/ Why is technical clothing so expensive?

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The Lemming - on 02 Jan 2010
I've come to the conclusion that it is all sophisticated marketing hype to keep prices inflated to make us think that something like a technical waterproof jacket is any good if we spend hundreds of pounds on it, irrespective of how much it actually cost to create in the third world factory.

Am I wrong?

Take my simple theory You make a garment out of one single piece of fabric and you tailour a coat. You then make another coat out of two different fabrics, one being an outer layer while the other makes up an inner drop lining.

I'm guessing that it is technically harder, for the eastern world machinist, to make a garment out of two pieces of differing material rather than fashioning a single garment out of one piece of cloth, even if it is something like a three layer gore-tex piece of cloth.

At the end of the day a high spec waterproof jacket is still a single piece of cloth stitched together with zips, so why should it cost more than a two layer garment, because I'm betting that it is quicker to machine together?

Rant over.
Anybody care to disprove this argument?

Saying all that I did get myself a rather nice jacket from that lovely Mr Fisher in Keswick yesterday. :-)

Pursued by a bear - on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming: What do the words 'development costs' and 'sponsorship of climbers you might have heard of, possibly' mean to you, Mr Lemming?

T.
summo on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming: to make your jacket, you need for want of the correct term a template for every panel, for every size. When compared to say a pair of Levis jeans, outdoor jackets sell in relative low quantities, so the set up costs are quite high proportionally. Plus they need to factor in that after say 3years, demand will require another style or fabric and it all starts again.

Shops don't sell them in their hundreds per day, so they have a fairly big mark up, which is fair enough that's business! You could always get yourself an old school tweed jacket which would probably cost you more!!
Padraig on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:
Why is technical clothing so expensive?
You don't get out much do you?
Dr Rorlasaurus - on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

You can pay 22.99 for a Regatta Packaway and sweat like a bitch.
You can pay 60 for a Berghaus Aquafoil and get a bit damp.
You can pay 150 for a Gore-tex model and have it last until the next latest must-have model comes out.

You get what you pay for.
Oh and the Regatta jacket gets the largest profit mark-up!!
withey - on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

I'm not quite sure I understand your question. This is the question I think you're asking:

Why are jackets made from three layer Gore-Tex, more expensive than jackets made from 2 layer Gore-Tex with a drop lining?

Firstly, not all 3 layer jackets are more expensive than 2 layer versions. The Berghaus Mera Peak has always been pretty expensive. However the reason the most expensive three layer waterproofs are more expensive will be down to the amount of research which went into designing the inner lining material, as well as the outer face fabric making the material so much more expensive. Better face fabrics cost more than cheaper ones (just feel the Arc'Teryx Alpha SV!)

Then there are things like water resistant zips, which are sickeningly expensive in comparison to normal zips. Laminated material (often found on the brim of a hood, or on a storm flap over or under a zip) is very tricky to get right. If a company uses tiny tape (very thin tape on the seams of a jacket), it's very easy to get wrong, and requires very expensive machinery to do. If any of these things go wrong, then the jacket is pretty useless, so must be binned.

Finally the amount of material used is less important than the amount of material wasted. If a jacket has very few panels, then there will be more wasted material per roll, which also increases the price.

There is obviously more to it, but there are a few reasons to get you started with.
_sllab_ on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

Because most manufacturers impose strict RRP directives on their stockists. Anyone the violates the rules wont get supplied for long. Besides this suits the shops well. As it keeps prices high and eliminates competition. Also even if a great new product came onto the market from a new source..most poeple wouldnt buy it if it was cheap..they assume it was inferior. And the shops wouldnt stock it as it would undermine other high value sales.
Skyfall - on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to withey:

V interesting, but I can no longer seem to find it within myself to buy a top end gore tex jacket for 400. Not sure why but it does seem faintly ridiculous to spend that amount on a waterproof jacket.
withey - on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to JonC:

It totally depends what you want it for. If it's going to sit in your rucksack, and hardly ever et used, then fair enough. A 100 Paclite jacket would be better, but if you're thrutching around in the 'Gorms all Winter, and you want it to last more than one season, then the Alpha SV would be much more suitable. You could spend 200 on a jacket which lasts a year, or 400 on a jacket which last three years. You do the maths.
Dr Rorlasaurus - on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

Same reason tiblocs are 14
LastBoyScout on 02 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

If it's Gore-Tex, then there is the extra cost of Gore insisting on approving any jacket made of the stuff, or they won't supply you the material in the first place. They're safeguarding their reputation by checking that jackets made of their fabric aren't rubbish.

That's why most companies also make jackets out of their own variants (Hy-vent, Conduit, Dri-lite, etc) as cheaper alternatives, as they keep the costs in-house.

Gore, however, have the market pretty much sewn up at the very top end of the market, because of their reputation.
gembobs on 03 Jan 2010 - 5ad93d04.bb.sky.com
In reply to The Lemming:

Whilst I can't talk for all companies, I do know that 10 years ago Arc'teryx made all their clothing in their factory in Burnaby, Vancouver.
Patagonia at that time also made all their clothing somewhere in the US.

Both countries at the time had proper rates of pay - I know Canada was about $10 per hour as I was working on an hourly rate in an mountain equipment store in Vancouver at the time! Whether they still make their clothes locally, however, I don't know.

Personally I don't have any issue with spending more for something when I know the person / people who made it earn proper money and have good working conditions. I do however resent spending a similar amount of money when I know it has been made in the far east where pay and conditions are less than what we would expect / demand here.
gembobs on 03 Jan 2010 - 5ad93d04.bb.sky.com
In reply to The Lemming:

Just edited to say I have been on the Arc'teryx website and am disappointed to see they now manufacture in other countries too, which are El Salvador, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Taiwan, the Philipines, Italy and the US, as well as Canada.

So my argument for their prices isn't totally correct any longer, sorry!

James Oswald - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:
1. Developmental costs which go into those products which create increasing returns to scale and therefore economies of scale.
2. You generally buy them from one of not that many retailers thus making it pretty uncompetitive in its retail.
3. There are probably only several companies which produce them thus it is not particularly competitive in production.
4. Probably quite a few reasons centreing around them being produced in a small quantity and therefore the average cost per unit being pretty high.
Just my 2p.
James
Pittsburgh Windmill on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming: Fabrics like Gore Tex are very expensive. Event put their wholesale prices up big time in April, that's a factor in the high end jackets with vent zips and many panels etc.
PanzerHanzler on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

Because we are silly and keep paying what we are asked. If people didn't buy it / pay the higher prices then the manufactuers would either have to go out of business or drop the price of their products.
woolsack - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to summo: Plus they need to factor in that after say 3years, demand will require another style or fabric and it all starts again.
>
Does demand *actually* require the new models or does the marketing machine inform the customer that the 2011 colours are on sale with these extra features and bells and whistles, 100 grammes lighter with super slidy zips etc?

Clever marketing is the key to keeping the same customers buying the same items before they ever need to.
withey - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to Hanzler666:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
>
> Because we are silly and keep paying what we are asked. If people didn't buy it / pay the higher prices then the manufacturers would either have to go out of business or drop the price of their products.

Do you really think that a company going out of business is a good idea? Think about it. There would be less choice, and less technological development. There would be less competition, therefore prices wouldn't come down now would they? They would probably raise quite a lot.
Dax H - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to woolsack:
>
> Does demand *actually* require the new models or does the marketing machine inform the customer that the 2011 colours are on sale with these extra features and bells and whistles, 100 grammes lighter with super slidy zips etc?
>
> Clever marketing is the key to keeping the same customers buying the same items before they ever need to.

But manufacturer A has to release a new improved product because manufacturer B and C are and if A doesn't they will loose their market share.
Siward on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to withey:
> You could spend 200 on a jacket which lasts a year, or 400 on a jacket which last three years. You do the maths.

Unfortunately I don't think the calculation is that straightforward. More money definitely does not equal longevity. It may mean fancier features, laminated bits, careful design etc but not long life.

ads.ukclimbing.com
Tony Simpson - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:

To give you a bit of an insight into costings, as it is not the jkt that costs a lot it is what it takes to get to you.

Ok a jkt cost 400

the retailer will take 200 (covers VAT, heating lighting, rent rates,staff)

If its a EU or US brand there will be a distributor who will take around 100
(this covers his costs ie warehouseing shipping,VAT, duties etc)

The manufacturer 50+ (costs as above)

So it costs around 50 to make.

When you think Gtx can cost around 20pm and it takes about 2m to make a garment thats where the cost comes from.

So as you can see the cost of the garment dont come from the manufacturing it comes from the process it takes to get it from the manufacturer to you the enduser.
Bob kate bob on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to Siward:
There was I after reading withey's post thinking

"OMG!!! he must not just not look after his stuff, he must treat it like $hit!"

not thinking that 3 years = a long life for a jacket of ANY price
withey - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to Bob kate bob:

I don't trash jackets that quickly, but I know a lot of people who do, and they've gone through a Mountain Equipment Kongur in a year, so got an Alpha SV 3 years ago, and it's still going. He does climb in the Cairngorms a lot though, especially in Winter.
Garbhanach - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming: I would agree with you we are probably getting ripped off , the eastern workers amount of labour and pay has little to do with final price it is probably all about new technology and what they can con us with, though new technology sometimes means lighter equipment which is not probably not going to last as long as a heavier or cheaper equivalent so the argument that price equals longevity does not hold up.

As it has been pointed out many of these items are made in China which has a very poor pollution control in it's manufacturing process so someone is getting rich at the worlds expense.

So what Jacket did you buy then and where was it made ?
withey - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to Garbhanach:


> though new technology sometimes means lighter equipment which is not probably not going to last as long as a heavier or cheaper equivalent so the argument that price equals longevity does not hold up.


Actually, ProShell is significantly more durable than pretty much all the other main brands of waterproof material, and is pretty damn lightweight.


> so someone is getting rich at the worlds expense.

Yes of course, look at all the millionaires who have set up companies within the Outdoor Industry. Yvon Choinard, Denny Moorhouse, Hugh Banner, Dick Turnbull, Joe Brown. They're all so rich aren't they?
Garbhanach - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to withey:
> (In reply to Garbhanach)
>
>
> [...]
>
>
> Actually, ProShell is significantly more durable than pretty much all the other main brands of waterproof material, and is pretty damn lightweight.
>
>
> [...]
>
> Yes of course, look at all the millionaires who have set up companies within the Outdoor Industry. Yvon Choinard, Denny Moorhouse, Hugh Banner, Dick Turnbull, Joe Brown. They're all so rich aren't they?

Paclite comes in about 340g while pro shell is well over 500g on jackets. paclite was never designed to be durable it is designed to be light at the expense of durability.
Many rucsacs, tents and the like are all designed to cut weight but reduce the the durability and life of the product.

Hugh Banner is dead so not very rich I think, as for the rest some are outlets not producers, someone is getting rich at the expense of the worlds environment by using the likes of China to produce.
woolsack - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to withey: Chouinard's is not short of a bob or two
withey - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to Garbhanach:

> Paclite comes in about 340g while pro shell is well over 500g on jackets.

http://www.haglofs.se/prd/visaprod.asp?ID=1044&nid=1323&lang=en&CatNr=307&CatNr2=&am...
PacLite 247grams
http://www.haglofs.se/prd/visaprod.asp?ID=1489&nid=1323&lang=en&CatNr=301&CatNr2=&am...
Proshell 360grams

Not that massive a difference, for something a lot more durable. By the way, I've tried to be impartial, and use the lightest jackets which one manufacturer makes.

> Many rucsacs, tents and the like are all designed to cut weight but reduce the the durability and life of the product.

True, but compare modern with modern, and you're right. I'm saying that technological developments have improved, and durability has improved even though the weight has decreased.

> Hugh Banner is dead so not very rich I think, as for the rest some are outlets not producers, someone is getting rich at the expense of the worlds environment by using the likes of China to produce.

I'm suggesting that no-one is rich in the outdoors industry (excluding Mike Ashley). Yes Hugh has passed away, but he wasn't rich. Denny, and Yvon started DMM, Choinard Equipment, Black Diamond, and Patagonia, they aren't rich (although Yvon probably lives the best life of anyone in the world), Joe Brown may have started the shops of the same name, but he also started Snowdon Mouldings, as well as working closely with Karrimor.

Dick is the only person in that list who didn't start a manufacturing company.
The Lemming - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to Garbhanach:

> So what Jacket did you buy then and where was it made ?

Turns out that my new toy was made in China, and after its first outing today I am feking impressed with it. (Marmot Spire)


jimtitt - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to withey:
What planet do you live on? Chouinard has estimated assets of over $500million and you dont think hes rich? I doubt Heiner Oberrauch (Oberalp Group-Salewa) is rummaging through the bins for a bite to eat either, to say nothing of the owners of Petzl, Vaude, TNF, Marmot.......
psd on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to The Lemming:
> Take my simple theory You make a garment out of one single piece of fabric and you tailor a coat. You then make another coat out of two different fabrics, one being an outer layer while the other makes up an inner drop lining.
>
> I'm guessing that it is technically harder, for the eastern world machinist, to make a garment out of two pieces of differing material rather than fashioning a single garment out of one piece of cloth, even if it is something like a three layer gore-tex piece of cloth.

Well, yes, but presumably it costs more to weld the three layers together than to sew them next to each other? And try cutting the three individual layers that need to be sewn together so that they end up collectively lighter... It shouldn't really come as a surprise that manufacture costs can be lower than the cost of the material - surely the whole point of running sweatshops is that they reduce your manufacture costs to a minimum?
The Lemming - on 03 Jan 2010
In reply to psd:
> (In reply to The Lemming)
> [...]
>
> surely the whole point of running sweatshops is that they reduce your manufacture costs to a minimum?

Three cheers for Rip off UK..

Hip, hip...

captain paranoia - on 04 Jan 2010
In reply to LastBoyScout:

> Gore, however, have the market pretty much sewn up at the very top end of the market, because of their reputation.

Surely, the top end of the market will be stitch free, ultrasound or RF laminated...?
Danger Dawkins on 04 Jan 2010 - host-84-13-47-84.opaltelecom.net
In reply to gembobs:
> Whilst I can't talk for all companies, I do know that 10 years ago Arc'teryx made all their clothing in their factory in Burnaby, Vancouver.
> Patagonia at that time also made all their clothing somewhere in the US.

Hmmm. I'm not going to contradict you because, for all I know, that sentence is strictly true.

However, Patagonia are no strangers to offshoring and outsourcing the manufacture of their garments. To quote Yvon Chouinard (from his book "Let My People Go Surfing"), "Patagonia has never owned a fabric mill or a sewing shop."

In the early 70s, Patagonia were sourcing rugby shirts from Umbro here in England, New Zealand and Argentina, and in 1974 they "conracted directly with a garment factory in Hong Kong for three thousand shirts a month".

My Patagonia Liquid Sky jacket, which I bought in 2001, says "Made in Portugal" on the label.

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