Clothing Retail Franchises

McKinsey reports that 2023 is a good year to get into the more niche and luxury sectors of the global fashion industry. As it seems increasingly challenging for clothing store owners to compete with larger corporations, there are opportunities for franchisors and franchisees alike to work together under a business model that’s proven to be effective for retail franchises. This occasionally allows the franchises to outshine the bigger businesses.

If fashion is your passion and you’re looking for ways to step out on the runway of the clothing retail industry, then learning exactly how to buy a retail franchise in the clothing industry is your first stop. Let’s delve deeper and discuss the ways you can wear the pants in a fashion retail franchise!

What Are Retail Franchises? 

clothing retail franchise

Retail franchises use a business model that grants licenses to individuals and small businesses to use the franchisor’s brand, trademarked items, and services. They can vary from vending machines and kiosks to brick-and-mortar businesses or standalone buildings. Including industries such as fashion boutiques, hardware shops, and food chains, retail is often what will first come to mind when you think of franchises as a whole. As the retail industry shows no evidence of slowing down, the best retail franchises with the highest profitability rates include:

  • Clothing stores such as Nordstrom
  • Fast food chains like KFC or McDonald’s
  • Gas stations like Circle K or 7-Eleven 
  • Hardware stores such as ACE Hardware
  • Kiosks and vending machines like Auntie Anne’s or Naturals2Go 
  • Party and event planning stores such as Sky Zone 
  • Rental car stores such as Hertz
  • Shipping and postal services like UPS

To find out more about the wide selection of other available retail franchises in your area, browse the Franchise Gator directory for an extensive list!

How Much Does It Cost to Franchise a Retail Store for Clothes?

The cost of franchising a clothing retail store can vary based on the popularity and demand of the brand or multi-brands that the store offers. With initial investment fees sitting in the range of $100,000 to $500,000, let’s take a look at the top ten clothing retail franchises worth purchasing: 

  1. Plato’s Closet, a retail-resale franchise under Winmark, specializes in trendier apparel, targeting teenagers and young adults as their primary consumers. The initial investment has a starting price range around $275,000 to $350,000.
  1. Apricot Lane Boutique is a niche boutique franchise offering women’s clothing. The initial investment fee starts at $150,000, which makes it one of the more affordable options amongst the most popular clothing retail franchises. 
  1. Filthy Rich is a global fashion brand originally inspired by celebrities and fashion influencers. The initial investment is also on the more affordable side, ranging from $115,000 to $250,000.
  1. Clothes Mentor, a women’s apparel store that purchases and resells gently worn clothing, has an initial investment fee of $250,000 to $360,000.
  1. Flip Flop Shops—standing strong with over eighty locations—sells casual beach and footwear from several popular brands. The initial cost of investment fees start at $125,000, making it another one of the more affordable franchise opportunities.
  1. Style Encore is another retail-resale clothing store run by Winmark, but it specifically offers women’s fashion apparel with several locations across all the U.S. territories. The initial investment expenses can vary from $275,000 to $350,000.
  1. Uptown Cheapskate is a retail-resale clothing franchise that is continually expanding at a rapid rate. They specialize in selling trendy, secondhand apparel all across the U.S., and the brand is said to have an impressive value of $24 billion! The investment fee ranges from $300,000 to nearly $500,000. 
  1. TaylorMarie’s is quite the unique option as it exists as a pop-up boutique specializing in clothing for mature women. Pop-up boutiques are small shops that sell a particular set of products in a select location for a short period. This time period can span from weeks to months, or for much more exclusive pop-up shops, just days. The initial fees vary between $100,000 and $175,000. 
  1. Pro Image Sports is a clothing retail franchise with standalone buildings as well as mall locations, offering licensed sports apparel and accessories. With a fairly wide range for investment costs, fees are between $100,000 and $500,000.
  1. Once Upon a Child is a retail-resale boutique under Winmark, specializing in clothing and accessories for children. The initial investment costs can range from $275,000 to $350,000.

Considering the varying costs and fees for some of the most popular clothing retail franchises, how much does a franchise owner make per store? Generally speaking, retail franchise owners make about $80,000 a year on average accounting for all stores they run. Clothing retail franchise owners in particular tend to make about $55,000 on average each year per store. Whether women’s, men’s, teenagers’ or children’s apparel, clothing retail franchises can be an incredibly lucrative business opportunity across the board.  

For department stores specifically, the franchising possibilities are extremely complicated and limited.

Can You Franchise a Department Store?

If you’re searching for answers on how to start a department store franchise, there are a number of factors and restrictions to keep in mind. Although it is far more common to start a franchise of a smaller or specialized clothing retail store, there was once a time when franchisors could franchise most department stores. Nowadays, starting a department store franchise can be a more challenging process with much higher costs because most department stores have limitations on their franchisability. For example, T.J. Maxx is a well-established department store that’s operated and owned by TJX Companies, but none of their stores are available for franchising. 

Regarding even larger department stores such as Macy’s, JCPenney, Nordstrom, Walmart, and Target, franchising is not currently an opportunity up for grabs given the amount of shareholders each of these corporations have. Companies that have their own corporations often classify as general merchandise retailers with thousands of locations across the country or even the globe. Essentially, these massive corporations with department stores have more than enough capital from their long-operating businesses, making franchising unnecessary and sometimes a liability risk after a certain point. As an alternative, many department corporations will allow inquiring entrepreneurs to purchase stock. 

So what clothing department store franchises can be purchased? Based on everything explained above and in this current market, they’re hard to find. You could buy stock in a department store that already exists, but the much larger department stores don’t currently offer chances to franchise. Despite the unavailability now, many of these department stores previously had franchising opportunities with average initial costs in the tens of millions of dollars.

Since franchising a department store isn’t a feasible option, consider something smaller and a bit more specialized like a fashion boutique!

Can a Boutique be a Franchise?

Boutiques are a great option that can be franchised for much more affordable prices! Fashion boutique franchises differ from larger clothing retail stores due to the much more niche category of apparel the boutique might market and sell to customers. While they can exist as franchise chain stores, they are usually farther and fewer between in comparison to their departmental competitors. This factor leads fashion boutiques to seem more exclusive while selling unique pieces at a higher price. 

For example, a department store offers items of all kinds of apparel without any distinctive qualities. On the other hand, fashion boutiques can market to a specific audience and gain notoriety for selling a very particular style of clothing. If a potential shopper is searching for trendy streetwear, they might consider a department store for generic options. A boutique operating as an urban clothing franchise, however, may offer higher-quality, city-chic pieces that stand out, making them more appealing to that specific consumer. As a franchisee, finding a boutique that specializes in a particular style of apparel will be much easier in comparison to searching regular clothing stores.

Before starting a boutique franchise, let’s briefly go over the different types available:

  • Multi-Unit: A boutique franchise is more likely to thrive if the franchisee is willing to open and operate multiple stores in varying locations. This franchise model typically comes after the single-unit strategy that many franchisees use when first getting started.
  • Single-Unit: This type of boutique franchise refers to a franchisee operating and owning a singular location of any given business. Setting aside enough money to open up a brick-and-mortar store and expanding from there is a common strategy that often leads to the franchisee transitioning into the multi-unit model. Once they feel their primary building is garnering enough attention and profit, it might be a good idea to purchase several more under the same franchise.
  • Online Ownership: To keep from spending funds on a brick-and-mortar brand, some franchisees will take the route of turning their boutique into an online clothing franchise. This practice may allow them to focus more on the digital marketing aspect of their business.
  • Absentee Ownership: Often reserved for franchisees with a fair bit of experience, absentee and semi-absentee ownership could be offered within certain boutique franchises. According to Forbes, this option is most appealing to franchisees that would prefer to run the business off-premises. Oftentimes, a franchisee with absentee ownership could also be considered a retiree who doesn’t actually participate in day-to-day operations or management. The overall goal is to build wealth and collect profits without doing any physical work.

If you’re looking for things like training, guidance, and brand recognition, purchasing a fashion boutique from a franchise that is already operable and fairly popular will be your best bet. Buying into an already-existing boutique franchise removes much of the risk that comes from starting on your own with little to know experience. 

In essence, fashion boutiques are not only franchisable, but offer the franchisee a chance to sell and market to a much more niche demographic.

Can a Clothing Brand Be a Franchise?

To put it frankly, clothing brands can be franchises. Single, standalone clothing stores with a brand can be much harder to start and run which makes buying a multi-brand clothing store under an existing franchise the best option. 

How Much Does It Cost to Franchise a Clothing Brand?

As highlighted by Entrepreneur, clothing brand franchises can have expenses that vary anywhere between $30,000 and $100,000 in initial investment fees. These prices will ultimately be dependent upon how much effort and funding you’re willing to put into the brand. As you look into buying a clothing brand as a franchise, Franchise Gator also offers franchisees the option to filter out any price range that doesn’t match their specific primary budget!

How Profitable Is a Clothing Brand?

While it may seem like a fun and innovative idea at first, clothing brands are not very profitable as a startup and a stand-alone business. Starting a fresh clothing brand from scratch is not only risky, but could be much more costly in the long run. The safer, and often more successful, option is to become a franchisee of a clothing retail franchise that is already well-known among mainstream clothing stores.

What If I Make My Brand an Online Clothing Franchise?

From a historical standpoint, a fluctuation between 80-90% of online stores failed over the past decade. You might think you’d have a better chance now as a caveat of the pandemic caused an uptick in desirability for online shopping. This fact is really only accurate if we’re discussing already-existing clothing brands under much larger businesses with e-commerce practices. Luckily, you can go with a franchise to start an online clothing store! This strategy is one method used to combat many of the ways other business owners struggle to succeed in the e-commerce industry. 

Here are a few other practices to prevent a failed online clothing franchise while working with a franchisor:

  • Be sure to invest in the most necessary components of a business such as marketing, shipping and inventory costs, staffing, etc.
  • Keep a close eye on the competitor sites selling similar products to yours and highlight why what your franchise offers is a better option.
  • The checkout process should be as simple as possible. Some customers may change their mind on a purchase if the checkout page and process is too complicated or confusing.
  • Make sure the site domain is registered properly to avoid issues of website deletion.
  • Create a site interface that is easy to navigate and well-organized.

When inquiring about an online clothing franchise, it’s good to have a well-established relationship with the franchisor as they can offer proper information and further training on how to succeed in e-commerce sales.

Which Clothing Franchise Is Best for New Franchise Owners? Check Franchise Gator!

The world of clothing retail franchises is understandably large, making it difficult to know where you should start looking as a potential franchise owner. Fortunately, Franchise Gator maps out the best and most valuable franchise opportunities for you to consider. In practically any location, with any investment budget, and any specific industry of interest, you should give our directory a glance before you get started!

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