Something we’ve heard often over the years in our shop is, “why is this so expensive?” or a little less often thankfully “I can find the same thing at, and enter the name of any number of discount stores. As women that have always loved beautiful fashion, it can at times be frustrating why some clients don’t see the beauty and quality that screams at us from the shelves. And then we remember that not everyone had a Mama Angelis at home, who from an early age, taught us it was better to have one nice item in your closet than five of lesser quality.
In fashion, whether it's clothing, footwear or lingerie, there exists a parallel between quality and price. However, what constitutes good quality? In essence three things do: fabric, craftsmanship and longevity.
Having recently come out of winter, cashmere is fresh in my mind as a perfect example of this . There is much confusion as to why one can find a cashmere sweater for $80 while others can cross the thousand- dollar threshold. This luxury industry started with Tibetan-goat derived wool years ago, today 67% of the worlds supply comes from China, while 22% is from Mongolia. The latter boasts a longer and more resilient fiber which means it is less likely to pill in high friction areas and washes better thereby extending the life of the garment. As you can imagine there does not exist an infinite supply of these wonderful little goats, as such, the wool we derive from them is that much more special. In addition, the time it takes to refine and knit the wool to its long-lasting luxurious state also adds to the cost.
So, good fabrics, i.e natural fabrics, cost but that also means they last longer and are safer to have next to our skin. Cotton for instance, can be grown ethically and organically without the use of pesticides. This brings us to our second criteria, craftsmanship. There is no question that when consumers see made in Canada it’s a really great selling point, however, this also translates to a higher price. Made in Canada means that items are not made in sweatshops, that those putting these pieces together are trained at this craft and most importantly are paid a fair wage. Quality control is of the highest standard as owners/designers are hands-on in their ateliers or factories supervising production of their collections. Canadian belt doyenne Suzi Roher has for years has offered ladies what can only be described as jewellery for the waist. They are hand made in Toronto with prices that start at $225 and can reach up to $700 depending on materials used and time it takes to assemble. However, many of her followers can have said belts for close to 2 decades.
Lifespan or longevity is key. We are all more apt to pay a higher ticket price if know we’re going to get a few years versus a few months out of our purchase. Not only is this better for our pocket book long term it is also better for the planet. I was shocked to discover that the fast-fashion industry is ranked second largest polluter in the world behind the oil industry. These items are made to fall apart within a year, and end up in landfills where they take much longer to biodegrade due to their non-natural composition. Yuck!
Take away? Quality costs folks, but low-quality costs us even more than we think.