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The secret to building a successful sportswear brand

Updated: Feb 18

In the last post we covered how to launch a sportswear brand, but what about making it successful? Is it a result of finding a reliable UK based sportswear manufacturer with low MOQ's? Or is it a result of spending thousands on graphic designers to produce garments that are unique?


The short answer is there is no right, or wrong way of doing things. However, having been in this industry for a number of years and working first hand with businesses that have both crashed and burned, and some that have been huge success stories.... I think there is some common ground between those who succeed and then in turn, the ones who fail all seem to do a very similar thing wrong.


So, what is this mystery asset that successful businesses have? Research. But, hear me out.... I don't mean heading out into a local high-street and stopping random people who are trying to get somewhere and questioning them (no-one likes that, trust me) but what I mean instead is actual market and customer research. Most brands that think they have a USP (unique selling point), or what separates them from the competition in the market isn't actually all that unique. It's so important to make sure that you genuinely offer something different.


Let's take Gymshark for example; they were the first gym wear brand to focus on aesthetic garments. Up until their inception, bodybuilders wore tees that would be considered, by any normal persons standard as a dress (or an XXXL) because that was the "norm" until two young lads came in with the idea to create aesthetic, high quality but affordable gym wear that changed the assumption on how things should be.


I'm not saying you're going to be the next Gymshark (although if you are, remember you came here first) but instead, I'm using examples of businesses that you would know. What looking back now seemed like such a simple concept turned into the fastest growing business in the UK and now on par to takeover the global gym and sportswear market. Simple, right?


The second thing most business owners overlook within the research stage is what the market actually needs. A USP is one thing, but what problem are you actually solving and to be quite frank- is the problem worth solving? What I mean by this is at face value, are you solving an issue, or are you just building a business you think people need? Basing a business off of your own assumptions, without properly testing the market is a guaranteed way to fail. Contrary to popular belief, you don't know everything and you do need some hard-core facts, figures and statistics to back it up.


At this stage, you might be thinking that I sound like most business books and that the value gained here isn't actually that applicable to sportswear brands in particular, but you're mistaken. The sportswear market is saturated and in order to build a successful business, you need to do something different. Building a business that solves an issue that isn't being tackled yet is the best way to grow and succeed in what's arguably one of the largest growing sectors in the sports market today. There's plenty room for big brands to compete and with the growth in social media, how easy it is to build a website and online presence makes right now the perfect time to get out there...but launch an MVP (minimum viable product) first; test the market, get real feedback from real potential customers and listen- don't just do what you thinks best.


A great book to read would be "The Lean StartUp" by Eric Ries. This book covers the methods adopted by Toyota in their lean manufacturing process and applies it to launching a business. It's an absolute must read!