Success in Plus-Size Clothing Wholesale: 10 Tips to Get Started
The plus-size clothing market has been growing steadily over the past decade. In the US alone, the average dress size for women is now between 16 to 18. As the demand for trendy and fashionable clothing in larger sizes increases, starting a wholesale plus-size clothing business can be an extremely lucrative endeavor.
However, sourcing high-quality plus-size clothing and building a customer base requires knowledge of the industry's unique needs and challenges. Savvy plus-size wholesalers must identify the right suppliers, choose flattering and well-made designs, and market specifically to the needs of plus-size women.
This article will provide aspiring plus-size clothing wholesalers with ten tips to help them enter the market and build a successful business. We'll cover crucial topics like researching the market, finding reliable suppliers, negotiating prices, quality control, manufacturing, product selection, fabrics, customer service, marketing and more. Whether you're just starting out or looking to grow an established plus-size wholesaling operation, these tips will give you a strategic edge.
Tip 1 - Research the plus-size clothing market
Before jumping into plus-size wholesaling, it’s important to thoroughly research the market, customers, and current trends. The plus-size market is not a niche, but a large segment accounting for over 30% of the total women’s clothing market. The most successful plus-size wholesalers understand their target demographics intimately. Look for market reports on growth projections, popular styles, rise of “body positive” brands, and differences between age groups like Baby Boomers vs. Millennials. Follow plus-size bloggers and influencers on social media to see what’s resonating. Attend a few wholesale trade shows like Curve and Full Figured Fashion Week. This in-depth orientation will help you identify unmet needs to target and avoid oversaturated markets.
Tip 2 - Find reliable plus-size clothing suppliers
Finding high-quality and reliable suppliers is crucial for plus-size wholesalers. Avoid suppliers that cater to straight sizes and look for those specializing in plus sizes. Good plus-size suppliers will offer a wide range of on-trend styles in diverse fabrics, understand proper fit, and provide consistency. Attend trade shows like CURVENY and MAGIC to meet suppliers in person and get a feel for their collections. Check references and visit factories if possible. Developing strong relationships with a few strategic suppliers is better than working with dozens. Make sure you vet all suppliers thoroughly in terms of ethical and sustainable manufacturing practices as well. Once you’ve found partners you can trust, agree on minimums, pricing tiers, delivery timelines, and payment terms upfront.
Tip 3 - Negotiate prices and payment terms
Wholesale pricing for plus-size clothing can vary widely between suppliers. Be prepared to negotiate to get the best possible pricing and terms. Economies of scale play a key role, so you may get better rates once you can commit to larger order volumes. Ask about discounts for bulk orders, prepayment, seasonal promotions, and whether pricing includes delivery costs. Payment terms are also negotiable - while 30/60/90 day payment cycles are common, longer terms allow more flexibility. However, be realistic about what payment terms you can manage as a new business. Don't accept terms you can't fulfill, as late payments will damage supplier relationships. Use your industry knowledge and order volumes as leverage when negotiating for the ideal pricing and payment terms.
Tip 4 - Order samples to check quality
The quality of plus-size clothing is paramount. Always order samples before committing to large wholesale orders. Examine the fabric quality, stitching, seams and general construction. Is the sizing consistent and true-to-fit? How well does it drape and flatter different plus size figures? Does it maintain shape after washing? Reject samples that don't meet your standards. If possible, have models of different body types try on samples to assess comfort and fit. Ask customers in your target demographic to evaluate samples as well. Only work with suppliers that can deliver consistent quality that aligns with your brand's value proposition. Paying for high-quality samples upfront can prevent expensive mistakes down the line.
Tip 5 - Consider private label manufacturing
Private label manufacturing allows wholesalers to order clothing manufactured to their custom specifications. While initially more expensive, private label plus-size lines allow you to control sizing, fabric, construction quality, and design details. This allows differentiation from competitors while aligning with your brand’s aesthetics and values. Work closely with manufacturers to transform your vision into well-fitting patterns and tech packs. Conduct thorough research to find manufacturers with plus-size expertise and ethical, sustainable practices. Start with small test batches and provide feedback before large production runs. Effective private label partnerships take time to build but are worthwhile for establishing your unique market positioning.
Tip 6 - Choose the right sizes and fits
One of the most important factors in plus-size wholesaling is carrying an inclusive and well-executed size range. The range should go up to at least size 32 and as high as size 44 for some brands. Make sure your suppliers and manufacturers have expertise in proper fit, proportion, shape, and construction for each size. Test samples across your full size range on diverse body types. Garments should not just scale up but flatter each body shape with attention to areas like waist, hips, thighs and arm length. Avoid vanity sizing by sticking to standardized plus size charts. Keep styles, colors and patterns consistent across the size line to cater to different body types. Choosing the right fit for underserved niches within plus like petites and talls can provide an edge.
Tip 7 - Offer trendy and classic styles
Finding the right mix of on-trend and classic styles is key for plus-size wholesaling. Stay on top of colors, patterns, silhouettes, and details that are hot each season. Attend fashion trade shows and follow influencers to spot trends early. But don’t ignore versatile basics and everyday styles, which make up the bread and butter. Polls and focus groups with your target customers can reveal insights into popular fits, styles and preferences. Provide a wide selection within each category, from formalwear to athleisure to lingerie. Make sure to test trendy plus-size samples yourself each season and get customer feedback. Offering the latest trends along with flattering, quality basics caters to every occasion in the plus-size woman’s wardrobe.
Tip 8 - Focus on quality fabrics and construction
Plus-size clothing puts more demand on fabrics and seams, so material quality is vital. Avoid cheap, flimsy fabrics like thin cotton knits and focus on higher grade textiles with some stretch and recovery like modal blends. Natural fabrics like 100% cotton and linen should have tighter weaves. Examine fabric content and processing standards from suppliers. For wovens, inspect the stitching at stress points like buttonholes, collars and hems. Areas prone to stretch like waistbands should have reinforced stitching. Zippers, clasps and closures should be sturdy. Ailing fabrics and seams reflect poorly on your brand. Educating on quality construction also allows you to justify higher price points. Taking the time to develop standards for fabric and garment quality will maximize durability, fit, and customer satisfaction.
Tip 9 - Provide exceptional customer service
In the world of plus-size clothing, customer service is marketing. Wholesalers should train customer service staff on the nuances of plus sizing and fit. Make size charts readily available and provide garment measurements. Offer a hassle-free returns process so customers can try items at home. Be available to answer questions and offer styling advice through channels like email, chat and social media. Seek out and respond promptly to online reviews. Consider offering customers free alteration credits to encourage purchases. Provide content like style guides and outfit ideas. The plus-size market’s growth traces back to a hunger for more choices and better service. Wholesalers who can communicate expertise while making each customer feel valued can win loyalty in this underserved market.
Tip 10 - Use social media and marketing to attract customers
Leveraging social media and strategic marketing is invaluable for plus-size wholesalers. Create content that connects with the body positive movement and influencers. Sponsor style bloggers to highlight your products. Share user-generated content showcasing real customers. Run targeted ads showcasing extended sizes for styles. Optimize your ecommerce site for keywords like “plus size clothing wholesale” and “wholesale plus size fashion.” Attend and sponsor plus exclusive fashion events and trade shows to network. Segment email lists by size and preferences to tailor promotions. PR campaigns in industry publications raise credibility. Influencer collaborations and giveaways drive awareness. Wholesale success requires an integrated marketing plan tailored to reaching diverse plus-size audiences where they gather online and offline.
Succeeding as a plus-size clothing wholesaler requires in-depth knowledge of this growing, yet underserved market. By researching customer needs, finding reliable suppliers, negotiating favorable terms, prioritizing quality and fit, providing exceptional service, and utilizing targeted marketing, wholesalers can gain an edge. Developing strategic partnerships, understanding latest trends, and catering to diverse body types and preferences are also essential. While launching a plus-size wholesale business has its challenges, the rewards make it a worthwhile endeavor. Using these tips as a roadmap can set plus-size wholesalers on the path to prosperity in this expanding and dynamic segment of the fashion industry. As the body positive movement continues to flourish, there are more opportunities than ever before to make a name in plus-size clothing wholesale.