Production Costs – Why do we pay so much for fashion items?

Hello Everyone!

Due to an assignment for my Fashion Industry Essentials course by Teen Vogue x Parsons, I here present you with a new theme on my blog! I’ll be doing some fashion posts about particularities on the Industry, sharing my knowledge and showing you some of my work!

Today’s theme is about production costs. Since this latest trend came back, the chokers, I was trying to not succumb to that, specially those tatoo chokers – I’ve arrived at that age when the things I wore when I was a teenager are back again! So, I didn’t want to wear the same pieces that I wore when I was 13, but I really like that accessory (like 12 years ago) – it gives you a different vibe to the look , it can complement it, it makes your colarbone and neck super pretty, and so on. So, I thought I could make some chokers of my own, using different materials and through trial and error, select some of them that really represent my personal style.

On course 3, ‘Understanding Fashion Production’, the faculty challenged us to write a story on our blog doing the math of the production of an handmade accessory. I chose the choker on the photo for my product, and I’m going to explain to you how I made it, how much it costs and for how much it should be sold.

The first thing is to estimate the costs of our materials and work time. So, for this choker, I used white lace (40 cm), a black satin ribbon (40 cm) and some hook and loop fasteners (2 cm – it’s called velcro in portuguese, but from what I searched in the U.S. velcro is the name of a company that produces it).  Then, you have to calculate how much do you deserve to receive for your work, estimating the time you spent and being considered of the amount of money a worker in a local chothing retailer earn per hour.

*In Portugal, the average amount you would expect to be paid if you worked in a local clothing retailer is 3,5€ per hour.

So, the total production cost of the choker is 1.17€. Although, that money only covers my time and the materials, for it to be profitable, I have to adjust de final price of the accessory. You can arrange your profit percentage depending on what expenses do you have extra – for exemple, I used an hot glue gun to put the materials together (you can sew it). If I start to make them continuously I would have to add new costs like glue sticks. Now, imagine a multimillion company producing high-end products, adding that to rent, electricity, machines, headquarters, marketing and all the paychecks – that’s why fashion can be so expensive!

Well, back to my calculations! So, after that you need to estimate the retail price. Here’s my catch with this product. I didn’t own a choker because I wasn’t going to paid between 3 € and 6 € for an accessory that I knew I could make at home. I’ve seen lace choker on the internet, and big brands like Forever 21 are selling them from 2.90$ to 4.90$ (the currency from euro to dollar doesn’t change much, on the moment I’m writing this post it is 1 U.S. dollar to .89 euros).

Now, if I wanted to mass produced the choker and put it on stores, I would have to make a retail price that is half of our suggested retail price to allow for their profit. Let’s say I make an estimated price of 2€ – because I don’t want to be as expensive as olher companies and want to focus on the client. Therefore, I would need to figure out how to produce the item for 1€ or less, which includes the profit margin. For that, we can change for cheaper materials (usually online shopping is less expensive) and reduce our construction time.

This exercise made me realize that if we really want to make this kind of art for living, we really need to treat it as the business that it is! I’m going to think twice when I go to a store and see a price that I believe it’s over-expensive!

I hope you like this different segment of the blog, let me know on the comments and my social media if you are interested in more production facts!

See you soon*


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