Having as much information at your disposal when starting a boutique is going to give you the greatest chance for success. Below are a couple tools you can implement to gather some valuable insight.
First things first – understand style in your neighborhood
Whether you’re setting up locally or online, it’s important to identify the demographics in your hood.
Facebook audience insights is a great tool for this. You can get detailed statistics on areas as specific as zip codes and narrow it down by age, gender etc.
For example, if you want open up shop in Manhattan, then you’ll notice that women between 25–34 in that area are mostly single and have a college degree.
Understanding your demographic will also help you identify the style of clothing that will best fit your audience AND be profitable.
Finding wholesalers for the right styles
Wholesalers doesn’t necessarily mean “cheap.” Let me make that clear.
There are two things that everyone needs to consider.
Price vs. quality. Unfortunately, the two don’t normally go hand-in-hand.
If price is your unique selling proposition, then you can try sites likeand .
Alternatively, you can make a trip out to LA and try the fashion district there. Some stores like Satin Lined Caps makes their clothing locally.
Naturally, buying domestically will be more expensive, but you get an idea for the quality, styles and can begin a relationship with future business partners.
But I have to go overseas…there is no margin otherwise
The two obvious choices for wholesale clothing cheap is Bangkok and China.
I have personally purchased t-shirts from China via. Alibaba and wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy.
Perhaps it was the vendor I was dealing with, but import charges and shipping cost me an arm and a leg too.
If you want to buy overseas, you need to buy a TON of products to make it worth the trouble.
With that comes risk.
If you’re looking to do this long-term, then I highly recommend flying out to where your vendors are and to feel / wear the products yourself before ordering a container full.
Also, you’ll want to look into import laws, duties and tariffs. I’ve done quite a bit of import/export myself and the fees have to be accounted for.
On a final note, remember that “margin” is a two way street. There is cost + sale price.
You might be able to buy a shirt from China for $3 landed. But you’ll probably end up selling it for $8.
- Gross Margin: 62.50%
- Markup: 166.67%
- Gross Profit: $5.00
On the other hand, you can buy a shirt you can feel locally for double the price ($6), but you’ll end up selling it for $20.
- Gross Margin: 70.00%
- Markup: 233.33%
- Gross Profit: $14.00