Spending a bomb for your designer wear? Know the ‘real’ cost of the tag

A beautiful couture garment by famous designer due Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla

Renowned designer John Galliano once famously said, “The joy of dressing is an art” – and, if you know anything about art then you would understand that it certainly ain’t cheap. A bespoke haute couture ensemble from a premium label comes for a hefty price — but, do you understand the true cost of the product that you pay for? Let’s find out why famous brands charge an arm and a leg but no one really objects.

In Indian fashion context, one can easily find a sari or a top for as low as INR 100 in a small kiosk, but a similar garment at an atelier can cost you as high as INR 10,000,00 or even more depending on the designer tag. So what makes a designer outfit so expensive? Check out the seven most astonishing reasons why famous designers charge a bomb when then sell you a bespoke product.

1.Fashion is art: Couture is by definition the highest quality, limited edition and entirely handcrafted. As opposed to mass produced, machine made ready to wear. Quite simply put it is rare and meets impossibly high standards of both design and manufacturing excellence. It isn’t desired because of its high price, but it has a high price because it is the highest level of quality. It isn’t desired because of its high price, but it has a high price because it is the highest level of quality.


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2.High production cost: The combination of higher manufacturing costs, retail space, marketing, skilled retail management, and annual raises of employees — all play a part in setting pricing.


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3.Brand growth = price hike: A young brand will want to build a regular clientele and keeping the price points competitive initially helps them break into the market. This obviously is not a commercially sustainable practice so, with the increase in popularity and demand, the pricing is readjusted over a period of time.


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4.Customization: In the couture range, every piece is treated like a piece of art which makes the brand exclusive and expensive. The high manufacturing cost, raw materials, and general overheads also play an important role. As the brand grows, the cost of branding and marketing grows by multiple folds, and it adds up to the cost of the brand, which ultimately makes the brand expensive.


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5.Brand Value: When a new brand enters the market, it has to prove the quality of its product, as it is not well known. As time goes by, the products of the brand get better due to industry knowledge as well as a better sense of clients and their expectations from the brand.

6.Exclusivity: A couture line is curated from scratch keeping the occasion and customer in mind, which means more time dedicated to each outfit and more personal attention, which increases cost but what attracts the buyer is the exclusivity that they receive in return. The customer makes avail of personal fitting services to ensure that the product meets the client’s expectations or even surpasses it. All these factors attribute to a comparatively elevated cost for a bespoke garment.

7. Aspiration: When a label starts the operation there is a process which begins on the parallel to build a brand. The customer base and loyalty is built with constant effort and deliberated perfection in delivery. The industry though very welcoming is also very cutthroat with constant competition to float in the market. The higher price can only be aspirational to a customer if they derive the larger than life feel and get that awe of owning a part of the couture house in their wardrobe.


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(Disclaimer: The story was originally published in The Deccan Chronicle and The Asian Age newspaper. It has been edited by the author for the blog before publishing) 

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