Think Tank: So You Want to Start a Clothing Line?

A clothing brand needs more than just winning apparel design to create a lasting wholesale plus size clothing business. It needs all the trappings of a successful business as well. Starting a successful clothing brand or clothing line from scratch means an emphasis on basic branding prowess and business acumen, compiled into these five steps.

1. Develop Your Clothing Brand Identity

When you start a new clothing brand, you must first develop your brand identity. Before you sketch your first rendering, ask yourself these important questions:

What identity do I want my Bangkok wholesale clothing suppliers and brands to project?

Who will want to wear my clothes?

What can customers get from my clothing brand that they can’t get anywhere else?

What makes my clothing unique? Is it high-end?

What is the most important part of my customer’s experience?

Your answers to these questions and others like them will build the core of your brand.

All of your future branding and wholesale clothing suppliers decisions should expand on these ideas. Your company name, your logo design and your web site design should all grow from the concepts you laid out here. For more on building a strong brand identity, take a look at 2019 logo design trends.

2. Fill in the Business Blanks

You will need to define the legal structure for your new business. After you determine your business’ legal structure, you’ll need to file the necessary paperwork. The U.S. Small Business Administration web site has the info you need to find out what sort of license or permit you’ll need to start a business in your state.

Next, consider creating a business plan. Your plan should include at minimum a statement about your wholesale online shopping sites, a general description of your products and a strategy for how you plan to sell them.

The Small Business Administration has a complete guide to writing a business plan.

3. Crunch the Numbers

Start at the beginning with your start-up costs. For a clothing line, these costs will include:

Your brand design: logo, business cards and web site

Any license or permit fees

Deposits and rent for a physical work location if you plan to lease your own workspace

Basic infrastructural costs such as phone and Internet service, invoicing software, etc.

Marketing and advertising costs

Sewing or design tools: sewing machines, scissors, rulers, fabric printing accessories, etc.

Materials for your first collection: fabrics, notions and embellishment decor

Hourly wages to cover your design and construction time

If you plan to hire employees, you’ll want to budget their wages into your start-up calculations as well.

Traditionally, new start-ups had enormous legal expenses, but fortunately, this area has experienced a lot of innovation. If you need help with employment or contractor agreements or agreements with your vendors, take a look at Quickly Legal, which offers entrepreneurs, small businesses and start-ups an easy and inexpensive way to create, sign and manage legal contracts and agreements.

Once you know how much it will actually cost to get you started, compare that with the funds you actually have. Then plan how you’ll make up any difference.

Setting Your Prices

To create a smart and effective pricing strategy, you have to start by knowing how much it costs you to produce your clothes also known as cost per unit, or CPU.

But, the CPU is only a starting point. It’s important to bake the cost of running your business and some profit into your clothing prices as well. Otherwise, it will be difficult to sustain your business over time.

Also, consider competitor pricing and perceived value. If you’re completely unaware of what your competitors charge, you may miss the mark entirely by either costing you potential profit if you charge too little, or sales if you charge too much. Perceived value is the amount that a customer thinks a product is worth. And, your competitor’s prices are a part of that perception. But, not the whole picture.

The appearance of your clothing plays a role. A poorly made shirt that looks fancy may have a higher perceived value than a beautifully made simple shirt. Most customers have no idea how much time, money or effort actually goes into making a particular garment.

Your branding can influence how your product is perceived, as well. A classy logo and high-end brand positioning will lead to a higher perceived value than discount brand positioning.

4. Build a Web Presence

Your web site is one of your clothing line’s most important ambassadors. So, put this vital business tool to work for your clothing line.

Start by ensuring that your web site design truly embodies your brand. Visitors should be able to understand who you are and what your brand is about as soon as they arrive. Your web site’s visual design and marketing copy should project your brand’s voice and identity. Here are some suggestions:

Use your brand’s colors.

Prominently feature your logo.

Write copy with your target audience in mind.

Showcase your fashion design aesthetic.

5. Plan Your First Collection

Before you can even consider the details of your first season’s designs, you have to decide what kind of clothing line you’re going to offer in the first place.

There are many different models for fashion businesses. A few of the most popular include print-on demand, custom wholesale, cut-and-sew or private label and custom couture.

The print-on-demand business model enlists the aid of a third party to print and ship pre-existing wholesale garments such as T-shirts, hoodies or leggings to your customers. Custom wholesale businesses purchase pre-made wholesale garments and then customize the clothing by hand. You can print, appliqué, embroider or otherwise embellish the existing garments to fit your vision.

With cut-and-sew and private label you will design your own clothing and then have it manufactured to your specifications. Couture garments are handmade to fit each individual client. This level of detail is both time and labor-intensive and expensive to execute.

Choose Your Niche

Is your clothing line a sportswear brand? Or will you be offering retro-inspired lingerie? Will you design for men? Women? Both?

It’s essential that you identify your clothing line’s niche before designing your first collection.

Design Your First Collection

You can branch out and explore new directions later, but your very first collection needs to preview what your audience can expect to see from you consistently as a designer.

Don’t be afraid to be unique. Uniqueness and authenticity are two elements that will help to set your clothing line apart in the crowded fashion marketplace.

Why those online deals are usually too good to be true

Dropshipping and dropshipping suppliers started as a way for retailers to supplement their own offerings online, but has devolved into online businesses with no products of their own selling straight from manufacturers. (Aleksey Novikov/Shutterstock)It looked vaguely like the product he had ordered, but it came with foreign writing on the box. It also had European-style electric plugs, so it was wired to work on a 220-volt system not the 120-volt system used throughout North America.

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Virsunen contacted the company to complain, and after receiving numerous emails offering him a discount on his next purchase, he grew frustrated and insisted on a full refund. The company said it would do that if he could ship the item to an address in California something that would have cost more than twice what he paid for it in the first place.

He complained to Walmart again, and they eventually said they would refund his money if he returned the item to a store.

"We expect our sellers to honour their return policies," Walmart Canada told CBC in an email. "However if a customer is not able to receive a refund that is allowed under the policy, they can escalate their refund request to Walmart."

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While Virsunen thinks he will eventually get his money back, the experience was an eye-opening one for him, and his first foray into the murky world of something called "dropshipping."

Representatives of Zest Mall Inc. did not respond to multiple CBC requests for comment. But their business has the hallmarks of a practice where third-party companies known as fine jewelry dropshippers sell products to consumers directly from the manufacturer, without the need for a physical store of their own.

A murky world of retail

Traditional retailers sell products to domestic consumers that are often made by foreign manufacturers. Retailers make money by marking up the price to cover their costs rent for the store, salary for employees, warehouses to store the stuff and the technology to process payments.

In dropshipping arrangements, goods go directly from the manufacturer to the consumer without the added costs of the retail side. (CBC)

Dropshipping cuts all of those costs down drastically, because it circumvents or outsources most of those tasks. The dropshipper sets up a web store that's often little more than a photo catalogue of available items, and ships the item directly to the customer from the factory.

In some cases, dropshippers don't even have their own web store, selling their wares on the web portals of established retailers like Walmart, Amazon or Home Depot.

Payment processing is usually handled by an outside party, too. Canadian tech company Shopify is a big booster of the practice, via its app called Oberlo. Shopify says 85 million products have been sold through Oberlo.

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It didn't used to be that way.

"In the past, retailers would engage in a dropshipping arrangement for purely logistical purposes," says Mark Cohen, the former head of Sears Canada, who now teaches business at Columbia University in New York.

In Cohen's day, a brick-and-mortar retailer like Sears would partner with a foreign supplier to dropship "large bulky products it didn't want to stock on its own shelves that it could more efficiently simply arrange to have shipped directly from point of origin." It worked well for big-ticket items like appliances, many of which are made outside North America to begin with.

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But the rise of online shopping has turned dropshipping into something quite different, as consumers demand better deals and expanding selection.

"Consumers don't care where the goods are coming from," Cohen says. "They see it, they want it, they buy it, they expect to get it."

More and more, that suspiciously cheap item online is coming to a consumer from a dropshipper "without the retailer they engaged having anything to do with the handling of it," Cohen says. "And they don't really care as long as everything is as promised."

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'Selling really cheap stuff'

Problems arise when it isn't.

A worker assembles ornaments at factory Xitanon village in the outskirts of Wenzhou, China. Dropshipping allows online stores to sell imported products at deeply discounted prices because they ship directly from foreign manufacturers. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Andrew Youderian runs an ecommerce consultancy and community called eCommerceFuel, but between 2008 and 2016, he ran several dropshipping businesses that collectively netted more than $1 million in annual sales.

Back in his day, he says dropshipping was a viable business plan for real-world entrepreneurs who wanted to offer more products without having to take on the risk of adding expensive inventory that has to be stored, and may not sell quickly.

"Six or seven years ago," he says, dropshippers like him "worked with reputable suppliers and legitimate businesses."

Now, he says a lot of the industry has just devolved to mean "people selling really cheap stuff directly from the factory to consumers."

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Amazon's journey to becoming an online colossus played a big part in the evolution of dropshipping, first by making it harder for their real-world competitors to sell stuff themselves online, and now by working closely with third-party sellers. Some of them are legitimate retailers, but many are just dropshippers with no products or stores of their own.

As Virsunen puts it, "[Amazon] used to compete with them, but now they're letting them on their platform."

"If your whole strategy is trying to resell someone else's products ... it's really hard to out-hustle Amazon," Youderian says, which is part of why he got out of the business entirely.

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But not everyone thinks the same way. One of the ways that dropshippers now get noticed is by advertising on social media feeds to try and nab bargain-hungry browsers. Once you click buy, you're bombarded by even more ads for products, since dropshippers know you're open to buying them.

Consumer-focused chat forums are replete with countless stories of consumers angry aboutbeing sold shoddy merchandise based on ads targeting them in their social media feeds.

"A bogus manufacturer creates a picture and body copy describing this wonderful product they're going to make available for an incredibly low price, and the consumer opts to buy it," is how Cohen describes the process. "Then, when they get [the item], they get a package full of sawdust."

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"They complain and discover the retailer that sold them the box of rocks is gone," he says, "doing business under a different name."

In the past, consumers trusted that retailers were screening the items they were selling, Cohen says. "If they viewed the product as shoddy or substandard or not living up to its claims, they would typically reject it."

Prices that are too good to be true are a hallmark of the dropshipping process, as items often take a long time to arrive, are of suspect quality and are very hard to return. (Pete Evans/CBC)

That's not happening as much any more, which is why Virsunen says he feels duped.

"It's kind of false advertising," Virsunen says of his experience. He says he's unlikely to buy on Walmart's Canadian website again, despite the fact that Walmart said they will give him his money back.

"I ordered something off a Canadian website, I was expecting something that would at least work in Canada," he says. "Who are these people [and] how are they allowed to just willy-nilly sell stuff?"

In an email to CBC News, Walmart said all third-party sellers it works with are "carefully vetted and reviewed before being invited to join Walmart's marketplace community to ensure our customers receive the quality and service they deserve."

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But Zest Mall's page on Walmart's official marketplace sellers list is littered with poor reviews that are reminiscent of Virsunen's experience.

Walmart says it makes it very clear on its website if any available product is being sold by a third party, as such items will have a "sold and shipped by" line next to their products. Walmart adds that customers can return any item from a third party to a Walmart store, "subject to the return policy of the marketplace seller."

Virsunen says that's not good enough.

Cohen says bad experiences with suspicious-looking deals online are a good reminder of the age-old retail advice: buyer beware.

"It's like caveat emptor on steroids," he says. "You took your chances, it seemed too good to be true and it was too good to be true."

Sol Angeles' Founder On The Moment That Launched His Brand

Everyone's had that moment of panic where you ask yourself, What am I doing with my life?

Realizing you're dissatisfied with your career or want to branch out into something new can be extremely terrifying, but that huge "aha moment" can lead to great things.

For Eli Myers, the founder of California tee and wholesale dresses china brand Sol Angeles, that moment came after both he and his wife found themselves unceremoniously unemployed during the recession. Ten years later, Sol Angeles is a hit brand sold at Anthropologie, Shopbop, and more, and collaborating with the likes of SoulCycle and the US Open for capsule collections on wholesale websites.

I chatted with Eli about that fight-or-flight moment that led to Sol Angeles' creation, the importance of the connections he built starting out in the fashion world, and his plans for the brand's future.

SARAH BOYD: How did you get your start in the fashion world?

ELI MYERS: After graduating from Film School in NYC, cash strapped and desperate for work, I took a part time wholesale store and marketing job for a start-up fashion company called Z Brand. As the NYC ambassador for the brand, I socialized with buyers, worked trade shows, befriended store owners and employees, and swagged any and all people I knew and liked.

Working for the brand, I was given exposure to the inner workings of clothing, and I found it fascinating. I greatly appreciated the timeline of T-shirt making. Coming up with an idea, making a design, and printing a shirt, could happen in a less than a day, compared to film making which takes an eternity and an army of people.

I decided that if I could transfer the creativity from Film, into Fashion, I would make the trade.

Coupled by the fact that I had fallen deeply in love with my boss, I was going to be in fashion for a while.

SB: What was your biggest takeaway from your first job and how did that prepare you for future opportunities?

EM: I got very lucky with having an amazing family dynamic at my first fashion gig. I am best friendsto this daywith many of my former coworkers in wholesale clothing store. Having a great team can make you truly love what you do, and helped me enjoy the work I did. It was exciting, and it drove me.

We have built a family at Sol Angeles that genuinely has so much love. People working here are lifers, ride or die. We know how lucky we are to have these people, and we love them.

SB: Tell me about the “aha moment” that led to the creation of Sol Angeles.

EM: My wifeformerly my bossand I met at my first job in fashion. We fell in love with each other and with fashion simultaneously.

The structure and pace of our job helped frame the structure of our lives and filled us with purpose.

After working together for 5 years, the company that employed us folded during the financial crisis, and shook up the whole fashion market. Stores closed, people couldn’t get credit, Ed Hardy was the biggest fashion trend…it was a scary time.

Living together, both unemployed, was even scarier; unspoken stress and angst run amok.

It came to a head on a Sunday evening in July, coming home from a pool party to an uncertain future. Lindsey (my wife) confronted me while sitting in our car waiting for our garage to open, saying, "What are we doing with our lives? We are lost." What are we going to do!?

At that moment I went to the depths of my soul, realizing the gravity of the moment, and knew I had to come up with solution that would turn this around. I put my hand on her leg, hastily reversed out of the drive way, all the while announcing the plan: we are going to start a brand today.

We are going to the art store right now to buy white boards, pens, markers, sticky notes, etc. We are going home and I will pull a brand out of my brain and my computer, and we will be at MAGIC (a huge fashion trade show) in one month.

And we did it :)

SB: I’m a firm believer in building valuable connections and how creating a successful business is all about how you know. How have the connections you’ve built over the years contributed to Sol Angeles’ success?

EM: I love people genuinely, which is a hard thing to fake. I give a lot of hugs and spend a lot of time talking with all of people we work with.

In the wholesale world, relationships are incredibly important. In all of the years leading up to having my brand, I met buyers from every major department store and built a exceptional amount of love and goodwill. We felt like all of those people were cheering us on when we started our brand.

Operating as a stand up person is a memorable thing in this particular industry, and we work exceptionally hard to keep up our industry reputation as the nicest team in the game.

Dollar pares losses after volatile session

The greenback remained under against its G4 peers due to selloff in global equities together with falling U.S. Treasury yields and downbeat U.S. ADP employment dataas. The Dow opened lower after U.S. markets were closed on Wednesday and tumbled 780 points but then staged a late rally on report Fed may pause hikes.

Versus the Japanese yen, dollar initially fell from 113.20 in drop shipping Australia and 112.58 in Asia on selling in Asian equities together with renewed trade concern between U.S-China after top executive of Huawei was arrested in Canada and despite rebounding to 113.15 at European open, price met renewed selling and intra-day fall accelerated at New York open and later tumbled to a 1-month low of 112.24 due to selloff in U.S. stock markets as well as U.S. Treasury yields, however, a late rally in the Dow prompted short covering and the pair recovered to 112.75.

U.S. stocks pared intra-day steep losses and ended the day well off their session lows after the Wall Street Journal reported Fed is considering whether to signal a wait-and-see approach to rate hikes at its upcoming meeting this month. The report also said Fed officials do not know what their next move on rates will be after December.

U.S. private employers added 179,000 jobs in November, below economists' expectations, a report by a payrolls processor ADP showed on Thursday. Economists had expected the ADP nonfarm payrolls report to show a gain of 195,000 jobs after adding 225,000 jobs in the previous month.

Reuters reported China's embassy in Canada criticised Canada and the United States on Thursday for wrongfully arresting a senior executive at Chinese telecoms giant Huawei and demanded her immediate release.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's global chief financial officer, is facing extradition to the wholesle clothing usa suppliers and her arrest could rekindle tensions between Washington and Beijing only days after they agreed to a ceasefire in a bitter trade war.

Although the single currency moved narrowly in Asia then fell to 1.1321 in European morning, renewed buying emerged and price began to rally at New York open and later hit session highs at 1.1412 on selloff in U.S. equities and downbeat U.S. ADP employment data before retreating to 1.1359 on profit-taking as the greenback rebounded in tandem with U.S. stocks.

Reuters reported Italy's government is on the right track as it works on new budget numbers but needs to make "an extra effort", European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said on Thursday.

The British pound went through a volatile session. Although cable traded sideways in Asia and briefly fell to 1.2699 in European morning, price found renewed buying and rose steadily in tandem with euro to session highs at 1.2813 (Reuters) in New York on dollar's weakness before retreating.

In other news, Reuters reported the Brexit deal which Prime Minister Theresa May wants to get through the British parliament next week is the best Britain will get to arrange its orderly withdrawal from the EU, EU negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday.

On the data front, The Institute of Supply Management said its non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 60.7 in November, from 60.3 the previous month. Economists had forecast a reading of 59.2.

Data to be released on Friday :

Australia AIG construction index, Japan household spending, coincident index, leading indicator, Germany industrial output, France industrial output, trade balance, import, export, U.K. Halifax house prices, Italy retail sales, EU GDP revised, Canada employment change, unemployment rate and U.S. non-farm payrolls, private payrolls, unemployment rate, average earning, University of Michigan sentiment prelim, wholesale inventories, wholesale.

NBN Co is facing the prospect of paying rebates to users in congested wireless cells, as well as daily rebates where any network connection is dogged by a fault for a long time.

The ideas are raised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in a new consultation paper released today.

The paper forms an expansion of the ACCC’s wholesale clothing service standards inquiry launched at the end of 2017, which has already seen NBN Co agree to pay out rebates to retail service providers where connections don’t go to plan.

NBN Co has faced repeated questions throughout 2018 over the capacity of its fixed wireless network, and the number of users whose services don’t achieve speeds they were sold.

It has previously said that take-up and usage is much higher than was scoped when the network was designed back in 2011, leading to the problems.

The company is set to spend $800 million extra to remediate the network. It has also raised a novel restructure of the network as a way to solve some of the issues.

Others say that fixed wireless users should be switched over to fixed line, relieving some pressure on the existing network.

The ACCC has now raised a third prospect: effectively a financial penalty that NBN Co must pay in instances where fixed wireless users receive below-par performance.

“While we acknowledge that NBN Co is taking steps to address congestion, we consider that the provision of a rebate that would be payable based on each end user on a congested cell would incentivise NBN Co to ensure there is sufficient capacity on the network on an ongoing basis,” the ACCC said.

“It would also recognise that NBN Co is not delivering the full capability of its fixed wireless service to end users when they are impacted by congestion, especially during the critical busy hours.”

The ACCC indicated it will also examine the type of fixed wireless speed information that RSPs have available to them at the time of sale, so consumers can better decide whether NBN fixed wireless is for them.

In addition, the ACCC also today raised the prospect of more punitive rebates generally where a connection problem or fault exists for an extended period of time.

“We note that the [current] rebate structure could be further improved in cases where connection delays or faults extend over a longer timeframe,” the ACCC said.

“We see strong merits to the suggested model of a daily rebate to provide additional incentives for timely connections and fault rectification, and to ensure appropriate management of consumer experience in these cases.”

The watchdog will also examine how rebates paid out by NBN Co are passed through by the RSP to the customer.

It isn’t necessarily examining direct pass-through but rather indicated it would examine the “fair value benefit” that consumers wound up receiving when there were problems with a connection.

End of blame game?

The ACCC is also canvassing whether to force NBN Co to change its liability and indemnity clauses and accept more of the blame when things go wrong - and therefore have to pay out more rebates.

“We consider the indemnity provisions could transfer the risk of certain matters within NBN Co’s areas of responsibility to either customers or RSPs,” the ACCC said.

“We are concerned that this may result in downstream consumers or end users bearing liability for risks over which they have no control, or which NBN Co is in a better position to manage.”

In a similar vein, NBN Co could be forced to revert to an old way of handling so called “trouble tickets”, which in the past have been blamed for a lot of the back-and-forth between NBN Co and RSPs when an end user has a problem.

NBN Co currently only measures the time taken time to resolve a ticket from when they accept it, rather than when they acknowledge receiving it.

The ACCC said it did not consider this to be “justified”.

“While we recognise NBN Co’s efforts to improve the timeframes for reviewing trouble tickets, we consider that timely validation of trouble tickets should be part of its ordinary operational processes,” it said.

“Further, we consider commencing fault rectification from trouble ticket acknowledgement is preferable to the current process as it would more closely align with the end user’s experience of the fault.

“We understand that this change would be a reversion to the measurement of the end user fault rectification service level timeframes as they applied prior to [the current wholesale broadband agreement].”

Blowes Clothing Cup-winning coach Heamani Lavaka to take coaching reins at Dubbo Rhinos

Change is coming for the Dubbo Rhinos.

In fact, it’s already begun.

The club has just announced its coaching staff for the 2019 season and in an incredible coup has secured the services of former Tongan Test prop and Central West Blue Bulls mentor Heamani Lavaka as coaching coordinator.

Simply, the man that guided Forbes to the 2017 Blowes wholesale t shirt printing clothing Cup hopes to work with the coaching staff at Rhinos to “turn the club around” after a number of tumultuous years.

Next year will also mark the return of Mark Reijnen, who will take the reins of the first grade side, while one of the club’s long-serving players in Brett Austin will guide Rhinos in second grade.

Darryl Thompson, in colts, rounds out the appointments, with the women’s team coach expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

Lavaka said lasting change would not come overnight.

“They need to demand respect from the opposition … it’s not an easy thing to do but everything has to start from how they recruit and set their goals high and work hard,” he said, having applied a similar philosophy at Grinsted Oval in recent years.

“The structure will have to change … the old way is not working. It’s a big bonus to have Mark over there as a local and he knows the [Dubbo Kangaroos’] structure … he can bring a little bit of their culture too.

“You’ve just got to coach them properly and make them feel like they own the club. I talked to [Rhinos president Ian Burns] and said don’t just try and do everything at once. It’s one step at a time.”

“His credentials are second-to-none and he’s a really, really nice bloke,” Burns said, lauding his club’s new mentor.

“The coaching and quality of rugby should really be a feature of next year.

“The general vibe is very, very exciting and people are really looking forward to next year. It’s the most exciting start to a year that we’ve had for a long, long time.”

The club’s pre-season training will get underway on January 8, with the women to join the men for a full four-month lead-up.

Reijnen, who Burns described as “one of the best back-rowers going around”, was excited to return to the club he left in 2008.

He is also excited to return to rugby union after taking some time out to pursue his other love, track cycling, and spend time with his young family and dropshipping suppliers.

But he said the time was right for him to come out of retirement and “get back involved with a club I think is going in the right direction”.

A women’s coach is yet to be announced, but Burns was hopeful their candidate would “give us a nod in the next couple of weeks”.

“Some of the older people might remember a she that coached the girls before, so that’s a bit of a hint maybe,” Burns said.

“The women, like the men, will be doing a full preseason, starting in January, so we hope to have a fitter, better-skilled women’s outfit than we did last year and I think with a full four-month pre-season under their belt, they’ll be a different side.”

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