What does it mean to “have a clothing line”?

Definitions are changing in front of my eyes and it’s a bit disconcerting. I’ve finally figured out what  some people mean when they say they have a clothing line. It is the polar opposite of what I would think. Here’s a sample:

I have a women’s clothing line consisting of shorts, skirts, jogging suits, various tee shirts and lingerie.

Can’t speak for you but this sounds promising, a fairly large outfit considering the product range.

I have the brand logos, design, customer base and a good brand reputation.

By this time I’m thinking there may be some profit in the job for me. Until I get to this:

What I don’t have is a manufacturer. I’ve read a thousand books and scanned through millions of internet pages, all giving me general or no info at all…

I’ve had quite a few inquiries like this and it’s only now that I’m putting it together. People think that having an idea, some sketches and a logo is the same thing as having a clothing line. I know contractors get the same stuff I do; it could explain one reason you’re having a hard time being taken seriously.

and there is a punchline.

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  1. Xochil says:


    I usually get the disclaimer “I have an up and coming clothing line” or something to that extent.

    And.. at least that person was trying to better themselves, right? Um..

  2. Reader says:


    This is a America. If you have a sewing machine, you’re a couturier.

    They have to start somewhere, I guess. If anything, I tend to to play down whatever qualities I have.

  3. Nishijin says:

    How can one have a good brand reputation without any product sold ? (and I don’t understand how can someone sell products without a “manufacturer”, which I presume is actually a sewing contractor…)

  4. Cheryl Designs says:

    I am not a manufacturer or ‘designer’ at this time…. I have a custom sewing and alteration business. I am SO SO TIRED of everyone trying to TELL ME what I MUST do to improve MY business. These people have NO CLUE about running a SOLO business…. I am the ‘be all’ and ‘END ALL’ of EVERYTHING here….I work. I market. I am also the bookkeeper. AND the secretary. AND I have NO income guarantee. By the way..I also LIVE HERE :) I live on 6 1/2 acres in a 1500 sq ft home with outbuildings and yard/gardens that need to be maintained… I have plans for some SMALL production of items. That has to wait until I have TIME :) I am not complaining..I LOVE MY LIFE :) I have ZERO respect for anyone who thinks they can just do a few sketches and come up with an idea for a line……. PHHHHHHHHHHHHTTTTTTTTTTT!!! No surprise the banks and ‘angel’ investors don’t want to WASTE their time on them.

  5. Cheryl Designs says:

    PS PS…I just re-read my comment..I was NOT referring to YOU dear… People in my personal life keep giving me ADVICE..UNASKED FOR ADVICE :( I bought your book…LOVE IT…You did a GREAT job :)

  6. Dawn says:

    Not to be obtuse, but what should they say? Perhaps: “I have an idea for a line.”

    How can you have a brand reputation and customer base with no product yet?

  7. Kathleen says:

    Nishijin/Dawn, I also don’t understand how someone could have a good brand reputation if they haven’t made or sold something for a period of time.

    Xochil, I agree that at least this person is looking for productive ways to improve their future.

    Reader: You get a gold star leaving the best soundbite of the year:

    This is a America. If you have a sewing machine, you’re a couturier.

    This is so true. Judging from your email address, I’m guessing you’re French. This must be very frustrating for you. I can’t tell you how many europeans have told me they know a brand is from the US because they put “couture” in their name.

  8. WendyB says:

    Cheryl Designs, I totally know what you mean. I love advice from people who have any small business or are in a similar business to me. But every idiot I’ve met in my life who has NO relevant experience feels free to give me advice which often is stuff like “why don’t you do it yourself?”…I’m doing enough, I don’t need to design and program my own website, photograph my own jewels on a professional level, do my own outreach to magazines, etc. etc. etc. I wish I could place them all under a gag order.

  9. Ambrose says:

    People can be very very unkind to talented dreamers like me…I am so new to this business (tho I am not new to cutting and sewing and using a sophisticated sewing machine) and I don’t know how to SKETCH:)…BUT i know fabrics very very well, cut them, turn them into something magic…Currently, I am making cocktail dresses and babydoll tops for toddlers and adults!!! Ask me for my blog to see my creations! I am a dreamer of course but my main hobby — which is sewing is getting wilder and wilder these days. So what’s wrong with having a dream of selling my creations? I don’t want to be called a designer. I want to create cuter stuff and sell them to stores who think they are gorgeous gift items. I am obssessed with my brand new sewing machine. But again, I need help to knock on retailers’ doors (preferrably high-end gift stores) and show them my cute creations. Are you going to beat me for not having sketches like pros? Be nice. We need your Help. If you are good hearted and caring enough, please share your ideas and tips to very very talented new comers like me:) Thanks ya’ll.

  10. Kathleen says:

    Are you going to beat me for not having sketches like pros?

    I certainly wouldn’t. “Professional” can be a matter of opinion. Sketches don’t need to be a work of art, just workable. Here is an entry with an analysis of design sketches. Some are “professional” and wholly unworkable. Others are quite unattractive but are very practical. My favorite is the one drawn by a 6 year old girl; I could work with that one.

    We need your Help. If you are good hearted and caring enough, please share your ideas and tips to very very talented new comers like me:)

    Hmm. Nice is as nice does. I think I’ve been nice, having published thousands of ideas and tips on this site over the past six years. But more than that, none of us are a social service agency in that we’re required to be good hearted and caring enough to give it all away anymore than you would give your products away for free. However, we’re happy to help anyone who really works it and reads the material that is available here in great detail. I also have to say that talent is over rated; execution is what matters. And you seem to execute well enough so that appears to be a relative strength for you.

  11. Ambrose,

    This site is all “ideas and tips” all the time — and it’s free! I think Kathleen is extraordinarily good-hearted and caring.

    You can get more personalized input and exchange with other DEs like you by buying The Book* and joining the forum. It’s a really good deal!

    * The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Products Manufacturing. Info toward the top right of this page.

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