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November 21, 2022

According to Statista, ecommerce revenue from apparel and related accessories was $180.5 billion in 2021. And Statista forecasts the industry to grow even further, with expected revenue of $205 billion in 2022.

It’s the ideal time for new entrepreneurs to start an ecommerce clothing line.

And while there’s some risk and hard work involved, you can start an online clothing store with little to no money. We’ll explore the strategies and steps to do exactly that.

Here’s what we’ll cover.

How much does it cost to start an online clothing store?

The cost of starting an online clothing store depends on various factors. If you want to be frugal, you can save on many expenses and start with less than $50.

Otherwise, depending on what you're looking for, it can also cost from $2,000 to $5,000.

The exact cost structure depends on:

  • Business model — dropshipping or manufacturing.
  • Number of products you aim to sell.
  • Marketing expenses.
  • Website costs — shared hosting or dedicated hosting.
Online store showing fashion items and accessories for sale

How to start an online clothing store with no money

Here’s what you need to do:

Decide what type of product you want to sell

The secret to starting an online clothing store with no money is selling clothes the market wants.

Is there a trending clothing item in the current market? Is there something specific people want to wear? Your answers to these questions will influence your online boutique’s product line.

Or you can go technical to identify current product trends in the ecommerce market.

  • Use Google Trends to see the latest market information.
  • Check marketplaces like Amazon and eBay for best-selling clothing items.
  • Read through online business reports from reputable sources. For instance, a recent Modern Retail report identifies casual wear as the best-selling fashion niche on Amazon.

Typically, inexpensive products are the best route to start a clothing business online with no money. The low price point gives most target audiences a reason to buy from your online business.

Decide on a business model

The business model is a huge part of starting a clothing store online because it determines your starting costs.

Your options include:

Print-on-demand

This is the quickest way to start an online boutique with a limited budget. Your only to-do is printing designs on a plain version of clothing items with digital printers.

DISTRICT of CLOTHING.

For inspiration, you can check out the DISTRICT of CLOTHING. This online business delivers clothing items like sweaters with printed inspirational messages.

Advantages

  • Low set-up costs.
  • Good for a small number of orders.
  • Suitable for all types of clothing items.

Disadvantages

  • Limited finishing options for your clothing products.
  • Low profit margin.
  • Inefficient scalability

Custom cut-and-sew clothing boutique

Starting an online clothing store with this business model is signing on to do everything. This includes designing sketches, creating patterns, sourcing product fabrics, and paying for a production run.

This might be too much for a typical entrepreneur. However, this is just the right business model if you're a hobby tailor looking to open an online storefront.

Advantages

  • Complete branding control.
  • Potential for higher profit margins.
  • High product value.

Disadvantages

  • High startup budget.
  • Long setup time before launch.
  • Complex model with different moving parts.

Dropshipping

Dropshipping is ideal for starting an online clothing store with no money because it’s budget-saving. You buy clothing items directly from the wholesalers and deliver them to your customers without seeing the product.

Your small business doesn’t have to buy inventory upfront or deal with shipping concerns. That responsibility rests with your supplier.

Advantages

  • Best for limited budgets.
  • No inventory losses or management requirements.
  • Highly flexible model.

Disadvantages

  • Lack of branding.
  • Competitive business model.
  • No control over supply chain activities.
Pros and cons of dropshipping business model

Choose a niche market

A niche is the market segment your clothing line caters to. Having a niche market means you’ll have a unique target audience.

A 2022 Adobe study says most participants plan to spend at least $500 yearly shopping with their trusted brands. By focusing on a unique target audience, it becomes easier for your new business to develop that customer trust and loyalty.

Consider these two questions before deciding on a niche:

  • What are your passions?
  • What’s your unique offer that other online clothing stores lack?

Say you’re passionate about classic fashion themes with an eye for spotting pieces that align with today’s fashion trends. Then, you can start an online vintage clothing store.

Other niche ideas worth exploring include:

  • Custom jerseys.
  • Graphic T-shirts.
  • Ethnic clothing items.
  • Activewear for plus-size people.
  • Business attire for millennials.

Pick a catchy business name

A business name is the customers' first impression of your online clothing store. And to improve brand recognition, your business, brand, and domain should have the same name.

How to choose the perfect domain name for an online clothing store

Here’s how to pick a memorable and catchy brand name:

  • Incorporate target keywords for your niche.
  • Make it easy to pronounce and spell.
  • Keep it short.
  • Check social media for variations of the domain name.

For example, the business name “VintageFinds” is short and suggests a clothing line for rare, vintage clothing pieces. This is in stark contrast to another vintage clothing store named “VeentageApparels.”

Build a great-looking and functional website

You can start an online clothing store with no money. But you can’t move forward on any business plans without a website. After all, how will potential customers find your online clothing business?

However, that doesn’t mean you need a team of developers to build an online store. Instead, you can do so yourself with the help of powerful, no-code website builders.

Here are the best practices for building a great ecommerce website:

  • Emphasize user experience: Use simple, clean templates. Instead of crowding your product pages, serve users with only the most relevant information they need to buy a product.
  • Optimize for mobile: According to eMarketer, the U.S. mobile ecommerce revenue is set to increase from $128.4 billion in 2019 to $553.3 billion by 2024. Ensure your website has responsive product pages and an efficient checkout experience for mobile users.
  • Prioritize loading times: If you want quick sales, you need to prioritize your online store’s loading time. In fact, Portent shares that an ecommerce website that loads in under one second has twice the conversion rate of a website with a six-second loading time.

All of this comes down to the ecommerce platform you use — the ecommerce platform influences the website’s speed, customization features, and mobile optimization.

Let’s get into that.

Best ecommerce platforms for starting a clothing store online

Starting a clothing business online with no money requires you to choose an ecommerce platform with low to no costs. Your options include:

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is an open-source plugin for WordPress that lets you add an ecommerce store to an already-existing WordPress installation.

WooCommerce’s wide variety of customizable templates makes it simple to design everything from blogs to product categories and pages. Besides that, It supports multiple payment gateways, e.g., credit cards and PayPal.

For a cost-efficient WooCommerce hosting option, consider Nexcess WooCommerce hosting. It comes with free SSL, free email hosting, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Best for: Tech-savvy entrepreneurs looking to start their online clothing line.

Magento

Magento is an ecommerce platform with excellent flexibility and functionality. That’s why top clothing brands like Fred Perry trust it.

Magento’s feature-rich platform lets you start your online clothing store, scale, and customize it with changes in business needs.

For an affordable ecommerce hosting option, you can consider Nexcess Magento hosting. This hosting service covers management, optimization, and assistance with server or software responsibilities.

Best for: Brick-and-mortar clothing stores looking to sell online.

WordPress

WordPress powers 43% of all existing websites. And its functionality is not limited to just basic websites. You can also use WordPress to design a highly functional online store.

In fact, with Nexcess StoreBuilder — which requires no technical design skills — you can quickly create your online store and start selling in no time.

Features of StoreBuilder.

Nexcess StoreBuilder is a website builder solution. It comes with custom templates, bundled selling tools, and advanced analytics — everything you need to make your online store a success.

Best for: Beginners looking for a no-code solution to open an online store.

Final thoughts: A guide to starting an online clothing store with no money

You can start an online clothing store with no money. The first step is choosing a business model which will influence your clothing company’s ecommerce platform and hosting requirements.

Nexcess offers hosting solutions for Magento and WooCommerce. There’s also a StoreBuilder — a website builder solution — to help you build an online store for your clothing line on WordPress.

Browse our plans to get started today.

Maddy Osman
Maddy Osman

Maddy Osman is a WordPress expert and WordCamp US speaker. She is a WordCamp Denver organizer and also operates The Blogsmith, an SEO content agency for B2B tech companies that works with clients like HubSpot, Automattic, and Sprout Social. Learn more about The Blogsmith's process and get in touch to talk content strategy: www.TheBlogsmith.com