How to Import and Shipping Apparel from China

Comprehensive Guide to Importing and Shipping Apparel from China

Discover the processes and advantages of importing and shipping apparel from China, including partnering with trusted manufacturers, navigating customs, and selecting optimal shipping methods.

Importing and Shipping Apparel from China

Reasons to Import Apparel from China

Over recent decades, China has become a dominant force in manufacturing, particularly noted for its textile industry. The vast production capabilities lead to significant cost savings due to economies of scale. This, combined with a diverse array of clothing options, makes China an attractive source for global businesses.

Locating and Working with Chinese Apparel Suppliers


Finding a dependable apparel manufacturer is crucial in the import process. Markets such as Guangzhou Sha He and Hangzhou Si Jiqing offer extensive choices in terms of style and affordability. Additionally, attending trade shows or using B2B platforms like Alibaba can facilitate direct connections with reputable suppliers.

Key Clothing Markets in China

Discovering the right supplier can often start with visiting well-known garment markets across China, each known for specific types of clothing and price points:

  • Hangzhou Si Jiqing Market (Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province): Offers a wide range of clothing for women, men, and children. Known for its convenient transportation and mid to high-end pricing, this market excels in e-commerce integration.
  • Guangzhou Sha He Market (Guangzhou, Guangdong Province): Ideal for budget-friendly women’s clothing, jeans, and children’s wear. It boasts convenient access and is favored for low-cost shopping.
  • Guangzhou Shi Sanhang Market (Guangzhou, Guangdong Province): Famous for trendy Korean women’s fashion. It features quick style updates and effective e-commerce practices, with mid to high-end pricing.
  • Beijing Dong Wuyuan Market (Beijing): The largest wholesale market in northern China, offering a diverse range of clothing with convenient transportation. Note that some market activities have started moving to a new location since 2016.
  • Guangzhou Bai Ma Market (Guangzhou, Guangdong Province): A premier destination for high-end women’s fashion. This market is a staple in Guangzhou’s fashion scene, offering both middle and high-end options.
  • Dongguan Fu Ming Market (Dongguan, Guangdong Province): Known for its extensive factory resources, this market attracts buyers from Hong Kong and nearby regions, offering clothing from low to high-end.
  • Shanghai Qi Pulu Market: Specializes in high-end, trendy women’s apparel. This market is recognized for setting and following fashion trends.

Attending Trade Shows


Trade shows are invaluable for connecting directly with manufacturers. These events not only allow you to see the products firsthand but also offer networking opportunities with other industry professionals. They provide a comprehensive view of the market’s current offerings and upcoming trends.

Leveraging Online Platforms


Utilizing B2B platforms like Alibaba and Global Sources can streamline the search for suppliers. These sites enable you to filter searches by product types, location, and other specific criteria, making it easier to find manufacturers that meet your requirements.

By exploring these avenues, you can better navigate the vast landscape of Chinese clothing manufacturers and select a partner that aligns with your business’s quality standards and production needs.

Detailed Guide on the Customs Declaration for Apparel Imports


Navigating through the customs process is key when importing garments from China. It involves:


  • Registration and Compliance: Ensuring all dealings are compliant with the local customs laws.
  • Documentation Preparation: This includes gathering and preparing all necessary paperwork such as invoices, contracts, and export licenses.
  • Special Requirements: Understanding any additional requirements like fumigation for wooden packaging.

Options for Transporting Apparel from China

  • Air Freight

    • Benefits: Quick, reduces risk of damage, ideal for high-value items.
    • Drawbacks: High cost, limitations on cargo size, less suitable for very large shipments.
  • Sea Freight

    • Benefits: Economical for large volumes, scalable.
    • Drawbacks: Slow, susceptible to weather and port congestion.
  • Rail Freight

    • Benefits:
      • Cost-effective: Less expensive than air freight, more than sea transport.
      • Reliable: Regular schedules, less weather impact.
      • Environmentally friendly: Lower CO2 emissions than air and road transport.
      • Large capacity: Suitable for significant quantities of cargo.
    • Drawbacks:
      • Limited geographic reach: May require additional transport.
      • Slower than air freight: Not ideal for urgent shipments.
      • Potential for delays: Susceptible to rail congestion and border issues.
  • Express Shipping

    • Benefits:
      • Speed: Fastest option for small shipments.
      • Door-to-Door Service: Complete service from pickup to delivery.
      • Tracking: Provides real-time shipment updates.
    • Drawbacks:
      • Cost: Most expensive, especially for heavy/bulky items.
      • Size and Weight Restrictions: Not suitable for large volumes.
      • Less suitable for bulk: High costs make it impractical for large shipments.


When transporting apparel from China, selecting the right shipping method depends on balancing factors such as speed, cost, volume, and specific requirements of the goods. Air freight offers speed at a higher cost, sea freight is slow but cost-effective for bulk, rail freight is a middle ground with reliable scheduling, and express shipping is ideal for rapid, small-scale deliveries. Assessing these factors in relation to business needs and customer expectations is crucial for an effective shipping strategy

Evaluating the Costs of Shipping Apparel from China


Shipping costs can vary widely based on the destination and shipping method chosen. It is essential to evaluate these costs carefully and consider consulting with logistics experts to optimize your shipping strategy.

Step-by-Step Process for Importing Apparel from China


The entire process of importing clothing from China involves several critical steps, from selecting the right suppliers and negotiating terms to managing logistics and complying with both local and international regulations.


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