What’s the buying calendar for boutiques? -ASK JANE

What’s The Buying Calendar for Boutiques? – Ask Jane

Jane Hamill boutique storefront
The Jane Hamill boutique was a fixture on Armitage Avenue in Chicago for 14 years.

Question:Hi Jane, I have worked in the fashion industry for several years now on the design side. I was wondering if you knew what boutique buying schedules are opposed to department stores? When will a boutique buyer start purchasing for the Spring Season? 

I am a startup contemporary womenswear line looking to launch for Spring next year in NYC. I still currently work as a freelance designer in the garment district.

Thanks for your time in advance!”- Steph

Answer: Hi Steph,

Thanks for your question. It’s a good one and I think a lot of fashion designers are wondering the same thing. Boutiques generally place their orders a little later than major department stores.

I’ll use a particular retail store client of mine as an example, a contemporary women’s boutique. I’ll call the store Twigs. By November 1, Twigs had placed about 70% of their orders for early Spring of the next year (1/30 and 2/28 delivery). Like a lot of boutiques, Twigs orders from their main vendors first to be sure they get the best selection.

Then the buyers actively seek out new lines to shake up their product mix and offer something other shops in their area don’t have.

As of today, January 2nd, Twigs has placed only half their orders for 3/30, 4/30 and 5/30. They plan to go to New York in January and shop the market then. They also have notes from lines they saw already but haven’t actually written orders on. In my opinion, Twigs is playing it too close to the season.

As a business coach, it makes me nervous, but when I owned my boutique I did the same thing! I understand that retailers want to be nimble and react to what’s working for them. The later they place their orders, the more information and selling history they have to base those orders on. Make sense?

Below is a guideline for womenswear selling periods. These are NOT rules, just a guideline of what many boutiques do. Shops that buy lines from Europe have to buy earlier, of course.

One trend I’m definitely noticing is that if you as the designer/vendor have a short lead time – if you can ship your goods within 2 – 6 weeks, for instance – you have a big advantage. Once a retailer knows this and likes you and your product, they can use your line to fill in their stock and order more often.

I am NOT saying you should carry inventory (that’s a topic for another day). I simply mean that if the factory you use can produce quickly and you can ship within 6 weeks, it can be a great thing. Of course, small orders are not always very profitable (yet another day…).

Thanks for writing, Stephanie!


Season Selling Dates Delivery Dates
Spring I end of August – end of October 1/30 – 2/28 – 3/30 deliveries
Spring II October – January 3/30 – 4/40 – 5/30  deliveries
Fall I end of January – March 7/15 – 8/30 deliveries
Fall II March – April 9/30 deliveries
Holiday May – June 10/15 – 10/30 deliveries
Resort June – August 11/30 – 12/30 – 1/15 deliveries




10 Responses

  1. You always provide such detailed information that we need to help us in this industry! Thanks and happy new year!

  2. Hey Jane:

    So just for clarification, IF I do start selling to boutiques at the end of January 2014, WILL some buy for Spring despite it being later in the buying time??? I can’t really start selling Spring until then. OR am I setting myself up for failure to expect boutiques to buy for Spring at that time??

  3. Thank you Jane for your information.

    Do you know anything about Australia market? I’m starting a label and trying to search for the buying schedule for Australia boutiques and find nothing.

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  4. Does bridal wear work on a different calendar? I have been trying to sell my line within the regular season and it looks as though they have already seen all of the garments for spring/summer? When is the selling season for bridal wear?

  5. This may be a silly question since I am just revamping my accessory business to match lines, but why are the delivers so early if the product doesnt get put out until months later. Does it really sit there that long before stores release it???

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