Where do I buy wholesale clothing for my boutique?

 

Among the first steps to opening a clothing boutique is to determine where to source clothing and accessories.  A majority of boutiques do not make their own merchandise but instead purchase merchandise from a wholesaler. 
 

 

This article will answer the following questions.

 

  • What is a wholesaler?
  • How do I find a clothing vendor for my boutique?
  • How do I find high quality boutique clothing?
  • What are the best wholesale clothing websites?
  • Where do boutiques buy their clothes?

 

 What is a Wholesaler?

 

A wholesaler is a supplier of clothing and accessories.  Wholesalers purchase large quantities of merchandise from the manufacturer to resell to clothing stores in smaller quantities. 
 
Wholesalers will often require that you purchase minimum quantities.  It is less work and more cost effective for the wholesaler to sell smaller minimum quantities than to sell individual items. This also benefits clothing stores.  If consumers could purchase a single item from wholesalers there would be no reason for them to buy from clothing stores.
 

 

How do I find a clothing vendor for my boutique?

 

  • Ask Others
Networking events and social media groups are great places to ask other entrepreneurs about how to source inventory for your boutique.  If you find the right group the other business owners will be happy to help point you in the right direction.   Just don’t expect them to do everything for you.  They only have so much time available and they have a business of their own to run.  Also, don’t be afraid to talk about your business with friends and family.  They may know of someone that may be able to help you.
 
  • B2B Websites (including Online Marketplaces/Directories)
B2B Websites are business to business websites or in other words business websites that will sell to other businesses and not consumers.  Many wholesalers have their own B2B website.  Many others do not have a website.  There are thousands of wholesale websites that you can browse online. 
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  • There are also website directories where you can view hundreds and thousands of wholesalers on a single website.  Some wholesalers choose to list their business in these directories for a fee while others do not.  Fashion Go, LA Show Room, OrangeShine and Wholesale Central are some of the larger directories.   You can view more directories on our website here.  You’ll need to take the time to sort through the various websites to find the wholesalers that are best for your business.
     
    • Independent Designers
    If you want more exclusive clothing designs, and higher quality clothing, that others aren’t selling you should consider getting in contact with independent designers.  You can find an independent designer by visiting local markets and pop-up shops in your community.  You can also find them on social media by using relevant hashtags.  You may have to convince the designer to allow you to sell their items and you’ll need to negotiate the price and terms.  There are also online websites such as Etsy, Faire, Hello Abound, and Tundra where you can find designers that are willing to sell wholesale merchandise to you.
     
    • Local Markets
    In many of the top major U.S. cities (such as Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, etc.) there are local markets that are open daily or open for a week or two every year that you can purchase wholesale from.  Most of the markets are smaller in size than the tradeshows.  LA Fashion District and Fashion Industry Gallery (in Dallas, TX) are two examples of local markets.  View more local markets on our website here.
     
    • Manufacturers
    Manufacturers are the producers of clothing.  You may or may not be able to purchase directly from a manufacturer.  Some manufacturers sell only to wholesalers in large quantities.  When purchasing from a manufacturer instead of a wholesaler you may be able to get a lower price since you don’t have to pay for the services of the wholesaler.  In some cases, you may not get a lower price since the manufacturer is selling to you in lower quantities than they would sell to a wholesaler, and this cost them more time and resources than if they were working with a wholesaler.
     
    • Sourcing Agents
    If you’re just getting started you may not have the budget to work with a sourcing agent as you will have to pay a fee for their services.  Sourcing agents have developed relationships with manufacturers and wholesalers.  They are knowledgeable of the industry and best practices on how to source clothing.  Sourcing agents help you identify suppliers that fit the needs of our brand in a shorter time period than if you were working to identify them on your own.  They may also help you with negotiating pricing.  The Apparel Agency, Apparel Sourcing Inc., and Apparel Sourcing USA are a few of the companies offering sourcing services.  There are also several independent (not working at large corporations) sourcing agents.
     
     
    • Tradeshows
    Tradeshows are large events where designers, manufacturers, and suppliers come together to showcase their merchandise to potential buyers.  There may be hundreds or thousands of companies showcasing clothing at an event.  Tradeshows allow you to interact directly with the personnel at the companies that you will be purchasing from.  You can get answers to any questions that you may have.  You can view a lot of suppliers in a much shorter time than if you were searching online.  There’s also the advantage of feeling, seeing the quality, and observing the sizing of the clothing being offered.  Some of the larger tradeshows include MAGIC, Stylemax, Texworld, and Off Price Show.  A lot of these tradeshows are run by large companies that also run several other tradeshows throughout the year.   You may view a list of more tradeshows on our website here.
     
    • Other
    If you are selling used or vintage clothing you may frequent garage sales, estate sales, and visit online sites such as eBay and Poshmark.  If you’re not too concerned with selling the latest trends you may consider purchasing from liquidators that sell clothing from stores that have gone out of business or have unsold merchandise that they wish to get rid of.

     

     
    How do I find high quality boutique clothing?

     

    The clothes that you source have an impact on the profitability of your business.  You want to make sure that you source clothing that is of a high quality.  It will take time and effort to properly source clothing for your boutique. 
     
    You may consider visiting tradeshows and markets so that you can see and feel the quality of the clothing that you purchase rather than simply buying online.  If you do decide to purchase online without seeing the clothing be prepared to discover which wholesalers offer quality clothing through trial and error.  When purchasing online you should consider which wholesalers offer returns and what the associated costs of the returns are including shipping fees and restocking fees.

     

     
     
    What are the best wholesale clothing websites?

     

    Some of the most visited wholesale clothing websites were mentioned earlier in this article.  There are thousands of wholesale clothing websites that you can visit online.  The best wholesale clothing website for your clothing boutique will depend on many factors.  Some of those factors include but are not limited to how much funding you available to purchase inventory, whether you want to sell cheaper fast fashion clothing or expensive high-end luxury clothing, type of merchandise (such as t-shirts, dresses, coats, shoes, etc.), and target market demographics (for example babies, children, teens, etc.) and whether or not you want to sell more exclusive merchandise.
     
    Keep in mind you don’t want to be just another boutique owner selling the same clothing at the same price as everyone else.  Your boutique needs to stand out from the competition.  You need to establish your brand with a unique look and feel.  What’s best for your boutique will differ from other boutiques.  You don’t have to purchase your inventory from the most popular wholesale clothing websites.  As mentioned above there are other alternatives.

     

     

     
    Where do boutiques buy their clothes?

     

    There are a number of ways that boutiques buy their clothing.  Some boutiques design and make their own clothing, purchasing materials rather than finished garments.  Others boutiques design and then have their clothes manufactured.  Boutiques may decide to purchase clothes directly from a designer.  They may purchase clothing directly from the manufacturer.  Many manufacturers however require boutique owners to purchase from the wholesalers that they work with. 
     
    You probably wonder where some of the larger clothing retailers buy their clothing from.  You may be surprised to know that they purchase some of the same wholesale clothing that you also have the access to purchase.  They may however be purchasing them much cheaper as they have the money and the demand from customers to purchase in much larger quantities.  In addition to these retailers purchasing wholesale clothing, some of them also have their own dedicated clothing manufacturers.  This is how they quickly reproduce the trends that are seen on the red carpet.
     

     

    Conclusion

     

    Finding wholesale clothing suppliers is easy.  The hard part is deciding which wholesale clothing suppliers to purchase from.  It takes time and effort to properly source clothing for your boutique.  You want to make sure that you source high quality clothing that your customers like because the clothes that you source have an impact on the profitability of your business. 

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