I’m pretty sure that, at some point, most of us have seen a T-Shirt that we love, take a look at the price tag and instantly put the T-Shirt down, performed an about-turn and then quickly removed ourselves from the shop.
At some point or another, we’ve all wondered: “Why is this personalised T-Shirt so expensive?” After all, it’s just a T-Shirt, right?
If, like me, you’ve wondered this before, well you’re in luck as I’m about to tackle this question head on.
In recent years, the luxury goods industry has taken a bit of a dive and this is mostly due to the economic growth of Asia slowing down (only China accounts for 25% of the entire market). Despite this, the industry still made a staggering €253 billion in revenue last year alone.
So, what exactly makes the clothing industry tick? How are some brands able to charge sky-high prices for an item of clothing which, quite simply, doesn’t look worth it? Well, let’s take a look:
This is one of the most obvious reasons why brands charge eye-watering prices for their garments. Higher-quality brands tend to work with higher quality materials and this has an impact on the cost of what you’ll pay to buy the clothing – basically, it has a huge impact on the price that you’ll pay.
With higher-end brands, they tend to produce their garments in Europe and this carries significantly more expensive manufacturing and labour costs than if the clothing was produced in Asia.
One of the best marketing techniques that brands use is creating exclusivity with their clothing and, for this reason, they’ll produce 100 garments instead of 1000. Not only does this drive up the cost of T-Shirts as everyone is looking to get their hands on the “limited edition” but printing small runs of T-Shirts is more expensive than if you were to bulk print the T-Shirts in higher quantities. This again has a big impact on the cost of creating the garments for the brands to sell and this is reflected in the price they’ll charge us, the customers.
Along with creating exclusivity, if you’re in the fashion industry, you want your clothing to be seen and for this, one of the best ideas is to create or attend fashion shows to show off this season’s line up. The problem with this is that fashion shows tend to be very expensive to host.
These events were originally designed so that buyers could attend the events and take a look at the latest creations and then order then for their respective retailers. In this age of YouTube and Instagram models charging huge figures just to have a photo taken with a particular product, the trusted Fashion Show no longer works.
Instead, Fashion Shows are now used for marketing. I’m 100% certain that I’m not the only person who see’s runway clothing and thinks “who in their right mind would wear that?” but the truth is that no one does. I’ve never seen any item of clothing from a fashion show become high-street fashion which is worn on a regular basis. In fact, the majority of clothing that is featured on the runway doesn’t even make it to the production line!
Appearing in a magazine is another marketing technique but again, this can prove to be wildly expensive. This means that you can be sure that if you’re buying an expensive T-Shirt, you’re probably paying for the advert that showed you the T-Shirt in the first place.
Research and talent:
High-end labels tend to spend a lot more time and do a lot more research when it comes to developing their products or even creating a whole new trend. In an interview with the New Yorker, former creative director of Lanvin, Alber Elbaz stated that he often had to create five or six different dresses in order to present only one of them. A former employee of Calvin Klein also described herself by inspired by the amount of time and effort they would spend on creating only one piece.
When you compare this to high-street fashion brands like Zara or TopShop, they will take trends that are currently hot and then copy the look to stock their shelves before they move on to the next trend. This requires minimum research and effort and ensures that the cost of producing their next range is kept down to a minimum.
Strategic brand positioning:
Back in 2014, Burberry made a shocking announcement that they would be increasing the pricing of their products to make the brand more exclusive. This roughly meant that they were trying to move their products out of reach of less desirable (or “less rich” if you prefer) customers. Shortly after this, Mulberry decided that they would employ a similar tactic, only their strategy would be aimed in the opposite direction.
Initially, you would be forgiven for thinking that Burberry were actually trying to attract fewer customers, but in reality, they were creating a status for themselves and exclusivity similar to what Apple create for the iPhone’s – everyone knows that iPhone’s aren’t the cheapest devices on the market but you’re not just buying a smartphone, you’re buying a status symbol.
The idea behind this is if you could afford Burberry clothing, you’re not only wearing a designer label – you’re also announcing to the world that you can afford to wear Burberry clothing.
Because they can:
We can look in depth at all of the different scenarios which could affect the pricing of clothing, especially when it comes to certain brands. In reality, one of the biggest reasons that high-end brands are able to charge so much for their clothing is because there is a market for it.
As long as people are willing to pay high prices for clothing, the cost of clothing will continue to increase – unfortunately, it’s just as simple as that.
So, we’ve taken a look at 6 different factors which affect the cost of clothing. The next logical step is to take a look at some of the most expensive brands out there. Rather than compare the cost of the entire wardrobe, I’m going to take a look at the cost of their T-Shirts which are currently for sale.
Burberry is a British brand which is arguably best known for their stunning trench coats. There was a time when Burberry was known as the clothing of choice for “chavs” but they’ve successfully managed to reposition themselves as a leading brand in luxury fashion as a result of the tactics that are mentioned above.
Recently, the company announced that it was planning to cut jobs to help them save money after they have a mixed start to the 15 / 16 season. Despite this, the company still has a profit of around £250 million.
Consider this, one of their vests is priced at a steep £395!
The Italian fashion label is often quoted as being one of the most expensive and profitable brands in the world. They have annual profits of upwards of €800 million.
They are led by creative director Karl Lagerfeld and, as a result of their fur coats, they’ve not been able to escape controversy. They also recently opposed Rome’s 2016 Gay Pride – only for them to quickly change their mind.
If that’s not enough, some of their printed T-Shirts go for a whopping £420!
German designer, Philipp Plein, is fairly new to the fashion scene but that hasn’t stopped him becoming a favourite for many people. His shows have become one of the most eagerly anticipated shows during the Milan Fashion Week.
What’s more, the new fashion brand is able to charge £480 for some of their T-Shirts – not bad for a new entry into the fashion world.
Gucci is without a doubt one of the most famous fashion brands in the world. Throughout the years, they’ve gone through many different identity changes from a conservative brand, to a Rock and Roll glam brand, into a Boho Chic girl brand and now it’s redefined itself again as a 70’s nostalgic brand.
The ability to change itself and adapt to the wants of the fashion world is one of the reasons why they’re also one of the most valuable brands on the planet, with yearly sales topping $4.3 billion.
While this seems like a lot of profit for a company to make, it’s not hard to see why they make this much when they’re charging £510 for some of their T-Shirts.
Vetement made headlines earlier this year when they started selling a DHL T-Shirt which they are still selling for a staggering £185. They also raised further eyebrows when they sold a Snoop Dogg T-Shirt for £640!
Hillary Clinton is listed as being a big admirer of Armani clothing but they originally made a name for themselves as being a brand for the working woman back in the 80’s. The Italian giants have six different clothing lines available to buy – the most expensive lineup being their Giorgio Armani collection.
They also receive an annual revenue of €1.8 billion.
Some of their T-Shirts also sell for a cool £650!
Hermés is a French fashion label which is known for their famous Birkin, which is one of the most expensive purses in the world. To give you a rough idea, the vintage Birkin would set you back an eye-watering £62,000 to make it your own. It’s sales like this which have helped the company amass a revenue of $5.3 million.
One of their high-neck T-Shirts would also set you back £700.
Versace has long been known as a leader when it comes to luxury and decadent fashion. Throughout the years, Versace has had their fair share of ups and downs – the most notable being the loss of their founder – Gianni Versace.
However, throughout all of the ups and downs, no one can deny that Versace has had a huge influence on fashion and pop culture as a whole.
In recent years, Versace has been able to raise their yearly profits to around €480 million. This is undoubtedly helped by selling T-Shirts which would cost you a pricey £750.
Dolce and Gabbana:
Dolce & Gabbana is one of the highest earning high-end fashion brands on the planet. The company, which was founded by Italian duo Domenico and Stefano, generated £880 million in the last fiscal year.
They’re known for being one of the most expensive fashion labels in the world as well, and it’s not hard to see why when some of their T-Shirts will cost you £875 to own.
Ralph Lauren is an American brand which is named after its founder and owns around 15 different fashion lines which is spread between men’s and women’s clothing – with the Ralph Lauren Collection costing the most. The company makes £512 million in revenue each year.
One of their beaded T-Shirts would also cost you £900 to own.
Valentino doesn’t capture as many headlines as some of the brands that are listed above, but it’s still a huge force in the fashion industry. For this first time in the company’s history, they hit $1 billion (roughly £700 million) in revenue this year.
What’s more, a camo inspired T-Shirt will cost you £1125.
Givenchy was originally made famous thanks to the dress worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In recent times, they’ve undergone a bit of a makeover thanks to their creative director Riccardo Tisci.
Each year, Givenchy earns around €917.7 million in sales and that’s helped, in part, by sales of T-Shirts which will cost at £1,600 to own.
Whether you regard these brands as being overpriced, or if you think that the clothing is worth buying – it’s completely your choice. Fashion has long been regarded as art and, similar to the art world, it’s valued by what people are willing to pay for it. If you’re willing to pay for an item of clothing, no matter how expensive that item of clothing might be, then it’s completely worth the price to you.
If you’re looking to start your own fashion brand, or if you’re looking to get printed T-Shirts but don’t want to pay the costs that are mentioned above to get some high quality, customised garments, you can view our advice on how to lower the cost of your printing order.