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    15 Replies Latest reply on Jan 26, 2010 3:21 PM by loan guy

    Starting an online clothing business

    brianberry Newbie
      Hello. I am new to this forum. My name is Brian and I live in Salem, Oregon. I have two, young, beautiful, children. Right now I am unemployed because I was laid off. I am having a hard time finding work. My wife works and we are making it just fine, but I would like to start an online clothing business and eventually open up a physical store.

      More and more people are overwieght in this country and it is sometimes hard to find Plus Sized clothing that looks good. I would like to start an online business selling nice looking, affordable Plus Sized clothing for Women and teens. I would like to compete with Lane Bryant and Torrid stores.

      I have a couple of thousand dollars to work with.

      The problem that I am having, and I hope I can get some advice on this, is finding reliable wholesale clothing. There are tons of wholesalers selling "in fashion" clothes, but hardly any selling Plus Size, and when I do find Plus size clothes do not look good and you can only get one or two sizes, which doesnt work for me. Does anyone have advice on how to find wholesalers for plus sized clothing? Pants, Jeans, tops, shorts, bra's, panties, sleepwear. Is there such a thing as going to the same manufacturer that Lane Bryant, or other Plus size stores use and get unbranded inventory?

      Thank you

        • Re: Starting an online clothing business
          bentenn Adventurer
          My experience tells me that if you try to find a provider of a product or service and can't find any it is either because it is not a viable business opportunity or you may have found a great new opportunity for yourself!

          So if you can't find nice looking styles of women's plus size clothing, maybe just maybe you should consider contacting current providers of nice looking styles and have them custom make some plus size versions just for you. Then you can go to market with the word 'exclusive' and maybe even sell your styles to other websites and retail stores.

          Good luck. Ben
            • Re: Starting an online clothing business
              brianberry Newbie
              That is a good idea. So your saying, go into other stores for instance, find some styles that I like, try to find out who the manufacturer is and ask them to make it in a plus size for me? Or is there a better way of doing that? How does lane bryant do it? Do they have designers that work exclusivly for them?
                • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                  bentenn Adventurer
                  Yes, that is exactly what I mean. The bad news is that you may have to purchase a quantity in each size to encourage the producer to make some for you and you will have to purchase at least some samples to use to offer the products on your own site and on the site and stores of others.

                  Yes, the big retailers have their own designers. So this may be something you can shoot for down the road. For now, I suggest you just get started with a few items, see if you can attrack a following and then continue to introduce new styles and designs so the same women will keep coming back to buy more. It is always easier to sell more to your existing customers than to try to get new customers.

                  • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                    Atlantic1co. Newbie
                • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                  Dr.King Newbie
                  Ben is right. We are doing that with our shoes an other clothing line we are starting. We have partnered with a large company to have the shoes made so we do not have to deal with the factories in China. We need a one million dollar letter of credit however to get started. That is one of the downfalls in dealing with big companies. So look for a company that will partner with you for a percentage of the profits. Some will want a comission as our company and may require a letter of credit before samples are made.

                  • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                    LUCKIEST Guide
                    Starting an online clothing business, Welcome Brian

                    Do you know about SCORE. SCORE is FREE both in person and online. SCORE can help you and your business.

                    Good luck
                      • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                        bentenn Adventurer
                        Dear Luckiest - it is great that you are SCORE Counselor. I too was a SCORE Counselor and enjoyed being a volunteer to help others start or grow their business.

                        Since you are so active on the Forum, you might also want to promote other SBA services including the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) that are located across the country. Unlike SCORE where the counselors are volunteers and usually retired execs or former business owners, the SBDC Counselors are mostly still working and are paid professionals working on behalf of the SBA with strict monitoring of progress and achievement on behalf of their clients, frequently meeting with clients for 5 to 10 hours each and helping with advice and assistance on securing business loans, marketing and sales strategy and implementation, business plans and more.

                        All the best of continued success to you up in New York.
                        • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                          brianberry Newbie
                          Please tell me what score is??
                            • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                              bentenn Adventurer
                              SCORE ( ) is a volunteer organization of retired execs and business owners who provide no cost business assistance to small businesses across the country.

                              The SBDC ( - then click Local Resources, then click SBDC) is a network of 1100 centers that provide no cost small business advice and assistance to more than a million small businesses each year to help them start, build and grow. The SBDC is funded primarily by the SBA and local governments and generous corporations. If you have more questions and want to talk things through, visit your local SBDC.

                              Good luck. Ben
                          • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                            PhilippKnoll Wayfarer
                            I'd most likely try to find a young and talented designer to work with. There are tons of good people out their just trying to get a chance like that. I don't believe that a young designer would cost you too much. It would be a great way for the designer to work on own ideas and get known.
                            That way you'd have the style of cloth you were looking for. You'd only have to find a producer and you'd have your own brand that you can sell online or in (your own) stores.

                            Of course that is very simplified, but if you come up with a good business plan and carefully select the people you work with you might but up to something with that idea.

                            BTW, in the past I've been working with companies with contact in Asia and Eastern Europe. You will be able to find producers their. That is just if you want to operate with really affordable rates. The other way would be to be a bit more expansive but sell US made products only. There are a lot of people caring about that right now.

                            Anyway, I wish you all the best!
                            • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                              yuerlee Newbie

                              Hi , this is good opputunity for start a business if you can find right size for people . good luck!
                              • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                                SME_ally Adventurer
                                Hi Brian,

                                Starting a business to fill a void in the market can be potentially huge for you. The replies you've received so far are very useful. I'd also like to add my 2 cents. With the unemployment rate in the US as high as it is now, I am sure you can find a talented designer who's between jobs. You just need to search fashion/designer forums. Got on some social networking sites like facebook. Similar to the economic struggles of individuals, companies too are struggling. Having said that, check your around area for any small/medium size manufacturers that can private label the clothes for you. Even if your order is small, if they're struggling, that's better than nothing.

                                Hong Kong/China are your less expensive options if you have the resources or connections. There are lots of apparel manufacturers in Hong Kong. Good luck to you.
                                • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                                  MoveForward Scout

                                  As of right now stop talking about your concept, it is clear you hit a opportunity.
                                  If you tell those within your community or in the coffee shop someone else may
                                  jump in on this.

                                  I have personal experience with what you are talking about, and you are right.
                                  We can not find clothes that look great and I do understand what you are saying.
                                  Since my whole life consists of bouncing up and down on the scales (friends call


                                  me the "White Oprah", we are both every busy with our companies, and our weight


                                  reflects the little time we take for ourselves. I like Oprah need to always looked


                                  polished in order to fill the image of my business. However, I hate shopping at


                                  Lane Bryant because the prices are high and my focus is always on losing weight


                                  (although, like most of us, that is a SLIM chance), my hope is only find something
                                  that will due for now. I HATE the manufactures, they have no clue. We want tops
                                  with sleeves that cut off just below the elbow, not above, we want to comfortable in
                                  the summer without showing flab. One of my favorite places to shop is "Dress Barn"
                                  on the "Big Girl Side" (yes I look over at the other side, waiting to get there).
                                  They have manufactures that somewhat get it.

                                  I suggest talking to ladies who attend Weight Watchers about what they want to
                                  see in clothes. There is a website called "Hungry Girl" LOVE IT. It send daily
                                  tips on new products and they promote Weight Watchers, have a contest on
                                  their site for the perfect outfit, the winner gets an outfit named after her!

                                  Now the rest of the clothes you talked about I could go on all day. I do not know
                                  how many times I said "one day I am going to make clothes for us big gals who
                                  just want to be in fashion and look good", so glad you are doing it.

                                  • Re: Starting an online clothing business
                                    loan guy Wayfarer
                                    Do you have an ex. summary.