What I learned about retail

Fashion is a world dominated by fantasy and creativity. Retail, however, is a world dominated mainly by numbers, price, and lots and lots of math. I recently dabbled in both on a project for the ParsonsxTeenVogue Fashion Industry Essentials program to learn how the two coexist.

For the fashion side of the assignment, I had to make a blouse out of one yard of silver linen fabric (I chose to do this assignment based on the blouse instead of the accessory I made, because the accessory was made with supplies I already owned and, therefore, accurate cost calculations would have been nearly impossible). I’d originally wanted the garment to be a tank top, but had to make it one-shouldered after a sewing error. This added to production time as I had to hand sew the majority of the piece to account for the design changes, which, in turn, increased the cost of production. It was still a viable product, though, as its estimated retail price was $55 with its total cost plus profit at $51.60.

However, I learned that in the world of retail, the cost of production plus profit is meant to be about half of the estimated retail price of the garment to allow the stores and boutiques (that aren’t owned by the designer herself) that sell the garment  to make their own profits off of it and adjust the price if the item must go on sale or clearance.

To meet these requirements. I adjusted the production time to what it would have been had I not messed up. The garment would still be the one-shouldered final piece, but I’d be able to machine sew all of it if I knew how it was going to turn out from the start, making the whole process more efficient.

That, along with finding a fabric sold cheaper and in bulk online, brought the total cost plus profit down to $23.69 per garment. This is about ten dollars less than what it needed to be to be in line with the rules of retail, making it possible to realistically sell the piece in retail chains without sacrificing the integrity of the garment.

The various numbers used to determine this information can be seen below.

Original cost outline:

One yard silver linen $8
Silver thread $1
4 hours @ $8.50 $34
Total production cost $43
20% profit $8.60
Total cost plus profit $51.60
Estimated retail price $55


Altered cost outline:

One yard silver linen (online) $5.99
Silver thread $1
1.5 hours @ $8.50 $12.75
New total production cost $19.74
20% profit $3.95
Total cost plus profit $23.69
Estimates retail price $55



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