Why Are Designer Clothes So Expensive?

designer clothing prices

We all have our favorite designers, but not all of us can afford to buy every single designer outfit we love. Why is that? Why is the universe so cruel? Well, it turns out there’s actually an answer to the puzzling question of how designers clothes can get so expensive, and why in recent years their prices have soared to unfathomable levels.

Business of Fashion reports that while U.S. inflation has increased Consumer Price Index by 27 percent, the price of luxury goods has risen 60 percent. In 2003, Carrie Bradshaw’s famous Manolo Blahniks were sold for $485, but now in 2013, the same shoes cost $755. Carrie could hardly afford them back then. What are we modern Carrie’s to do?

There are apparently many reasons that designer prices have sky-rocketed, a few of which are actually reasonable.

In the last decade the cost of raw materials like cattle (for leather), cotton, and crocodile have all increased globally and have become more scarce. Real estate prices have affected retail costs, and average wages of workers in Asia, Africa, and Latin America where many clothes are produced have become significantly greater. Add to that the heavy price tag of magazine ads and supermodels, and it kind of makes sense that a designer dress would cost a pretty penny.

But BoF also notes that there’s a less appealing explanation as well. Companies like Burberry admit to increasing prices merely to affect their perception. When a fashion brand charges more, the extremely wealthy feel more elite wearing its clothing. And as horrible as certain economies get, “the rich are getting richer,” and the number of “high net-worth indiviuduals” has increased over the last ten years. And that means there are more people who can pay $13,000 for ready-to-wear dresses.

We can’t pretend it’s a bad idea for fashion companies to appeal to those with fatter wallets, especially because we’d be devestated if our favorite designers went out of business. But still. It kind of feels unfair.

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