Many online retailers choose to source from China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Spain, LA and Bangladesh. This works well for more established brands that have larger minimum order quantities (MOQ) as a result of a bigger customer base.
If you’re just starting out and testing the market, then the above countries may be difficult to tap into to source products and apparel.
The majority of manufacturers require large MOQ’s. If you’re a start-up and still in the early stages of developing your brand, then starting off small is the better approach.
People make the mistake of ordering hundred’s of products which they can’t sell. As a result they end up liquidating half their stock at a loss.
But, this is where Istanbul comes in…
Istanbul has always been a leading hub for fast-fashion. Every week the wholesale districts have thousands of new items in stock, attracting fashion buyers from across the globe. What makes Istanbul even more attractive is the low MOQ and quick lead times when it comes to sample making.
We had a sample made in less than 48 hours and this was simply because the textile districts, wholesalers and factories are all located next to each other.
A trip to Istanbul almost becomes a mini educational trip, especially for first time buyers. The factory owners and textile suppliers are willing to show you the process of garment making from scratch.
If you’re looking to buy ‘on trend’ apparel for your boutique, then Istanbul is highly recommended. Surprisingly not many people know about this. We can only assume it’s another trade secret that many don’t like to share.
The quality of clothing manufactured in Istanbul can be far better in contrast to China. Now we’re not saying China has poor quality clothing, that would be an oxymoron, however, we did notice mainstream fashion brands such as Zara, ASOS, H&M and Mango, manufacture and source 60% of their clothing from Istanbul.
Unlike china where you’re usually required to buy 100pc per size, per color – in Istanbul you have the option of buying clothing based on a ‘series’.
One series consists of 4-5 pieces that come in the following sizes:
S,M,L,XL OR XS,S,M,L.
This is a really good way to start buying wholesale since you save yourself from both the risks and high upfront costs of buying in bulk.
Unless you’re 100% sure your product will sell, purchasing large MOQ’s is not essential when starting out.
Remember it’s better to start small and grow your retail brand organically. Not only does this force discipline and focus, but you get a rough idea of the types of products that are fast sellers, and those that aren’t.
The main wholesale fashion districts in Istanbul are Lalieli, Osmanbey, Merter and Faith. Each district has its pros and cons and are only a train journey apart.
Just like Guangzhou, you will find Istanbul very easy to navigate around. We recommend spending between 1-2 days exploring each wholesale district as there are hundreds to visit.
Whilst Merter stocks more fast-fashion apparel for lower prices, we found some of the wholesaler workers have difficulty understanding English.
Osmanbey on the other hand consisted of more haute couture and high-end garments, yet some of the pieces costed between $30-$120 per item. If your niche is a more high end clientele, then this district in particular would be ideal for you. If you’re looking for more affordable items, then Merter and Lalieli may be more suitable.
Traveling to both Guangzhou and Istanbul allowed us to cross-examine the opportunities and obstacles of wholesaling from each country. China had a never ending road of wholesalers and manufacturers constantly producing some of the hottest selling items. Istanbul on the other hand had extremely quick turnarounds when it came to samples making, not to mention the clothing quality was a lot more refined.
Flying out to both countries also put us at an advantage. We were again meeting wholesalers that were selling items that no other boutiques were stocking, allowing us to remain innovative and attract more customers to our online store!
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