One of the best things you can do for yourself is to gain a thorhough understanding of the distribution process within the apparel industry. Understand designing, contract manufacturing, wholesale sales, retailing and all that good stuff. If you are in this for the long haul and want to be in this industry, you need to understand how something goes from an idea in someone’s head to a finished product in the store to being in your hands.
Once you understand this, it is easier for you to figure out how to find merchandise at different places within the channel.
First and foremost, for every brand that you want, you really should know who makes that product and who retails it. You need to know what kind of volume you are looking at. In a general sense, companies with higher production runs have a better chance of having their merchandise end up on the off price market. And companies with very small production runs don’t have as much off price to unload.
Remember off price is all about market inefficiency. It’s about making more than you can sell at a certain price within a certain time frame. It’s about a retailer not moving stock even with a markdown. It’s about a lot of things. But whatever it’s about, it’s because the system is not perfect.
Therefore, understanding where something goes and how it is sold can help you figure out where you can get it.
Listen, some of you are still waiting for some of these hot brands like Juicy Couture and Seven Jeans and all that good stuff to end up in a Bloomingdales overstock load in good quantity. The day it does is the day that brand is starting to lose its luster. Reason? It sells like hotcakes and Bloomies can move it on one of many markdowns before it gets to the point of needing to be liquidated. I mean you’ve got customers, bargain hunters, employees. The little bit that ends up in a liquidation is little and may also be some really weird stuff that didn’t sell well at all.
You might have better luck hitting up a very nice specialty store (boutique) when they need to clear out end of season merchandise.
Truth be told, if I had to start all over again, knowing what I know now, I probably would go this route, to some extent. More about that next time.