Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekly Whine: Children's clothing

Why the hell is children's clothing so expensive? This bugs me to no end.

When I went out to buy my daughter her first pair of shoes, I found a pair at some crappy Marshall's type store that fit her okay. And they were $30. $30! For shoes for a kid that could barely walk! That she would outgrow in like two minutes.

That's my big argument. When it comes to my own clothing, I'm okay for spending a little more for an outfit I really like because I know I'll be able to wear it for a long time. (I'm still wearing shirts I bought for medical school.) But for an older kid, the best you'll get is maybe a year of wear. And for a baby, it's more like a few months.

Yet there are still tons of outfits for babies/toddlers that are like $20+. Stuff that the kid will probably only have occasion to wear once before it is outgrown. And it's not like I shop at high end stores. These are the prices at, like, Target. I'm sure a nice shirt for a one year old is $40-50 is a good store.

Who is paying these prices?? Don't you people know there's a recession??? This is why you can't afford your mortgage... because you've spent it all on baby clothes!!

26 comments:

  1. That's what Goodwill (or equivalent) is for!

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    1. Agree totally! One of my friends gets all of her kids' clothing through garage sales and Kijiji and the like, and I'm constantly amazed by how little she pays for them. She'll regularly find boxes of clothes for $20-$30 that have hundreds of dollars of kids clothes in them.

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    2. I generally go to consignment sales for clothes. My mother belittles me for being a "rich doctor" (not really) who shops at consignment sales, but why would anyone throw money away on expensive baby clothing? All the new clothes my kids have received has been from relatives.... or sometimes Target is having a really great sale.

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    3. I stalk babyGap.... the stuff there goes on sale quite a lot... the children's place also has GREAT sales. :)

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    4. I love our Salvation Army. My girls want to be fashionable but have learned its 1 item at the mall verses a big bag full at the Army......and I have family member scraping by that would spend money on designer clothing for their 6 months old. WTF

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  2. Fizzy, possibly because it is children clothes the people feel it would be wrong to make it in a sweat shop. Maybe the clothes are actually ethically sourced and not made in sweat shops like so much of the clothes we wear. I would rather pay more and know that the person who worked to make it receives a fair share of the money.

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    1. Do you have any evidence that this why the clothes cost so much? I highly doubt it.

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    2. LOL... hipsters...

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    3. Very little clothing of any kind that we buy in the U.S. is "ethically sourced." Sad but true fact. And if you think paying a lot for an item of clothing means you aren't purchasing something that came from a sweatshop, you are oh so sorely mistaken.

      MedBoy, I don't challenge your sincerity about buying ethically sourced goods. It's very admirable and we should all be as conscious of where things come from as you are. But I think most people other people don't really care. Also a sad but true fact.

      Kid clothing is expensive because everyone wants their kid/niece/nephew/grandkid to be the cutest kid on the block. So clothing manufacturers charge as much as people are willing to pay for all of the adorable things you see at the store. To Fizzy's point, people are stupid to pay that kind of money, but it would have to take a lot of people rebelling at the prices to get the manufacturers to move off of their current pricing strategy, and I'm afraid that's not likely to happen anytime soon.

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    4. Exactly, Anon. I don't think the cost of this clothing has any relationship to the production cost, but rather people's willingness to pay this much. There is no way these little dresses cost anywhere near $20 to manufacture.

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    5. What anonymous said (both of you).

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  3. I can't say why all children's clothes are expensive, but having just made something for a 12 month old, I can say that even though it uses less fabric, it is still just as complicated and still takes just as long. I suppose that in any large company benefitting from economies of scale, labor is still a huge expense, and in this regard it doesn't take less of it to churn out kid's stuff. But, I have no evidence, and am just postulating based on experience. ;)

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  4. AFAIK clothes for children have a more stringent design and testing process. For example: The buttons have to be able to handle more than the baby's bodyweight, or it becomes a choking hazard. The companies dont want parents suing etc. So a lot of it is safety overheads...

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  5. Recently while in a children's clothing store, on display was a miniature bomber jacket (meant maybe for a 1-year old), made of good leather, sporting all appropriate buckles, zippers, etc., and the price was $550. I said to the sales person, "Who would pay that much for a jacket the kid will outgrow in an hour?" His reply: "Grandma." Which may--just may--account for some pricing decisions. Made me laugh, though, because he was right. Only a grandmother would buy your 8 month old daughter a velvet dress that can only be dry-cleaned--and expect to see the kid in it regularly.

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    1. "Auntie" might also buy the jacket. I try not to spoil the nieces and nephews in my life, but kids clothing is just too cute to resist sometimes.

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    2. When I was a little girl, my mom decked me out in insanely expensive mail order children's clothes. Gosh, people who knew me way back when still go on about how cute my mom used to dress me. Meanwhile once I got old enough to have any sort of say I used to fight to wear pants instead of those darn dresses! Even to school. Only every other day gym class allowed my mother to finally let me wear pants every other day. It's crazy and she has saved most of those clothes thinking I'd dress my own child in them (too darn bad I've got major health issues, could probably never get pregnant or safely carry a child myself, and wouldn't want to raise a child in my current state anyhow) so they lay around in boxes. And there's pictures all over the walls of my parents house of my younger brother and I decked out in these one time wear outfits... But with me especially being the first born, she dressed me up daily not just portraits of special occasions.


      With that said, my parents had close to twenty years of fertility issues. They were the oldest couple this huge name fertility doc had helped successfully conceive at the time. And back then IVF was still fairly rare so my parents were a big anaomaly (they seriously passed up the chance to go on one of the big daytime talk shows to talk about being older parents but made it into a big name newspaper! ) so I would guess on one hand it was just so amazing to my parents to even have a child. And they were much older and likely had more money than many. Yet they did pay tens of thousands (that is likely an underestimate and this was in a time when you could not get insurance coverage of these treatments) just to have me... I will say too that my mother in particular really isn't the portrait of mental health and loves in her own fantasy world so that may have something to do with it too. It's like it took her some time to realize children aren't dolls to dress up (she has blown insane amounts on dolls over most of her life too so I may have a point! Some of those doll catalog places also make baby clothes!!!) anyway... It's not always just grandmother. I'm sure that its still a small fraction of people but couples having their first child are older and older and the fertility treatments are also more common... So that might factor in for some- either they've spent so much time hoping for a child they go overboard trying to give them the best, or they are just older in general and have more cash tucked away? (The later is probably far less common these days though...).

      And I was raised a spoiled brat kid. I grew up and out of it at least but isn't childbearing trending more and more in that direction of giving your kids everything they want, never yelling, blah blah? I suspect that more than a lot of things may be the reason for crazy expensive baby clothes. After all, you might somehow inadvertently damage your child by buying subpar clothes, right? (Sarcasm...)

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  6. Goodwill, Ross, and definitely swap meets or flea markets will have them cheap. You're throwing away your money if you spend $20 on baby clothing.

    If you do and the baby outgrows it in 2 seconds, you can always use it as a rag to wipe your counters and whatnot.

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  7. I'm usually just a "peeper" on your blog, but being the grandmother of 16 and the great grandmother of 6, I just had to say, and I only speak of "my local Goodwill", it is no longer inexpensive to shop there! In fact I got so disgusted with their high prices for used articles, that I now shop at Salvation Army, and our soon to open Teen Challenge Thrift Store. And I also hit the garage sales when the weather permits. I agree. Children's clothes are so expensive for the short amount of time they wear them.

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    1. Salvation Army is definitely cheaper than Goodwill. Goodwills that I've been to will charge $5 for a faded shirt when you can hit sales at Target or someplace and get a new shirt for that or less! Meanwhile a giant Salvation Army near my parent's house got me shirts for 25 cents, tank tops for 15 cents, and the best pair of jeans I ever owned for $1. There's a pricer Salvation Army in my area but even that beats Goodwill by a long shot. And Salvation Army has the best sales!

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  8. Every year, around the beginning of the school year, a group of families organizes a clothing swap at one of the local elementary schools. The basic idea is bring was you have and take what you need. I usually take a couple bags and stock up on winter & spring clothes in the next size up for my 3 kids. Coats, pants, hoodies, shirts, etc. As the event has grown to take over the entire school cafeteria for an entire weekend day , people have volunteered as seamstresses, screen printers, creative reuse stations and in other awesome helpful and fun ways. Add to this the circle of friends that pass clothes back & forth, and I don't think I have bought everyday clothes for my kids in at least 4 years. I have spent some money here and there on special things like clean, neat jeans for family pictures or a vest & clip tie for kindergarten graduation.

    I highly recommend checking around for any clothing swaps that people might organize! Or heck, see if you have a preschool class that wants to get together on a weekend afternoon & dig through each others outgrown stuff.

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  9. Or you could make your own, like Michelle Au does...

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  10. I hit one local thrift store every weekend to dress my 3 kids. I get 95% of what they wear there. The other 5% I fill in at Target or wherever. For me the key is going regularly so that I can fill in their wardrobes.
    The second thing for me is to limit how much they have. Honestly my 4 year old doesn't need 25 outfits when 15 works.

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  11. Above said on clothing swap is all very useful. Still you cannot rely on used shoes. Even older sibling will completely desrtoy the shoes and the younger will be unable to wear them. I use Ross Dress for Less, as my children go through 2-3 pairs of sneakers a year each. I buy expensive brand shoes (they actually last 3-4 months while cheaper brands are ruined in 1-2 months), but I buy them for 50% of other store prices.

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  12. I have 2 awesome nephews and a six-figure job, consulting not medical, and I kids clothes can be so expensive. Lucky my brother farms and my nephews get dirty quite a bit. So, I buy clothes at garage sales and yards sales in good suburban neighborhoods. And, I attend area churches children's clothing sales.

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  13. Some good points are made here in the comments. Even though it takes less fabric to make children's clothing, it is just as complicated to make (maybe even more so due to the smaller size).

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  14. Second hand clothes for kids is ok but make sure you have cleaned the clothes thoroughly to avoid problems however new clothing for kids is not expensive.

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