How to Stock Your On-line Fashion Shop by Collette Costello – How to Start a Fashion Company Series

So you love fashion, you want it to be your career and have dreams of owning your own on-line fashion shop.  Before you can start selling you need to decide where your going get your fashion items from ready to sell in your on-line shop, below is my guide written from experience:



Pros – As a fashion designer the dream is to design your own clothes, see them made and worn by a happy customer.  I remember after making my first collection going into a bar in Manchester and seeing someone wearing one the dresses I had produced, it was a proud moment.  One way to sell your designs is to make them yourself, pay a home dressmaker or small shop to make them for you to sell on-line.  Samples rooms such as Fashion Enter in London also offer this service.

Cons – Making your own clothes can be difficult, they have to look really professional to sell which requires good making skills.  Whilst you are spending time making, you are unable to do other essential work such as marketing to bring in sales.  A home dressmaker, sample room could charge you 50% of the sale price of your fashion item.  I found it was better to decorate ready-made items such as printing t-shirts or embroidering jeans and selling them.


Pros – I paid a factory to make my first collection after winning a business start-up grant from Salford council of £2000.  It was good in the fact I had the fabric dropped at the factory and a few weeks later picked up a collection of 50 dresses, professionally made in all different sizes.

Cons – Money, money, money!!  Factories will only do minimum orders, 50 dresses costed well over a thousand pound to have made.  Dealing with factories is risky, I also had the fabric printed in my own design for my first collection with a £2000 grant from the Princes Trust.  The fabric was printed by Digitex in Trafford Park, they printed it with a fault so it could not be used.  Digitex refused to reprint it and there was nothing I could do, new designer no money why would they care.  Another factory I dealt with took the fabric for my dresses and stopped answering their phone so i could not get hold of them, luckily no other money had been paid.  It is not called the rag trade for nothing and the manufacturing side can be a little dodgy.


Pros – Vintage handbags, clothes, shoes are great items to sell.  You can pick them up at charity shops, textile merchants, car boot sales and E-bay for a few pound.  Give them a wash, sort them in trends such as 1990s t-shirts and makes such as Levis, with good photography you can add up to £10 per item on what you paid for them.  Another option is to up-cycle them, with a bit of chopping and changing an old garment can be reinvented.

Cons – I tried selling vintage kids clothing on-line, makes such as John Lewis and Next would gain a lot of interest.  I also saw a lot of sellers selling adult fashion, as long as it had a brand the items were selling sometimes for only £10 less then the original price.  Whilst I did make sales it was other brands I was selling and as a designer I wanted my own designs to sell.  I felt really guilty when I went into a charity shop and a naive shop assistant sold me a designer dress for £3, which I then sold at a profit.  Digging through sometimes unclean clothes and then washing the clothes became the main part of the job which I did not enjoy so moved on quickly.

Wholesale –

Pros – After all my experiences making and having clothes produced, the idea of wholesale was like dream.  Buying readymade clothes, that easy and selling them, wow.  Usually a retailer would take the wholesale price and double it to get their selling price.  I purchased wholesale handbags to sell alongside my clothing collections,  also for my personalised childrenswear collection and yes it saved me so much time for other things such as up-dating my social media.  Handbags are good to buy from wholesalers on-line and offer a good on trend variety, I used Moda Handbags based in Manchester.

Cons – For my childrenswear I purchased plain pyjamas from wholesalers to print on, issues was so had every other small business, finding the same pyjamas selling in on-line shops including Not On the High-street, this made it hard to be original.  A lot of wholesalers will still only sell to big companies they have a relationship with, starting at minimum orders of 1000 items.  Wholesales that will sell to anyone can be found on-line usually with a minimum order of £200, personally I found the fashion on these sites unattractive and not really on trend, often they only have one or two sizes available in a style.

Fashion has reputation for being a hard, risky business to succeed in and always be carefully before spending any money.  I hope my experiences help you in some way, however you may find what did not work for me, will work for you.  So please let me know about about your experiences.








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