You may be an art student specialising in textiles; you may be a chronic shopper with a good eye for the latest fad; you may be concerned with eco-friendly fashion. You have decided to start an online clothes business, perhaps not to rival The Iconic but to allow like-minded people to access that missing niche.

Now you have chosen to sell cocktail dresses created by your favourite French designers, here are the steps you should complete to set up your online clothing store. You may like to consider Sir The Label as a model and reference.

How to Start a Clothing Line

Step 1: Register your clothing line

Just like any other business, you need to decide on your business structure. This decision will depend on your particular circumstances and your vision for the business. If you are working alone and wish to have full control, perhaps being a sole trader is best for you. You may consider a company if you plan to grow significantly in numbers.

You should also register your business. You should choose a business name, perhaps ‘So French So Fruity’, and apply for an ACN and an ABN. As an online business, you will also need to register your domain, that is, the address of your website. For example, if your business name is So French So Fruity, you’ll want your domain name to be sofrenchsofruity.com.

Step 2: Establish your Terms

Terms and Conditions

Terms and conditions are mandatory consumer guarantees required under the Australian Consumer Law. The purpose is to clearly outline the contractual agreement that happens when the consumer buys a cocktail dress from your business. Well drafted Terms and Conditions will include returns and refunds, consumer guarantees, deliveries, disclaimers and competitors.

They need to be easily accessible from your homepage, clear and accessible and must be present through a ‘click to accept’ button.

Terms of Use

Terms of Use lay out the rules for people visiting your website: what users can and cannot do as well as the actions you may take if users do not comply. It also protects your intellectual property.

Payment Card Industry Date Security Standard

To receive payment for the dresses via credit or debit card, you must comply with PCI DSS. You may choose to make your equipment compliant or outsource to a payment provider like PayPass.

Step 3: Create your privacy policy

As an online clothing business, it’s recommended to have a Privacy Policy that complies with the Privacy Policy Act 1988 (Cth) as it can enhance consumer confidence. It deals with how you collect information, what it will be used for and how it is stored and managed.

It must be accessible from every page of the website, which is why most websites link to their privacy policy on their website footer.

Step 4: Advertising

Social media has become one of the key tools for marketing especially for the fashion industry. Sir, for example, has 51k followers on Instagram and each of its posts includes a link to its online store. Vice versa, you can browse its online store by reference to their Instagram posts.

Sir also maintains its online presence by publishing its most recent photo shoots on its blog. Some of its models include fashion bloggers, who can be a very valuable marketing tool. For example, Yan Yan Chan has 83k followers on Instagram. They are a mix of her personal fans but also people who follow brands she modeled for in the past, like TopShop. If she posts a photo of her latest feature in Sir’s photoshoot, Sir is likely to gain additional followers.

Although Facebook may be becoming less relevant, it is still an important tool. It is generally the first place customers will look to find contact details and to ask questions. It may also be necessary to have a Facebook presence to increase your brand’s legitimacy. Like Instagram, it will further allow users to link you in relevant content and provide organic press.

You must comply with legal requirements on each of these platforms in addition to requirement for your online store. Representations that you make on your website or on third party platforms should not be misleading or deceptive. For instance, this includes having accurate photos and descriptions of the dresses.

If you chose to use emails as a marketing strategy, be sure to be clearly identifiable by the receiver and include an unsubscribing function. You should not engage in harassing or coercive behaviour.

Step 5: Legal Health Check

You may be faced with additional legal issues as your cocktail dress business develops. You may need to subcontract models or employ an assistant.  As your company grows, you may want to consider in house policies like an anti-harassment or confidentiality policy. You may also need more funds and decide to change your business structure from sole trader to a corporation. LawPath’s online legal hub offers unlimited policy and contractual templates as well as a Legal Health Check to keep up-to-date on your legal requirements.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-price quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.