Understanding the Wholesale Apparel Supply Chain: From Manufacturers to Retailers

Understanding the Wholesale Apparel Supply Chain

Wholesale is the process of buying and selling products in bulk. Generally, manufacturers will sell products wholesale to retailers, who then sell individual products to consumers at higher prices, thereby making a profit.

Some consumers can also buy wholesale directly from manufacturers, with food and clothing among the most commonly purchased wholesale products. Let’s take a closer look at the wholesale apparel supply chain and discuss how it works and where it could be heading in the future.

Raw Materials

The very first stage in the wholesale apparel supply chain is the procurement and treatment of the raw materials.

Clothes today are largely produced using a combination of natural and synthetic materials. Natural materials include things like linen, cotton, wool, and silk. Synthetic materials include things like polyester, spandex, and acetate.

These raw materials are produced and treated in factories and then sold wholesale to textile and fabric companies.

Textiles and Fabrics

After procuring bulk orders of raw materials, textile companies can then turn these materials into yarns and fabrics. These materials, which are usually either knitted or woven, are treated, dyed, and printed to prepare them for the next stage – making them into clothes.


The textiles and fabrics produced using the raw materials are then delivered to manufacturers, who create clothes according to orders placed by clothing brands and fashion companies. For example, manufacturers may use the material to create hats or large orders of wholesale shirts.

Clothing manufacturing uses a process of both automated machine work and human input. Things like cutting clothes to size and sorting through large orders are usually automated and done with machines, while more intricate work such as attaching zippers and buttons is done by hand.


Once the clothes have been manufactured, they will then be shipped off to wholesalers and clothing brands. These companies will usually then sell wholesale orders to retailers, but many also sell wholesale to consumers or even sell products individually from their own online platforms.


Retailers are how the majority of us get our clothing and apparel. These are the shops and online stores we know so well, where we can browse through collections of products from a range of different brands and designers.

Retailers purchase wholesale clothing and sell individual products to customers. Buying in bulk means they get products cheaper, and they can sell at inflated prices to make a profit.

What Does the Future Hold for the Wholesale Apparel Supply Chain?

As we can see, the wholesale apparel supply chain is complex and made up of several distinct parts. What this means is that it can be easily disrupted, as we recently saw during the pandemic.

However, we’re seeing new technology adopted across the wholesale apparel supply chain that is designed to streamline and optimize processes. Blockchain technology can be integrated to make it easier to track orders and identify their origin and their destination. Data can be logged in the blockchain and tracked in real-time, making it easier to flag and address any logistical issues as they occur. 

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