How to Cash In on a Little-Known Clothing Buying Secret

Do you fancy yourself an expert bargain hunter? Are you the one in your group who always makes the great finds? When it comes to making the best buying decisions for the lowest prices, here’s another layer of intel to add to your expertise: apparel grading. It’s the technical jargon of manufacturing that every savvy clothing buyer knows. Big discount stores are already cashing in on this knowledge, and you can, too.

Grading – It Isn’t Just for School

There are six levels of garment grading. They are, in order from best to worst:

  • Perfect
  • Irregulars
  • Imperfects
  • Seconds
  • Thirds
  • Pound Goods

Only three of these categories are considered saleable garments. Understanding what they mean and how they are labeled can mean money in your pocket.

The three levels of salable garments are:

  • Perfect
  • Irregulars
  • Seconds

The first level of grading is “perfect.”  This designation needs little explanation, as it describes perfectly the quality of the garment for which it is used. These are garments that come from a manufacturer and are ready to be sold directly to the customer. Usually a retail company will stock these garments that will then be sold in the season for which they were produced at full price, but that’s just logistics. Perfect grade garments just means ready to wear.

The second category of grading you need to know, and the worst quality of salable garment, is “seconds.” Garments that fall into this designation have visible flaws and pronounced irregularities. The flaws can be anything from small holes to discoloration. Basically, you would pick one of these up off a shelf and ask, “What happened?” Unless you are in the market to sell the 80s “distressed look” to your customers, or wear it yourself, it is best to avoid quality this low and instead opt for something a little nicer.

The buying sweet spot, and the money-maker, between perfect and seconds is irregulars. At this level of garment grading, you’ll find a happy medium between quality and discount price. Although an irregular is not a top quality garment, it is still a saleable and wearable item. The inconsistencies in these clothes are classified as the normal result of the manufacturing process. See, even machines aren’t perfect! Generally the defects in these garments will be cut labels, fabric imperfections, size irregularities, fabric puckers, and pinholes. More often than not, these defects cannot be seen with the naked eye, making these “imperfections” irrelevant.

Is this not a dream come true? Someone somewhere along the manufacturing line decided that this nearly invisible imperfection ruined that piece of clothing, so now you get to buy it at a third of the price; and, really, it doesn’t look noticeably different from a perfect garment off the rack. Also, when purchasing irregulars, you are not buying off-brands. There are plenty of options for name brands available, like Hanes, Fruit-of-the-Loom, and Jerzees. Discount stores like Marshalls and Ross have taken advantage of this opportunity to capitalize on irregular garments’ “imperfections,” so why shouldn’t you?

Be a Savvy Shopper

Irregular garments are, unfortunately, not regulated for quality. Every mill and manufacturer will have their own standards and grading process. Therefore, when buying irregular garments, it is important to have a relationship with the supplier. Find a supplier of irregular garments that has built a trusted partnership with their producers. When you find a supplier that sells carefully inspected and quality controlled irregular garments, then you’ve hit the jackpot. Good quality irregulars are excellent merchandise sold at a fraction of the cost of perfect garments. When looking to buy wholesale, make sure you buy from a supplier that owns the inventory. When a warehouse buys their own inventory, they are able to inspect the quality on-site, thereby ensuring yet a higher quality product for you.

Although you may have been conditioned by the fashion industry to desire flawless garments, this is not the only option. Maybe you want your evening attire for black tie parties to be top-of-the-line and cost a pretty penny, but, for your day-to-day wardrobe, an unnoticeable flaw won’t change the course of your day. It will, however, have a noticeable impact on your pocketbook. Add a little uniqueness to your wardrobe; we all like a conversation piece. By investing in irregular pieces for your wardrobe, you are not sacrificing quality. Well-selected irregulars have unnoticeable flaws and the same quality as their “perfect” graded counterparts. This makes shopping for irregular garments a Black Friday sale at any time of the year. Now you’re talking expert status!

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