Are you a startup fashion brand ready to take your line to the next level by starting to sell in stores? If yes, you are definitely going to need a fashion line sheet. Whether you plan to sell your clothes in small local mom and pop stores, or retail giants like Nordstrom's the basic tools you need to reach out to potential buyers and present your line is always the same - and they start with a good line sheet. So, here is how to make one.
Remember, you only get 1 chance to make a first impression, so make it count. Plan ahead and take the time to create beautiful, on-brand, and professional sales tools that wow buyers and make them want to work with you.
But, before we get started - make sure to sign up for the FREE Sourcing Secrets Workshop. Plus, I will be doing a live Q+A at the end to get all your startup questions answered!
The first 2 workshops filled up with over 400 registrants! So, I am doing one last session on September 29th @ 8:00pm et (that's NY time), for everyone that missed out!
If you can give me 1 hour of your time I can teach you the three biggest mistakes startup founders make while sourcing their products, and what you should be doing instead.
What Is A Line Sheet?
Look Book vs Line Sheet
The terms line sheet and look book are often confused, but both of these things are very different sales tools and have totally different purposes.
Let's start with the look book...
A look book is a collection of highly stylized editorial images with the goal of evoking the feeling of a collection. They are extremely creative (read artsy), image-driven presentations that let buyers know what your vibe is.
We will get to how to make a look book soon.
So, What Is A Line Sheet?
This is exactly what you line sheet should look like. Simple, easy to read, and kind of boring.
A line sheet is just the opposite of a look book. A line sheet is all about the facts. Done correctly, a line sheet will clearly answer what the is person buying, how can they buy it, and when it is going to be delivered. There is no room for getting creative in a line sheet. Line sheets are all about conveying the critical information that someone needs to know before making a purchase.
Think of it this way. Look books are Insta-inspo and Pinterest mood boards, and line sheets are excel documents.
The Goal Of A Line Sheet
As I said, the goal of a line sheet is to hit the buyer with all the facts. It's about closing the deal. The look book, your sample garments, and all of your other content already drew them in, they are liking what you are making, and they want it in their store.
So, now, the line sheet is the part where they get the hard facts about how to get your clothes on their sales racks.
Remember, the line sheet is all about information.
Creating Line Sheets - Everything You Need To Include
During trade shows and market (the term we in the industry use for the time buyers are viewing and buying a season) buyers are getting hit with hundreds of line sheets from all the different brands they work with. Creating a clean and captivating cover sheet is a great way to make sure your brand does not get lost in the shuffle.
Think of your cover sheet like your business card. Your cover sheet should include your brand logo, front, center, and prominent. Include the season. And, lastly, you should include the name of the sales agent, their email, and phone number.
Make it easy for the buyer to get in touch with your brand.
This section is normally done in a grid layout with about 6-9 images per page depending on your design preference.
One more time, the goal of the line sheet is to convey information only. Line sheet photos should be clear, no need for 3 layers of filters here. And, there is definitely no need to style the photo.
If a buyer is supposed to be buying a shirt, all they want to see is that shirt. Showing a photo of a shirt, pants, boots, and a bag in hand will just confuse the buyer. What is it they are supposed to be buying from you?
Usually, line sheets just show the garment from the front on a plain white background or on a mannequin. And, sometimes if the garment has something extra special, there will be a second detail image.
A style number is a number you make up to help you keep track of what it is you're talking about. Generally, I like to make codes that will describe what it is I am selling.
Style numbers usually start with the season and the year. So, for Spring 2021, the code would start with SP21.
Then I like to number the style, I just got from 1 and up from there, so 01, 02, 03, you get the idea. The style number is now SP2101.
Then I like to add codes for details about the style. I use things like T for top, B for bottom, and D for dress. Let's pretend the style is the same white t-shirt I mentioned above. The style number would be SP2101T.
Lastly, I like to add a code for the colors the garment comes in. For this shirt let's pretend that it comes in white and blue, (remember B stands for bottom) so we will call blue BL, and white W. The complete code is SP2101TBLW.
Without even needing to see an image of the style I already know a lot of information about it. I know the season, type of garment, and color.
Staying organized with your own coding system will make your life a lot easier. Especially if you are working with 30-50 styles a season and sometimes hundreds of buyers.
The description section is a quick description of what you are selling. If should include the following information -
- Fiber content
- Country of origin
- 1 bullet about what it is (10 words max)
So let's use that t-shirt as an example again. Under the description, we would have 100% cotton, made in India, Indigo jersey knit t-shirt. It's as easy as that. Don't overcomplicate things. Again, keep it simple and clear.
What sizes does the style come in and what colors and prints?
Do you offer extended sizes? Or, just standard. Or, is it one size fits most?
Organizing colors and prints -
A lot of times smaller brands like to make each color or print it's own SKU (stock keeping unit). So, in our example above instead of SP2101TBLW, we would have SP2101TBL and SP2101TW.
Larger brands will have 1 style number and then offer different colors under that style number.
How you decide to organize this is up to you. Just be clear, so the buyer knows that there are more colors available if they want them.
Price - Wholesale And MSRP
There are two different prices you want to reference here. The first is the wholesale price. This is the price that the buyer will pay you for the garment. The second price is the MSRP. MSRP, Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, is the price that the buyer should be selling that garment for in their store to customers.
Retailers generally work on a 55% margin, but some go as high as 70%. Meaning if you are selling a dress to a buyer for $45, that buyer needs to sell that dress in their store for at least $100.
Page Headers - Put This At The Top Of Every Page
Basic info should be included at the top of every page of the line sheet. Why? Like I said earlier, buyers are getting hundreds of line sheets just like yours every season. Staples fall out, pages get torn out, etc. What if they really love your design, want to buy it, but can't figure out if the page came from your brand, or someone else's?
You don't want to lose the sale, so make sure your basic info is at the top of every page.
Who is the main contact person for SALES, and how can they be contacted? - phone, email, bat signal, etc.
Brand Name And Logo
Start with your brand name and logo. I always like to include the logo because fashion is a very visual industry, so a lot of times people will recognize the logo before they can remember the actual name of the brand.
Your Brand’s Story In A Few Words
This is a great place to put in your brand's tagline. It's a quick description in 5-15 words about who you are and what you stand for.
Or, you can put the name of the seasons collection.
Season And Delivery Date
When will the goods be delivered to stores? Remember, if something is going to be sold in-store in July, the delivery date might be in May or June depending on the type of business you are doing.
Lastly, The Fine Print...
What is the minimum order quantity? There are few ways of working on this. Some brands require stores to buy a minimum per style. While other brands require stores to buy a minimum across all styles or have a minimum spend amount.
For example. A MOQ per style would be something like the buyer would need to buy at least 5 pieces of each dress they wanted in the store.
A MOQ per order would be that a buyer would need to buy at least 20 pieces, and could mix the assortment, essentially buying 1 piece of 20 different dresses if they wanted to.
And, a MOQ for spend would say that a buyer could buy whatever they want as long as their order adds up to $1000.
Only you can decide what MOQ is right for your brand. To do this you need to look at your supply chain and look at the MOQs your supplier is offering you. If you plan to be in 5 stores, and your supplier MOQ is 50, then your wholesale MOQ that you are requesting of buyers should be about 10.
When do you get paid? Most brands require a deposit when the order is placed. Taking a deposit is important for three reasons.
The first, is that it is a way for a buyer to shows their stores is serious about the order. They have invested in it, and for that reason, it is more likely there will not be any issues in 3 months when the order is ready and it's time to pay for the full invoice.
The second reason, is that it shows that the buyer's store is financially healthy. If they don't have 15% of the cash for their order now, you can bet they won't be able to pay you on time when the order is ready. Consider stores that refuse a deposit as red flags of who not to work with, especially when you ar just starting out and every penny counts.
The third reason, is that it's cash upfront that can help you run your business. Remember you have deposits that you need to pay to your factories to make their goods. Them paying you a deposit ahead of time, allows you to pay your supply chain partner their deposits ahead of time too.
How will you collect payments? Credit card? Zelle? Paypal? Bank transfer? Check?
Only you can decide that. But, when deciding how you will collect payments it is important to look at the fees associated with each type. Credit cards, and Paypal while convenient, do take fees, which will ultimately eat into your profit and bottom line. Options like Zelle and old school checks are free.
On one hand, you want to make payment as easy as possible for your customers. But, on the other hand, you do not want to throw money away on unnecessary fees.
Shipping Policy - Who Is Responsible
Generally, you as the brand are responsible for shipping your goods from your factory and importing them into the country you operate in. From there the brand is responsible (typically) for local transportation to their store or warehouse.
But, many brands offer complimentary shipping as a bonus for buyers meeting a certain MOQ, or for new customers. My advice is to try and use free shipping as a promotional tool to give buyers a little extra incentive to work with you.
Again, remember, if you offer free shipping that will eat into your margins so be careful and make sure the numbers work out before you offer any promotional schemes.
This is fashion. The only rule is that things go wrong all the time. What if your buyer gets a few damaged pieces? Can they return them? If they can how long do they have to make the returns? Also, if they aren't able to sell through all the inventory that they purchased can they return that?
It sounds unfair but a lot of retailers have policies in place that force brands to take back unsold goods. Even if it is not the brand's fault that the clothing did not sell.
Watch out for this.
If a buyer is placing a huge order (big department stores are notorious for this) that you could be on the hook for in the future, it's always ok to say that you would feel more comfortable starting with a smaller test order, seeing how it goes, and then growing from there.
It's ok to say no to "opportunities" if they don't work for you and your brand.
Newbie brands go out of business because of this lack of foresight all the time. They get so excited to get into a major retailer and fulfill these giant orders, they don't think about the risk. And then, at the end of the season, the retailer returns everything that didn't sell (sometimes thousands of pieces of inventory). The brand then quickly goes into debt, and that is the end for them, unfortunately.
What is the last date for buyers to place their orders? Is it possible for them to re-order mid-season if a style sells well?
If you are going to offer re-orders then your brand will need to take on the risk of holding stock. Make sure this is something you can financially handle.
When can a buyer cancel their order? Usually, brands will allow buyers to cancel up until 30 days before the delivery of the shipment. While other brands only allow for cancelation if the orders are being delivered late. And, some brands don't allow for cancelations at all.
Your policy on cancelations is totally up to you. You need to look at your business from the bigger picture and think about how much risk are you willing to take on.
More Line Sheet Tips
Simplicity - Keep It Minimal
Don't get fancy here. Less is more. Keep it simple, clean, and easy to read and understand. Do not get carried away.
Don't Get Creative
This is not the place to experiment. Remember, when you are talking to a buyer you are talking to a business-minded person. All they want are the details of getting your products in their store presented to them in an easy to understand way.
Leave Space For Notes
Buyers love to draw all over line sheets and make notes. Try to design your linesheet so there is some blank space that buyers can use to make notes when they are meeting with you or reviewing the line.
Need Help Getting Started?
Forget the downloadable templates. I recommend BrandBoom. I could make you line sheet templates, but Brandboom is an easy to use platform that lets you quickly and easily build professional looking line sheets. It even helps you connect with new buyers too, as well as help you to take and orders directly on their platform!
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