UkeNo

Denim - Fiscal Sense Thread

142 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Understandably when discussing denim brands and their clothing, the discussion often gravitates towards cost and pricing of items in regards to quality, location, international pricing, taxation and corporate fiscal policy. 

This is something that affects the consumer, the producer and the retailer and is therefore important to all of us who are particular about our clothing (as we all are here).

In order to free up the brands threads for the products and the wearer themselves, please discuss issues such as:

Pricing, Quality, Taxation, Currency Exchange, Import Laws, Shipping Cost & International Availability in this thread.

I hope people agree with me creating this.

Thanks, U.

Edit: title updated

Edited by UkeNo
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Great discussion points, thanks for creating this thread. 

 

One thing that pops into my mind is how easily we (outside of Japan) can buy Japanese jeans nowadays compared to the very early days of this forum. 

 

At the moment I'm finding Okayama Denim and Denimio to be very easy and 'cheap' purchase options with vast selections, but I also enjoy popping into my local stores. I'm finding the premium in Australia to be between 20 to 60% compared with Japan, which is still OK most of the time. Though on larger purchases like high end boots or leather jackets, I tend to stick with ordering online. 

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Posted (edited)

The problem for me in paying the prices we get charged here abroad is that I don't have a local store, everything I purchase has to be online unless I am traveling. I have no problem paying a more premium pricepoint when I am in a store with nice customer service and the ability to handle items directly and try them on. Whenever I go to a city with a good store I pop in and often buy things. But, if I am restricted to buying online, I somewhat resent being forced to pay the western retail price ala pbj and iron heart, I just don't see the extra value I am receiving by paying those prices over the Japanese retail price. The price to return something is a bit less but I still have to go to the post office and I don't get to try things on nor do I get to see them in person. Everything else is a wash, most Japanese stores that I have dealt with have equally great customer service as anywhere here once you get past the language barrier and it is just as easy to order from them. I also have access to a much wider variety of items by ordering directly from Japan, sometimes finding my size can be difficult but that is life. If this sort of market restriction becomes the norm I will probably stop most of my online shopping and buy mainly when I make trips to Japan.  Anyways that is my 2 cents, no disrespect intended to western shop owners, love all your stores as well and very much enjoy it when I get the opportunity to visit them. 

 

Edited by pudaspriest
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PBJ and IH aside, i've noticed pricing has gone up for a couple of other brands already, Rogue Territory and N&F specifically. I'm curious if this is a sign of things to come and if denim brands will eventually start raising the cost of goods across the board? Our 'hobby' is already an expensive one and I think it's just a matter of time before the bubble bursts, especially when there's economic uncertainty with Trumplestiltskin behind the wheel. A few years ago I scoffed at the idea of paying $200+ for a pair of jeans or shirt, nowadays I've changed my view on that because of quality and fit. But I wonder how many others will stop buying stuff once the $300 threshold has been surpassed? I mean, we're not talking about chump change.

 

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Interesting points here, 

Availability + Service, is quite something to balance.

Quality of service in my opinion, is very important as there is often a high level of expertise and advice required when purchasing some/most of these items. I appreciate dedicated retailers that can answer often nuanced questions, as it reduces the risk of making a bad purchase and fills the void of just not quite knowing how a fabric etc will act with age, wear etc.

Taking that into consideration, if you have no local store then you're left purchasing online which may lack the tangible experience but can still supply some of the necessary advice like size charts and product specification.

Weighing up these two considerations is often swayed by price and personal preference - or some people don't need advice, some don't care for certain retailers, some retailers don't stock the brand/model you want....

I find that one thing that safeguards this for stores are the limited edition/collaboration models that often feature limited fabrics & cuts only available to a specific retailer - often as they collaborated on the design. Often I think this is money well spent as it's your only option and  normally quite enticing. This is fine by me.

Thinking of the $300 price ceiling, I honestly think it's a combination of typical market factors; Price of materials, skilled production, market share, retail costing and most importantly - demand. The price (or value) is often only a reflection of what people are willing to pay - and people are, so they charge accordingly. If this price is then manipulated or increased to satisfy a companies demand for profit then we are into a disscussion on Fairness/ morality or profiteering etc. However it should be noted that some business have excelled - to the consumers benefit, by undercutting the competition and squeezing everyone else in the market. Back to fairness & business ethics again. 

This is all quite interesting, and only occurs due to a fine balance of supply, demand and desire! 

Balance, all about balance.

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Part of the take away for me is that we as consumers like transparency, especially when you're dropping 2 or 3 bills on clothing. I think the majority of denim companies are transparent about the way they do business. We may not always like what they're doing but only time will tell who survives and who doesn't. For example, RgT has come out with their new 'proprietary' 15oz denim, but it retails for $240 and is $20 more than the 14.5oz flagship denim which I think has been discontinued. Likewise, N&F has upped their pricing to $200 on some of their limited releases, which used to be in the $175-180 range if I recall. So in these instances, what exactly is the reason for the increase? Did the cost of fabric go up? Or has there been a fluctuation in the cost of import duties/taxes?

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Posted (edited)

I really enjoy all my different denims and the manufacturers that produce the shirts, jackets, and pants.

The manufacturers, retailers, and customers have a problem though. The products we all post about are a niche within a niche.

Looking at my closet I see:

Iron Heart, Samurai, ONI, Mister Freedom, WH Ranch, Roy, Warehouse, Big John, TFH, Stevenson, Freenote, Indigofera, etc...

Can our niche sustain all these labels?

Part of our niche relates to wearing the hell out of these items. And they hold up to it, and then some, and then some more!!! If I live another 100 years, and stay the same size, my closet has more than enough to get me through all those years and seasons.

My question is how do we support these businesses long term once we have more than our current needs? We want them around so the next generation can discover them, and see what we're all crazy about, but there is only so much we can wear.

Edited by ShootThePier
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9 minutes ago, ShootThePier said:

I really enjoy all my different denims and the msnufacturers that produce the shirts, jackets, and pants.

The manufacturers, retailers, and customers have a problem though. The products we all post about are a niche within a niche.

Looking at my closet I see:

Iron Heart, Samurai, ONI, Mister Freedom, WH Ranch, Roy, Warehouse, Big John, TFH, Stevenson, Freenote, Indigofera, etc...

Can our niche sustain all these labels?

Part of our niche relates to wearing the hell out of these items. And they hold up to it, and then some, and then some more? If I live another 100 years, and stay the same size, my closet has more than enough to get me through all those years and seasons.

My question is how do we support these businesses long term?

 

 

 

good question. When I first discovered raw/selvedge denim 3 yrs ago I didn't really know what I was doing. I kinda went hog wild and went on a splurge, but mostly with lower cost brands. I eventually graduated to mid to higher tier brands but I now buy fewer things for a couple of reasons, 1) my tastes have changed 2) I've dialed in my fit and 3) I initially had bad luck with certain brands after figuring out 1 and 2. I'm now focusing on wearing what I have rather than rushing out to buy the latest ltd edition pair of jeans. Plus, financially, i'm no longer in a place where I have a disposable income to randomly go out and drop some coin on a brand new pair of Vibergs or whatever. I have enough denim to last me a lifetime, but I should probably thin the herd a little.

But to answer your question, supporting companies long term means that these companies have to be sustainable. If they become inaccessible price wise or start to cut corners with production then customers will know. I'm seeing this with Taylor Stitch who initially had MiUSA clothing but have now outsourced a lot of their clothing to Portugal. Part of the draw with TS was them offering MiUSA clothing at relatively affordable prices because of their crowd-sourcing model, but now it seems like them outsourcing to Portugal is a cash grab.

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3 hours ago, ShootThePier said:

My question is how do we support these businesses long term once we have more than our current needs?

There will always be new generations buying these, can't foresee denim going anwhere. Regarding the 300$ ceiling most denim brands are still far from Visvim pricing. And Visvim manages to sell otherwise they would not be in business. If you are not willing to pay more, I think there's lots of people who are. Looking at western brands, eg. RgT and 3sixteen, they seem to be doing ok, it seems that many of their products are sold out pretty quickly.

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Is there really a need for this thread in superdenim? 

There are some things we can control and some we can't. 

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Posted (edited)

^ No, providing you buy your denim with something other than money. ;)

Edited by UkeNo
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Posted (edited)

12 hours ago, mrman said:

There will always be new generations buying these, can't foresee denim going anwhere. Regarding the 300$ ceiling most denim brands are still far from Visvim pricing. And Visvim manages to sell otherwise they would not be in business. If you are not willing to pay more, I think there's lots of people who are. Looking at western brands, eg. RgT and 3sixteen, they seem to be doing ok, it seems that many of their products are sold out pretty quickly.

People will always want something fresh, too.

I have enough clothes to last a long time, but I'd be fooling myself if I said there wasn't anything else out there that I'd like to have. Especially shirts, jackets, and boots, since we can theoretically wear the same pair of pants every day.

Edited by Iron Horse
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5 hours ago, mrman said:

eg. RgT and 3sixteen, they seem to be doing ok, it seems that many of their products are sold out pretty quickly.

I got a lot of respect for these two brands being able to (relatively) hold shit together through their respective surges in popularity. I remember just in 2012 Ajchen was the one responding to all the inquiry emails and they had one denim, two fits, and like no shirts. Those dudes have almost 90k followers on instagram these days and have put who knows how many people to work.

 I gotta give respect to Karl and Leslie at RgT too. They consistently put out products that they're passionate about, even if it's not everyone's cup of tea. 

Just seeing what happens to ill-prepared businesses when the stakes are high can be ugly( lawless, countless others both denim and non denim related in the regular world) 

Sorry if that's off-topic, just wanted to speak some praise to their character rather than just their products. 

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12 hours ago, HAZARDkid said:

Is there really a need for this thread in superdenim? 

There are some things we can control and some we can't. 

i suggest it be moved to supershopper

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^

This topic is specifically for discussion centered around Denim and denim oriented brands. Hence it being placed here. It serves the Superdenim forum with a place to discuss these things.

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I don't think a $300 price is a problem for Japanese brands (I remember a few years ago when the Flat Head 3009 was selling for about $400 in the US). But it could be for American ones. The Japanese prices are justifiable because they have access to old machines/construction techniques and fabrics that can't be reproduced in the west (at least not presently.) A brand like 3Sixteen or RGT has got to offer something really special to justify that price point (like 3Sixteen+ does.)

I'm not surprised western prices have gone up a bit for US/European brands. There are all sorts of factors that can go into the cost of running that business that might be hard for us to see/appreciate from on the outside. The bigger issue is that "Made in USA" is not much of a selling point for me when made in Japan is usually better, and other countries make stuff at least as well. My RRL shirts are made in China but as nice (in materials + construction) as my American shirts.

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^ Ah, there is a controversial point. To an Australian, like me, a garment being made in the USA doesn't add any value in my mind - I have not found 'made in USA' to be any better quality for most items compared with the rest of the world. 

 

Made In Japan, however... I'd pay extra for that. 

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I think 'Made in USA' isn't so much about quality as it is about ethics. Whether that justifies the price is up to the consumer, but you're less likely to be getting a sweatshop garment. I say less likely because you could argue there are "sweatshops" even in the US

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^ Fair enough, and the ethics of what we buy is certainly important. Like you said, there is no guarantee of ethical treatment of workers even if the country of origin is a first world nation...we in Australia are very often guilty of exploiting and underpaying migrants, especially in the foods & services industries.

With that in mind, nowadays I really don't care about the country of origin of my garments, but rather I'd like to known by whom they've been made.

For example, take the Chinese brand Sauce Zhan - the owner employs his own workers, treats them fairly, and even works on the floor himself. The materials he uses have been co-developed by him. Now in this instance there shouldn't be any problems with the jeans being made in China.

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Voting always takes place from his own pocket,so if the performance and quality characteristics are the same,then wins cheaper option. Not important to America,Germany,Japan or......the Solomon Islands, an important will be just the personal preference or a desire to support some of the manufacturer.

Japan for the first time raised the initiative ? The first time the U.S. lost the initiative ? The world is too complex to simplify,so the only way for him to walk in a circle,and so thousands of years and in this circle man is voting their own pocket.

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This could be deleted but I would put it anyway. Several years ago, one of the suppliers of the famed IH was a small company in South Japan where Chinese nationals on trainee visas, i.e. one where you are supposed to train to do activity but in reality you work at rates lower than official minimum wage since the law allows of it, were employed. Haraki never take a stance on the Alexander Leather debacle as well, and I believe some older models are listed on his Rakuten homepage. So there goes the ethics in the "made in Japan" label. 

And do not start me on Subaru

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Posted (edited)

^ Certainly so. The Osaka 5 and the other big Japanese denim brands were founded on their passion for American denim...I'm not sure if they are, or are not, interested in the ethics of what they make at all.

As far as I observed, we've only started talking about ethical manufacturing and the like - and attaching these discussions to denim and heritage-wear hobbies - in the past few years among Western hobbyists. I never got the sense that this was an important consideration within East Asian denim circles.

Edited by mikecch
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I do love seeing smaller workshop brands such as TCB document their production and you see Inoue with his friends all decked in TCB gear making everything themselves. Getting a look into their production and their friendships is another reason I enjoy supporting TCB and buying direct from Inoue. CSF is another example of this- albeit much more expensive.

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Small workshop brands like TCB, Dawson Denim, Roy, Ooe-Yofukuten & CSF are a draw for me.

Being able to produce a product designed and made by a small number of individuals, from patterning to posting is something very special, and well worth the cost in my opinion.

I rate this above 'made in x' as a hook.

 

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On 3/12/2017 at 9:15 AM, Cold Summer said:

The bigger issue is that "Made in USA" is not much of a selling point for me when made in Japan is usually better, and other countries make stuff at least as well. My RRL shirts are made in China but as nice (in materials + construction) as my American shirts.

A few yrs ago MiUSA seemed to be the primary draw for a few startups. Over time MiUSA lost its shine because certain brands exploited the use of this term to make sales....Lawless i'm looking at you. There are undoubtedly those US makers who do make quality product, but I think at times these makers became so popular that they couldn't keep up with demand. I'm no longer willing to wait X weeks/months to have something made for me. It's too risky a proposition to sink my hard earned cash on something that will be delivered at a future date rather than that product being ready for sale now. I still try to avoid companies that outsource production to 3rd world countries when possible. I've tried a few MiUSA brands and while most were acceptable there were a few that failed on so many levels, whether it was because of unreliable fit charts or design characteristics that turned me off. Made in Japan is much more appealing to me for the most part and I now tend to look past the MiUSA tag as a selling point. At the end of the day, I want a quality product that is worth the money I paid, whether it's denim or leather goods.

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The ethics of not buying from brands that source from "sweatshops" are not logically consistent because they assume that those workers will be better off over the long run if one doesn't buy the product they make, which is obviously not the case. Personally, I would like to see a distinction made based on whether the contracts are respected or not. This to me is the key ethical issue.

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The contract between the factory and the worker? I think that's what usually defines a sweatshop, i.e. disregard for workers' rights, last-minute forced overtime with little or no pay, sub-standard working conditions, etc.

 

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Do you see the difference between a factory that respects a contract that includes provisions that would be below our Western standards (on pay, work hours, conditions, etc), and one that simply doesn't respect the contract?

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Neither practice lends itself to a sustainable business. If my vendors give me cause for concern, I start lining up alternates to protect my business, customers, receivables, and payables.

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