What is a Clothing Distributor?

A clothing distributor is a company that buys clothing at wholesale prices from manufacturers and then distributes it to retail stores for sale to end users. Some clothing distributors, known as whole distributors, will also send out direct mail orders to the end user or consumer. When a clothing distributor buys clothing from a manufacturer, it raises the price before selling it to the end-user or retail store; the retail store then raises the price as well, resulting in a consumer paying much more for a given item than the distributor paid for it from the manufacturer.

A clothing distributor may have agreements with a number of different clothing manufacturers. The distributor may purchase a variety of clothing items, including shoes, coats, dresses, skirts, and pants. One distributor may specialize in a specific style or type of clothing, or they may offer a wide range of options. The distributor may also purchase one or more specific fashion apparel brands. A distributor, for example, may purchase only higher-end clothing or a diverse range of clothing from both the high and low ends of the price spectrum.

Distributors frequently enter into agreements with manufacturers to produce clothing in parts of the world where labor costs are lower than in more developed countries. A distributor, for example, may have a contract for clothing or apparel to be manufactured in China or the Philippines. In these cases, a clothing distributor also serves as an importer, bringing clothing in from abroad to sell in more developed markets like the United States or Europe.

In most cases, the clothing distributor also has relationships with retail stores. A distributor may have a number of different retail outlets with which he or she has a relationship. A distributor, for example, might supply Lee brand jeans to Sears, J.C. Penney, Wal-Mart, and other retailers who sell the brand. In order to protect their brand’s image and reputation in the clothing and apparel market, some high-end clothing brands limit the number of distributors and retail outlets that have access to their products. The distributor then facilitates the transfer of clothing and apparel products from the manufacturer to the retailer, filling orders for goods and items as requested the retailer and profiting from the markup on items sold.