The Rising Cost Of Looking Good

— Thu, 28th October 2010 —

Ever seen clothing prices actually rise? “Not a chance!” you say? Oh, yes there is, says industry analyst Todd Slater. “We’ve seen more than 15 consecutive years of price deflation in the apparel industry,” he tells The Post. “It looks like that party may be over.”

Slater’s comments followed a warning from apparel giant Jones Group that the rising cost of manufacturing, shipping and raw materials is squeezing margins, which can only mean one thing: higher prices. What sort of numbers are we talking about? A 5% rise over the next five years, says Slater. Do you care?

Heck, maybe it’s a good thing. In the words of Benjamin Harrison — just republished by our friends at Put This On — “I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”

  1. Seems like ten years ago there was sone stuff on Barneys Coop floor for less than a hundred bucks. Now pretty much nothing. And so much-from Theory to Steven Alan-seems wildly overpriced. So I’m not seeing this deflation.

  2. Nonsense. Giorgio Armani suits used to be around $2,200 in 1995. Now they are typically around $4,500-$5,000 or more. Same with most Italian manufacturers. I don’t know where anyone got the idea that men’s clothing hasn’t gone up in 15 years. It’s the same with shoes (or worse). I used to buy the standard Gucci loafer (again around 1995) for about $225.00 and I bought the runway Gucci men’s boot (which was featured in a major ad campaign), a take off on the old Fry square-toed boot except that the “harness” was replaced with an enlarged Gucci bit, for $300.00 (1995). Now there aren’t any Gucci boots that sell for less than around $600.00 or much more. And the standard Gucci loafer is about $475.00. I have no illusions that prices should stay the same over 15 years. It’s just silly to say they’ve gone DOWN is nonsense.


  3. Deflation in this case refers to the price of the items relative to inflation. As an example, in 1995, you could have bought a one bedroom apartment in Manhattan for $150K. That apartment is now selling for $700K- a six fold increase. While real estate may be a more extreme example of inflation, the concept remains true. The prices for clothing have not kept up with inflation. Polo shirts were selling for $50 in 1995 and now they are $80. But my income from 1995 to now has more than doubled.


  4. Actually, I wasn’t even working in 1995. Whatever. The idea is the same.

    Also, using European companies as an example isn’t a fair comparison because the effect of the rising value of the Euro plays a large role in the increase in prices.

    Apologies for talking economics on a shopping site.


  5. I didn’t read whole article, but perhaps the deflation of retail clothing isn’t about high end designers. I agree with others that those prices have dramatically gone up. (A Balenciaga T-shirt for $400 is sickening.) BUT for lower end chain retail, those prices definitely seem to be very affordable and have been affordable for a long period of time, probably since they discovered cheap labor in El Salvador, Vietnam and China. I refer to Gap, Old Navy, Target, A&E, and even business preppy like Banana Republic (not to speak of H&M, Zara, Club Monaco).

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