Determining Garment Value

With the slow fashion movement gaining momentum, many consumers are adjusting to the idea of buying fewer, better pieces. But with these conscious purchasing decisions often comes a higher price tag. Below I outline the three most important things to watch for when deciding if a garment is worth the asking price and why these cost variances exist.

Country of Origin
Check the label to see where the garment was made, as cost of labour largely effects finished price. The minimum monthly wage for a ready-made garment industry worker in Bangladesh is approximately $88*, compared to $1952 in Canada**. Although these differences may reflect the cost of living in each country rather than poor working conditions, the amount from which the cost of garment production is calculated is undeniably different. So if supporting local businesses or social justice issues are important to you, you’ll have to say so with your wallet.

Level of Detail
The time it takes for a garment to be made greatly effects the selling price. Does the garment feature a proper closure, full lining, functional pockets, or numerous seams to provide a tailored fit? If yes, that garment will immediately jump up on the price scale compared to a simple, shapeless item.

Quality of Materials
Natural fibers are often more expensive than synthetics, so look for silk, wool, cotton, linen, and other from-the-earth products. Here is where you can take an environmentally friendly stance as well, choosing organic products. Leather garments will always cost more than those made with fabric purchased by the yard. The latter can be layered on the cutting table and cut in bulk, whereas animal skins need to be cut piece by piece to avoid natural imperfections and accommodate variances in grain and different hide shapes. 

So next time you’re shopping and want to know why something is priced as it is, think about the aforementioned items and ask yourself if it’s worth it. A highly detailed garment, made in Canada, of natural fibers will be. If you’re still having trouble justifying the purchase, consider how timeless the style is. Something you wear everyday for years fairs much better on the price-per-wear scale than a trend driven design.

*http://www.wageindicator.org/main/salary/minimum-wage/bangladesh
** Based on a 160 hour work month at $12.20/hour

Photos: Ken Heinbecker
Location: cSPACE King Edward