If you want to sell clothing and accessories online, partnering with the best fashion dropshippers is vital.
It’s a huge market with a lot of potential – and plenty of products to choose from, making finding a specific niche a lot easier.
The question is, how can you find the right suppliers, selling quality products at a good price? Let’s take a look at the main things to look for, as well as some of the pitfalls to avoid and some tips and tricks for fashion dropshippers.
Fashion Dropshippers: What Items Can You Sell?
There’s a whole range of stuff you can sell as a fashion dropshipper – with lots of niches and even sub-niches, if you want to target a very specific type of customer.
Any type of clothing you can imagine can be found for dropshipping. Here’s some ideas for niches:
- Children’s clothing
- Formal wear
- Workout clothes
- Office wear
- Hoodies and sweatshirts
You can get a lot more specific than that too, for example:
- Products aimed for certain sizes (this can be partnered with a specific product, for example – plus-sized formal dresses, short-length men’s trousers, office wear aimed at taller women)
- Printed clothing (like t-shirts) aimed at a certain hobby or interest
- Kids sleepwear
You could also look into selling accessories, like:
- Purses and wallets
- Neck ties
Print-on-demand is really popular, for a good reason – you can easily add your own designs to a whole range of clothing, and they will be printed and delivered straight to your customer. You can even have items embroidered with your own custom designs.
What to Look for in a Fashion Dropshipping Supplier
There are a few things you’ll want to think about when finding a supplier for fashion dropshipping.
Good Quality Clothing
It’s obvious, but you want to make sure the items you sell are of a decent quality. So how can you tell?
There are a few things you can do just by looking at images of the items. Zoom in close to look out for uneven and wonky stitching – if the image looks a bit off, chances are it will be in real life, too. If your chosen item has a pattern, zooming in can allow you to see if the pattern lines up at the seams. It’s surprising how many flaws you can spot just by zooming in on an image.
Looking at the materials used can help too. For example, knitwear made from mostly acrylic isn’t going to last long before it starts to pill. Natural fibres last longer when it comes to sweaters, but it costs a lot more to produce.
Natural isn’t always better though in terms of creating a long-lasting garment. Cotton feels soft, but isn’t as durable as a cotton-polyester blend – so it’s better for creating t-shirts that won’t become misshapen in the wash.
If you’re going for a print-on-demand service, check what printing techniques they use – your customers might be pretty annoyed if the design starts peeling off after one wash. Direct-to-garment printing is pretty robust, as it involves spraying ink directly onto the fabric (like a printer, but for clothes). Whereas heat transfer designs might start to crack after a while.
It’s always a good idea to think about ethics when it comes to fashion. See if you can find out about the manufacturing process – where are the garments made? Are the workers treated fairly, and how is this monitored? Is the process of making them particularly harmful to the environment? A good supplier should be able to answer these questions for you.
If you really like a particular product, you might want to be able to offer it in a variety of sizes and colors to allow your customers more choice.
Shipping and Fulfilment
Check the shipping times – how quickly can they get products to customers? Also, it’s worth checking out how they package their items, to ensure they’ll arrive safely and undamaged.
Easy to Use Website
If you’re going to be ordering from the same supplier, it’s worth going for one that has an easy to use website. There’s nothing more annoying than having to navigate around a cluttered, buggy website day after day!
How easy is it to contact someone if you have a query? Some suppliers will link you with a dedicated customer service rep – this is worth it’s weight in gold as it could potentially save you a lot of hassle and time explaining the same issue to different people.
Fashion dropshippers may have to deal with more returns than other dropshippers – after all, there’s no real way of knowing if something will fit you before you try it on. That’s why the returns policy is particularly key here – how easy will it be for your customers to get a return if something doesn’t fit?
Minimum Order Quantity
You might stumble upon a minimum order quantity – this might be a problem for dropshippers as you may not have many orders initially. Some suppliers allow you to pay a certain amount to your account, which you can use to pay for future orders – this might be worth looking into.
See if you can get hold of some samples. Not all suppliers offer this, but it’s the best way to check the quality of the garments and the materials.
Choosing Domestic or Overseas Fashion Dropshippers
You might be wondering if it’s better to go for domestic or overseas suppliers. There is a bit of difference between the two, so it depends on what suits you.
Domestic Suppliers – Pros and Cons
There are a few pros to choosing domestic suppliers:
- Faster shipping – for obvious reasons, domestic suppliers should give you fairly fast delivery times. Plus, you should be able to offer more shipping options to your customers (like express delivery)
- Quicker/easier returns – it should be more straightforward to process returns using a domestic supplier
- High quality products – you may find the products are of a higher quality, which is better for your customers
- Quicker communication – with no time difference or language barriers, you might find it easier and quicker to contact your supplier if you need assistance
But there’s a catch:
- Higher prices – you can expect to pay a bit more for domestic suppliers. You can reflect this in your pricing, of course, but this may put some people off
- Less products to choose from – you’ll be narrowing down your options by going for domestic suppliers only
Overseas Suppliers – Pros and Cons
Now let’s look at the pros of overseas suppliers:
- Bigger variety of products – by opening your search worldwide, you’re more likely to find unique products
- Cheaper products – you can find lower prices overseas
And the cons:
- Shipping will take longer – this will vary by supplier
- Returns – the returns process may be more complicated
- Product quality – some products may be of a poorer quality than you’d like
Fashion Dropshippers Pitfalls to Avoid
It can be easy to stumble upon a bad supplier or low-quality products – that’s the problem when everything is done online! We’ve already covered the importance of returns policy and choosing good-quality items, but there are a couple more mistakes you can easily avoid:
Scammers target every area of the internet – dropshipping included. There are a few signs that your dropshipping supplier may not be the most reliable. If they want to charge you membership or service fees, steer clear – it’s not standard practice to have to pay a monthly fee before you’ve even made an order. Also, check their contact details, which should be clearly signposted. If you can’t figure out how you can contact them, choose another supplier instead.
Fashion dropshipping is super competitive. If you’re not finding much success, it might be because you’re picking products that are just too popular with other dropshippers. Picking a very specific niche can help here as you’re less likely to find a lot of competition, but it may take a little time to figure out what works best.
I’ve Found a Good Supplier – How do I Establish a Good Working Relationship with Them?
If you’ve found the perfect supplier, you’ll want to hang onto them. Having a good working relationship with your suppliers is super important for lots of reasons – including the possibility of flexibility with orders, the opportunity for them to let you know about new products in advance, and other ideas for collaboration.
So how can you start off on the right foot – and stay that way?
Pay on Time
Paying on time is really important. Late payments will give your suppliers a bad impression of you – and word can spread amongst suppliers. Clear your payments in time and let your suppliers know that they can trust you. In the U.K, a study of over 500 professionals revealed that 78% of people admitted to paying suppliers late – meaning if you’re paying on time, you’re in the minority!
Any fees that you owe need to be paid right away. That way, your supplier is more likely to think about you favourably (and you won’t have outstanding payments hanging over your head).
Respond to Communications Quickly
It’s not healthy to be glued to work emails 24/7, but responding to communications as quickly as possible is important – if you reply promptly, your suppliers are going to want to reply promptly to you, which works better for both of you. According to this study by the University of Bath, U.K., email silence has been proven to harm relationships – both personal and working ones. So, reply to that email or call as quickly as you possibly can.
Be Mindful of Cultural Differences
If you’ve gone for an overseas supplier, there are a few things to remember. Time difference is an obvious one, but most companies will advertise their contactable hours on their website. It’s worth remembering that they may not respond to emails within your own working hours.
It’s also a kind gesture to think about any holidays they may be celebrating – even a quick mention of a holiday may go some way towards increasing goodwill. (There are websites out there to help you keep track of this, like Checkiday. Although you may not need to know that the third Friday in May is ‘National Pizza Party Day’, it can still keep you aware of events that your supplier might be celebrating.)
Accidentally being ignorant or insensitive to different cultures in business dealings can have consequences. This article by Commisceo Global covers a few case studies from big businesses making culturally insensitive choices. Although you’re unlikely to offend anyone by accident, it’s still worth being aware of cultural differences – it's a good habit to get into.
Quick Tips for Fashion Dropshippers
Maybe you’ve narrowed down your search, and you’re almost ready to start selling. There are a few things you can do before you get going:
It’s strongly recommended that you order samples if at all possible. It allows you not only to check the quality of your products, but also the shipping time and how the products will be packaged. Plus, having physical samples of products makes it much easier if you want to create your own images for your website.
Test Your Products
Once your products arrive, you can give them a thorough test for quality.
- Test the hems and seams – are they unravelling? Do they look wonky or uneven?
- Check the general quality – if you pull the garment, does it spring back, or does it stay stretched? If you quickly scrunch it and hold it for a few seconds, does it stay wrinked? These issues may result in a high level of returns.
- Check transparency of garments – hold up your garment to the light. Is it see-through? Your price may need to reflect this. People may be happy to have a shirt that needs to be worn over the top of another garment, but might expect it to be a little cheaper than a garment made from thicker fabric.
- Check if the sizing is correct – now is a good time to measure the garment and see if it matches the measurements given by the supplier
- Wash the garment – if it starts pilling, stretching or fading immediately, chances are your customers will be unhappy!
- Check print/embroidery quality – if you’re going with a print-on-demand service, ordering a sample allows you to check the quality of the print techniques used.
Check What Your Competitors Are Doing
Ordering from competitors is also a good idea. This allows you to see how they’re doing it – what prices they’re charging, how they’re packaging their items, what the quality is like, and how quickly their orders arrive. This allows you to compare their suppliers with yours, which is a great idea before you make your final decision on a supplier.
Company Branding for Fashion Dropshippers
For a cohesive brand experience, you may be able to have your logo printed on the shipping paperwork. You may even be able to have your logo printed onto the clothing labels – but this will cost more, so you’ll have to figure out if it’s worth the money.
Is There a Quick Way of Finding a Fashion Dropshipping Supplier?
There are a couple of ways that you can sidestep the search for a good dropshipper (or at least cut down on the time it takes.) You can speed things up by using an app or integration, or a dropshipping supplier’s directory.
Use an App or Integration for Your eCommerce Store
Some eCommerce platforms have apps or integrations that connect you directly to a wide range of clothing suppliers, making the whole process of searching for suppliers much quicker. Here’s a quick look at some of the main apps out there that work well for fashion dropshippers:
Oberlo is a great app if you have Shopify store. It connects you with tons of suppliers, including plenty of clothing and apparel suppliers. It includes a whole bunch of tools and shortcuts – it fulfils orders automatically, updates inventory and price changes, and even allows for some customization of products (depending on what they are). They also have a free plan for you to try out, allowing you up to 500 products before going into a paid plan.
The AliExpress Dropshipping Shopify app is great for beginners – it’s fairly simple to use and gives you access to a huge number of products in the AliExpress catalogue. It has a very fast setup time, too. The only downside is the products can vary in quality, so you may have to be selective in the products you choose to sell – but in terms of ease of use, it’s pretty great. They also have a Chrome extension that allows you to import AliExpress products into your store with one click.
AliExpress Dropshipping starts from $5 per month, so not a huge investment if you want to give it a try.
Spocket integrates with Shopify and WooCommerce. They can connect you with a variety of fashion suppliers, and they offer personalized branding for invoices and receipts – this is great if you want to keep your branding cohesive.
What’s great about Sprocket is that it allows you to order sample products, making it much easier to test the quality of each product. They have a free plan.
Printful is a great choice for print-on-demand dropshippers. It integrates with lots of platforms, including Shopify, WooCommerce, Wix and Squarespace. For fashion dropshippers, it’s a good one – it has a huge range of apparel and accessories. They don’t have a monthly fee, either.
A good choice for beginners, Salehoo is technically a directory, but with market research tools thrown in. You can search through Salehoo to find products, including big brands. Plus, their market research tools allow you to see which products are trending. Salehoo costs $67 for one year of access.
Modalyst is a platform that focuses on fashion – with clothing and accessories in a range of niches (again, including big brands), it saves time for fashion dropshippers as it cuts out a lot of time sifting through irrelevant products. It integrates with Wix, Shopify, and BigCommerce – they have a free plan too.
My Online Fashion Store
As the name suggests, My Online Fashion Store aims to make it simple to start an eCommerce store in the fashion niche. Their dropshipping program links you to many suppliers, and they add new products every day. They have integrations with Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, and more. Pricing starts from $19 per month.
Using a Dropshipping Suppliers Directory
You can also pay to access a supplier’s directory. This gives you access to the contact details of vetted suppliers – meaning it cuts out the risk of finding a fake or unreliable supplier.
Our directory is a guide to the best suppliers out there – we only include the details of trusted suppliers. The suppliers are based all around the world, and we cover a huge number of niches – with links directly to the suppliers’ landing page, it saves you tons of time. The advanced filtering allows you to organise suppliers not only by niche, but by area (or both).
We only pick the best suppliers – so you can trust that they are reliable and professional.
It’s regularly updated too, as trends (particularly for fashion dropshippers) change fast. A one-time purchase gives you lifetime access to updates – you can find out more about it here.