What's the deal with pre-orders?

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Before I owned a business, I couldn't stand pre-orders. As an average American consumer I had a very healthy desire for instant gratification - I didn't want to wait months for something to arrive - I wanted it right away. Furthermore, with the fast pace of the fashion world picking up trends and dropping them faster than I could keep track of, my desire to fit in with my peers just didn't have time to spare.

When I first started this business, I was very sure that I would never do a pre-order; I didn't want people to close their browser tab in frustration and go buy a similar product from someone else. I was so naive. I soon learned a few lessons that slowly changed my mind - these are the reasons that we now choose to do pre-orders at Line + Tow. 

1. Guessing at inventory is bad for business - and the planet. If you have ever tried to guess what things people might want, then you know that it is difficult. Think about browsing a sale rack and seeing a ton of one garment that just didn't take off, or a ton of garments in one size and none in the other sizes - sound familiar? These sales racks are a visual representation of how difficult it is to try to predict what people want. Additionally, the clothing that doesn't sell is not only a waste of money, but a waste of resources and a source of waste in itself. The financial impact of this is less of an issue for large stores like Target, but for a small business like us, it can be devastating. The beauty of the pre-order system is that you can minimize these errors and give everyone the size they want. The business isn't left with product they cant sell, and nothing is wasted in the process.

2. Running a company is expensive. Before we can get products in your hands, we need to pay a lot of people along the way. There are the obvious costs, such as fabric and labor, and then the not so obvious costs such as buttons, tags, shipping from Guatemala to the US, paying to have each pattern graded to different sizes, software costs, advertising, rent, shipping materials and more. Typically, we can cover all of our day to day costs, however, when we need to make a big purchase, it can knock us off balance. The best example of this is when we need to purchase more fabric. Minimum quantities are pretty large when you work with an industrial level factory, and to get the two styles of fabric that we need, the minimum cost is ~ $7,000. If we are able to sell product before we buy the fabric, then we are able to afford the fabric, however, if we were to use our normal funds to purchase the fabric beforehand, we would be cutting it rather close. After paying for fabric, notions, manufacturing, and shipping costs, without the pre-sale system, we still haven't sold any products - and we would have to guess at sizing which leaves us at a larger financial risk as stated above. Now, enter the pre-sale model - everything is payed for in advance, there is very little risk to us or our makers, everyone gets the size they want, and nothing is wasted.

3. Not everyone will like you, and that's OK. Our model is at Line + Tow is based around taking our time to produce quality products. There are a lot of people who get that goal and support us because of it. There are also a lot of people who won't understand this goal and choose to buy a similar product from another company. This is just one of the many truths of owning a business and because we believe in this model we are going to proudly continue to do our business this way. We choose not to change our morals and standards to those of people who's morals and standards differ from ours. we are confident in our product and know that the right customers will be to.

Of course we wish that we didn't have to do pre-orders, however as a developing company, they happen to be a good fit. If you chose to support our pre-order, or have supported on in the past, thank you. You have helped fund our business and made it possible for us to provide work to our partners in Guatemala. If the pre-order is something you still don't get, then that's OK we are just glad that you made it this far. 

As usual, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to comment below or reach out at hello@lineandtow.com. Thank you!

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  • Thank you for the explanation! I look forward to the pre-order to purchase my utility shirt!

    Christina Rand on

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