How to start a clothing brand / general business selling products in Australia?

We’ve had a number of creatives and individuals ask us how we started Crooked Supply and how they can start their own clothing brand too? This will be a multiple part series, where we will go into depth on how we grew our clothing business to where it is now. We consider ourselves as a relatively small business in the industry and are still learning and growing every day. This series is solely based on our opinions and experiences so our methods may not apply or work for everyone. This part is just a general guide on how you can take your first steps and get started if you have a brand idea in mind. We will try and keep this as short and simple as possible. 

This is the list of things you need to get started: 

  • Business Name (Brand Name) 
  • Australian Business Number 
  • Website 
  • Designs 
  • Product 

Business Name 

Before you get started, you will need a well thought out business/brand name as this will stick with your brand forever. Yes, you can always re-brand your business but having a solid name when starting out will save you hassle later on. Before registering your business name, you should double check every social media platform out there to see if your name is available.  

Your next step is to check to see if your business name is available to trade under, you can do a business name search through ASIC with the following link: https://connectonline.asic.gov.au/RegistrySearch/faces/landing/bn/SearchBnRegisters.jspx?_adf.ctrl-state=160yh13vik_26. 

Next, you should do a trademark search on IP Australia to see if your name is available to Trademark. A trademark is a registered brand identity and is used to distinguish your business from other products and services. You can check to see if your name is available for trademark here: https://search.ipaustralia.gov.au/trademarks/search/quick.

A trademark is costly but luckily, it is not compulsory when starting your business. You may want to trademark your brand in the future so that it is your protected and your property. It is entirely up to you if you wish to protect your business name early on or when you start making sales in the future. We are no experts on trademarking, you should seek legal advice if you wish to Trademark your brand. 

If your brand name is available on social media, ASIC and IP Australia, securing your social media accounts and business name will be your first priority. You will have to register for an Australia Business Number (ABN) if you are operating as a sole proprietor and plan on selling goods within the next few months. An ABN is for tax purposes and you can register both your business name and ABN at: https://register.business.gov.au/registration/type. You should contact an accountant if you are not sure what you should register for.  

Website 

Next you will need a website to sell your products. There are many ecommerce platforms that allow you to create your own website on. The one we are currently using is https://www.shopify.com. Shopify allows you to create your own website using pre-existing templates, they also have their own payment methods available (Shop Pay) so you don’t have to waste time setting up your own. They can also integrate with Paypal and Afterpay, plus many more. Many brands nowadays are using Shopify for their websites. You can also purchase your domain with Shopify with just a few clicks. I would recommend watching Youtube Tutorials on how to set-up your first ecommerce store. If you want us to make a video in the future on how to setup a Shopify store, leave a comment below.  

Designs 

If you’re not familiar with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, then you should start looking into it. We use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for all our designs. If you are new to these graphic design applications, Youtube has a number of tutorials to get you started. It is time consuming at first but you won’t regret learning these skills If you’re in the clothing business. 

Product 

When first starting out, we would recommend printing on blank garments and seeing if your designs sell (testing phase). There is no point looking for a manufacturer who does cut and sew if you don’t already have an audience to sell to as this can be very costly. Of course, you can go down this route if you have the money to spend but it is at your own risk, you wouldn’t want to hold a large amount of stock that may or may not sell.  

Some brands start off sourcing blanks from multiple suppliers and getting them printed locally. Do a general Google search of all the screen-printing and embroidery shops in your area, if there are none in your state, you can search for one that ships Australia wide. Contact the shops that interest you and see if they fit your needs, having digital mock-ups of your products ready to email out will speed up the process as they will be able to provide you with an accurate quote. 

Most screen-printing shops will have a catalogue of garments they can order in for you. If none of their available garments suit your needs, then you can do some basic Google searches for something more catered to your needs. Reddit and whirlpool forums usually do the trick. For example “Blank t-shirts for clothing brands”. 

If you’re looking for quality blanks with a general fit for your first few rounds of tees and jumpers, then you’ll probably come across AS Colour (not sponsored but they should). They have multiple stores around Australia, where you can go in and try on their clothes yourself. 

When we first started Crooked Supply, what we found to work best for us was to purchase blanks from a reputable supplier and get them printed right here in Adelaide, this allowed us to easily manage our inventory and budget. When your business grows, you can then start to look for manufacturers who suit your growing needs.

Just remember, this isn't the end game but you have to start somewhere. Taking the first steps is the most important part of the process. As you grow, so does your brand. 

Now you’ve got your social media accounts, business name and ABN all set up, along with products to sell on your website. What’s next? 

Our next part will be on getting your first customers and how to market your brand on social media, specifically Instagram and Facebook. 

If this has helped you in any way or if you have any questions, please feel free to comment below so we can keep this series going. 


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3 comments

  • oh my! This is exactly what I needed. Thank you so much for sharing :)

    • Tahlia Seymour
  • Thanks so much!

    • Hugo
  • finally!!

    • John T