Monthly Archives: January 2012

Unionmade – Todd Barket (Co-owner)

Todd Barket put it the best; this is hands-down my favorite blurb regarding this fiasco.

When people shop at certain stores, they’re paying not just for the product, but also the experience. They want to be a part of something bigger than the act of consumption. There’s a reason people wait in line at the 5th ave Abercrombie and Fitch, even if they’re only buying socks. The same applies to small stores too. Shoppers want to participate in something aspirational. And it costs money to create that experience. Combine that with the dozens of behind the scenes expenses, and you start to understand how expensive it can be to run a store. But that’s what people want and expect. If they didn’t, everyone would just be shopping at discount stores with no atmosphere.

via Well Spent.

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The Hill-side/Hickorees – Emil Corsillo (Founder/Co-owner)

In this infographic, Everlane is trying to create the biggest gap possible between cost of production and retail price, in order to set up a stark contrast to their own model. The most misleading part of this graphic is the $15 wholesale > $50 retail markup (3.3x). Everlane is being intentionally misleading here because they want to shock you into thinking that you’re being ripped off every time you buy a $50 t-shirt. I don’t know where they found evidence of this 3.3x markup, but it’s certainly not happening at any of the independent men’s clothing stores in the US that I know.

The highest markup we charge on any product at Hickoree’s is 2.5x the wholesale price. For clothing, we use the standard markup of 2.3x, which would make the $15.00 t-shirt in this graphic cost $34.50 at Hickoree’s. If you buy a $50 t-shirt at Hickoree’s, we’re charging $50 because we paid $21.75 for it. It costs us $21.75 because it cost the brand somewhere between $8.50 – $10 to design and produce it. We sell $29 t-shirts at Hickoree’s as well as $120 t-shirts. In both cases you’re paying 2.3x what we bought it for, which in turn is 2x-2.5x what it cost the brand to make it.

We believe in these products and we’re friends with the people who design and produce them. Rather than feeling ripped off, when you buy one of these products you should feel good about the fact that you’re supporting both Hickoree’s and the people who made the stuff. By doing so, you help ensure that we’ll be able to put more cool stuff in our shop next season, and that the brands we carry will be able to keep making cool stuff going forward.

via Why Clothes Cost What They Do – Well Spent.

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Ovadia & Sons – Michael Shapiro (Project Coordinator)

Based on the prices they are quoting in the illustration, I think we can assume the garments are made in China. If that is in fact the case, they’re “forgetting” to include a flood of other costs, such as: opening letters of credit, currency exchange and banking fees, quality inspection fees, importing the garment, taxes and duties, shipping from the port to the warehouse. Add that to all the non-manufacturing expenses, like time and money spent developing design and fit, employees, rent, insurance, supplies, etc, and suddenly, that $6.70 shirt is actually costing closer to $10 or $12. If an illustration like this is going to be out there for people to see, the consumer deserves to have the honest figures. And honestly, there’s no such thing as a $6.70 shirt.

via Well Spent.

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Euince Lee – Unis (Founder)

First thing’s first: is their product made in the USA? If not, then it’s not a fair comparison. WWD reported in 2010 that the average minimum wage in China was $0.93 and in Mexico was $0.53. The current minimum wage in New York is $7.25 and in California it’s $8.00. You just can’t compare items made here and abroad. Second, what about the cost to design the shirt? Either you’re doing it, or you’ve hired someone else to. Regardless, the shirt’s not going to design itself, so someone has to get paid. Thirdly, not everyone uses fabrics as cheap as $2.75 per garment. And then what about all the other steps involved in the manufacturing? Moving fabric from one area of the factory to the other. Cutting. Dying. Fittings. Fit models. Pattern changes. Production markers. Damages. These are all related to the final cost, and they’ve all been left out. The commenter from Nansblog does make a good point about products changing hands too much. That’s absolutely true. But Everlane’s model doesn’t actually change that, or offer a solution to it, it just doesn’t mention it.

via Well Spent.

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Archival Clothing – Tom Bonamici (Co-founder)

I couldn’t help but notice that the Everlane graphic left out the most important part of the equation: people. When you pick the cotton, weave it, dye it, cut it, sew it, transport it, etc, you’ve got to pay people to do those things. The Everlane graphic represents the absolute lowest prices in the world for those tasks, and at the very highest quantity (prices go down as numbers go up). Our Archival t-shirts, by contrast, have a very different path. The fabric is woven, cut, and sewn in the USA, where labor prices are much higher. We also have to be able to pay ourselves for spec’ing, ordering, and marketing the product. Our mark ups reflect a person who’s making a living.

via Well Spent.

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The Everlane Perturbation on Tumblr.

I am reposting the little kerfuffle occurring over at Brad Bennett’s blog “Well Spent” regarding an artistic expression of designer products and designer mark-ups. Much like Brad, I think this Everlane infographic post is witty and hilarious, but it also sends the wrong message to a lot of consumers. I’ll let the pro bloggers/designers give more insight.

A little over a month ago, newbie direct-to-consumer e-tailer Everlane, posted the below infographic on their Tumblr.

4,100 notes later, and the image is still going strong. Though a clever and fairly artful depiction of the inner workings of the apparel industry, it’s not entirely accurate.

In his response to the image (which is still one of the best I’ve read to date), Jon Moy, co-founder of Run of the Mill and blogger behind Getting Beat Like You Stole Something and Tina Rated Tina Approved, explained why:

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? Things like this just beg more questions than provide any real answers. 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. 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?

I reblogged Jon’s response, as did many others. Shortly after, I received the following message:

I respectfully, and forcefully disagree with your characterization of Everlane’s infographic. Clothing retail lacks transparency and anyone who has seen how things work knows that some retailers put out fair markups and others do not even come close. The exact same pants cost $200 from Epaulet and $400 from Ovadia. A T-shirt of the same quality of material, construction, cut and country of origin costs $15 from Everlane and $50 from James Perse. One is a fair price, and the other is overpriced.

I responded:

My issue with Everlane’s infographic is that it’s a dangerous over-simplification. Essentially, Everlane is attempting to demonize any clothing company charging greater than 2.25% its manufacturing costs. That’s ludicrous. Running a clothing company is expensive. Period. No matter how big or small, there’s always going to be unavoidable overhead. Mark-ups exist to cover that overhead. They pay for office space, employee payroll, web hosting, web design. They help to cushion the inevitable losses incurred from factory fuck-ups, shipping damages, fabric imperfections. The list goes on. None of that is accounted for in the image. Instead, mark-ups are depicted as some great ruse being perpetrated on the guileless consumer. And that’s just not true.

While writing my response, I realized that the majority of people who have seen, or are going to see Everlane’s graphic, don’t actually have any first-hand knowledge of how the clothing business works. And so, they have no reason to question Everlane’s claims. With that in mind, I asked some industry friends to share their thoughts on the image as well. I don’t want this to seem like an attack on Everlane, because it’s not. I simply feel there are some glaring inaccuracies in their infographic, and given how popular the picture has become, those inaccuracies must be addressed.

via Well Spent.

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Solely Based on Principle.

Just to show you that I actually think this girl is kind of cool, here is the little interview GQ covered on the other Olsen sister.

It’s like a tween gothic novel or What Ever Happened to Baby Janes. Your elder twin sisters—stars since infancy—are faces-on-lunchbox famous. Your summer vacations are spent on a celebrity cruise so the twins can sign autographs. Back in L.A., shopping at the mall equals mayhem. “The paparazzi were really frightening,” says Elizabeth Olsen. “I thought, Maybe I’ll just skip that part.”

Good idea. Renouncing that hotbed of mediocrity, Olsen trained with the Atlantic Theater Company, then went all the way to Russia to study acting, dialect, and stage combat. Now, at 22, she’s a legitimate Oscar contender for her haunting performance as a young woman under the sway of a creepy cult leader in the indie thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene. The most unnerving scene has her offered up naked as a ritual shag. Olsen didn’t think twice about the nudity. “The movie wouldn’t have been as disturbing without it,” says the actress. “Taking away someone’s sexuality, making it something you don’t even own anymore—that’s the scariest thing.”

via Lizzie Olsen Photos GQ October 2011 Interview: Photos: GQ.

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