Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Quality versus Price. Which comes first?

Quality comes first right? Aspiring designers often have the challenge of how to price their pieces. Of course, they spend long hours in "creation-mode" coming up with some amazing designs, then even longer amounts of time sewing through the night watching their idea transform into a beautiful product. For the designers on the Aspiring Couture website, quality is of top importance!

Have you ever spent more than you wanted to on a piece you HAD to have? For me, I have done it a few times and each time I wear that thing more than anything else and it lasts what seems like forever. In the end, it's worth the price, right?

I thought it would be interesting to get their take on pricing versus quality and how they juggle that to come up with excellent exchange.

My prices are determined by adding up materials and time. Some pieces are easy and come quickly, others the idea takes longer and/or the making takes a long time. I also factor in taxes.

For me, this collection was all natural fibers like silk, and wool. all of this stuff is EXPENSIVE and imported from Italy and India. it's top knotch quality. The main problem a designer/manufacturer faces is finding someone who will sell a small amount for samples, then when it comes time to reproduce the design for a customer or boutique or whatever, that supplier needs to have that fabric available. This usually means the per yard price on a given fabric is marked up a lot...it's like paying for insurance.

If you look at the pieces, the tailoring is impeccable. It's all hand sewn by local seamstresses and mostly myself. It's something that you don't see a lot in woman's wear when you go to stores like H&M or Forever 21 or Express. Those places tend to ship stuff out to manufacturers. The turn around time is so fast because those factories cut a lot of corners and use really cheap inexpensive labor and materials. So in turn, the retail prices for the public are LOW, but the quality is poor. This is why clothes from these places fall apart so quickly....or fit so poorly.
If I were to include the time and energy it takes to construct just one dress, these prices would be close to $1,000. but due to our recent economic climate and the fact that I'm just starting out, I decided to not do that.

A lot of these pieces will end up being owned by anywhere from 1-100 people, depending on the piece, and will end up being limited edition pieces which is a bit more special.
The price on a piece reflects the time and quality of a piece and is there to ensure that business goes well for the designer and the buyer/venue/store. Otherwise we'd have to close our doors and that would be the end of some pretty fabulous stuff.

The really important thing for customers to know is that everything is more expensive for the designer when we produce in smaller quantities. Without economies of scale it's very difficult to get low prices on fabric or labor. Overhead is generally calculated as a percentage of the garment cost, so when designers produce something in small quantities it generally won't even cover their fixed costs.

What do you think about quality versus price? What is more important to you?


  1. I definitely have to choose quality over price for sure. I like things to last a long time. I love pieces that are one of a kind. I as a designer myself, I don't believe in prostituting a craft, mine or anyone else's.


  2. i think they need to be considered collectively. of course you don't want a garment to LOOK cheap but everyday fashionistas have those everyday bills. so i consider what it is and what it's for. if i need a quick little shirt to go out to a regular little party then forever 21 here i come. other days, quality may be most important.
    i think it's important to note that pricey doesn't automatically mean quality.

  3. Quality. I have a few great pieces that I wear over and over again. They maintain their style and appearance b/c they were good quality to begin with. Though I know up front cost can be an issue, over time, the cost works itself out.

  4. Quality for sure!!! Although most people would rather spend $30 on a dress but in the end how well will it hold up. When you are paying $200-$300 for a dress well that definitely gives me a feel that the dress was made with care and time well spent. That's just me. Not only that there is a close chance you won't see that dress on someone else. ;)

    i like to be different!

  5. Quality all the way! I'd rather spend a bundle on a good pair of shoes or boots that I know will last several seasons, or that I can have repaired. Makes a big difference!