Wholesale Trends in 2018: The Rise of Niche Designers

So you’ve known about the trending style directions for 2018 for quite some time – but do you know what the wholesale trends are for 2018?
Today in retail, disruption is the name of the game. Accessories and apparel buyers are wising up to the latest shifts in technology and consumer behavior and evolving their strategies accordingly. Here’s what you need to know to keep up…

Buyers Are Attending Less Trade Shows

There are more trade shows than ever before, including a lot of regional editions. As a former buyer I can confirm these people are super busy and there just isn’t enough time to visit every show. Even when we consider the fact that buyers are often paid to attend certain shows, they still can’t make it every time.
My advice? Pay attention to what’s happening in the field. Make your time and money count by opting to present at only the most apt selection of shows for your particular target market. You can even ask a few of your ideal target buyers if they’ll be attending a specific show so you’ll have a better idea of which ones count the most. As a bonus, you can set up a few appointments ahead of time too.


Reps Are Hitting the Road to Visit Buyers

Buyers visiting less shows is one factor that led to a new phenomenon: the road rep. Reps have gone mobile! They’re driving across the country with your products visiting the right retailers for your brand and talking to buyers and owners face-to-face. Every rep typically works in a single zone such as Texas only or the Northeast. Since they’re constantly on the road and they meet with buyers regularly and in person, they tend to build very strong and lasting relationships with them.
This can be a seriously cost-effective strategy for your brand. A lot of road reps don’t take a base and only work for commission.

Buyers Are Focusing on Niche, Emerging Brands

Finding the best new brands is so important to be able to compete. In the old retail days (just a few years ago), a lot of competing retailers would carry much of the same apparel and accessories from the same brands. This is no longer a viable merchandising strategy in today’s information and option-filled marketplace. Consumers are armed with as much or as little information as they need and they’re dictating the trends.b They can hop onto Instagram or Snapchat and see the latest looks on their friends and influencers around the world. They want something new, something special, something Instagram-able…

As a result, specialty retailers and department stores alike are further differentiating their product offerings and brands by collaborating with designers to sell exclusive capsule collections and they’re stocking up on gear from the hottest new emerging designers.
Niche brands are more nimble and have greater flexibility when it comes to inventory and production. They can deliver goods more frequently and create immersive branded experiences in a matter of days. For our most recent white paper, “The Age of the Emerging Designer,” we interviewed buyers, trade show pros and industry insiders including the buying director of MATCHESFASHION.COM and one of the co-founders of Coveteur. What did they all have in common? They all championed the niche emerging designer.
Buyers are always on the lookout for fresh talent and they’re using tools like word-of-mouth and social media to find them.


Buying Cycles Have Changed

The buying cycles have changed – it’s no longer just about Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. A lot of retailers want more frequent deliveries so they’re starting to incorporate the likes of Pre-Fall and Resort into the mix. It’s for the same reasons they’re interested in emerging designers today… they need enough new and niche products to keep shoppers excited and coming back for more. Start organizing your production cycles accordingly.

Buyers Expect to See Branded Websites

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No matter where and how you sell, buyers and store owners expect you to have a branded website. They should be able to see your products, editorial images, social media sites and press anywhere and anytime. Your website gives you credibility as you present social proof, media mentions and the caliber of your professionalism. Also be sure to include important information like where you’re sold and the events and markets you participate in.
Closely follow the radical shifts happening in retail and examine how they impact buyers’ strategies over time. The market may be saturated but there are more buyers today than ever before with the birth of smaller niche retailers all over the country. Combined with an ever-increasing interest in emerging designers, the odds of being seen by buyers from your favorite retailers are stacked in your favor.

The wholesale business can be tough. Contact us at Scaling Retail for custom solutions and execution support for everything from wholesale strategy to vendor negotiations. Email hello@scalingretail.com to schedule your consultation appointment.


Photo by Roman Pohorecki from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/clothes-colorful-colourful-hanging-16170/