printed Products (Without the Need to Invest in Stock)
- Start Making Sales/Marketing
Step 1: Pick a Brand Name
*Do not purchase your brand/domain name until you have been through the other steps below. You will be able to get it free when setting up your store.
If you already have a brand name in mind, great. You can skip to the next step (don’t rush to buy the domain name though as you will be able to get it free when setting up your online shop). If not, the first part of setting up your clothing line is picking a name for your brand.
Do not get stuck on this step. I know it can be easy to spend hours and hours trying to come up with the perfect name. 99% of the time there is absolutely nothing wrong with your initial name. The other 1% of the time, the perfect name will come to you when you are not even thinking about it (or even after you have created your website).
Your brand/business name should represent what your brand is all about. Think about what your brand values will be (will you be an exclusive brand? A niche one specifically for gym bros or bunnies? A brand for a particular target audience like Nerd Fitness?).
Remember, your name does not have to be too literal. Nike doesn’t translate directly to their tag line “just do it” but through strategic marketing, we all know the image that their name puts out (confidence, determination and perseverance).
Again, do not spend too much time on this step. Go with your gut and remember, you can always change your brand name later on (for some of our stores we have even switched names after getting initial orders and seen no negative effects).
Step 2: Create a Logo
Once you have decided on a name for your fitness apparel line, you need to create an initial logo. I say initial because it is highly likely that you will change your logo later on. I suggest using Canva to come up with a logo quickly. Their logo templates are beautiful and they have many sports themed ones available.
Step 3: Create an Online Shop
Personally, this is my favourite bit. I LOVE putting together new projects. Picking the perfect theme and seeing your fitness line coming together just gets me going and lights me up. How you go about this will depend on how you want to set up your store.
Use Shopify to Setup Your Online Shop
I always suggest that those creating their first store go with Shopify. Other options are great but this is truly one of the best ecommerce solutions you will find. The Shopify team have put together a great platform that allows beginners to learn and setup and online shop in a reasonable amount of time. They even have articles, guides and resources to help you create and grow your first shop. Find some of them here.
Shopify offers a generous free trial and take care of everything from the store front to processing and fulfilling orders (including collecting payments and depositing them directly in to your PayPal account).
First, sign up here to start your free trial (at the time of writing, 23rd October 2020 – updated on 29th December 2020, 90 days to help new entrepreneurs setting up a new project as a result of COVID-19).
As you are signing up, you will be asked if you want to buy a custom domain for your store. You will want to own a custom/proper domain. The alternative is to have a “yourdomain.myshopify.com” address which is not nearly as professional. A custom domain is the one place online your customers know they can interact directly with your brand and your brand only.
Fill in all the mandatory details and then move on to that actual designing of your online shop.
Choose a Theme
If you have the budget, I would seriously consider investing in a premium theme like the Out of the Sandbox ones or even finding a well-reviewed one on Theme Forest.
Don’t get me wrong, the free Shopify themes are great and more than enough to get started. It is just that premium themes often have a tad more professionalism and you can find one which matches the look and feel you had in mind for your fitness clothing lines website.
Much like the previous step, don’t spend too much time worrying about this. Themes can always be changed later on and odds are, you will change your theme multiple times as your store grows. I don’t think I have owned a single website whose theme did not change at least 3 times since I created it.
Good Shopify Apps for a Fitness Clothing Store
You will quickly find that there are Shopify apps to help you do near enough anything. From streamlining your shipping processes (not an issue if you opt for print-on-demand fulfilment solutions, see below) to adding a fun ‘spin the wheel’ discount generator to increase sales. Installing and operating them is easier than ever also. Here are some we recommend for a fitness apparel line:
- Mail Chimp connector to customise abandoned cart emails (helps increase sales).
- After Ship (if you are shipping your products yourself).
- Wheelio to gamify your clothing lines website and increase conversion rates.
One of the many brilliant things about owning a Shopify store is that they help you start accepting payments almost immediately. Simply connect your PayPal account (or create one if you haven’t already) and configure your options and you are done.
Use WordPress for More Control and Customisation of Your Store
Whilst Shopify is great, some people want a bit more control over their site and/or would prefer to use WordPress and their WooCommerce solution to setting up an online store.
WordPress is good for those who perhaps want to customise things like their sites URL structure, have specialist plugin needs (WordPress has a mammoth range of plugins) and/or are familiar with PHP and looking to use this knowledge whilst building their site.
There are a few additional steps when creating a fitness clothing company site with WordPress but doing so is still relatively simple.
The first step will be deciding on how you will host your site. There are many options ranging from quick, easy and affordable Siteground hosting to expensive and hands on dedicated servers. It is extremely rare that anyone would want to start with anything but a shared hosting option. Hosting can always be upgraded as and when it is needed as sales increase.
For those looking to get up quickly, I recommend you go with Siteground hosting. Not only are they reliable, affordable and beginner friendly but you can also use their handy WordPress one-click install to get up and running that much quicker.
Whilst you are signing up for your hosting package, register your domain name also. This way you can connect your domain name to your server whist you are setting up.
Choose a Theme
WordPress is a huge platform (in fact, it is estimated that up to 80% of websites online run on WordPress) and there is no shortage of themes available. Considering how many themes are available, I would head over to the ecommerce section of Theme Forest to find the perfect one for your business.
WordPress also has a mammoth library of plugins (or “apps”) which will help you do almost anything you can think of. Some of the main ones we recommend are:
- Contact Forms 7 (adds enquiry/contact us forms to your site)
- Mail Chimp Connector (automates abandoned cart emails and order fulfilment AKA shipping emails).
- Askimet (prevents spam attacks)
Accepting payments is slightly more complicated with WordPress than on Shopify. However, providing you only want to accept a couple of payment methods initially, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting up and running.
Head over to WooCommerce > Settings > Payment Gateways and enable the payment options you wish to offer. Next, use the instructions to connect your relevant accounts (PayPal, BrainTree, Stipe etc.) and make sure your plugins are configured to action order update emails once payments have been authorized, received and/or cleared.
Step 4: Source Custom Printed Fitness Apparel Products
Whilst it used to be time consuming and expensive to source high-quality products for your business, the power of the internet has streamlined the process. As you will learn below, there are now multiple fulfilment and product sourcing options which allow you to start a fitness clothing line without investing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock.
Print-on-demand (POD) product fulfilment options are our preferred method for starting fitness clothing lines. Factories in the US, Europe and China exist who can print high-quality fitness apparel with your logo and ship the product directly to your customers. They can offer this with a minimum order quantity of just 1 unit (which would have been unheard of in years gone by) and completely automate the fulfilment part of your business.
Some of our preferred POD suppliers include:
- Gear Bubble
- Custom Cat
Offers all over print options on a range of fitness apparel. A good option for those with more artistic/colour designs in mind.
Another option is private labelling. You take a generic fitness apparel product (say a nylon vest) and ask the manufacturer (usually based in China/overseas) to print the same garment with your logo. You are adding a private label to an existing product. This is a good option for those looking to order items in bulk and ship products out themselves (higher margins) who don’t want to invest heavily in to research and development of an entirely new product/range of items.
Once brands reach a certain size or if they have considerable budgets to invest, it makes sense to go to a manufacturer directly and have them create and product products exclusive to your brand. This is likely where brands like Gym Shark, Nike and Adidas are at. They have built up strong brand names, dominate the market and can afford to invest in research and design to create entirely new products found exclusively made by them (at least initially).
Step 5: Start Making Sales/Marketing
Personally, I think people make getting their first sale into way more of a big deal than it is in reality.
So, you have spent some time coming up with the perfect brand name, getting your site set up and finding a high-quality branded product, what next? Well, literally shoot your brother/sister, friend, colleague or mum a text asking them to check out your site. More often than not they will be so impressed they buy just to see how the damn thing turns out (hint, the POD suppliers above ensure that you deliver an amazing product).
The steps above allow you to build the metaphorical boat and sails. Now is the time to go out and find the wind to power it forward. Trust me, once you do you will be addicted.
It is the second, third, hundredth and thousand sale that takes the work. If you already have a social following in the niche then you are some way ahead. Throw your websites address in your Bio, give it a shout out and reap the rewards. If not, no bother. There are systems you can use to build targeted Instagram followings without even creating your own content.
Reinvest the Profits
You are generating sales, making money and living the high life. Hmm not quite. Once you start seeing a profit from your hard work, now is the time to push things further! Approach influencers to see who can push your products to their loyal following. Give Facebook ads a go and start learning the foundations of all good marketing campaigns.
The Gym Shark story highlights an important part of creating a fitness apparel line…
Picking a Business Plan and Sticking to it
Considering you are looking to start a health and fitness based business, you will likely have some experience with training, working out and/or nutrition. You will also know that while some routines and diets might be better than others, the most important part of seeing success in the gym or the mirror is picking a plan and sticking to it. This is the same for any of the business plans below. You can earn great money and create a quality business using any of them (or even a combination) but the main thing is picking one and sticking to it.
See, when the guys at Gym Shark first started, they wanted to test the waters before investing heavily. They actually started with a dropshipping model and generated some sales before holding any stock.