How Much Money Do I Need to Start a Clothing Business?

Beautiful woman standing with arms crossed in a fashion store

Starting a clothing business can be a relatively inexpensive venture, especially when compared to other types of small business concepts. In fact, many people will invest as little as $100 to fund their first few clothing-based businesses.

However, whether you invest $100 or $10,000 on your initial clothing business idea, there are certain startup costs that should be included in any business plan.

With so many factors impacting the success – or failure – of any business venture, it’s especially important for new entrepreneurs to understand the monetary ups and downs of starting a clothing business from home.

What Are the Startup Costs for a Clothing Business?

The short answer here is that the startup costs for a clothing business will vary, depending on the type of business you operate, the type of clothing you sell, and the number of products you plan to manufacture or purchase.

That said, there are a few common expenses that will likely impact the total cost of starting almost any clothing business. These include: Inventory costs, equipment and infrastructure costs, marketing and advertising costs, and office space costs.

These four cost categories will account for a bulk of your startup costs, but depending on the type of business you plan to run, you may also incur staffing costs and sourcing costs for raw materials.

While the costs associated with hiring staff may not be a direct part of the startup costs for your clothing business, it’s important to keep these hiring costs in mind as you consider the lifetime value of each employee.

How to Determine the Total Startup Cost for a Clothing Business?

As we’ve noted, the startup costs for a clothing business will vary from one business to the next. And while we can’t tell you exactly how much your specific startup costs will be, we can give you a few tips on how to determine exactly how much money you’ll need to get your business off the ground.

First and foremost, you should always create a budget that accounts for all of the startup costs listed above, plus a little bit more to account for the unexpected.

You should also be sure to factor in a reasonable amount for profit – after all, clothing businesses are commonly low-margin industries.

If your budget is too tight from the get-go, you could be setting yourself up for failure before your business even has a chance to get off the ground.

Inventory Costs

One of the most significant startup costs for most clothing businesses will be the cost of inventory. If you plan to sell clothing, you’ll need to invest in inventory or the clothes and fabrics that you plan to sell in your store or online shop. Depending on the type of clothing you stock, inventory costs can vary significantly.

For example, the raw materials used to make a dress or a pair of jeans will likely cost significantly less than the materials needed to produce a designer suit. That said, the price of inventory will also depend on the quantity of clothing you plan to buy.

The more you buy, the less expensive the total cost of your inventory will be.

Marketing & Advertising Costs

Another one of the major startup costs for most clothing businesses will be marketing and advertising costs. Regardless of the type of clothing you sell, you’ll need to invest in marketing and advertising to get your products in front of your customers.

If you plan to sell your clothing on an online marketplace like Amazon or eBay, you may be able to defer some of these marketing costs until you actually start making sales.

However, if you plan to sell your clothing through your own online store or brick-and-mortar store, you’ll have to front the money for marketing upfront.

Equipment & Infrastructure Costs

Clothing businesses can vary greatly as far as the types of equipment and infrastructure you need to get your business up and running. In fact, the only common equipment investment you may need to make is the space to store and organize your inventory.

Other clothing businesses may require significant equipment purchases. For example, if you plan to design and manufacture your own clothing, you’ll need heavy machinery and the proper safety equipment to run your business.

If you plan to sell sewing services and make custom clothing for customers, you’ll need the proper equipment and infrastructure to run your business – and you may need to account for the cost of acquiring space to host your services.

Office Space Costs

Depending on the type of clothing business you operate, you may need a small amount of office space for administrative purposes. Or, you may need a full-blown office space to accommodate a staff of designers and sales representatives.

While there’s no way to determine the exact cost of office space for your specific clothing business, you can find estimated costs for renting office space in your city or state online.

Staffing & Recruiting Costs

Depending on the type of clothing business you operate, you may need to hire a few employees in the early stages of your business. And, while these hiring and recruiting costs may be factored into the overhead expenses of your business over the long term, you’ll need to account for these costs in your budget during the startup phase.

You’ll also want to factor in the cost of training new employees, providing benefits to your staff, and other administrative costs associated with hiring staff members to work in your business.


Starting a clothing business can be an incredibly rewarding venture, but it’s important to understand the monetary and time investment of a clothing business before diving in headfirst.

If you have experience in a related field like design, manufacturing, or marketing, it could make sense to start with a side project like designing and manufacturing clothing for other companies.

That way, you can keep your day job while testing the waters with your side clothing business to make sure it’s a good fit for you.

Alternatively, you can get your feet wet with a low-cost clothing business like reselling clothes you find at secondhand stores or buying and selling used clothing online.

While these types of clothing businesses are typically low-risk, they can also be low-reward, especially if you’re trying to turn a profit.