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.
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.