What Is a Style Number in Fashion?

What is a style number in fashion? Learn more about what a style number is and how the fashion industry uses it to track inventory and streamline processes.
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Team Kiwi Sizing

Last updated on February 12, 2024

A style number in fashion makes it easier for retailers to keep track of product variations. Inventory management is one of the most important aspects of running any Shopify store.

For stores that sell fashion items, a big part of keeping track of inventory involves tracking items in various sizes, colors, and styles.

What Is a Style Number in Fashion?

Several types of clothing, each with a different style number.

Industry experts say an average fashion collection contains 10-12 styles. Manufacturers and fashion brands assign a unique identifying number to each style for tracking purposes.

Style numbers can be numeric or alphanumeric, and the specific format varies from one clothing maker to another. Some manufacturers use smart style numbers composed of symbols that describe the various attributes of the product.

The components of the style number may indicate attributes such as the year, style, color, size, and season. Some manufacturers print the style code on the garment’s label, while others only use it internally.

What Is the Purpose of a Style Number?

Clothing makers assign each style a number to make it easier for the manufacturer, sewers, pattern makers, and other supply chain members to track items. Clothing retailers often use style numbers as part of their system for tracking sales and returns.

This tool makes it easier for clothing makers to communicate with agents, retailers, suppliers, distributors, and pattern makers. Many clothing lines utilize manufacturing and distribution facilities located in different countries. Using style numbers instead of names to communicate product information reduces language barriers.

Style numbers make it easier for retailers, manufacturers, and others to track their inventory and streamline their processes. Some retailers use this number as part of their stock-keeping unit number.

What Is the Difference Between SKU and Style?

A shop owner scans a style number in fashion.

A SKU is an alphanumeric code that retailers use to track their inventory. Most retailers print the SKU on the item’s price tag.

SKU numbers are usually eight to 12 characters long, with each character representing a specific characteristic of a product, such as its style, brand, or department. Like style numbers, SKUs are unique to each business.

Different clothing retailers use different SKUs to reflect the information they want to keep track of. SKUs have a similar function to style numbers but usually track other attributes beyond an item’s style.

Additionally, clothing makers format style numbers for people to use, while retailers usually format SKUs for use in computer systems. As a result, style numbers need a structure that people recognize to be useful.

SKUs do not need structure because computer systems don’t require a specific structure to make sense of them. The most important aspect of a SKU number is that it must be unique for each product.

Style numbers typically describe a group of products that can come in different variations, while SKU numbers identify specific products within each style. Most retailers maintain a database to help them translate between style, SKU, and UPC numbers.  

Learn More About Selling Clothes on Shopify

Now that you know what a style number in fashion is, you may be wondering where you can learn more about other fashion industry jargon. The Kiwi Sizing blog provides information about the latest trends, best practices, and fashion industry insights. 

Contact us today to learn more about how our Shopify size charts and recommenders can improve your store’s shopping experience and reduce returns.

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