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how many styles should be on my clothing line?

How Many Styles Should I Have On My Clothing Line?

how bid should my collection be for a trade show

“How many pieces should I have in my clothing line?”

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I get this question a lot. While there’s no perfect answer, here are a few guidelines:

  • There’s a difference between the number of styles and the number of pieces you have to show a customer (or a retail store buyer). You can have 5 styles, each in 3 colors, which will give you 15 pieces for a buyer to choose from. That’s a nice selection.
  • If you’re selling online, you want enough pieces to fill up a page so your online shop looks full. This could mean 9 pieces (9 different options for the customer to choose from) and I think 12 looks pretty good. Of course, you can have many more than 12. Keep in mind, 9 PIECES could really be just 3 STYLES, each in 3 different colors.
  • If you’re doing womenswear, I vote for 3 – 8 styles for your first collection. 
  • I strongly recommend you keep your product assortment narrow when you first start. You don’t need to launch with a whole mix of pants, skirts, tops, blazers, handbags, etc. WHat they taught you in fashion school is NOT what you need to do.
  • There’s nothing wrong with starting with just one type of product, like just skirts. You don’t need more than that! It’s OK to get known for one thing and you can always add products as you go. I know one designer who makes girls’ hair accessories – mostly bows – and that’s it. And she sells a truckload of them! You can make a great living with a small product assortment.

creative business owner in studio

  • Within one product category, you still have options. For instance, you can have short skirts, long skirts, embellished skirts, whatever.  They are skirts. It is one product. You have one length of zipper that you usually get. You have a certain type of closure. It’s easier. It’s not as exhausting and a full collection. From a manufacturing standpoint, it’s not as big of a challenge.
  • Having been a retailer for a long time, I can tell you there is something great about a line that comes in and says, “I do skirts, that’s what I have”.  Then I know where to go when I need a skirt.  I know what they do. It’s straightforward and it’s easily understandable.
  • If you design jewelry, think about how many pieces will make a nice “story” in a retail store, at a craft show, or from your online store. Jewelry and accessories look best when they’re merchandised together and make a statement to the customer. You often need a certain number of pieces from the same group to look good on a table in a retail setting.
  • Dresses can be more ITEM. Meaning that they don’t need to be merchandised together as much into groups – it’s usually OK to have a dress here or there. Dresses stand on their own. One of my most successful clients started with 3 dresses. That’s it! ner launch and her line were constrained and manageable. Fast forward to today, she carries tops, skirts, pants, jumpsuits — all the things. But Phase One was just 3 styles of dresses. Simple.

If you’re just getting started with your clothing line, our Launch A Line will give you an exact blueprint to go from idea in your head to an actual profitable business.

“Launch A Line” is a step-by-step online course for those who want to start a clothing line or are thinking about starting a line. It’s your ultimate shortcut to understand and master the business side of launching a successful business. Click here to check it out

So now I’d like to know what you think. What product do you make? Did you start with a broad assortment, get exhausted, and narrow it down? Tell me your story in the comments below!

xo -Jane

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65 Responses

  1. I’m in the middle of creating my first line (women’s clothing). I remember you saying on one of your videos that I should shot for 10 to 12 pieces. So as the designs were being put down on paper I noticed there needed to be a more cohesive look. I started to alter designs, this forced me to eliminate garments and carry line and detail from one piece to another. So this really helped bring the line into a tighter focus. The Magic 10-12 Pieces Goal was a big help! I also don’t feel bad about not having any slacks in the first grouping.

  2. Hi Morgen,
    So glad this helped you. I think it helps to have set parameters and then we are forced to be creative within this set of guidelines and can do our best work. I know that for me, unlimited choices and options is the kiss of death. Thanks, Jane

  3. Hiya,

    It was so random that i came across you’re page. I am in the process in creating a Skirt Collection. So you can imagine i got a great deal of info from your post. I wasn’t sure that a skirt collection was enough, but reading the above gave me a step in the right direction.

    I really appreciate your post.

    Thank You

    Foz

      1. What about if you decide to start with blazers. What can I add with that to make it 6 outfits or 12 pieces

  4. Omgoodness. I’ve been reeeaaally stressing over how many products to launch my clothing line with! This makes me confident in starting within my budget and not trying to sell 50 million products at once!(lol) Thank you so much! ^__^

  5. Hey,

    This was really helpful. Thanks so much for the post. The range of 10-12 sounds like a good enough collection. I have a question though regarding the focus, if I want to offer tops, skirts, blazers, and dresses in my first line is that a problem? As a retailer what does that suggest to you? Thanks!

    1. Hi Sarah,
      Good question. One thing you could do is to narrow down the product categories in your first season and add more as you go. For instance, you could start with 2 (like tops and dresses) and add blazers in season 3.

  6. Hi Jane

    Hope all is well thanks for the inspiration ive been making clothes in my neibourhood for years now im looking for a way to grow i dont know which direction to take i feel lost at times please advice which is the cheapest way to register a fashion label? Yes it makes sense to small as you said above. I think i might need a mantor to grow do you have anyone in mind? Please advice. Kind Regards Promise Massa

  7. Geez! I’m done designing the first collection of my own line of menswear. And boy was I stressing about which items (how many) to include in my line. I currently have a total of about 50 styles (suits, blazerz, cardigans, shirts and trousers included). I have about 8-9 styles of some items and less of others. I thought that was too much, too small at the same time, didn’t know if I should leave some out or do more… I did a quick serach online and I came across this article amongst others, thanks very much for the help. I think I need to stop stressing and pick 2-3 of the products categories and make 3-4 styles, that should be enough for now, and add the rest later. I guess I’m lucky I have designs for the next 4 seasons. I won’t stop though, I love designing. Thanks a lot

  8. Jean-Michel,
    Your new plan sounds terrific! Pare things down and get some feedback on your first season. This will make it easier on YOU as well!
    Thanks for sharing your story,
    Jane

  9. Hello! I’m really grateful i stepped on this article.i’m starting a clothing line in women’s wear,and i have designed a total of 70 styles.i have designed jumpsuits,gowns and skirts. After reading ur article,i have decided to go on with my jumpsuits for the first collection.i also wish to go out of topic here! i barely know people in the fashion industry,and i kind of need to know what will be the process.i mean,getting my label registered when the time comes,getting entry into show casing shows and stuffs.pls email me in private.i rily need a helping hand.thanks!

  10. Hey jane I’m currently doing a collection with wool & linen for the upcoming fall.. I am doing assorted bottoms -skirts pants ,tops and shorts..is that bad?

  11. Hi Jane, I have read some of your post and I really appreciated all your great advise and response to everyone.

    I have a question?

    In wanted to start my clothing line. But I had a baby about 11/2yrs ago. So I have being home with my baby while working on my line. But without a full time job to be able to finance my clothing line as I have initialy planned. So now my plan “B” is trying to raise money for my clothing line by doing a fashion show this coming Feburary and also lunch samples of my line and maybe sell some if possible any how I can found money for my dream. But I don’t know if raising money for personal business rather than charity is a legal act. I need our advise and also suggestions on ways to approach this. Thank you for your time.

  12. Dear Jane,

    You mention that dresses are more of an item. But I was thinking of starting out as a small line of dresses (8-10), am I shooting myself in the foot? Are dresses not as desirable to buyers do to the merchandising issue? Thank you so much! Your blog and videos are so incredibly helpful!

  13. Hi Jane, I’ve found this post really helpful. I’m aiming to launch my clothing line with 10-12 pieces, a mixture of dresses, jumpsuits and play suits. I was just wondering about stock. Are we supposed to wait for orders to come in and then we’ll know how many to make to fill those orders or are we supposed to make up a batch of each design before the launch. If so, how many of each design do we make and in which sizes?….I know I have a lot of questions, I hope it won’t be too much trouble to answer 😀

  14. I would think selling 10 or 12 designs as your first set would spread the quantity per design pretty thin and decrease profit margin. With the limited capital most start-ups have, I think selling a smaller collection of 1,2, or 3 items would give you more wiggle room to increase your quantities per design and give you the added effect most manufacturers give you of decreased cost the more you order. How do you attract attention to your brand, while not being overwhelmed by too many products.

    1. Hi Mounir,
      Whatever works for YOU and yr brand is terrific. Let me know what happens!
      Jane

  15. Hi Jane. I am in the proses of starting my fashion collection. I was so lost on how many pieces I would need to start a collection. I make dresses and I’m based in Nigeria. Your article was so helpful. So I was wandering if you could give me insights on how to go about production and sales of my 1st collection.

  16. Hello
    I am launching my first line in the next few months, i have already chosen my fabric and around 20 designs.
    my line is going to be dresses, for now i am focusing on cocktail and evening dresses so my problem is how many designs should i come out with and how many sizes should i have for each design? i was thinking of starting with just one size, is that ok?

    1. Hi Selam,
      If you are selling wholesale (to retail stores) then your samples can be in one size. If you are selling direct-to-consumer, you could sell pre-order from samples (can be hard to do but not impossible) or you would need stock inventory of different sizes people can try on and buy immediately.
      Does that answer your question?
      Jane

      1. Hello again,
        am selling direct to consumers, but i don’t want to carry more than two sizes is that ok? my other questions are how many designs i should start with? should i start with my website now or wait for the dresses to be finished? if i want to do a wholesale, how do i get in contact with clients?

        thank you for replaying, your are helping me deal with the stress of all this unanswered questions.

  17. Hi! Is it weird to sell just nice dresses and swimsuits together if those are my favorite designs for a collection?

  18. Hi Jane, I stumbled on your website and I must say you’ve really done a great job by inspiring people who wants to have their own clothing line and don’t know how to go about it. its really helped me as well and I hope to fill u in on my step to step activity.. also from your blog, I’ve come to realize this thing should be taken slowly, its isn’t something I have to rush into. since I’m just starting I have 20 designs and I intend to release them in two seasons, that would be 10 for a season. I do hope it works just as I have planned, but nothing to worry about cos when I’m fully ready would buzz u to fill u in on the numbers I’m stocking and it’s gonna be in a retail shop.

    1. Hi!
      I like your plan to do 10 styles per season. After you launch, you will have a better idea of what sells and what doesn’t. This will put you in a much better position for season #2! Thanks for commenting and I’m wishing you loads of success!
      Jane

  19. Thank you for this post. I know I’m a couple of years late but it’s quite handy. I am starting my own bespoke dress collection. However initially I finalised 5 different designs, only one having a selection of colours. However because I am making them myself, I didn’t want a collection that would be too much for me but I do still want a good selection. Please help?

  20. Hi,

    I am launching a swimwear brand early next year and I have around 7 designs in 3 different colours that I’m starting with. What quantity per design/colour do you think would be good to start with? My manufacturer minimum is 50pcs per design/colour I have 4 different sizes in each design so works out to be around 12pcs in each size colour/design. Is this quantity too small? What would you recommend? Thank you.

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      This is a great question but without understanding more about your business, and can’t comment with any confidence.

      There are few things to consider, including:

      – have you built an audience already so you can drive traffic to your site? That’s assuming you’re planning to sell online…
      – if you’re planning to do home parties or trunk shows, how many do you have booked? How many people are you planning to invite to each one, and what percentage do you expect to buy? What do you believe the average sale would be?
      – have you done any pre-sales? For instance, offering your styles to your community at a discount before you place your order for inventory. That could give you an indication of what your sales will be.

      As you can see, there are so many variables. As a general rule, I suggest ordering the minimum you need to order and then reordering as soon as you need to. It’s much safer then ordering a lot of inventory and hoping like heck to sell it.

      I hope that helps,

      Jane

      P.S. If you feel you need more specific one-on-one help, you can book a One-Time Strategy Session. It’s on the site under Coaching.

  21. Great Info! I design children’s clothing and I am going to a tradeshow, the questions is How many designs should I have for a tradeshow?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Paola,
      I’ll try to make this very simple. Think about the size of the booth and think about what would make the booth look good and ‘balanced’. Then break it down from there.

      For instance, if you feel like you need 21 pieces to make a good showing, that could be seven styles and each comes in three different colors or prints.

      Maybe you only need 12 pieces to make a good showing. That could be six styles and each one comes in two colors. I hope that helps.

      Jane

  22. I really appreciate what you’re doing for people that want to start their own clothing line and you have answered some of my most pressing questions. Thanks a lot!

  23. Hi, I currently run my own fashion label that does custom made clothing for men and women. I am planning to start a retail outlet that sells menswear and women’s wear both. I really need some advice on the quantities as I am planning to launch a collection every month. I have five product categories for womenswear ; dresses, pants, skirts, suits, tops and for menswear Shirts, pants ,blazers, suits. I would like to know how many styles i should start with and how many pieces per size I should go with. Appreciate your kind thoughts on this.

    Thank you,

    Regards,
    Sam

  24. Thank you for all this free advice. Funny you wrote this article years ago and it’s still relevant in 2017 and I bet beyond. I will like to know, what sizes do I produce in? This question bugs me as I don’t want to have stock around that’s never sold because it’s in a not-so-popular size

  25. This was so incredibly helpful! Would you happen to have insight to how many items to produce per size (XS,S,M,L). Thank you!

    1. Hi Ellen,
      It totally depends on your target customer. For example, when I sold my line in my boutique, the most popular sizes for 4-6-8. For some boutiques I sold wholesale, it was 10-12. Department stores were sometimes even across all sizes. If you’re brand new and don’t know what to order, I suggest you order SMALL quantities – very small – and get a feel for what sells. After you do that go back in and order more only of what you need.
      Hope that helps,
      Jane

  26. Hi Jane,

    Thank you for your article.
    I’m starting a kids line, which will have tops, dresses a few skirts and pants, in stories, for eg, fabric Linen will have all the said styles in one size set, no more (to lessen the inventory)
    My selling will be mostly at pop-up’s and marketing on the social media.
    Can you be able to guide me how often to release new styles/ stories ?

    Thanks & best.
    Bhavna Nagrani.

  27. Hi dear Jane!

    I need to do a Collection for a important fashion show. I can present 12 or 16 pieces.

    I’m focus in selling blouses and capes.. but in order to show those ones I nees to create outfit.

    My main issue is that I like timeless pieces but also I want to go for trends pieces as well. And I’m afraid to not achieve a cohesive collection.
    I doing a palette of white, grey, blue (niagara color) and maybe light blue and black.

    Thanks in advanzed for your help.

  28. Hello Jane,

    I’m in the process of starting a womenswear Collection. I was trying to figure out how many pieces/styles to start with. Someone gave an advice of 8 but haven’t had a chance to go into details why. But stumbling across your article, it tremendously help narrowing things down quite about. So for that, thank you so much for such helpful information.

    Shana

  29. Hi there,
    I’m starting a new line of women’s ware typically its like traditional dresses with a regular or loose fit that can fit sizes from S to M, maybe large! I have no experience on fashion design so am kinda lost how to assign sizes to these dresses to tailor them!
    Am thinking to launch two sizes; S/L and M/L. Or a free size.
    Pls help! How would i communicate that to a local tailor? Do I just provide them with a size chart and let them start from there? Although the collection has different styles and cuts of dresses.

    Thanks!

  30. Hi, I want to know if it is compulsory for all the dresses in a collection to be made of the same colour?

  31. Hi Jane!

    This article is very insightful.

    I am having great difficulty in finding an accurate and detailed UK size measurement chart (including armhole size, neck depth etc). Can you please assist me solve this issue?

    Regards

  32. Hi,
    I’m starting my bio kid’s clothing line online. I was too much confused about how many designs to start with?. But now I got clarified

  33. This Article really helps. I was all over the board trying to decide what styles to start with, My mother jokingly said “with zoom people are only getting dressed from the waist up these days,” so I have decided to start with blouses. I still need narrow down but I like the Idea that each color counts as a new piece.
    Thanks Ever So

  34. Hi so I’m currently working on my designs for my launch next year. I’m starting off with crop tops, leggings and tank tops. I have 3 designs for each total of 9. I had friends and family answer a questionnaire of what they would be interested in. Do you think 9 is okay or should I add 3 more designs? Also another product I want to launch is skater skirts and skater dresses. I’m stuck on adding this for my first collection or should I hold off and wait until my second collection to introduce both of these. I need some guidance how to approach this.

    1. Hi Jessica,
      Without knowing your specific situation, I would say 3 designs for a total of 9 is plenty! It’s just your first season and there will be many, many seasons to follow to test a lot of different products. I think you have the right idea to start small and treat your first season as a test.
      Jane

      1. Thank you so much! I was just inspired recently to do a Pre-Launch of the leggings before the holidays for friends and family. That way they can test them out and spread word of mouth to their friends and family. Do you think that’s a good idea too?

        I would use 3-4 designs and 3 styles (2 styles and one in plus size). I do have a social media page and will launch an online store as well. I will say marketing online is new to me (a little background to my situation.)

        Thanks,

        Jess

        1. Hi Jess,
          Wonderful! That sounds really exciting! I think it’s a great idea to do a soft lunch with friends and family, get the feedback and go from there.
          Jane

  35. Thanks for the tip to just start with one product. I think I am going to buy from a bunch of different brands though. That way I can model my own design on all of them.

  36. I’m so grateful for this page. I have a bachelor as a textile designer fron 2016, but we have not learned so much to sew as we wished – just to design. But I only want to work with nightwear and bags. I’ve been frustrated all these years because, where to start and how to choose between the to things!? But after I found your page, I found out that I can just start small with just one thing at the time. Here in Denmark, there are not many people who buy nightwear, so I will start by designing and sewing bags and makeup bags myself , and then nightwear comes after that (maybe). Thank you very much for this page. It has really helped me to finally start up my little bussines. Now I design my first 3 styles and make some samples, and have, of course, bought the page name so I’m sure no one will take it 🙂 Now I have buy God bless you! ( sorry my poor english)
    Noemia

  37. I like that you talked about how the site should look full when a business owner sells online to make their page look full. I will look for a site like that when I look for handcrafted apparel to make sure that they can really deliver well. This weekend, I just need to have a couple of shirts to give to a friend of mine that si why I need to buy some, because they will be given to their children as my gift to them.

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