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Clothing sales representatives work for clothing designers and manufacturers to market and sell their lines of apparel. The sales representative introduces the designs to retail and wholesale dealers and processes the orders. A good clothing sales rep can take an unknown line and bring it to a mainstream or sophisticated private customer base. Clothing sales reps also sell well-established lines of clothing that don’t require as much promotion.
Most clothing sales reps work on a contract basis that includes commission on sales and guaranteed territories. They develop a list of contacts that can make them invaluable to a clothing designer. The contract may include residual commissions that continue after the representative leaves the position and are based on the work and contacts originally set up by the rep. A draw on the monthly commission is typically paid up front each month for sales reps. They also are paid to attend trade shows and can request a lengthy termination clause of up to 120 days to protect their investment on the sales they brought in to the company.
Clothing sales reps spend much of their time on the road meeting with retail buyers and setting up interviews with the media. Getting a line of clothing mentioned in a fashion magazine can be a real coup for a designer and it’s usually the sales reps that make this happen. Clothing sales reps must respond to customer inquiries and make sure that orders are filled correctly. They typically have sales quotas to meet and often encourage buyers to try new designs to make those quotas.
Jobs are available through a number of websites devoted to the apparel industry, such as Clothing Industry Jobs and Apparel Search. Many employers look for experienced reps who can bring accounts with them. Entry-level clothing representative positions with established manufacturers are often achieved through retail jobs that provide a thorough knowledge of a line of clothing.
Like any commission-based opportunity, apparel reps can make as much money as they want if they are wiling to put in the time and the effort. According to PayScale.com, the average income for clothing sales reps with five to 10 years experience is just under $50,000 a year. Successful reps with popular apparel lines and stellar contacts in the fashion industry, often earn more than $100,000 per year.
Independent contractors can request information to sell a line of clothing for a manufacturer on a commission-only basis with no long-term contract in order to build a base of contacts before seeking a full-time staff position with a company. Many clothing sales reps develop long-term relationships with apparel manufacturers and prefer to remain independent and able to carry several clothing lines. This allows them to use many of the same industry contacts, combine sales territories and increase commissions from multiple lines.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."