I’m a fashion industry outsider so I can’t vouch for this infographic’s accurateness. Two things, however, are worth pointing out based on the discussion below:

Surely markups are critical to a business’s success – still, citing other industries or brands and their mountainous margins does not justify the act. That said subsidizing clothing costs through negligent, often unethical supply side practices (cheap labor, disregard for the environment etc.) is not the answer either.

We should be working to strike a balance. Improving on both sides of the argument is key to a more sustainable way of business, both socially and economically.




All this shopping recently got me to thinking…

I always cringe a bit when I see things like this, especially when people outside of the industry see it. It makes the clothing industry look completely evil, but markups exist in EVERY business out there. Otherwise it’s not a business. I can make a graph about how many pennies it cost to produce the alcohol you’re paying $10.00 for at a bar, or how you theoretically are overcharging your consulting employer by 100% because you are not producing a physical product.

Please remember that markups exist so people like me and those that are working to produce these products can make a living. We to need to pay bills, buy food and pay people we employ.

I’m glad someone weighed in on this. Infographics like this can be way too misleading. I have a dog in this fight, so it’s hard to take my opinion as unbiased, but ‘markup’ is kind of a pejorative term. The idea that markups like this only exist in the fashion industry is ludicrous. Look at Apple.

How much should a designer get paid for designing something? How much would you want to get paid to sew the same thing over and over again for 5 days a week? What about the people who work in the warehouse, packing and shipping everything? They need to get paid, as do the drivers, the lawyer that helped right the terms of sale and return policies, etc., etc., etc. If you ordered the item online, what about the web developer, the credit card processor, bandwith fees, and domain name ownership? 

Things like this just beg more questions than provide any real answers. Maybe a t-shirt should cost more than $6.70 to produce. What is a living wage? More importantly, what’s a wage that you would take for making something? Maybe t-shirts shouldn’t cost 15-20 dollars because it demonstrates that someone down the line isn’t getting paid fairly. 

To be honest that “$6.70 a shirt” price is only going to keep going up. And not just because of inflation. And it should. The rising middle class in China and other developing countries aren’t going to swallow getting paid a few dollars on the hour for too much longer. It’s the same reason why we don’t manufacture things like this in the United States anymore – people want to get paid enough to not only survive, but enjoy their lives. 

No one likes hearing justifications for things they find ‘overpriced’. But when’s the last time someone asked you how much your work is worth? Or questioned how much you get paid?