Finding a distributor of a specific brand of designer apparel or accessories

From time to time I get questions from people asking about a distributor of a product. Most want to get as close to the source as possible and do not want to deal with middlemen. Now middlemen have their place, as in the guide I cover (in depth) the purpose middlemen serve for small and large buyers. But anyhoo, this question comes up so much, I need to answer it.

There are no “distributors” in the designer apparel industry.

Don’t take the business model for another industry and try and apply it here.

If you have a full priced regular retail store, you either buy your merchandise directly from the company or from a sales rep that is paid a commission by the company. Not having a sales rep will not lower your cost of merchandise because the sales rep does not **add on** to the price, they are paid a commission by the company whose goods they are selling.

Please believe me when I say that. Ralph Lauren, Seven Jeans, whatever, they don’t have distributors here in the United States. They really don’t.

Now, there are exceptions to this. And generally that is when foreign brands enter into a country other than the one in which they are based. For example, a company that is smaller like Seven Jeans may have distributors in Europe, Asia and whatever. These are companies they contract with to handle the sales of their goods to retail stores in a specific territory. Or a smaller foreign brand might have a US distributor to handle the sales and import of their merchandise to service their American retail accounts.


Because a large company will often have their own foreign sales offices and handle this themselves.

Okay, are you with me so far?

When you buy discount/off price merchandise, you are not dealing with a distributor, you are dealing with a JOBBER. A jobber is in the business of trading excess stock. Now a jobber might have an agreement for exclusive distribution of a particular brand to the off price market, but they are not a distributor the way you are looking at it. So, from now on when people ask me how they can find a distributor of a product I will point them here to this article. You’ll know, they will know, we’re all on the same page.

Now that leads me to another thing…