Over-Dressed by Elisabeth L. Cline.
The shocking high cost of cheap fashion.
the last fifteen years, Americans have enjoyed an almost unabated and
unprecedented free fall in the average price of clothing. We pay less
for for clothes, when measured as a share of our income, than ever in
history. In 2009 American consumers dedicated less than 3 percent of
their annual household budget to apparel. The price of just about
everything in America has climbed in recent decades - housing, gas,
education, healthcare, and movie tickets. Meanwhile, clothing is a
better bargain than ever.
retailers with the lowest prices are the ones that have earned
American’s loyalty. According to S&P’s industry surveys, the three
retailers with the highest brand value (meaning a store’s ability to
generate excitement and demand) during the recession are H&M, Walmart and Zara. Forever 21 would probably be on the list if it weren’t
a privately held company.
style was for hundreds of years handmade or made by a dressmaker or
tailor. The places we shop for clothes today are the survivors of three
decades of ruthless competition based largely on price. The fashion
industry has become so homogenous that most consumers now shop at
retailers who give us the lowest price first and do so year-end. Even
high-end designer clothes can now be had for cut-rate prices on web
sites such as Bluefly, Gilt Groupe, and Net-a-porter.com (http://www.bluefly.com/, http://www.gilt.com/ , www.net-a-porter.com/ ). http://www.thebudgetbabe.com/, http://frugal-fashionistas.com/, http://www.therecessionista.com/, http://www.therecessionista.com/ , http://elitegossipgirlstyle.wordpress.com/ & http://www.marieclaire.com/fashion/tips/splurge-vs-steal/ are the famous blog sites exclusively for bargain hunter. http://well-spent.com/ is a site devoted to handcrafted and locally made in new York.
to recent estimates, raw materials account for 25 to 50 percent of the
cost of producing an item of clothing, while labor ranges from 20 to 40
percent. Cheap fashion does rely on cheaper materials. The difference in
fabric prices between two countries, for example Japan and China, might
be fifty cents, not enough to really impact price tags. It’s labor cost
that makes the all the difference.
the world of designer stuff, people go to Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Saks
Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman in Manhattan. Bergdorf Goodman sells
some of the finest clothing money can buy, including couture and very
established ready-to-wear lines by Oscar de la Renta, Chanel, and Yves
Saint Laurent. They also carry contemporary designers as Jason Wu, Norma
Kamali and Michael Kors.
tycoon Bernard Arnault acquired Christian Dior in 1987 and thus the
luxury good conglomerate Moet Hennessy - Louis Vuitton (LVMH) was born.
In the years since, as Dana Thomas explains in her book, ‘Deluxe: How
Luxury Lost its Luster’, almost the entire luxury market has sold its
small family owned flavor for global expansion funded by shareholder
brands, including fashion labels Fendi, Givenchy and Marc Jacobs. A
second major luxury conglomerate, PPR, owns Bottega Veneta, Gucci, Yves
Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Boucheron, Sergio Rossi, and half of
Alexander McQueen and Stella Mccartney.
tinted fortresses of the luxury brands Armani, Bottega Veneta, Escada,
Fendi, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Pucci, and Sergio Rossi are all
lined up near center park on Manhattan’s fifth avenue. These companies
put on a good show of being Old World and exclusive, yet there are
clearly marketing to every Jane Doe from Idaho to Georgia who walks that
stretch sidewalk. They all have similar layouts. the first floor is the
most welcoming, well lit and staffed. This floor is dedicated to
scarves, jewelry and other small accessories, but mostly handbags.
Luxury handbags are one of the biggest scams in the retail world and
they are marked up as much as ten to twelve times over the cost of the
production. On highest floors, the environs get far more exclusive. This
is where the clothes are. A representative from luxury branding from
BETC Luxe mentioned that clothing is understood to be an actual loss for
most luxury brands.
fashion labels historically produced two main collections:
spring/summer and autumn/winter. A department store had four major
selling seasons. A mass-market retailer such as Gaps updated their color
scheme throughout the year, but focused on seasonal output.
21 is infamous for ripping off fashion designers. US Copyright law does
not protect fashion design, only fabric prints and jewelry. the
copyright office has always said very consistently that clothing is just
functional and therefore can’t be copyrighted. One of the reason is
that US is a manufacturing hub and Europe is designers hub. Both H&M
(Swedish), Zara (Spain) are almost following the same style but with a
spine on designer styles as opposed to doing direct copies like Forever
21 is doing. The reason is that they are from Europe and hence bound to copy-protected laws. For example, Zara sells very similar takes on
designer’s signature pieces such as Prada’s striped sombrero from its
2011 collections. Zara’s version was black and white instead of neon
colored. The original silk tuxedo shirt would cost around $990 and
Zara sells it for 90 percent less. Both H&M and Zara has limited
in-house designers, but Forever 21 does not have any designers. Mrs.
Chang (owner of Forever 21) will go shopping all over the world, circle
things in magazines, buy samples and take pictures and then handover her
research to her buying team to find a vendor who can produce replica.
know they copy the runaway, but nobody talks about how they bluntly
copy everything vintage”, Brooklyn based vintage dealer Sara Bereket
says. One customer bought a ‘70s cashmere sweater by Calvin Klein from
Bereket stall and then admitted she was shipping it to China the next
day to be replicated. Vintage designs are in the public domain and can
be freely copied. ‘90s floral dresses and tops as well as jumpsuits from
the 1980s, all hot sellers in regular retailers at the moment. ‘What
styles did we have from the 2000s era? Low Pants? Other than that, it
was all copied from the past.”
1904 German sociologist Georg Simmel wrote a landmark article,
‘Fashion. In it, he laid out a very clear view on how price and the pace
of fashion are tied. “The more an article becomes subject to rapid
changes of fashion, the greater the demand for cheap products of its
kind”. Today, it is very difficult to convince the average consumer to
buy clothing at reasonable price, and fast fashion gets around this
conundrum by selling a treadmill of fresh trends for cheap. But in their
race to sell new products, they speed up the pace of fashion, which in
turn makes the average consumer even cheaper.
uses these fast fashion dress and drop them off at Salvation Army bins
after using it for two or three times. These less used dresses resold as
second hand stuff in many thrift shops around US. After keeping it for
few weeks, it will be exported to sell it in other countries.