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Banana XYZ
Creator Resources

How much does it cost to start a fashion business?

January 29

This is a complicated question to answer because… it depends on numerous factors! Do you want a fashion business making mostly graphic t-shirts and hoodies, or one selling artisan-made crochet dresses with intricate patterns? Are you making mass market products or luxury goods? How much do you want to invest in marketing? Are you making your samples and products from your own bedroom or are you working with a sample room and manufacturer? Do you have prior training in fashion design or will you need to hire design support? Are you launching your brand on your own website or a platform like Etsy or Banana? How much will you do yourself as opposed to outsourcing? Even the kind of materials and fabrics you are launching your brand with (cotton or cashmere?) has a significant impact on your clothing line’s startup cost.

Depending on who you ask you will also get different answers. Calvin Klein started his business with US$10,000 in 1968. “Some industry professionals suggest starting with as much as $1 to $5 million” writes Mary Gehlhar, the author of Fashion Designer Survival Guide. The blog successfulfashiondesigner.com recommends starting with $20-40k (in 2024). If you knit your own sweaters you could start with as little as the cost of some yarns and needles. On Banana you could launch a product for preorder with an estimate of $300; but let’s look at a breakdown of different scenarios and how much you realistically need to start a fashion brand.

Print on demand brand

This is the cheapest kind of brand you could start, especially if you can design your own graphics and are happy with print-on-demand products such as t-shirts, caps, mugs and so on, working in your own private space with minimal inventory. This is also great if you are a content creator or a brand owner, who would love to create something that people would enjoy wearing to signal they are part of your community. Is there a catch phrase that you always use that only people in your community would understand? Design a nice graphic around it and put it on a t-shirt!

Setup cost: $0 - $500
Cost breakdown: Sampling and/or inventory $0-$500
Suitable for: Brands or content creators who wants to create merchandise for their community. Artists or graphic designers looking to put their art on wearable products
Not suitable for: Products that emphasise uniqueness in form and fabrications more than (or equally as) graphics on products.


Designer fashion brand, launching with 5 products

This scenario involves creating a full brand and designing fashion products from scratch the traditional way, launching your own website, sales channels, marketing, producing bulk inventory with manufacturers, as well as figuring out packaging and shipping yourself.

Setup cost: $14,000 - $50,000+
Cost Breakdown: Product design, development, production and inventory $14,000-26,000, packaging $200-1200, marketing $0-10,000+, sales channel / website $10 -10,000+
Suitable for: Someone who wishes to invest in the craft of designing and developing fashion products with unique fabrications and form. Someone with deep funding, strong industry network, high risk tolerance and is ready to dedicate significant time and energy to the business
Not suitable for: Someone who isn’t ready to manage the commercial, administrative and logistical labyrinths of running a fashion business. Someone who isn’t passionate about the  product development process of fashion pieces

To launch and run a successful fashion business, aside from having a great business plan, smooth operations and a price that is right for the target audience, it boils down to two key components – having great products, and having great marketing. Therefore this pricing breakdown includes the basics to ensure you are launching with these two key components. The pricing breakdown varies depending on how much you are doing yourself, how much you are outsourcing, and how much you are able and willing to invest. Sometimes, it reaps rewards in the long term if you invest in experts to support you in your brand building journey!

venn diagram to fashion business success

The following estimates are based on the assumption of working with quality production partners based in China, for the development and production of 5 garments, at a minimum order quantity of 50-100 units.

Concept to tech pack and sourcing support: $1500-$3000 

Having a great idea for a collection and product is a starting point, but to take an idea to a manufacturable and market-ready product, you need to create a tech pack, and find the right manufacturer and the right material sourcing partner to get your product produced. A tech pack includes all the technical specifications and design details of your product – everything from what type of stitching goes on which part of the product, to detailed measurements – and a well created one is essential for the quality of your final product. 

As much as it would be tempting to skip creating a tech pack and go directly to a manufacturer and start working directly with them, investing in this part of the product development process reduces costs and time associated with sample revisions, and would save you time and costs down the road! You could get a tech pack created with the support of a technical designer or a product development and sourcing agencies. You would be saving some of these costs if you have prior technical training in fashion design. 

Initial samples: $750-$3000

Sometimes, first samples are included in the product development costs from product sourcing agencies or manufacturers, but often a few more samples are needed to refine the fit and design of your product. To save money on creating too many samples and drag out the product development timeline, ensure there is sufficient technical information in your tech pack.

Investing in initial fabrics and trims: $2000-$10000 (optional)

Some product agencies and manufacturers will include the cost of materials in your production if you are creating products with running fabric (that you buy a low quantity of) or producing at a high minimum order quantity (exceeding the minimum order quantity of fabrics required), but some brands who desire unique fabrics choose to invest in fabrics.

Investing in initial inventory production: $7500+

As the volume of your order goes up, the price per unit goes down. This price could greatly vary depending on the type of product you are creating and the materials you are using. This is a median estimate.

Inventory and sample shipping costs: $2000+

Shipping costs can add up when it comes to shipping individual samples, and then bulk order shipping and handling costs.

Quality control: $300+ (optional)

Using a third party quality control partner is a good measure to ensure that products fall within the tolerance specified in your tech pack. 

Packaging: $100-$1000 (depending on what design and material you choose)

Labels and Hangtags: $100-$200 (plus branded care-labels for garments)

Photoshoot: $0-$5000

Increasingly, consumers are open to or even prefer authentic content, so if you are confident at creating great content (or solicit the help of friends), you could even start with content shot from your smartphone and editing them yourself. Alternatively, invest in a photoshoot, which could include costs for venue, photographer, model, makeup artist and more.

Marketing/Ads: $0-$5000

How much do you want to / can you spend on marketing for the launch of your brand? You might want to consider spending a bit of money on influencer marketing or paid advertising to get your products in front of your target audience. As you try different marketing strategies and tactics, you will discover what (and who) brings the highest return on investment for your brand.

Website: $100 to $10,000 or Sales Channel: $10-$100

If you are tech savvy and are confident in setting up your own ecommerce store to a standard you desire, you could start off with as little as $100 and monthly subscription on top. If you solicit the support of a website development agency or freelancer, prices could range from $2000 to $10,000 and beyond depending on your needs.

Alternatively, you could start selling on sales platforms such as Etsy or Banana at minimal start up costs. Etsy is the ideal platform for homemade and DIY goods, while Banana is ideal for trending, quality fashion from creative brands. Both platforms are commission based; Banana takes 10% per sale.

Monthly recurring costs:

  • Design software: $50-$500
  • Website hosting: $100-$1000
  • Warehouse and storage: $100+
  • Payment processing: 3-5% per order
  • Shipping costs (if paid by you): $10-$50+ per order

Don’t forget, your time is money too. You might need to spend time or delegate someone to support on:

  • Refining your designs and product plan
  • Creating content for social media
  • Setting up shipping and customs systems to different countries and regions
  • Creating or refining your branding.

These are simply the essentials of starting a fashion brand. This obviously varies if you need a design space, tools and mannequin where you can create initial samples on, if you need to budget in fashion week presentations, PR retainers and so on. However, with the ability to reach new audiences through clever marketing on social media, you could definitely start with just a smartphone, passion for production creation and cut-through content!

Launching a designer brand with 5 products through preorders on Banana

This scenario is based on zero inventory with minimal outsourcing on marketing or content creation.

Setup cost: $1300-$1800
Cost breakdown: Product design, development, production and inventory $1500-3000, packaging $100-400, marketing $0-10,000+, sales channel / website $0 + 10% commission + 5% credit card processing fee per order
Suitable for: Someone who wants to spend more time on the creative process of design and marketing and less on the administrative and logistical labyrinths. Brands who wants to launch capsule collections or test the market with new ideas before investing in inventory.
Not suitable for: N/A


Starting a brand on Banana significantly reduces your cost (and time) in starting a brand, because we have lined up the best partners to advice and support you in taking an idea to a sample, and you could start selling your designs with just 1 sample in hand with our fashion crowdfunding tools. This means realistically to launch a 5-piece capsule collection, you can start with as little as $1300. We have also partnered with a great shipping partner, meaning you will get the best shipping rates for your orders.

The best part is, we have systemised everything, from guiding you through what you need to get started, to what mistakes to avoid and providing warehousing, logistics and shipping support, meaning you will save money on trials and errors.

Concept to tech pack and sourcing support: $1000-$1500

Initial samples: $0-$2000

Investing in initial inventory production: $0

Inventory and sample shipping costs: $200

Quality control: $300+ (optional)

Packaging: $0-$200

Labels and Hangtags: $100-$200

Photoshoot: $0-$5000

Marketing & Ads: $0-$5000

Banana preorder tools: $0

Monthly recurring costs $0

Per order costs:

  • Payment processing: 3-5%
  • Banana commission: 10%
  • Shipping costs: $5-$40

To Summarise:

Print on Demand

Own Brand (the traditional way)

Own Brand (Preorder way on platforms like Banana)

Setup Cost




Product & Inventory








Monthly recurring costs

$0 (assuming zero inventory)



Point of sales


+3-20% per order

$0 + 15% per order

(and lower fees as your brand scales)

Banana is currently in closed Beta development but we will be gradually launching to creators and brands throughout 2024. Our mission at Banana is all about empowering fashion entrepreneurs, so you can focus more on creating, and less on the administrative and logistical headaches that come with running a fashion business. If you are an individual interested in developing and launching fashion products on Banana, register your interest here. If you are an existing brand who is interested in our fashion crowdfunding tools, get in touch here.