How to License Clothing

By Robyn Lynne Schechter
Celebrities, Jessica Simpson, their names, clothing lines

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Licensing a clothing line sounds complicated, but it is rather quite simple. Once the clothing is created, all that is left to do is find buyers and stores interested in selling your clothing. Issuing a clothing license can be lucrative because once the initial legwork is done multiple licenses can be sold, which in turn can produce multiple streams of royalty revenue.

Create samples of the clothing you wish to license. Before you can convince a buyer to carry your clothing, you have to show them the final product. While it can be helpful to bring along sketches when meeting with a potential buyer, there is no substitute for showing them exactly how the clothing will appear when it is in their stores. You can create samples on your own or hire a manufacturer to create the prototypes, but either way, keep a running log of production matters (e.g., cost of materials, labor costs). In addition to knowing what the clothing looks like, potential buyers want to know what their production costs will be -- without that last piece of information it is difficult for them to determine whether licensing your clothing is a wise investment. Once the samples are made, inspect them to weed out any flawed items.

Identify and visit potential buyers. Target stores and boutiques that offer clothing similar to the image of your clothing line. For example, if you have designed flowy tops and dresses, Anthropologie may be interested in your clothing, but an athletic clothing store probably would not be interested. Selecting relevant buyers increases the odds of your clothing being licensed. Contact each store on your list and set up an appointment with the store's designated buyer. Bring your clothing samples to the appointment and explain why the clothing is a good fit for the store and why the store's customers would be likely to buy your clothing.

Write a licensing agreement with the assistance of an attorney. Once a buyer has agreed to buy a license for your clothing, put the agreement on paper. The licensing agreement should state the name of the parties to the contract, indicate which clothing is included in the agreement, how long the buyer has the license and whether the license is exclusive. When possible, push for a non-exclusive license; this allows you to continue licensing the same clothing to other buyers. Finally, include the royalty rate that you will be paid by the buyer for each item of clothing sold. The licensing agreement is not filed with a court, but should be stored in a safe place in the event a dispute arises with the buyer and you need to file a breach of contract claim.

About the Author

Robyn Lynne Schechter is a freelance writer currently living in Los Angeles, Calif. She has been an online contributor since 2007 on brandchannel.com, covering branding developments in the fashion, music, sports and entertainment industries. Schechter graduated from Hood College with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and is also a graduate of Albany Law School.

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