26 Business Ideas in Fashion

For many, what they wear and how they present themselves is the most personal method of their self-expression. Clothing is a way individuals construct and display their core aesthetic. Clothing and fashion act as an extension of one’s culture and a window into other cultures. This makes clothing and fashion a timeless industry.

As varied as its customers, the fashion and clothing industry has no shortage of opportunity for businesses looking to represent people at any level. The industry is constantly evolving to meet the needs and interests of customers so there is an abundance of freedom for those who are seeking to establish a brand or personal interpretation of the presentation of self.

Whatever your reason for wanting to enter the industry, we have a fantastic list of options to help you get started with a clothing or fashion business.

Image of Clothing Boutique

A clothing boutique is generally much smaller than a regular clothing retailer, and it creates a more intimate environment. You attract customers who are looking for very specific styles and kinds of clothing with your boutique. Since many customers stick to their own styles, it is likely that satisfied customers will return to your business. It is important to form relationships with these regular customers, as their recommendations and satisfaction can contribute to your boutique's success.

This a business best suited for those with a real passion for what they sell. Fashionable individuals are a natural fit to help showcase the very products that they sell, while those with a formal education or background in business may experience success more swiftly. And because the job involves selling clothes to those who may be overly critical of their appearance, being a "people person" is a real asset.

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2. Clothing Line

A clothing line is a collection of apparel designed for a target audience and sold in retail locations and/or through online stores. When you enter into the clothing industry, creating a clothing line includes establishing a company, designing the clothes, selecting materials, and sourcing the manufacturing process. You will then have to build sales channels to retail shops or create a brand is available through internet shops across the globe.

The person who starts a clothing line has a passion for fashion. This person sees clothes as a way each person expresses themselves. Most often, clothing line founders have an artistic vision and see clothing as their medium. They see clothing as a way to allow others to tap into their own expressive selves. If you have this type of artistic vision, a passion for clothing and design, and a desire to help others express themselves, then starting a clothing line may be just the right business for you. 

3. Costume Rental Business

While there is a greater demand for costumes during the Halloween season, many consumers have a need for costumes throughout the year. A costume business offers its customers costumes, wigs, and makeup for special events, theater performances, holidays, and festivals. Successful shops offer a combination of items available for rental and purchase, depending upon the needs of their customers.

This business is best suited for individuals who are creative and passionate about the entertainment industry. Due to the nature of this business, owners should enjoy working with people. Many customers will enter your store feeling self-conscious; your passion for putting together costumes should be infectious, helping ease their apprehension.

4. Fashion Consulting Business

A fashion consulting business can exist with a variety of scales. For instance, the business may be run by a lone consultant or as a major firm, and the clients may be individuals, retail stores, or major brands. The job can effectively be run from your home, which allows you to do this as a “side job” before making it your primary line of work.

Obviously, this business is ideal for fashionable people. If you regularly keep up with the latest trends, fashions, and styles, this job is ideal for you. It can also be good for those with previous backgrounds in things like the fashion retail industry, as this gives you the experience to find the best deals for your clients.

5. Fashion Photography Business

A fashion photographer is responsible for capturing images at fashion shoots and editing the photos they’ve captured. While they’re not usually involved in directing the shoot, they utilize their knowledge of lighting and eye for design to provide creative direction.

Those entering this specialized field often do so because of their passion and eye for both fashion and photography. The combination of these two art forms serves as a creative outlet. Successful photographers are often able to travel the world while earning an income that supports them as they work to fulfill their dreams.

6. Formal Wear Rental Business

A formal wear rental business is a company that buys expensive suits, dresses, and accessories and lends them out for important events, such as proms and weddings. A tuxedo or wedding dress is an expensive thing to buy for an event that only takes place once in a lifetime. While formal wear can technically be used again, it is likely to sit in a closet for many years to come. Rental wear businesses are excellent investments because even when money is tight, people still tend to spend money for special occasions. While the industry does face threats, like cheap, inferior suits made overseas, the market is still projected to grow over the next few years.

The best owners will be those who understand formal attire and current trends in formal wear. Sizing, fashion, and customer service will all play major roles in how successful an owner is. Entrepreneurs do not necessarily need to be a tailor, but it helps to understand how the alterations process works.

Image of Glass Blowing Business

Art comes in all forms. A glassblower uses techniques that have been around since the first century BC, shaping the glass into their creative vision. They sell their work in online stores and local galleries. Many also take on commissioned work.

Glassblowing is perfect for the individual who likes to work alone to turn their creative visions into works of art. It requires hard work, innovative instincts, and an entrepreneurial spirit. If you exhibit these qualities, glassblowing might be the career for you.

Why we like this business:

Many people who first get glasses have experienced anxiety over the matter. If you can offer your customers a variety of styles to choose from, and offer great customer experience by making sure they feel good looking in the glasses they choose, then you are sure to find success in this business. A lot of people need glasses and they want a pair that meshes well with their fashion sense.

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8. Haberdashery

Selling hats, which is what haberdashery businesses do, is a big business. Lots of people wear hats, for practical reasons and as fashion statements, and they spend a lot of money on their headwear. According to IBISWorld, the hat and caps retail industry has an annual revenue of $3 billion, and it continues to grow each year.

Anyone who has an eye for fashion and likes headwear might be well-suited for running a haberdashery business. The work requires a knowledge of different fashion trends, and business owners frequently interact directly with customers.

Business owners can start a haberdashery business while working at a full-time job. One hat store owner, Corinne Prevot even began a business while in high school, and then she grew the business while in college.

9. Halloween Costume Shop

A Halloween costume shop is typically a pop-up business that temporarily occupies somewhere like a vacant store in a local mall. It is typically open for a month or two before Halloween and typically closes soon after, taking advantage of the holiday shopping while it is hot. It is possible to continue to sell merchandise from home, however, for people who need costumes during different times of the year, such as “cosplayers.”

Perhaps the biggest requirement for running a Halloween costume shop is a love of Halloween and dressing up. This lets you not only relate to your customers better when you interact, but to also anticipate what their needs will be in terms of what costumes to offer, what accessories (such as makeup and props) to offer, and so on. The business is also good for those who are already experienced with selling things via consignment and/or online via sites like Etsy and eBay, which will allow you to make extra profit during Halloween and continue making profit after.

10. Jewelry Store

Entrepreneurs who enter this industry are usually passionate about metalworking and gemstones and have a good eye for value. Jewelry businesses usually specialize in the fabrication and sale of unique jewelry pieces. They also resell estate or secondhand pieces. Some jewelers will also accept pieces on consignment.

This business is suitable for individuals who have a passion for metalworking and are experts in the trade.

The jewelry business is also influenced by the gemstone and precious metals industry, so business owners should also be metals enthusiasts and enjoy watching the metals and gemstone markets.

11. Leather Business

A leather business supplies leather goods and services to customers. Everything from high quality purses and handbags to leather repair may be available through a leather business.

A leather business, much like other specialty businesses, looks to offer customers leather products and services. Therefore, knowledge of leather products, leather crafting, sewing, and repairs is recommended, if not necessary. Talking to customers and communicating online are also critical skills for building this type of business. Finally, experience in retail sales or retail marketing and promoting, preferably leather related, are also great bonus tools to possess in your skill arsenal.

12. Makeup Artist Business

A makeup artist specializes in changing the appearance of various customers. These changes are created by a combination of makeup, specialized tools, and artistic talent. Such businesses are an essential part in filling a community with confidence, spirit, and pride by making them feel better about their appearance or achieve a particular look.

First and foremost, this job is ideal for those who are very skilled in applying makeup to themselves and others. Those with artistic skills find it easier to transition into this line of work, while anyone with previous work experience in the cosmetic industry will be able to start their own business much easier.

13. Makeup Business

A makeup business sells beauty products, catering to customers' individual beauty needs. Products are sold to distributors, in a standalone store, or through independent consultants.

The business savvy entrepreneur who is passionate about experimenting with cosmetics will find success in this industry. As the owner of a makeup business, your role is to help others turn their visions into a reality and feel more positive about their appearance.

Image of Online T-Shirt Business

Online t-shirt businesses design, customize, print, sell, and ship t-shirts to paying customers. They display their designs on a website storefront where customers can view and purchase them. Some online t-shirt businesses own the equipment used to print the shirts, while others partner with a separate company for that service.

Those who enjoy keeping up with current trends do exceptionally well in this business. A single timely slogan or artistic design that becomes popular can generate substantial profits. The ever-popular smiley face is a good example.

Why we like this business:

Starting an online t-shirt business is a great way to make money. Many people who seek out these services are looking for bulk orders for group tees. If you offer cool, customizable designs at a decent price, it is likely that people will buy shirts from you. Customers satisfied by the quality of your shirts and customer service will be likely to return as customers or recommend your business to people they know.

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15. Personal Styling Business

A personal stylist helps to perfect the image of a client. The services of a stylist may be required before a major event or even be incorporated into daily life for certain clients. The role of a personal stylist includes handling hair, makeup, fashion, and anything else related to the image of a client. This business is a vital part of any community as it helps individuals achieve success in an increasingly image-conscious world.

This business is ideal for someone who has personal and/or professional experience in categories such as fashion, hair care, and makeup. It is also good for those who are already part of a network that may include actors, broadcasters, and anyone else who regularly requires personal styling before media appearances. Finally, it's a good job for a “people person,” as you may spend extensive amounts of time with very different kinds of clients.

16. Pet Clothing Store

As the owner of a pet clothing business, you’ll either resell or design and fabricate pet attire. You might own a brick and mortar store, run your business online, or operate in a hybrid model by serving customers in both modes.

Hopefully, you love dogs and other animals. You should also have good instincts for finding vendors, pricing items, and promoting and marketing your business. If you’ll be making rather than buying and reselling items, you must also have a talent for pet fashion, clothing design, and sewing.

17. Plus Size Clothing Store

Women who have trouble fitting into garments at traditional clothing stores still have the same desires as women who do fit into those clothes. They want to feel beautiful, sexy, and comfortable in the clothes they wear. A plus size clothing business caters to these women by selling fashionable clothes in their sizes. While most plus size clothing stores cater to the needs of plus size women, some men’s plus size clothing stores, more commonly referred to as “big & tall” stores, are popular among larger men. However, this article will focus on plus size clothing stores for women’s clothing.

While anyone may open a plus size clothing store, women who have personally had trouble finding properly sized clothing stores are especially well-suited for opening this type of business. They’ve experienced the troubles that their target market struggles with, so they’ll know how to best provide clothing solutions for their customers.

It also helps to be a people person. Some customers may be embarrassed by their size. Being able to make people feel comfortable with themselves will help customers open up about what clothes they’d like and enhance their shopping experiences.

18. Purse Store

A purse store specializes in retail sales of purses and handbags. A specialty shop may sell high-end designer purses, recognizable name brands, specialty or custom bags, or even vintage or antique purses and handbags. Customers shopping at these stores are often searching for unique, one-of-a-kind items.

For those with an eye for style, experience in retail purse and handbag sales, or potential purse designers and manufacturers, a purse business can be an excellent fit. It is helpful to be aware of current fashion trends and passionate about handbags and purses, particularly as functional fashion accessories.

19. Running Store

These specialty stores, typically small mom and pop establishments, offer customers an assortment of gear specifically targeting the sport of running.  Athletes can interact with other runners as they seek advice regarding the best fitting shoe or shop for the latest gadgets. Some larger running stores also sell equipment for sports that include running, such as basketball or soccer.

While prior running experience isn’t required to run a successful running store, the entrepreneur with hands-on experience in the sport would be best suited for this business endeavor.  Customers will seek your guidance on products available in the market, as well as training and nutrition advice.  If you’re considering this new business venture and aren’t an adept runner, surround yourself with a retail team that is armed with the necessary information.  

20. Sewing Business

In addition to making and altering clothes, sewing businesses also customize clothing through the use of embroidery and other decorative arts to create one-of-a-kind personalized fashions.

This business is ideal for people who enjoy creating fashion and helping people achieve the confidence that comes with looking their best. Many fashions are not ideal for all body types and sizes, and sewing businesses provide an alternative for people who do not conform to existing rigid size measurements.

21. Shoe Line

A shoe line is a designer’s collection of footwear focused on a particular niche (e.g., atheletic, street, dress, etc). It usually refers to lines sold at luxury shoe stores, though not always. Entrepreneurs may concentrate their shoes for a variety of budgets, designing two or even three different lines to bring fashion to everyone.

Ideally, the person who starts a shoe line will be able to match their ideas to the current public taste. They’ll also have an inherent love of shoes, as well as a sense of how to create footwear to fit a variety of types of feet/body types.

Image of Shoe Store

While a shoe store can exist alongside a main department store, most are independent. Shoe stores sell shoes, sandals, boots, and similar products. They can also sell shoe cleaners, socks, laces, and other accessories. Shoe stores operate with set prices, giving customers a great selection of products at affordable prices.

The shoe business is great for anyone who loves fashion. Retail experience helps, as does an appreciation for shoes and apparel. Those who like accessories, like purses and jewelry, may find the shoe business to be exciting as well.

A successful shoe store operator will need to be good with pricing, marketing, and management. They should also have a good eye for designer and discount shoes. By focusing on a niche, like athletic apparel, a shoe store owner can have a lot of success.

Why we like this business:

Many people use their shoes as a way to express themselves and accent their fashion style. Shoe stores are great because they can focus on a single niche, such as athletic shoes, for customers looking for a specific style, or they can offer many types of shoes that customers can survey and pick from. People also need to regularly update their own collection of shoes, so there will be a constant demand for your business.

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23. Sunglasses Line

A sunglass line is usually a luxury line of eyewear for upper-crust buyers. Sunglasses generated close to $3.6 billion in revenue in 2016, making this an attractive career for many. The owner is generally responsible for designing and marketing their sunglasses on their own. They may either produce the sunglasses on their own, or work with a manufacturer to complete the job. Sunglasses may be sold either online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Owners will also usually work with distributors to have their goods sold in other retail stores.

The right owner will have an excellent eye for design and style. Sunglasses are as much about fashion as they are about protection from UV rays. An ideal owner will create a unique look that still manages to fit the popular trends of the day. An owner should also have a certain amount of people skills, as they may need to network with manufacturers and distributors.

24. Sunglasses Store

Eyewear has become a critical part of an individual’s personal style. It offers insight into one’s tastes and is the perfect accessory to complete any look. As a result, many consumers invest in multiple pairs of sunglasses, insuring they have the “right” pair each time they walk out their door. To meet this growing demand, entrepreneurs are investing in online and brick and mortar retail stores, offering consumers a multitude of options to choose from.

The most fitting owner will have an eye for fashion and design, as well as a clear understanding of what their potential clients are looking for. They genuinely enjoy keeping up with the latest trends and are passionate about sharing their information and experience with those seeking their guidance and knowledge.

25. Watch Business

Despite the prevalence of smartphones that easily display the time, watches continue to be popular. In particular, there remains a steady demand for high-end, luxury watches. Online watch and jewelry sales in the United States alone totaled $8 billion during 2017, and the segment has seen sustained annual growth of 12.3 percent over the past five years. Even smartphone makers (most notably Apple) can’t ignore the demand for watches and are producing smart versions of luxury watches.

A watch business sells watches to consumers who are interested in wearable timepieces. Thanks to sustained demand and a large market, this is an industry that’s ripe with opportunity.

Anyone who has a passion for chronometers may be well-suited for running a watch store. Successfully running a store requires understanding why people want watches. People who themselves love and want watches already have this knowledge, which is knowledge that can’t easily be learned.

26. Wig Store

Many people wear wigs to either make a fashion statement or replace hair they’ve lost due to a medical condition. Wig store businesses are where individuals can go to purchase the wigs they want. According to IBISWorld, the wig and hairpiece industry brings in $224 million annually, and there are under 700 businesses in the industry.

Anyone who is passionate about hairstyles and enjoys interacting with people may be well-suited for running a wig store. The work requires a knowledge of current hairstyles, and business owners often work directly with customers who want wigs.

Business owners can start a wig store business while working another job full-time. Running a physical retail store while keeping another job likely isn’t possible, but business owners can start up an online store or offer in-home consultations. Both of these models could be managed during evenings and weekends.

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