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Insight of the Day: Is wholesale getting too risky for fashion brands?

Is wholesale becoming too risky for fashion brands?

The recent closure of The Vampire's Wife, a UK-based independent fashion brand, has raised concerns about the viability of wholesale as a primary sales channel for fashion brands, particularly smaller ones. The brand's demise was attributed to the "upheaval in the wholesale market," including the collapse of MatchesFashion and the resulting unpaid debts.

Challenges in the wholesale market:

  • Slowdown in luxury demand: The economic downturn, particularly in Europe and the US, has led to a decrease in consumer spending on luxury goods.

  • Increased focus on direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales: Many luxury brands are investing in their DTC channels to gain better control over their brand image and customer relationships.

  • Shift back to in-store shopping: After the pandemic-driven surge in online shopping, consumers are returning to physical stores, impacting online retailers like MatchesFashion.

  • Financial difficulties of wholesale partners: The collapse of MatchesFashion and the financial struggles of other online retailers have left many brands with unpaid debts.

Impact on smaller fashion brands:

Smaller brands, like The Vampire's Wife, are particularly vulnerable to these challenges. They often rely heavily on wholesale partners to reach a wider audience and generate sales. However, the current difficulties in the wholesale market can make it difficult for them to secure orders and receive payments on time.

The rise of DTC sales:

Many brands are shifting their focus to DTC sales to mitigate the risks associated with wholesale. DTC channels allow brands to have more control over their brand image, pricing, and customer data. However, building a successful DTC business requires significant investment in marketing, technology, and logistics.

Is wholesale still a viable option?

Wholesale can still be a viable option for fashion brands, but it's important to diversify sales channels and not rely solely on wholesale partners. Brands should carefully evaluate the financial stability of their wholesale partners and consider investing in DTC channels to mitigate risks.


The wholesale market is facing significant challenges, and these challenges are particularly acute for smaller fashion brands. However, by diversifying sales channels and investing in DTC, brands can mitigate the risks associated with wholesale and build a more sustainable business model.


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