Wholesale Boutique Clothing: How To Find the Best Vendors for Your Shop
Buying wholesale boutique clothing offers a variety of benefits.
You can negotiate the best prices if you build a good relationship with the wholesaler. Plus, you can request exclusive rights to sell a certain clothing line, giving you a competitive edge in the market.
There are tons of companies selling cheap wholesale boutique clothing, so it’s crucial to know how to identify the best ones for your store. It’s also important to learn how to spot fake wholesalers if you want to avoid costly headaches down the road.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are the steps that will help you find the right wholesale boutique supplier for your shop.
- 1. Get Ideas for Your Boutique Inventory
- 2. Find High-Quality Boutique Wholesale Suppliers
- 3. Select the Right Boutique Vendor
- 4. Learn To Identify Fake Boutique Wholesalers
- Always Source From the Best
1. Get Ideas for Your Boutique Inventory
Before you search for vendors, think about the products you want to sell.
Most commonly, boutique owners sell a wide range of clothing to help attract shoppers to their stores. You may want to explore Instagram and Pinterest for insights into what fashion styles would do well.
For example, ribbed skirts in knit fabrics are a hot trend these days. They are cute, comfy, and stretchable – three things women always want to have more of.
You can also research fast fashion apparel for your boutique. The best way to do this is to spend time browsing fashion magazines like ELLE, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar.
As well as featuring sassy and sustainable outfits, these publications include clothing options based on popular high street chains.
Examine the different styles and brands of clothing to see if you can source something similar. However, be prepared to tweak your inventory because fast fashion is always changing. It takes an open mind, creativity, and focus to succeed in this niche.
Another way to come up with product ideas is to explore different subcultures to see if you can sell themed clothing. The research can be as simple as typing “themed clothing” in Google or checking out T-shirt vendors to gain inspiration. This type of product can take different forms – from stylish, sporty sweatshirts to vintage-style muscle tees.
For example, Highline Clothing Co is a vendor that stocks race day wholesale clothing for boutique owners.
Things like sports, music, art, and humor can all help define the vision of your boutique.
2. Find High-Quality Boutique Wholesale Suppliers
For the success of your business, you need to find wholesale boutique clothing vendors who are genuinely passionate about quality.
Quality clothing, photographed beautifully and coupled with your unique branding, will build trust with your customers.
Below are some ways you can find the right partner for your boutique and your customers.
Start With Google
The good ole search engine can be a great tool for discovering wholesale suppliers.
However, don’t just search for general wholesale boutique vendors or manufacturers. Get precise with your search by including the keywords from your niche or products.
- wholesale designer clothing for boutiques
- ex-chain store clothing wholesalers
There’s a belief that many clothing vendors have antiquated websites. However, while searching, we actually came across some vendors with great websites. And they were pretty easy to contact, too. So don’t be surprised if you stumble upon elegant-looking wholesale sites during your research.
Pro tip: Bookmark the different sites so that you can compare your options and negotiate the best deals for your products.
Look in Directories
Directories can give you a wealth of wholesale distributor and manufacturer options for your boutique.
These suppliers are often safe to work with as they undergo a strict verification and authentication process before they’re eligible to appear on the directories.
Still, we recommend sticking with reputable online directories like Sqetch if you’re from Europe and Maker’s Row if you’re from the US. For overseas product sourcing, Kompass is an excellent option to consider. Unknown directories carry the risk that the listed vendor might not be a wholesaler but rather a middleman who charges a fee to connect boutique owners with the actual source.
While using directories, you can read customer reviews to identify the names of reputable clothing vendors, and the ones to avoid. It can also be a good idea to request information on the whereabouts of their production facility or showroom (credible wholesalers won’t hesitate to share these details with you).
Check Online Wholesale Marketplaces
There are many wholesale marketplaces online where you can find vendors for high-quality boutique clothing. If you’re looking to source from trendy, distinct brands, Handshake is an excellent option for you to explore.
On this marketplace, the huge range of apparel isn’t like the usual generic pieces you’ll find on other marketplaces. Instead, Handshake is home to unique clothing wholesalers who can provide you with inherently chic items that will help your business make a splash.
You’ll find quality wholesale vendors for athleisure, urban apparel, ethnic fashion, streetwear, and more on the platform.
Small business with a specific inventory budget? You can use Handshake’s “minimum order” filter to get a list of only those vendors who suit your financial capacity. Plus, you can use the state search filter to discover items made by apparel brands in your own state – which is a super trendy sourcing strategy.
What’s more, Handshake shows you the retail price each product would normally sell for in an online store or boutique. This can help you glean ideas for how much to charge once your online boutique is up and running.
Join Online Forums and Communities
Experienced fashion entrepreneurs often know a lot about wholesalers, but they don’t share their learnings with everyone and anyone. Your best bet when it comes to picking their brains is to engage in some networking. Search the online forums where veteran boutique owners hang out and strike up a conversation.
Some forums to join include:
Network and build relationships to find the best boutique wholesalers for your business.
You can also search within social media communities where fashion entrepreneurs give and seek advice. For example, Bag It Up Boutique is a Facebook group with 5,000+ members who’re mainly fashion enthusiasts. We also recommend checking out the Facebook Marketplace to find vendors in your local community. (It’s not exactly a community. But, well, you know, it’s a cool resource).
Additionally, follow discussions around wholesale clothing on Quora to get ideas about vendors and even products. Besides learning from ongoing discussions, you may also post your own questions and get advice.
Attend Local Trade Shows
Trade shows are a great place to find up-and-coming wholesale boutique vendors, so you can get your hands on the latest styles before your competitors. And making face-to-face contact is so much more effective than other types of communication. Plus, nothing beats being able to see and feel the product for yourself.
Check out the apparel and clothing events happening in and around your locality and plan a visit. Use the Trade Show News Network to search for trade shows by date, city, state or country, and event name and/or industry. It’s the largest directory of trade events online and makes things easy.
Pro tip: Before attending, make sure to have your business license on hand. This can literally be the difference between being welcomed and getting to buy items or being shown the exit. Wholesalers need to know that you’re legit.
Visit Nearby Clothing Markets
Nearby apparel markets are a great place to find cheap wholesale boutique clothing. Since a lot of vendors gather in these markets, you can negotiate to get the price down. More than just negotiating, visiting the market allows you to see which products are currently in fashion (vendors often promote the latest clothing through displays).
Another option is to visit showrooms, which are shops managed directly by a wholesale distributor or vendor. The aim is to buy unique boutique clothing wholesale – pieces that haven’t made their way into retail shops (yet). Showrooms also stock items from foreign clothing brands with good discounts at reasonable prices – an easy way to stand out if you ask us.
Head to The Library
Time to put that library card to use. Several libraries pay a monthly subscription to online business and manufacturer directories that are otherwise difficult to access or require you to pay a large amount in fees. These contain information about various manufacturers and wholesale distributors, based on the directory in question.
Call your local library and ask if they have a subscription with any such directories. In bigger libraries with multiple departments, you will need to contact the business, science, and technology department.
Consider Word-of-Mouth Referrals
Referrals from friends or acquaintances often deliver reliable results. Check if someone in your social circle runs a clothing business and ask for recommendations. You can also connect with people from your field who sell fashion apparel on LinkedIn to find out who they would recommend.
Of course, a referral carries more weight if it comes from a friend. This is because our entrepreneur buddies will usually only refer vendors to others when they’ve had good experiences with them themselves. So, make sure to explore this option before you reach out to other people.
3. Select the Right Boutique Vendor
After you’ve applied the methods above, you’ll probably have a large list of wholesalers in front of you. The next step is to refine this list. Below are some things to consider before finalizing a vendor for your new boutique:
- Location: Knowing where the wholesaler is based is crucial because this affects cost. With overseas vendors, duties, shipping, and taxes can quickly add up and limit your margins. If you have profits in the back of your mind, find a vendor in or around your region.
- Quality: If you’re going for fast fashion, quality might not be that much of a concern for your business. But if you’re planning to sell apparel that is more classic or designer clothing meant to be luxurious and opulent, quality quickly becomes a priority. If you’re not sure about a vendor’s quality, you can always place a small order to evaluate quality before making a larger investment.
- Adjacent items: If you want to expand beyond clothing, it would be best to choose a wholesaler who can support your growth. Vendors who sell wholesale boutique accessories, footwear, and other fashion items could offer valuable business opportunities.
4. Learn To Identify Fake Boutique Wholesalers
You might not know this, but there are illegitimate wholesalers out there intending to make easy money off of new boutique owners. These wholesalers are actually middlemen who buy clothing from manufacturers and distributors and sell them at a higher price. Sourcing products from them means you will price yourself out of the market. You don’t want that.
Fortunately, there are some telltale signs of fake clothing wholesalers:
- The vendor does not require your business registration or tax ID to do business with you. That’s because a fake wholesaler doesn’t care whether or not you meet government regulations.
- The company does not state where they are located or mention their name when communicating over email or phone, leaving you wondering about the shipping fee and who to contact.
- They refuse to send you samples or behave strangely when you place a small order. This is often a sign that you’re dealing with an intermediary who’s looking to make a profit by selling in bulk at higher prices.
Fake suppliers selling counterfeit items will also deny sample requests, as samples give an idea of clothing quality.
Always Source From the Best
Choosing a wholesale boutique vendor is a big decision for your business, so take the time to research your options and filter out fake wholesalers. The extra time you spend now will help you avoid any unpleasant surprises down the road. Keep the above tips in mind, and you should be able to find the best wholesalers who always provide you with genuine, quality products at reasonable prices.