Why are Brands So Expensive


For many people, buying a luxury handbag is not an uncommon purchase, as a child I was groomed in fancy prêt-à-porter, unschooled about the existence of a price tag. 

When I turned 15 a few questions started arising, I had no particular goal. I was merely inquisitive, why does a decent T-shirt from Superdry cost as much as it does? Or was it necessary to pay heaps of cash for a black Michael Kors? I would usually defend my choices as a matter of quality — you get what you pay for. Subconsciously I knew it was only true to a degree.  

I had no particular goal. I was merely just inquisitive and wondering why we pay so much for brands. Let’s consider a Homage tee-shirt, let’s look at the traditional distribution chain from manufacturer to bricks-and-mortar retailer, to consumer. Cotton is a highly valued textile its prices can vary from pennies up to hundreds of dollars depending on the brand. Reality is, there are different levels of quality when it comes to cotton, along with dishonest pricing.

Luxury T-shirts can cost more because they have detailed and expensive trimmings and generally a luxury brand name has a reputation. But what’s not true is the price you pay. Yes, it does cost more to make, but it doesn’t need to cost 6-8 times more? 

In my opinion, generalising luxury brands as overpriced materialistic cooperation is baseless. There are some brands that do offer the right price for the right quality but as consumers, we must be aware and conscious while making our purchases and take a closer look into all of the things that make luxury brands different from everyday clothing. Behind the scenes, you might be surprised at the extra costs that go into the creation of those high-priced pieces.

  1. You’re not only paying for the item, but you’re paying for the time and energy that goes into creating that item. Fashion isn’t just about cloth, it’s about the history, the heritage, the brand’s identity and its expression. Clothes mean nothing until someone lives in them.
  2. Quality – Unlike typical store brands, luxury brands raise prices due to using much better materials for their clothing therefore an Armani t-shirt would last longer than an H&M one. 
  3. The exclusive factor – One of the best examples would be Supreme, a brand that has mastered the art of limited supply, these make products more desirable.
  4. The brand name – Obvious reasons designer clothes are so expensive is because you’re paying for the brand name. The fashion industry is all about exclusivity and social status. People wear luxury brands for the quality, but also because they want others to know they are wearing name brand clothing. Moreover, it takes a lot for a brand to become a recognised name to command a premium price, the consistent quality, heritage, the packaging and various other factors add value to the brand.
  5. The consumer experience – All luxury brands have the best brick and mortar stores in the best locations. Their packaging/fulfilment is flawless, along with their sales staff! When you require the best from the brand and its image, the cost is going to add up. All of this trickles down into the cost of every item.

The main reason designer clothes are so expensive is because designer brands know people will continue to buy clothes for these outrageous prices. If you could sell something for this much and you knew you would make money doing it, then you would do it too. For the same reasons why swimsuits are so expensive, that’s just the way the business of fashion works. If people are buying, they will keep selling. Fashion is an art form to many, so if that’s how they choose to spend their money. 

The question arises, if all things being equal would you buy an established brand or a non-branded product. And how much premium would you be willing to pay for the brand?

Sanjana Bhansali

The only secret that there is to creativity is knowing how to hide the sources well