Many wholesale apparel buyers look to find lots, closeouts, any kind of bulk quantity to fill their store’s shelves or sell online. The changes affecting the world of late did a number on the supply chain. As a result, everyone is downsizing their production. The world literally lost a large portion of its apparel production capacity. Big brands like Levi’s, Nike and many others are cutting back on the number of retailers they are selling. This means no more Levi’s at Ross or Tj Max and no more Nike at DSW.
The entire apparel supply chain landscape is changing. More and more, it will get harder to find off-price goods in large quantities. As this trickles down, even smaller retailers will be affected. For starters, prices are going up. Since there is less production, obviously it costs more per piece to make less.
There is also the added cost of air shipping since it became close to impossible to import anything from China or pretty much anywhere by boat. Air prices have nearly tripled in the past 2 years. When shipping by DHL cargo from Pakistan to the USA, a box with 48 pieces comes out to be $8 per piece. The going air cargo rate is over $11/kg, around $6 per LB.
Add to that the energy crisis in China where each factory only gets a limited number of hours of electricity, in some cases only 4 hours per day.
And that’s not all, even here in Los Angeles, apparel factory workers are simply not going back to work. Some sewing contractors and quoting 3 months because they do not have enough workers to produce the orders.
Clothing is a commodity almost like food. Regardless of what’s happening to the world and the apparel supply chain, people still need to get dressed and most have a taste for fashion.
As big brand clothing companies switch to select stores and sell direct to consumers online, smaller chain stores and boutiques will feel the diminishing supplies and higher prices.
The response to our changing garment supply landscape results in wholesale buyers realizing they need custom clothing. Big retail like Walmart and Target already have their own store brands and are manufacturing them. As the shelfs get emptier, they will need to produce more goods. This will be costly and take much longer than the delivery delays they need to keep the store supplied.
All of that could really turn to the advantage of small apparel shops and websites. As costs and lead times go up for off price and big retail stores, besides the hike in air freight prices, the cost of manufacturing garments in smaller quantities hasn’t gone up. Of course, you still can’t have 200 custom made jeans for the same price as someone who makes 100,000. Their inability to get the goods in comparison to smaller quantities going by air does make a big difference. Meaning smaller orders make it to the USA shipped by air, while big container orders going by boat just get stuck somewhere between wherever they come from and here.
Finding an affordable wholesale custom clothing distributor can help compensate for the imbalance in the supply chain. These kinds of companies have influence with many garment factories and can get orders through. Even with the restrictions and everything that is happening, factories are still running and are able to produce clothing. A wholesale custom clothing company helps stores get their own brands done by closing the gap for companies who have no experience or no staff manufacturing garments in bulk.
Not So Fast Fashion
Fast fashion is the ever moving heartbeat of the fashion industry. Its very definition is its ability to change rapidly. Where it used to take 4 weeks even for large wholesale custom clothing orders, it can now take up to 3 months for orders big and small. Regardless of what country the custom clothing manufacturers are, production takes forever. Some would expect domestic production to be quicker, it’s unfortunately not. Local apparel contractors in Los Angeles are flooded with orders and short on staff.
We all hope things will go back to normal, however it seems this is our new normal, we should adapt to it. A smaller, much slower production cycle.
Good Quality Wholesale Clothing is Still Alive
Despite the changes we are experiencing, quality hasn’t diminished. Fabric supplies are going down as orders slowed down. This hasn’t happened at the cost of quality. As a matter of fact, it seems easier now to find apparel manufacturers that produce the highest quality standards.
So What’s The Future For Wholesale Boutique Clothing?
That’s hard to tell without a crystal ball. A semi educated guess would be women’s fashion boutiques will turn to more basic items they will manufacture under their own store brand to compensate for the scarcity of famous fashion brand goods. One thing is for sure, the apparel industry is changing for good.