THE PRICE OF FASHION

True to its motto of responsible production and consumption, FreedomeE has been continuously promoting ethical brands and principles, aiming to debunk some of the myths behind the fashion industry. One of them is the illusion of “good deals” based solely on pricing, without equating the true cost of cheap garments. Have you ever wondered how a t-shirt can cost less than your McDonalds’ menu, considering the costs of materials and labour on all the stages it goes through, from cotton sourcing to garment manufacturing, packaging and shipping? If you are not paying for it, someone else is…⁠

In a recent write up for Vogue, Emily Parra accurately describes how the industry works pricing-wise and how ultimately, fast fashion comes at a great cost for all its workers. “Understanding where the number on a price tag comes from requires tallying every step of production—fabric, labour, shipping, packaging—and adding a profit margin”. The industry standard for a profit margin is between a 2.2 and 2.5x markup, meaning a dress that cost a designer $100 to produce might be sold to a retailer for $220. That retailer has to mark it up by 2.2x again to make its own profit, bringing the final price up to $484. (You can see how the math for that $5 tee becomes nearly impossible.)”. She carries on explaining that “the average shopper doesn’t know any of that; she might assume the price is an arbitrary number the brand came up with to maximize its profits. She doesn’t know where the profits are going, either; maybe they’re covering overhead costs, like office space, employees, legal fees, and taxes, or they’ll be reinvested in future collections”.

This is something we’ve been strong supporters of here at Freedomee: it’s mandatory that the fashion industry becomes more transparent in its approach, allowing consumers to know the costs involved in producing responsible garments, so they can make an informed decision when it comes to paying the right price. With this philosophy in mind, more and more brands are slowly adopting transparent pricing policies, clearly explaining the cost breakdown of their products, so consumers know exactly why they are paying such sums. Everlane was the first and still remains a prime example of pricing transparency, but other smaller, independent labels are following their steps. It’s unlikely luxury brands will ever do the same, as branding allows them to charge outrageous margins based on principles of luxury, exclusivity and (often lacking) “superior quality”.

Our choices as consumers are what ultimately will shape the future of brands and the industry; we have the power to make the right decision and demand transparency and ethical principles from the brands we purchase from. As such, it is up to us to invest our time and money on the brands that are actually making a difference: those who price their products fairly, who adopt responsible production principles, who pay their employees a fair wage, and who are passionate about their products. Join us in creating a New Economy with these brands at its core!

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