My dad recently figured out how to use his email and now he sends me links to articles about sustainability. He's the best. He sent me a Huffpost article about the difference between a $5 t-shirt and a $125 t-shirt. The article explains how there can be such a huge discrepancy in price and breaks down the varying costs that go into producing a t-shirt. As part of my goal to reveal the stories behind the seams, here is why our Angie T-shirt costs $98.
The article points out the the cost of fabric and quality of the cotton contribute a lot to overall cost of a t-shirt. Our t-shirt is made from 100% cotton we order wholesale from a sustainable supplier in Japan. We searched for the perfect fabric that has a bit of structure while still being breathable and soft.
Cost: $11 body, $2 rib (fabric around collar)
The cost of labor is a major cost factor that is vastly different depending on where it is produced. The Huffpost article explains that some garment workers who mass-produce t-shirts oversees are paid 50 cents to a dollar an hour. Preeti Gopinath, a professor at Parson's School of Design, points out that garment workers in countries like Bangledesh are not even paid per garment but per hour. Our Angie T-shirt is made in downtown Los Angeles by our manufacturing partner Oksana, the owner of RadSeams. Oksana and her team are paid per garment not by the hour.
Cost: $15 per t-shirt
Grading is the process of scaling your sample size into the additional sizes. We add in $2 to cover the cost of grading our patterns into the larger sizes.
We are a small, fashion start-up producing our first collection. While our goal is produce sustainable and small batch collections, since we're just beginning our story, we cut each style by hand. In other words, our first collection is essentially handmade. Larger fashion houses can afford to cut in bulk and can guarantee projected sales based on previous years. We're starting to produce our collection very conservatively and creating only a few pieces of each style. Saying our collection is limited edition is an understatement.
We've spent months Girlfriend Testing our debut collection. While I'm the creative director coming up with the concept and design of each garment, Alice - our design consultant and pattern maker - is the one who brings my ideas to life. We're a small design team, living and working in Los Angeles. It's important to me to provide a living wage to everyone I work with because honestly it's so expensive to live! We add in a design cost to cover Alice's salary.
Design & Development
One of my biggest fears that (almost) prevented me from starting my own fashion business is the cost. In design school, they stressed how expensive it is to start your own line and that if you want to pursue that route you better be good at schmoozing investors. (I swear I remember our professor using those exact words.) I think I just have that entrepreneurial spirit and decided to move towards my passion regardless of how much money I had. We're 7 months into development with our official launch just around that corner and I can confirm it's wayyyy more expensive than I hoped to start your own fashion biz. We add in a design & development cost to cover all the business expenses like our Quickbooks subscription, marketing, website, photography, and supplies.
Our design process is slow. We're creating clothes on our own schedule and give each garment the time it takes to become the best version of itself. This process includes creating a toile - a preliminary version made from plain woven fabric - and editing that version over and over until we decide on the perfect shape and fit. Once we sign off on the final version, we cut the garment out of the final fabric and give it Oksana to create a sample. Sometimes we create multiple versions of the same sample because once we see the design in the final fabric the fit changes and we have to adjust our pattern. All of the editing and reworking takes time, materials, and labor, so we add a sample cost to cover those expenses.
Since we're a small design house creating handmade garments, our price point reflects all of the above costs. I want you to know I understand that our prices may seem expensive if you are used to buying mass-produced clothing from larger brands or fast fashion. We've spent hours talking with our Girlfriend Tested design group discussing how to price each style. If you do the math, our t-shirt costs $56 to design & produce, yet we price it at $98. Retail mark-ups are very different depending on the brand and we markup our specialty garments with the buyer in mind. We want to keep for price under a $100 because it's a t-shirt (a special one) and we personally don't want to spend more than a $100 on a tee.