Starting a Clothing Catalog Business

July 10, 2014 | By | Reply More

clothing catalog business

QUESTION ON Starting a Clothing Catalog Business

My desire is to start a business in clothing catalog sales geared towards women looking for feminine modest apparel. How do I find merchandise to put into my catalog? Thanks for you suggestions

– Lori, H – IN

Dear Lori,

As I understand your question, you plan to start a catalog business focusing on feminine apparel.

Where to Find Inventory for a Clothing Catalog Business

To find merchandise to put in your catalog, you need to have a list of manufacturers from whom you can select and acquire your inventory. To find the manufacturers, use the following resources:

1. Trade Magazines.

Trade magazines are the best source of information about wholesalers and suppliers in an industry. Check out the articles as well as the advertisements. Trade magazines are the first place that clothing manufacturers use to advertise their business. Here are some publications you should check, which are news source for retailers and manufacturers of women’s apparel and accessories:

  • Women’s Wear Daily (
  • California Apparel News (
  • Accessories Magazine (
  • National Retail Federation (NRF) SmartBrief (
  • Stores Magazine (published by NRF)
  • Textile World (
  • Stitches Magazine
  • Sportswear International (

2. Thomas Register

Thomas Register is an extremely useful site containing listings of manufacturers for any industry. Visit their web site, or go to your library to look at the latest edition of their books.

3. Contact individual companies.

If you have specific clothing lines or brands in mind, you may want to call them and inquire about the possibility of allowing you to carry their products in your catalog

4. Go online for wholesale directories.

Search the Web and go to Google and do a search on “clothing manufacturers” or other keywords to help you find possible contacts. Start with our Wholesale Directory Clothing and Apparel Wholesale Suppliers

5. Attend trade shows.

Trade shows are an extremely important source of connections and supplier information. Try to attend at least one trade show in order to start building networks and  relationships with potential suppliers. Here are some of them:

  • TexWorld USA = the largest apparel fabrics sourcing event in North America
  • Apparelsourcing Show= dedicated to apparel manufacturers and usually takes place on the same dates and locations as TexWorld USA
  • Atlanta Apparel Market = part of AmericasMart

Note though that most of the above trade shows have strict participation guidelines. You will be asked to show proof that your business is part of the industry, such as retail business license, resale tax certificate, business registration, imprinted business check, corporate credit or debit card, or personalized business card.

Tips on Starting a Clothing Catalog Business

We also suggest that you check out some books on how to start a successful catalog business. We recommend the book Creating a Profitable Catalog: Everything You Need to Know to Create a Catalog That Sells by Jack Schmid

The catalog business is not for the faint of heart. While it will not have the same type of expense as a clothing retail store (no lease!), you will need to purchase lists of prospective customers in order to generate sales. It may take a year (or even more) to see any profits from the business. You will also be faced with low response rates and the increasing costs of mailing.

The key is to understand the business inside and out before you even start. Never go into the business without writing your business plan. It is your step by step guide on how you will operate your business. Without it, you will be operating your business on guesswork and dreams and you won’t have a direction to follow. Before you know it, you may already have sunk so much money on it without getting your expected results.

Operating a catalog business is similar to the mail-order business. You must have realized that you must cover yourself with inventory of all the items that you publish in your catalog. Finding the right suppliers is just the start; there are a number of questions that you still need to ask:

  • Are you ready to finance that inventory?
  • Do you have the facilities for warehousing, shipping of the goods?
  • How will you distribute your catalog?
  • How about the printing and printing costs?
  • How are you going to acquire your customer leads?
  • Are you prepared to venture into a business where you may only be able to recoup your investments two or four years from now?

There are a lot of questions to this project- that is why it is necessary to write the Business Plan to keep you on track of what you want to do.

At the moment, I hope the above answers maybe of help.

Good luck!

Nach M Maravilla
Recommended Resources on How To Start a Clothing Catalog Business


Nach Maravilla is the President and CEO of LLC. He has over thirty years experience in sales and marketing of various products, which covered as he jokingly describes, “from toothpicks to airplanes” He also had extensive experience in International trading and he always excelled in special promotional ideas for retail outlets.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn 

GD Star Rating
GD Star Rating


Category: Q & A

Leave a Reply


Send this to a friend