The five mistakes that new streetwear brands often make
Believing that everyone will cop just because you started a brand. We've all heard it before: if you build it, they will come. Oh yeah? Why would that be, exactly? The truth of the matter in the streetwear game is that with so much supply to the potential consumer from every angle at all times, there simply isn't going to be enough demand for every new brand to be successful, the exact same way that not everyone can make it in music. It's usually a big shock to someone who hasn't put themselves out there before how few people are going to care about what you do, but people need to realize that it is very hard to get people to support an unknown product or new brand that no one has ever heard of in a flooded market.
Overextending financially on an unproven brand and products. You have to test the waters first; it doesn't matter if the screen printer drops their price down by half if you order a few hundred t-shirts, the financial risk on a new unproven brand is huge and the failure rate is sky high. Even if you don't make any profit whatsoever on the first drop, it's better to try to sell a dozen or two t-shirts than being on the hook and behind the eight ball for several hundred. If you aren't established already with a good base level of actual paying customers, keep it low until you know it's time to move up. Also, what most people who want to start up a brand are seeing in the field is known as 'survivorship bias': success is loud and flashy, and failure slinks away in the dark and is rarely ever announced.
No concept or actual study of the power of strong branding. Has any streetwear brand ever made it big without being instantly recognizable or differentiating from the field in some way? Branding is the key that leads beyond fighting for every single sale you make. Perhaps look at it this way: with the right inspiration, influence and tools almost anyone can make a cool t-shirt, but the brand itself is something that you have to work hard for, totally off of the path of least resistance. That's why really good brands are so rare, because not everyone is willing or able to put in the full work to earn those top honors. It's not about one cool t-shirt or even a dozen of them, branding is the culmination of everything your brands does, from the look and feel of the product to the presentation and marketing.
Not studying the competition already in existence in the field first. I've seen this one time and time again, and it's crazy to me how few people understand this concept. How can you expect to be successful in business if you haven't studied what the top competition is already doing, and learning what makes them so good? Study and research is free, and failure is costly. So why do people care about certain brands? A good rule of thumb before you enter this field is to take your favorite streetwear brand and study their worst three products. If you can't design one piece that's better than any of their three worst, then there's really no reason to start up a brand because you won't be able to give any reason for people to buy specifically from you over them, plain and simple.
Not having the slightest clue of what streetwear actually is. Believe me, I've heard every excuse in the book from people who are too lazy to study this field before jumping in, from "streetwear is anything anyone wants it to be" to "if people wear it on the street, then it's streetwear." Sorry, but that's just just plain wrong and misguided. Tell me, in what field does being entirely ignorant of the field or its rules, ways and history and lead to success in that field?
Although complicated through many different factors over time, "streetwear" is a term that has purpose and meaning. It's generally linked to five historic movements in some way, which are surf, skating, hip hop, punk or sports culture. There are other ways that streetwear can be made outside of those five fields of course, but the five movements are the most understandable access points. Now why would this all be important to a hopeful streetwear brand owner? Because the real secret is that streetwear comes alive through synergy, and those are fields that people already care about and support. If you know and utilize one or even several of those five movements in your brand, you are building in value for what you do right up front and giving yourself a chance to get noticed over any other startup brand who doesn't even care what streetwear is.