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I was hoping to get advice regarding the best approach to you use when wanting to do wholesale business with established fashion brands and well as new and up coming ones. The reason for my question is I am preparing to launch a brand new online clothing boutique and want sound advice with regards to buying, the best way to negotiate a favourable deal and any legal ramifications that may be involved/crop up. Also if you are and up and coming fashion label, I'd really love to hear from you!


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Comment by Fashion Business Designer™ on June 30, 2011 at 2:46pm

Hey, Samantha!

I'm not aware if you already found and answer to your inquiry. But anyway, here are my two cents related to your question! :)

For the established designers you'll have to overcome some challenges (some well-known brands just deal with established designers whilst some others could become choosy with online boutiques). But anyway, you can go directly to trade fairs to meet upcoming designers like Pure London or New Designers. The most difficult thing about dealing with upcoming designers is finding the ones that complies with one, several or all of the following:
- You know your potential customer, what they want, and where to get them to offer them your consumer proposition
- Designer's products could be demanded by your target consumer, which has a strong need and ability to buy them online.
- Designer has mastered his/her manufacture process and it's reliable to produce quality output in a constant manner.
- Designer has line sheets available upon request.
- Her first collections made an media impact specially with key players such as editors, journalists, opinion formers, fashion bloggers, etc. either because she or he won an award, showcased in a key runway show, has unique and strong signature, has innovated the manufacture process, has an amazing story in her background, etc.
- It's already selling to existing buyers
- Stylists are going crazy to work for them
- Sales agents are pitching them or designer doesn't has distribution limitations or regional exclusivities agreements.
- Has support from key PR agency (although that would be difficult to have at this stage)
- etc.

Of course, if you where to deal directly with fashion agents (wholesale) then you just skip all of the above (but say bye-bye to a substantial part of your markups :(

For the legal matter consider, among others that can apply to your business, the following UK legislations:
- The Consumer Protection (Direct Selling) Regulations 2000
- Sales of Goods Act 1979
- The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

Well, all those were considerations mentioned above should be reviewed AFTER a market assessment which are indeed reviewed in an internet marketing plan (that should be aligned with your overall business plan). Because You really need to know your market, your consumers and know what your competitors are doing. Consider also that online consumer is different from the offline one (you need to understand what and how they search, compare prices and buy online/offline remembering that consumers now have the choice of click and collect and mobile commerce is about to explode). You need to learn the basics about internet technology (specially technologies that affect electronic, mobile and social commerce) and legislation that affects trading online. Don't forget about pricing, cash flow management and And learn more about the threats (i.e. acknowledging the increasing women population that prefer to buy "looks" better than brands) and opportunities (mobile commerce) the digital trade of clothing offers....

Remember that failing to plan is planning to fail and this is particular important in the highly complex, competitive and ever-changing fashion industry. So maximise your e-tailing opportunities thinking first and acting later! ;) Indie fashion businesses have a lot of work to do to challenge the pressures coming from big corporations and conglomerates that are going online and dominate the UK fashion industry (even well-known internet pure-players are struggling to catch up!). Power to the indies! haha :)


tl; dr re-Think, act


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