Why are avant-garde brands so expensive?
I know the question has been floating around in your head. I ask myself the same question every now and then when I see a pair of shoes for 4,500 Euros. How does the price come about? And how can it be that most avant-garde brands are so expensive? Is the price always justified?
Let me try to give you an overview of which factors to consider and how the price structure is created. Of course, this does not apply to every brand that participates in the guise of avant-gardeism. You have to check out the labels yourself and get an accurate picture of them. Here are a few factors that can be considered.
Avant-garde fashion is design and art.
My favorite avant-garde brands attach great importance to creating their own cuts and a clear line and design language. Neither one nor the other is common in fashion. You develop a strong, recognizable style over the years. Hours and hours go into the design of every piece of clothing or accessory. I find that in no other area of fashion, except perhaps haute couture, is art so tightly interwoven with fashion as in avant-gardism. Styles are always being elaborated and developed. Each piece is complex in itself and even t-shirts can become small abstract works of art here. I see avant-garde as a kind of “wearable art,” and in a way that alone makes some pieces priceless.
The Labor Cost Difference
In Bangladesh, the average sweatshop employee earns $ 98 a month. This fact becomes even more devastating when you consider that the average cost of living for covering the bare necessities is around $ 200 a month. Why do I mention this? This is one of the main reasons why avant-garde fashion has a higher price. Many brands, like us, produce in-house, in their own studios, or in small European production facilities. The pieces are often very complex to manufacture and require a suitable and specialized manufacturer. The labor costs here are easily at least 10 to 100 times higher than in the Far East.
Being spoilt for choice when it comes to the material
My friend, Daniel Andresen, buys yak hair that is spun into yarn for him. He then dyes this wool in his own atelier with nutshells and avocados. He uses it to make the most complex and beautiful cardigans that I can imagine. As you can see from Daniel’s wool, the material as he procures it cannot be compared with anything else that can be found in the market. Most of my leather comes from Germany, the rest from Italy and the Netherlands. It is trimmed and manufactured according to our specifications. Compared to a 10-15 Euro square meter from India or China, it is 8-10 times more expensive. The same goes for the smallest details: Riri and YKK Excella zippers, which are outrageously expensive, and custom-made hardware made of brass and sterling silver. These special, expensive and exceptionally produced materials also contribute to a higher price.
Amounts, quality instead of quantity
Another significant reason is the small number of items being produced at a time that drive the price up. Not only in production, but also in material purchasing. Most artisanal brands that manufacture in-house or in small-scale productions will hardly produce a piece more than 100 times a year. Often, special surcharges have to be paid for these small production quantities. I have pieces in my collection of which I only build a few a year. This is only possible because we produce everything made-to-order.
Sometimes certain collections are deliberately produced in very small editions in order to underline their value. Of course, there are also giants and huge brands in avant-garde, but I’ll just leave them out of my considerations here.
In summary, avant-garde fashion is more expensive because?
When we put these 4 primary points together, it quickly becomes clear how the prices come about. Retailers’ trade margins are also not insignificant for pricing policy and should not be ignored. All in all, rarity, design, materials and wages are the biggest price differences. Therefore, the investment in smaller avant-garde brands often automatically becomes fairtrade, organic and sustainable *. The products have a smaller carbon footprint than those of the fast fashion giants. Avant-garde pieces usually have a very good resale value, some even become more and more popular and expensive over the years.
* This information is without guarantee and must be checked individually for the label.