Fashion business plan 101

Provided by Martin Dolfi for CFDA “From the Experts”


Creating a well thought-out detailed business plan can seem like a daunting task, but once started it will likely be enjoyable and may even evoke a deeper sense of motivation.


A business plan should be a strategic blueprint detailing the Company’s future growth, and is one of the most important, if not the most important, document a company will create. The plan should focus on developing and supporting a solid business strategy and then show the steps it will take to execute this strategy. The plan should be aggressive yet must paint a realistic picture. Too many plans sound great on paper but don’t stand up in the real-world marketplace. Also, keep in mind who the target audience is. It is a good idea to create a few slight iterations of the plan tweaked for presentation to particular audiences. Always think competitively and highlight the Company’s competitive advantages throughout the plan. Visually, the plan should reflect the same sensibilities the brand aims to evoke in its customers. Pictures are worth 1,000 words, be sure to include images of the founders, product assortment, company events, special projects, collaborations, runway shows, editorial press, and celebrities in the product among others.


Lastly, before sharing the business plan with anyone, protect the Company and make sure to require a confidentially agreement with all potential recipients. After all, the plan is filled with proprietary “know how”, ideas and strategy.


The following outline can be used as a great starting point in putting together your Company’s business plan.


• Cover Page – logo, title, date, keep clean


• Table of Contents – break into main sections


• Investment Highlights – 5 to 7 key themes that resonate throughout


• Current Business – summary overview (30,000-foot view)


• Founder Profile – biography, quote, promotional activities/pictures


• Face of the Brand – power of personally representing the brand


• The Product – range, price points, collections, pictures


• Brand Recognition – quotes


• Timeline – milestones from inception to present


• Fact Page – list key facts about the business


• Brand Recognition – list/images of celebrities in the products


• Brand Recognition – several pages of editorial content, covers, publication, date and piece


• Competitive Positioning – matrix of where the Company is positioned relative to its peers


• Overview of Key Growth Plans – timeline/launch of key growth segments


• Vision for Growth – current product offering, future product offering


• Key Expansion Areas – talk about why they are crucial to success


• Licensing – current agreements/highlights, future licensed categories/anticipated fees


• Own Retail – current stores, future locations, openings, store characteristics


• E-Commerce – Company’s website; other e-commerce fashion sites


• Collaborations – inception to present; highlights/pictures


• In-House Product Expansion – new products produced in-house (not through licensing)


• Geographic Focus – particular markets the brand has and/or will flourish


• Your Customer – who buys your products, customer characteristics


• Franchising – future target markets and likely partners


• Historic Sales – sales mix by category and historic distribution


• Future Sales – sales mix by category and future distribution, which segments will grow quicker than others


• Wholesale Sales Per Account – talk about current of buys/amount and how they can be increased


• Management Team – current and future, bios, structural diagram


• Production & Manufacturing – current/future, onshore/offshore, contracted/partner


• Sales Process – in-house/outsourced, showrooms, fashion weeks, incentive programs, etc


• Public Relations & Marketing – PR firm, media impressions, runway shows, key marketing efforts


• Events – company sponsored events/pictures


• Special Projects – design for hire projects, promotional films


• Television & Web Video – select coverage/highlights


• Historical Financials – to the extent available/relevant


• Financial Projections – general approach taken, assumptions


• Financial Projections – consolidated, wholesale, retail, e-commerce and licensing Income Statements


• Financial Projections – Cash flow statement


• Financial Projections – Balance Sheet


• Sources and Uses – use of proceeds schedule (categories)


• Appendix – images of each collection/looks


• Appendix – case study of a similar brand and its evolution


By Martin Dolfi / President / DOLFI Consulting / /


If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Martin via email.