Clothing and Boutique Business

Topics: Clothing, Marketing, Fashion Pages: 15 (4990 words) Published: January 25, 2012

A boutique is a small retail store which focuses on selling unique items, or items targeted at a niche market. Boutiques are established to sell a wide range of things, although products like clothing, food, or jewelry are common offerings. Many people associate boutiques with elite, special products, and they may pay a premium for goods purchased in a boutique. Many resort towns and areas which cater to wealthy populations have a high concentration of boutiques in their shopping districts.

At one point, any small shop was considered a boutique, and most stores were in fact boutiques since merchants usually focused on a single product, like fabric, produce, fish, and so on. The word is French in origin, and derived from the Old French word botica, for apothecary. Around the 1950s, people starting referring to specialized, elite fashion shops as “boutiques.” This meaning of the word quickly obscured previous usages, and spread to include any highly specialized or fashionable store.

Many people think of a boutique as a standalone shop with a single owner. However, some high-end shopping chains actually own multiple boutiques; these stores may be scattered in wealthy areas all over the world. Chain boutiques sell specialized products and target a very specific market, just like their standalone counterparts. These stores may have very well marketed and recognized brands; Tiffany's is a good example of a boutique with international branches, with its distinctive little blue boxes and their contents being prized and coveted objects for some people.

Types of Boutiques and their Classification

A boutique store is a small retail shop that specializes in merchandise for a particular market segment. These department stores focus on fashionable products such as clothing, accessories, jewelry, and other miscellaneous items. Boutique stores are uniquely positioned to serve a well-defined category of consumers, and are equipped to cater to these niches and themes.

As you can see below, there are many different niches that boutique stores can specialize in, and a diverse range of markets to choose from. Boutiques can be classified by their demographic target:

Maternity Boutiques
Some very successful boutiques target expecting mothers and the unique set of challenges that pregnancy brings to women; one of these challenges is to have clothing that is both stylish and comfortable. Given the dynamic nature of expectancy, dress sizes and how they are managed are extremely important to future moms who want dresses that they can use through the lifecycle of their pregnancy.

Boutiques for Children
A common way to segment a market is through targeting those of a particular age. If you love kids, then a boutique store for toddlers is calling for you. A boutique for children would carry children clothing, but may also contain toys and games. You can further define this category for just:

• Baby: An example is Baby Gap
• Toddler: Gap Kids for toddlers is in this category
• Pre-teens

Casual Teen Boutiques
Teenagers are a volatile bunch, and their casual boutiques are a reflection of this. These retail shops can cater to the “skater” crowd as PacSun does with grungier clothing and pointier jewelry. In contrast, they may cater to the “sporty” teens like Foot Locker does with sweat pants, shorts, and jerseys.

Casual College Boutiques
Another strong market is the college crowd seeking casual wear. Examples of such stores are American Eagle, Hollister, and Old Navy. Jeans and t-shirts dominate the shelves of these boutiques, along with the occasional accessories rack.

Business Casual Boutiques
Retailers like Banana Republic, Gap, and Club Monaco fit this category. Business casual boutiques mainly consist of dress shirts, polo shirts, and dress pants. Accessories that you might find in these stores are belts, cuff links, and ties.

Boutiques for Women...
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