Before beginning, I would like to acknowledge the fact that I wear shirts and pants sporting non-exorbitant brand logos frequently. This column is not intended to belittle anyone who may wear logos, but rather, to share my biased viewpoint on the placement of logos on clothing, especially on high-priced, designer products.
Many designer brands charge extremely high prices for products that are uncomplicated and straightforward. The Italian luxury fashion company Versace, for example, makes plain white all cotton T-shirts with their patented logo of a Medusa’s head that will set you back $800 each. To put this in perspective, Versace makes the same plain white all cotton T-shirt without the logo for about $24. That’s a $776.00 price tag for a Medusa head logo.
Not only do clothing companies like Versace justify charging absurdly high prices because of the brand identity associated with their name; they justify their high prices along the lines that consumers are acquiring the “style” of the brand when they buy attire with their logo.
“Luxury” and high end fashion companies have a standard model for the gross margin of the products they make, averaging around 65%. That is nearly double the gross margin of the average retail clothing store (36.12%). This enhanced margin is the equivalent of making $3,500 in revenue for a product that costs $1,225 to produce.
In any case, the increase in price is not justified. People who wear these brands with blatant logos all over them are paying to give away free advertising to the company, and the fact that people pay inflated prices to act as billboards for a given manufacturer is interesting, to put it nicely.
As more and more people consent to serve as free advertising billboards, clothing companies will realize they no longer need to pay newspapers and magazines to run their advertisements; thus, one unintended consequence of wearing expensive, logo-blazing attire may be a reduction in ad revenues of an already beleaguered (and more than ever necessary) print press.
While the overall appeal of wearing an article of luxury clothing with a giant logo on it is declining, the appeal of wearing skateboarder-influenced logos on clothing is growing. The most prominent of these brands is the New York based skate clothing line, Supreme. Since its start in 1994, Supreme has opened upwards of nine official stores around the world. Only two of those stores are in the United States.
Supreme is following the trend of other luxury fashion designers in the sense that their overpriced goods themselves are seemingly beside the point. They have not yet reached the level of the gross margins that many other luxury brands are experiencing, but their recent collaborations with Louis Vuitton suggest their margins will soon be rising. Interestingly, the only two things that seem to separate Supreme from any other clothing designer are: the rarity of their products and the fact that everything they make says “Supreme” on it. The fact that they can put a generic adjective on a white shirt and make it “fashion” is a reminder of the uncritical reverence and vanity of the consumer.
The overall trend among consumers of adopting an uncritical fashion sense is perpetuated by large brands who, having built a mindless following, can (and do) make and sell incredibly simplistic “fashion” designs such as Supreme’s fire extinguishers with logos, floodlights with logos, and bricks with, you guessed it, “Supreme” logos printed on them.
You’d have to be thick as a brick to buy one.
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