Thursday, February 17, 2011

The price of fashion

I ventured into Union Square the other day, a part of the city that some people might call a shopper's paradise. With the hundreds of stores in the Galleria Shopping Center, the department stores, Barneys, boutiques and fast fashion shops like Forever 21 and H&M - it can be overwhelming and I'm generally uncomfortable shopping there. I really prefer well edited small boutiques that are out of the way - tucked into cute neighborhoods far from the noise of big city centralized shopping. So why did I go out there? Gift Certificates. I have gift certificates from Christmas that I should use. But, when I went out to the shops the other day I honestly could not find one thing worth buying (and yes, I realize that I wasn't spending my own money, but still) there was nada, zip, zilch. How could this be? It seemed that every 'cute' item I picked up was overpriced for the quality: cheap construction, cheap materials, and yet expensive. I don't mind spending a bit more money on a good quality item that will last - but even my trusted shops and labels seemed to be cutting corners, but not cost. So I went home empty handed. That was last week.

Then this week I was forwarded the following article...

"The era of falling clothing prices is ending.

Clothing prices have dropped for a decade as tame inflation and cheap overseas labor helped hold down costs. Retailers and clothing makers cut frills and experimented with fabric blends to cut prices during the recession.

But as the world economy recovers and demand for goods rises, a surge in labor and raw materials costs is squeezing retailers and manufacturers who have run out of ways to pare costs.

Cotton has more than doubled in price over the past year, hitting all-time highs. The price of other synthetic fabrics has jumped roughly 50 percent as demand for alternatives and blends has risen.

Clothing prices are expected to rise about 10 percent in coming months, with the biggest increases coming in the second half of the year"

You can read the rest of the SFGate article here.

What do you think about this? Do you feel that the quality of clothes is getting worse across the board, and that prices are going up?


  1. Hummm, have I noticed prices going up...? I feel like you average everything in a shop like the gap (I'm in there too much) is $60. For a sweater, for a thin sleeveless top, pair of pants, or a dress. That is their number, and when I'm patient, it goes down.
    I feel like that has been the number for a while, but maybe a few years ago it was $50 and i just don't remember.

    Oh well. If you have a gift card to H&M, maybe you could wait for their eco line in april. a bunch of the pieces have caught my eye at any rate.

  2. I haven't retailed shopped in a long time. I think that when you do this, your standards go up. And nothing satisfies you (maybe trying to find a T shirt or something simple). I agree though that once you know how to look at seams, construction, and materials, everything (even the cheap stuff) seems to be not worth it.
    I didn't know about the price of cotton going up. I wonder if this is because the US stopped heavily subsidizing their cotton production, which was pretty huge in the 2000s under Bush.

  3. I buy almost all of my clothing, with only a few occasional exceptions, at thrift stores. I imagine the prices at the thrift stores will rise a bit if overall retail prices go up, but it's still so much more affordable than buying retail.

    Sometimes I am pretty surprised at the costs of simple things. Like Lyddie says, a trip to the Gap can be pretty shocking when you look at the price versus the quality. But I'm still pretty willing to shell out $100 for a great pair of jeans.

  4. Okay, that's weird. I didn't see this 'til now and saw the same article (I think) via GAAD!

    I also agree with Rad - the longer I stay away from retail shopping, the less it makes me want to part with my $$$!

  5. I have the *same* experience when I hit Union Square once or twice a year in search of petite-sized pants. The crowds, the awful pop music, the competing 'branded' perfumes mingling in the common retail spaces. It's all too much. And I, too, find the prices completely incompatible with the quality. The only place where this is not true seems to be Old Navy, and I can never bring myself to purchase a $5 top knowing where and how it must have been made for that price.

  6. I saw the same article the other day and quite frankly it made me mad. Prices HAVE gone up, and to boot quality has steadily gone down. I cant justify some of H&m's high prices, Topshop is probably the worst offender. Even thrift stores are over priced for clothes that was donated! I almost exclusively shop at Buffalo Exchange type places where I can get certain brands for less and outdoor swapmeets where I can haggle for prices. I think I'm too bitter for fashion right now ha!

  7. Really great post- You can really notice the prices going up it the UK. At Christmas Topshop had dresses the retailed for £300! Which was actually a bit of a joke as they all ended up in the sale with 70% off. The company i work for had a cocktail dress for £280, but it was 100% polyester. Again it wasn't selling so it's been 'repriced' down to 200. It seems pretty clear that people aren't willing to pay top dollar at the moment, the January sales have been going for over a month and there's special offers all over the high street.