Why Are Some Clothes Cheap While Others Are Expensive?

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Any person who has shopped for clothing knows that the price of clothing fluctuates a lot. Even if you look at the sheer basics. For example, you can step into an H&M and notice some white shirts are priced at $5, but as soon as you get to the designer white shirts, some of them are asking for upwards of $300.

You might think it’s all a big scam, that if you go the cheap route, you’re getting a good deal. Well, that’s not really the case. There’s a lot that goes into clothing that actually factors the price a lot. So if you are ever curious why some clothing is worth so much, below we explain why.

First, let’s look at the fabric. As many of us know, different fabrics cost more or less, and what is actually in it is a major cost component. In fact, the fabric is the largest component of the price of a shirt aside from store markups (cause stores do need to make a profit even off of the $5 shirts.). The big reason this is based on the grading system of fabric. Going back to our white shirt example, there are different grades to cotton and higher grade cotton is worth more. How cotton is actually graded is based on the length of every individual baby fiber. The longer the fiber is the smoother the yarn is going to be. On top of all that you also have to look at the quality of cotton as there many different types of cotton such as Sea Island cotton, Pima cotton, and Egyptian cotton. These things also factor into the cost.

The second thing is manufacturing costs. Both labor and the location where the clothing is being made is factored. A lot of people believe that labor and manufacturing are actually the largest costs, hence why so many companies make clothing overseas. It also makes sense since the minimum wage worker in the US is a lot higher than many other places in the world. Converting a US salary into rupees in India or Bangladesh and you’d see that if employees there were paid the equivalent, it’s like a king’s ransom. Wage costs are only one component–many factories have very poor working conditions, making people work 14+ hour days without breaks, no ventilation, and extremely dangerous conditions. S0, there is an ethical component to this quandary as well: support your country, swallow the higher cost, and produce less clothing or make more clothing at lower cost but outsource the work. All that being said, some outfitters have been able to produce clothing all in America and ask consumers for a respectable price. After all they can pass savings since they don’t have to pay for import taxes or any other duties.

The final factor that comes into clothing price is the marketing. With so many products, you will be paying for the name that’s on there. Going to H&M you can expect a fair deal for your money but brands like The Row or Maison Margiela you’ll be paying a lot more for the prestige.

Is the higher price always worth it? Not necessarily. While some brands make good quality clothing that warrants the price, many brands charge high prices for low-quality products that are no more ethically made than those fast-fashion brands. Do your research before buying if you want to take a step toward clothing that is economical, ethical, and high-quality.

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