Selling in Fashion Boutiques, Sale or Return by Collette Costello – How to Start a Fashion Company Series

As a new fashion company, designer you will always be looking opportunities to sell your collections, opening your own shop is very expensive so a great way is to get your items sold in small fashion Boutiques.  I have had my collections sold in shops including Junk Shop, The Lowry Outlet, Athena in Glasgow, with interest from Thunder Egg and Moo Boutique.

Independent Fashion Boutiques = Sale or Return

If you want your fashion clothing sold by fashion boutiques always approach shops where you can speak directly to the owner, very often they are independently owned boutiques rather then big names like Top Shop.  I approached them by going in, ringing or e-mailing asking if I could bring my designs over to show them, better still use Twitter or Snapchat to make contact.  Nearly always they will offer to sell your items on Sale or Return.

Sale or Return!!!!!!!!!!

Sale or return is where you give your fashion items to the shop, if they sell you will get paid, if not you get the stock back.   I must admit selling sale or return is a real, real pain, but often as a new designer working with a new boutique it is your only option and very often you will be that thrilled someone wants to sell your stock you will agree to anything.

  • Sale or Return means you will have to pay out for all the stock before it is given to the boutique, this can mean spending £500 without the guarantee of selling.
  • Once the shop has your stock, you can’t do anything with it, sell it anywhere else, its just a case of simply waiting for a sale.  If another shop wants to stock you, it may mean paying out another £500 for yet more clothes or handbags.
  • Remember the boutique will add on up to 150% on your sale price, so make sure customers will be willing to pay this high price.

Working with Fashion Boutiques

Clothes can get damaged when on display or customer are trying them on, work out who is responsible for this, will the shop pay you anyway for damaged items.  Be careful also to record and get the shop to sign for any items you have given them, often you will have items missing when they are returned without payment.

I found shop owners did not alway respond to my e-mails after they had my clothes, I would have to visit the shops many times asking for my items to be returned, when this happened I would then have to chase store owners for the money they owed me for missing items.

Before you give your precious stock to a shop ask yourself is this the right place to sell your clothes, do they fit in and does the shop actually makes regular sales, otherwise you can be wasting your time and energy just to get the clothes returned in a few weeks.

Work with the shop on how the items will be displayed, I made a number of handbags which I gave to an independent boutique to sell, within five minutes all my careful branding had been ruined, they had been shoved in a dark, dingy corner, barely even noticeable, resulting in no sales.

It is a difficult one as you want opportunities, however be brave and offer the shops your items at a discounted wholesale price if they buy them out right.  A larger company would never offer sale or return, so if your products are good enough don’t be afraid to demand up front payment.  Good luck and as always I would love to hear you experiences of selling in Independent boutiques.

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