How to Find Quality Clothing Suppliers for Your Boutique (USA)


If you want to find quality clothing suppliers for your boutique store, there are basically 2 types of suppliers to look for:

  • Clothing Manufacturer (could also be called Apparel Manufacturer)
  • Clothing Wholesaler (could also be called Apparel Supplier)

FindFashion Rep maintains a large collection of brands (which may or may not be the manufacturer) you can browse to find that right line for your store.

If you’re looking for dirt cheap wholesale suppliers, just search Google, you’ll find a ton.

But, if you want a curated selection, then keep reading as I’ll tell you how to find higher quality suppliers on your own.

If you are a planning to open a retail boutique outlet involving clothing, accessories, and jewelry, one of the most important things for your store will be maintaining a fresh supply of brands for your shoppers.

At FindFashion Rep, we maintain a large list of fashion brands (over 4000) by fashion designers from the US and Europe and we are slowly making it available.

Difference Between Manufacturer, Wholesaler, Supplier, and Designer

Before we delve into this article, it’s best to understand the difference between the terms manufacturer, wholesaler, supplier, and designer.

First of all, the clothing supplier is the general term for some entity that can provide you with a supply of apparel or accessory. It could be the designer, the manufacturer, or the wholesaler.

The difference between these terms: designer, manufacturer, and wholesaler is not always apparent and an entity can be all three or just two or just one of these terms.

Let’s look at the designer. This is the person who architects the clothing or accessory. The designer may also be big enough to manufacture their own supply and wholesale it to retailers.

The clothing manufacturer is the one who makes the clothing or accessory. It’s quite possible and common for a designer to contract out the manufacturing of their design to a manufacturer.

The wholesaler is a type of supplier that does not make the clothing or accessory. They buy their supplies in large quantities from the manufacturer so that they can resell it to retailers who may not be able to buy it in large quantities from the manufacturer.

The manufacturer is a type of supplier as well. They make the clothing or accessory and will only sell their lines in large quantities.

The designer is also a type of supplier if they also manufacture their own lines. Large designers may own the manufacturing facility or own the process so no one else has access to it. Thus, they may act as the manufacturer and wholesaler.

Apparel Sales Reps

Apparel sales reps aren’t clothing suppliers, but, they can connect you with one. That’s their job. At least, that’s the point of view from the boutique. From the designer’s point of view, you want a sales rep to help you sell your brand.

When starting off, a brand may act as the clothing wholesaler, manufacturer, and the retailer. It’s tough work when starting off!

Later, as the brand develops, many brands sell through designated apparel sales reps or showrooms who are specialized retailers usually seen by appointment only. They are often former fashion designers themselves and have changed careers to offer consulting services as well.

If you connect with the sales rep, then you can connect with the brand or supplier behind the brand, if you’re a retailer. If you are a designer, then the sales rep will help you connect with retailers.

You can find sales rep and showroom contact info from our US apparel sales rep contact lists. These sales reps manage the wholesale (b2b) sales for many brands.

For the retail distribution, the brand or designer may use their sales reps to find retailers to market their clothing or accessory lines.

So, if you’re a boutique retailer looking for some brands to sell, hopefully a sales rep will find you. But, when you’re starting off, they obviously won’t. That’s why you can seek out sales reps and let them know you’re looking. They’ll be glad to meet with you and show you what lines they are selling.

The alternate way to do this is to look at brands you like and then ask the brand how you can buy from them.

For brands starting off with no sales representation, you can often deal directly with the brand or designer behind the brand.

Apparel and Fashion Accessories Trade Shows

Another way to find clothing suppliers or wholesalers is to attend apparel and fashion accessories trade shows where mostly designers and brands get together to showcase their clothing or accessory lines.

In the United States, there are 12 major fashion apparel hubs across the country. Each hub has a territory name and generally includes one or more surrounding states with respect to the fashion trade.

Each hub may have local trade shows you can attend. Trade shows are like goldmines! You can find new brands and designers, manufacturers, sales reps and sales agencies, and much more at trade shows. You can develop contacts and make deals right there on the spot.

Definitely attend a local trade show when starting off in the business. And attend an appropriate trade show to find the right type of apparel supplier. For example, finding mens clothing suppliers can be difficult. Everywhere you go, apparel advertising and marketing is generally geared for female consumers.

So, knowing that the Cobb Trade Show specializes in mens clothing is more beneficial to you than going to most other apparel trade shows. Other trade shows may have mens brands, but, this trade show only has mens brands.

Below, I have summarized a number of apparel trade shows for the 12 fashion hubs across the United States.

Table of Fashion Hubs and Local Fashion Trade Shows

Territory NameAreas Included
(Can vary)
Fashion
Tradeshows
AtlantaGeorgia, Alabama, South & North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, MississippiCOBB Trade Show
Atlanta Ultimate Womens Expo
Atlanta Shoe Market
Great Bridal Expo
Atlanta Apparel Mart
Atlanta Jewelry Show
BostonMassachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, upstate New YorkManchester Signature Show
New England Bride Comes to Life
October Show
Baystate Wedding & Bridal Expo
International Gem & Jewelry Show
ChicagoIllinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, OhioSTYLEMAX
Chicago Vintage Clothing & Jewelry
Chicago Collective
Chicago Ultimate Womens Expo
DallasTexas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, ArkansasFashion Industry Gallery Market
Dallas Apparel and Accessories Market
International Gem & Jewelry Show
The Great Bridal Expo
Brand Assembly Show
Dallas Kidsworld Market
Truck Show Addision
DenverColorado, Utah, Kansas, Maryland, MIssouri. North Dakota, South DakotaDenver Apparel and Accessory Market
Cala Denver
Outdoor Retailer Market
Champs Trade Shows
Outdoor Retailer & Snow Show
International Gem & Jewelry Show
Rocky Mountain Bridal Show
WESA Trade Show
Quality Hill Bridal Show
Simply Bridal Show
Denver Baby & Kids Experience
Bridal & Wedding Expo
Los AngelesCalifornia, Nevada, ArizonaLA Market Week
LA Majors Market
LA Ultimate Womens Expo
Label Array
LA Mens Market
California Bridal and Wedding Show
LA Fashion Market
ODD Market
Style Fashion Week
A Current Affair LA
Swim Collective Trade Show
MiamiFloridaCoast Fashion Trade Exhibit
Swank Deco Miami Fashion Show
Jewelers International Showcase
Style Fashion Week
International Watch and Jewelry Guild Show
Mid-AtlanticNew York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, West VirginiaTrunk Show Washington
Washington Wedding Experience
Mid-Atlantic Fashion Focus Show
Internatnional Gem & Jewelry Show
Quinceanera Expo
Wedding Experience
Bridal Fantasy
Great Bridal Expo
Allure Bridals Trunk Show
MinneapolisMinnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, WisconsinNorthstar Fashion Exhibitions
UNVEILED – The Ultimate Wedding Planning Event
GLW Wholesale Trade Show
Forever Bride Market
Two Cities Bridal Show
Minneapolis Mart Show
New YorkNew York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, PennsylvaniaIntermezzo
Coterie
Accessory Circuit
Moda
Accessories The Show
San FranciscoCalifornia, Oregon, NevadaCALA San Francisco Trade Show
Womenswear in Nevada
Wine, Women, and Shoes Show
Fashion Market Northern California
DG Expo
Berta Trunk Show
Tribal & Textile Arts Show
Bay Area Wedding Fair
Luxe Bridal Show
International Gem & Jewelry Show (San Mateo)
Trunk Show (Concord)
SeattleWashington, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, AlaskaWine, Women, and Shoes Show
Northwest Event How
Seattle Wedding Show
International Gem & Jewelry Show
NW Trend Show — Fridaze – The Original Wrinkle-Resistant Linen Collection
Bridal Trunk Show (Washington)
NW Trend / Apparel Show
NW Womens Show
IFAI Fabricators Conference & Showcase Fall 2019
Bellevue Wedding Expo
Vogue Knitting Live

The trade shows listed above include clothing, accessories such as handbags and jewelry, and specialty clothing such as wedding gowns.

Many of the trade shows listed above are organized by the same company and offered in different locations. Below is a list of some of the bigger fashion only trade shows you may be interested in.

Fashion Trade Show Organizers

CompanyTradeshowDescription
UBM FashionUBM has a multitude of tradeshows across multiple locations including:
Las Vegas
New York
Miami
Tokyo
UBM Fashion organizes some of the biggest fashion trade shows such as MAGIC Coterie, FN, PROJECT, and Children’s Club.

Their trade shows cover all the major fashion categories for men, women, and children.
DG ExpoThey have multiple venues of Fabric shows across 5 locations:
San Francisco
New York City
Chicago
Dallas
Miami
DG Expo offers several fashion trade shows specializing in textiles.
InterGemInternational Gem & Jewelry ShowInterGem hosts the largest and longest running direct to consumer gem and jewelry show. You can buy direct from the manufacturers or wholesalers at this trade show.

Details of the Fashion Apparel Trade Shows

COBB Trade Show

Upcoming Show: Sunday October 17, 2021 to Monday October 18, 2021

The Cobb Tradeshow is a curated fashion event produced by the Atlanta Apparel Exhibition Group. The show takes place at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

This is the place if you want to find mens fashion brands to supply your store.

Focus: Mens Brands

# of Brands: 600

Show Space: 100,000 sq. ft

Website: https://cobbtradeshow.com/

AmericasMart Atlanta Apparel Shows

Upcoming Show: October 12, 2021 to October 16, 2021

AmericasMart Apparel Shows are at multiple times throughout the year including: February, April, June, August, and October for apparel.

AmericasMart has trade shows for gifts and home furnishings too. So, I’ve weeded that out and provided info specific to apparel.

Atlanta Apparel has upcoming specialty shows in:

  • Bridal – Tuesday April 12, 2022 to Wednesday April 13, 2022
  • Prom – To be announced.

Location: 240 Peachtree Street, Suite 2200, Atlanta, GA 30303, United States

Phone: 404.220.2446 (Registration and Custom Relations)

Website: Atlanta Apparel

# of brands: Up to 1000

Atlanta Shoe Market

Upcoming Show: February 19-21, 2022

Phone: 706-923-0580

Location:

Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, Georgia

2 Galleria Pkwy SE, Atlanta, GA 30339, United States

Southeastern Shoe Travelers Association manages the “Atlanta Fashion Shoe & Accessory Market” held twice a year in Atlanta, Georgia. This show directly follows the New York FFANY Show and is generally held in December and June.

Like the Cobb Trade show, this is held at the Cobb Galleria Centre

Focus: Footwear

Website: https://atlantashoemarket.com/

Manchester Signature Show

Upcoming Show: October 17 to 19, 2021

Location:

Double Tree Manchester

700 Elm Street

Manchester, NH

Phone (show organizer): (781) 326-9223

The New England Apparel Club (NEAC) organizes several shows in New England including Worchester, Manchester, Hyannis, Portland, and New York.

Like most trade shows, this is geared towards Womens Apparel and Jewelry.

Website: https://neacshow.com/

Stylemax

Upcoming Show: October 24 to 26, 2021.

Phone: 312.527.4141

Location: Chicago, Illinois

STYLEMAX launched in 2000 and has since become a leading tradeshow for womens apparel. Four times per year the show hosts an extensive selection of brands from categories such as contemporary, premium denim, bridge, footwear, activewear, accessories, beauty & life+style.

Website: https://www.stylemaxonline.com/

Stylemaxx Video 2021

Please feel free to comment below if you think I missed something like a trade show or another type of supplier.

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