Women's and Children's Apparel Wholesalers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 6,400 women’s, children’s, and infant apparel wholesalers in the US act as middlemen between apparel suppliers and retailers. Major revenue categories include dresses and blouses; outerwear; underwear; and infant and children’s clothing. Some firms also sell men’s and boy’s clothing, unisex clothing, and furs. Because the majority of apparel sold in the US is produced overseas, most wholesalers must work with long lead times.

Trends, Fads, and Seasonality

The apparel market is driven by fashion trends and fads, which create uneven demand for wholesalers.

Complex Supply Chain

The apparel supply chain is long and complex, and typically involves numerous parties, many of which are located overseas.

Industry size & Structure

The average women's, children's, and infant apparel wholesaler operates out of a single location, employs fewer than 10 workers, and generates $10-11 million annually.

    • The women's, children's, and infant apparel wholesale industry consists of about 6,400 firms that employ about 78,500 workers and generate about $67 billion annually.
    • The women's, children's, and infant apparel wholesale industry is fragmented; the top 50 companies account for 37% of industry revenue.
    • Most domestic apparel companies (which are technically classified as apparel manufacturers) own or license brand names and outsource the majority of production to third-party manufacturers overseas. These apparel companies are often referred to as wholesalers because they sell apparel at wholesale to major accounts.
    • Large apparel companies with wholesale operations include VF Corporation (The North Face, Dickies, JanSport, Easkpak) and PVH Corporation (Calvin Klein, Izod, Olga, Warner's).
                              Industry Forecast
                              Women's and Children's Apparel Wholesalers Industry Growth
                              Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                              Recent Developments

                              Jul 10, 2023 - More Women in Supply Chain C-Suite Roles
                              • Women now make up a higher percentage of the supply chain C-suite, according to a Gartner study in Modern Distribution Management. The Gartner eighth annual Women in Supply Chain Survey found that women comprise 26% of supply chain C-suite roles, up from 19% in 2022. According to Caroline Chumakov, Director Analyst in the Gartner Supply Chain Practice, “It’s particularly encouraging to see women make gains at the senior executive level, as we know that when a woman holds the top supply chain position this has a positive correlation with more women in leadership and in all roles through that organization.” Women accounted for 41% of the supply chain workforce in 2023 (compared to 39% in 2022) and 31% of frontline workers. Conducted in February/March 2023, the report surveyed 225 supply chain leaders.
                              • Traditional retailers are investing more in resale operations as second-hand shopping continues gaining popularity with consumers. REI Co-Op is opening a new Re/Supply location in Clackamas, Oregon, in August 2023, its second shop selling used clothing and gear. The Re/Supply will be stocked with products received through trade-in programs and store returns. American Eagle Outfitters launched its first online branded resale shop on the ThredUp platform in April 2023 as part of its goal to be carbon-neutral by 2030, per Sourcing Journal. Surf brand Faherty launched a dedicated resale channel called Faherty Second Wave in June 2023, with a goal to keep the company’s products out of landfills. The inventory contains peer-to-peer resale, as well as items directly listed by Faherty that had been returned or that were damaged and have been repaired. Nearly 90 brands launched dedicated resale programs in 2022, according to ThredUp’s Annual Resale Report.
                              • Cautious US consumers are spending less on discretionary categories such as fashion, with discretionary US general merchandise retail sales revenue down 7% in April 2023 over April 2022, according to Circana. The decrease can be attributed to food inflation (prices were up 8% in April 2023 over a year ago) and new post-pandemic lifestyle changes. According to Marshal Cohen, Circana’s chief retail advisor, “Faced with higher food and grocery bills, consumers have had to make concessions, and forgoing fashion-related purchases has been a big part of this trade-off. For the fashion industry to reengage with the consumer, its value proposition needs to be clear.” Circana recommends being in sync with consumers’ changing preferences and clothing replenishment cycles, as nearly 60% of consumers chose replenishment as the leading reason for apparel purchases. The apparel industry should supply a pipeline of fresh products to keep consumers interested and engaged.
                              • Sales for clothing and clothing accessory stores fell 4% unadjusted year over year and were essentially flat month over month seasonally adjusted in April 2023, according to data released by the National Retail Federation. Overall retail sales were up 1.6% in April 2023 over a year ago and up 0.4% from March 2023, according to the US Census Bureau. NRF’s retail sales calculation, which excludes car dealers, gas stations, and restaurants, showed an increase of 2% unadjusted year over year and 0.6% month over month in April 2023. According to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, “Moderating price levels, continued labor market strength and wage gains have increased consumers’ ability to spend. However, they remain cautious and concerned about the current economic environment. Retailers continue to provide competitive pricing and convenience to help cost-sensitive consumers stretch their budgets.”
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