As a boutique owner, one of your most important tasks is staying on top of what’s trending in the world of fashion! However, that can feel like a big-time challenge when you’re also busy merchandising your boutique, building a marketing plan, managing your social media accounts, working with dropshippers, balancing the books….and the list goes on, right? Well-considered wholesale clothing orders are an essential part of keeping your boutique in business, so you want to be sure you’re making the right purchases for the seasons ahead. Here are five ways to stay on top of future fashion trends for your boutique.
1. Read Fashion Week Coverage
The earliest signs of a new trend usually come into focus at Fashion Weeks around the world—the major ones are held in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. When designers show off their collections for the seasons ahead, take notice! These are the first places you’ll see emerging trends in silhouettes, colors, and materials. Each Fashion Week includes dozens of runway shows, so you’ll want to stick to major players in fashion journalism, like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, for easily digestible overviews that call out key trends you might want to add to your boutique.
There’s one more thing to remember about Fashion Week: designers are working way ahead. For example, collections that showcase spring and summer inspiration are shown the previous fall, so it’s important to stay on top of your timing when you review Fashion Week coverage. (Here’s a handy calendar to help.) Soon after, you’ll see the hottest trends from the runway start to pop up in the offerings of wholesale clothing companies, and you’ll be ready to place your order.
2. Build a Strong Relationship with Wholesalers
If you shop with a few select wholesalers regularly, it can be incredibly helpful to build a strong relationship with a representative from each company. They can offer unique insights into their collections for each season, highlight key trends, and help you make the right buys for your boutique. Whether you’re able to visit them in a showroom, stop by their booth at a tradeshow, or simply have a seasonal phone call, you’ll gain valuable knowledge from another side of the clothing business.
3. Follow Influencers & Bloggers
To see how real people are wearing the new trends established by designers and wholesalers, spend some time each day browsing a few blogs that share your overall aesthetic. Fashion bloggers are likely to get the newest, trendiest pieces first—and show you how your customers might style them for real-world wear. Seeing full outfits styled by bloggers can offer insights about which staple pieces to stock alongside trending items so your customers can create complete looks with ease. It’s also a good idea to fill your Instagram feed with style influencers you admire, allowing you to quickly scroll through inspirational photos and identify trends that are popping up more frequently.
4. Connect with Your Customers
Designers, wholesalers, bloggers, influencers—we’re missing one key group when it comes to determining which trends will work in your boutique: your own customers! No one knows more about what your shoppers want to buy than the shoppers themselves. Strike up a conversation with customers who stop by your boutique and ask them what types of items they’d like to see in future seasons, or send out a survey via email or social media. Connecting with your customers will help you figure out which trends are resonating with your key demographics in a way that’s far more personalized than any blog or Fashion Week recap.
5. Stay Focused & True to Your Style
Though countless new trends appear each season, not every look will be right for your boutique. Before you place your next wholesale clothing order, make sure the trends you’ve selected for the upcoming season are true to your style and what customers have come to expect from your brand. If your boutique is known for soft colors and boho silhouettes, don’t be swayed by a trend report that’s focused on modern cuts and vivid neon hues. Stick to new trends that push the boundaries of your style while still complementing your staple pieces. Over time, the right balance of trend awareness and consistent offerings will help build customer trust and loyalty for your boutique.
How do you keep up with the latest clothing trends for your boutique? Share your tips for shopping stylishly in the comments!