Is Clothing Good for Dropshipping? No, But it Can Work!

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The biggest categories for eCommerce in most countries are generally electronics and clothing/fashion. Consumers spend billions of dollars each year purchasing clothing and accessories, which must make it a top niche to start dropshipping, right?

It can be difficult to make a considerable income dropshipping clothing as it is very competitive, the profit margins are low, the returns and refund rate is high and you will be dealing with an abundance of customer service. However, there are ways to make it work!

In this article, I’m going to tell you why I think dropshipping clothing may not be the best choice but if you do want to go ahead with it, I’ll give you my opinion on the best way to succeed.

Is Dropshipping Clothing a Good Idea?

If you’re a beginner and want to get started with dropshipping clothing I would recommend trying a different niche first. Apparel is one of the most difficult niches to succeed in and is not a good idea if you have little experience.

Dealing with returns and refunds is one of the most frustrating parts of dropshipping. Mostly because any issues are usually not your fault but you will cop the blame and it will often end up costing you time and money.

Because of this most dropshippers will avoid selling any products with a high return rate. This includes anything fragile, complicated or products that are much better suited to purchasing in person. With selling online, you can’t replicate the experience of buying in person and this is exacerbated with specific items.

Clothing falls into this category as you can’t feel the material or try it on first which is why the return rate is so high. No matter if you include size charts with exact measurements or how good your product images are, the return rate will still be high.

If you’re looking for a list of suppliers, I have an article on 30+ USA-based dropshipping suppliers of women’s clothing.

Buying clothing online

Is Dropshipping Clothes Profitable?

There are a ton of fashion stores making millions of dollars each year but it’ll be tough to build a profitable dropshipping business selling clothes long-term.

The profit margins with clothing are not a lot unless you’re selling luxury brands. Add to that the high rate of returns and refunds which will eat into your profit margins. A successful eCommerce clothing brand can manage this as they are most likely working directly with a manufacturer and buying their stock in bulk.

You on the other hand, are working with a supplier who is already a middleman taking a piece of your profit and you are buying products individually at a greater cost. Then you will have to navigate all the returns and refunds which takes time and often costs money.

As a dropshipper, it makes it very difficult to compete with fashion brands who have so many advantages over your business model and it makes it almost impossible to be profitable long-term.

Can You Dropship Clothes from AliExpress?

You can dropship clothes from AliExpress although the sizing will be very different from most western countries and the listed size guides are often incorrect which will only increase the return and refund rate.

It is hard enough to build a sustainable dropshipping business on AliExpress and clothing will only make this more challenging. If you find a winning piece of clothing that is bringing you in consistent sales, other dropshippers will see the order count ticking over as well as your ads and before you know it you’ll have an abundance of competitors selling your piece of clothing.

AliExpress suppliers are notoriously unreliable. Don’t be surprised if the clothing being shipped to your customer is slightly different from the image on the supplier’s product page.

Can You Dropship Branded Clothing from AliExpress?

Avoid selling any brand name clothing from AliExpress as there is a high chance that it will be counterfeit. Although AliExpress does not allow fake branded goods to be sold on their platform, there are ways to buy and sell these products.

It’s against AliExpress’ guidelines for suppliers to list counterfeit products on their platform. However, many suppliers stock fake luxury brands such as, Gucci and Louis Vuitton but are unable to publicly sell them on AliExpress. For more information, I have an article on Dropshipping Luxury Products.

Instead, these suppliers create hidden links not visible to the public but they are links that take you to a hidden page with fake content to fool AliExpress, you will need to input the special code to purchase the knockoff clothing brand. Often sellers will promote these links on Facebook groups. For more information on hidden links, I suggest you read this article.

I would caution against dropshipping any counterfeit or knockoff products. Even if it’s publicly sold on AliExpress you can still be sued for reselling these goods as you are not an authorized dealer.

How to Dropship Clothes from AliExpress Profitably

In my opinion, the only clothing that can be dropshipped profitable from AliExpress is anything unique and/or where discrepancies in size won’t impact returns too much. Consumers will not be happy waiting for long shipping times if it’s a generic product they can purchase anywhere.

A good example of a successful clothing item to dropship from AliExpress is USB-heated clothing. This includes jackets, beanies, gloves and scarves as the products have a wow factor, are unique and target a specific audience.

Another option is to dropship baby or pet clothes from AliExpress. There are several Shopify stores dropshipping pet outfits and costumes profitably.

An example of a store dropshipping baby products from AliExpress is Lenny Lemons. As far as I can tell they are exclusively dropshipping from AliExpress successfully. The products they stock are listed on AliExpress and the shipping times are long.

How to Dropship Clothing from China?

The best way to dropship clothing from China is to use AliExpress to test various unique pieces of clothing until you find a product or niche with potential. Once you start getting some consistent daily sales you can request a VIP link from your supplier to publicly hide the sales count which will reduce competitors.

Once you are reaching 20 to 30 daily sales from your AliExpress supplier, the best option is to buy your product in bulk from Alibaba and work with an agent based in China. For more information, I have an article about dropshipping agents in China.

By working with an agent, they can deal directly with manufacturers in China who can private label your clothing and you can build your own apparel brand. This is not as complicated as it sounds.

You can communicate with your agent that you want your brand name and logo printed on the clothing as well as slight alterations to improve and differentiate your clothing from competitors. You’ll get your stock at a much lower cost and you can have an agent take care of storage, fulfillment and faster shipping than you would receive with AliExpress.

An example of a successful apparel store shipping from China is Indestructible Shoes which sell shoes that are built tough but are also fashionable. Shoes are a very competitive niche and they have found a profitable sub-niche to take advantage of.

Indestructible Shoes are shipping from China but most likely they are working with an agent who is shipping their products instead of dropshipping from AliExpress.

The Best Way to Dropship Clothing

If you want to dropship clothing from local suppliers for much faster shipping than you will receive from China, you have a couple of options. You can try and source suppliers in your country who are willing to dropship for you. I have an article on how to find dropshipping suppliers if you’re interested.

Many lesser known domestic apparel brands will dropship for you as long as you approach them the right way. Spocket is a middleman between brands and dropshippers that stocks a large range of fashion brands from US and EU suppliers.

However, in my opinion, the best way to dropship clothing is by working with Print on Demand (POD) companies. A POD supplier has a large selection of different products you can add designs to and advertise on your Shopify store.

As someone makes a purchase in your store, the POD suppliers will print your design and ship the product to your customer for you and you keep the difference. POD works the same way as dropshipping however the POD company produces the product for you.

By far the most popular POD items are clothing, especially t-shirts. There are a large number of very successful stores exclusively selling t-shirts with the POD business model.

The best way to leverage POD is to target a very specific audience of buyers who have a specific interest. For example, you can have a store selling clothing themed around coffee lovers, dogs, aliens, video games or whatever people are passionate about. You want to create a store that makes someone feel like the store is built just for them!

If you are determined about succeeding with dropshipping clothing, Print on Demand is the best and most likely way you will build a long-term business. Printify and Printful are the most well known POD suppliers for a reason, they have a huge selection of merchandise, high-quality printing and warehouses worldwide.

Summary

The biggest takeaway from this article should be dropshipping clothes can give you a headache. This is exacerbated when there are designer clothes that need to look, feel and fit a specific way. According to Soocial, the average return rate for clothing online is 26% and I have heard of it being much higher than that!

In other words, if you’re selling 100 clothing items a week you’ll be organizing returns and refunds for 26 customers each week on average.

With Print on Demand dropshipping, the return rate is often a lot lower due to the fact that people are buying the clothes more so because of the design/image than the actual aesthetics and materials of the clothing. Consider dropshipping with Printify or Printful as it can be a successful stepping stone before transitioning into your own clothing brand.

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