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How to start a clothes shop

Could the business of fashion be the right entrepreneurial choice for you? Read how to launch your own clothing store here - from costs to finding clothing suppliers

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What is a clothes shop?

Clothes are big business in Britain. Every year, fashion-conscious market spend billions on their wardrobe and to supply this extra large spending habit there is an equally burgeoning clothing retail sector.

In fact, there are as many different types of clothes shops as there are varieties of clothing – from the large department stores such as Marks & Spencer, high street chains like Zara, Topshop and New Look, to the thousands of independent stores that sell vintage, designer and emerging brands, scattered throughout the country.

So it may seem that this is a market made to measure for the budding entrepreneur. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Clothing is also one of the most highly developed retail sectors in Britain and the established brands are frighteningly competitive. If you want to break into this market, you will have to look hard to find a gap and, even then, it will take a lot of work and resources to make it succeed.

So where are the gaps? How can a smaller clothes shop offer something that isn’t already provided by the chains or larger stores? The key is specialisation. Generally the larger stores offer the greatest choice to shoppers; they have the space and resources to carry an extensive stock range and the purchasing power to offer that stock at low prices. The smaller, independent stores, on the other hand, can profit through specialising.

Clothes shop ideas

The crucial point is to identify a niche. This may centre on the style of clothing you sell or on the type of customer that you want to attract. For example, you may stock only suits, second-hand clothes or ethical brands. Perhaps you could focus on clothes with a particular heritage or culture you know much about (for example, you could sell South African clothing or import clothes from Poland). Alternatively, you may look to sell clothes or for a particular group, for example petite clothing or clothing for babies, schoolchildren or extra large men. As with any business, make sure you conduct some market research to identify your competitors, understand your audience and get feedback on the clothes products you wish to sell and the price points. There’s some detail on this in our guide on how to calculate your target market and we also have a free business plan template you can use.

mums on your business idea the product range you wish to sell and the price points


Action point:
See if you can get a Start Up Loan to help you start your business
(external partner site, opens in new tab)

If you are thinking of starting a shop click here to read our general retail guide.

Ready to get started? Find out everything you need to know about how to start your own business here.