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Cotton Clothing

Price Tags to Rise

Stephanie Clifford, New York Times

Synthetic linings. Smaller buttons. Less Italian fabric. And yes, even more polyester. Unusually high cotton prices have apparel makers scrambling to keep down costs, but consumers be warned: cotton clothing will be getting more expensive.

The Bon-Ton chain is raising prices on its private-label fashion items by as much as a dollar this spring, and prices will go up further next fall. And it is switching from 100 percent cotton in items like sweaters to more acrylic blends. Levi’s says it has already increased prices and may push them further north next year. And Hanesbrands, the maker of Champion, Hanes and Playtex, says price increases will be in place by February, and prices could go up further if cotton prices remain where they are.

The problem is a classic supply and demand imbalance, with the price of cotton rising almost 80 percent since July and prices expected to remain high.

Cotton inventories had been low because of weak demand during the recession. This summer, new cotton crops were also depleted because of flooding in Pakistan and bad weather in China and India, all major cotton producers. But demand from China, in particular, was rising. And as the economic recovery in the United States began, apparel makers and retailers placed orders for more inventory, spurring even more demand. As prices rose, speculators entered the market, driving prices even higher.

Manufacturers are also thinking smaller, examining whether a button or a thread can be replaced with a cheaper one, or whether the overall material mix can be changed so it is not so cotton heavy.

Of course, as apparel makers increase the price of cotton goods and also try to reduce their reliance on cotton, there are some risks.

For starters, neither the apparel makers nor the retailers are certain that shoppers will be willing to pay more for cotton goods. “It’s an unanswered question at this point,” said Robert K. Shearer, chief financial officer of the V. F. Corporation. “We may be training a new generation to be far more accepting of synthetic fibers, which is likely to hurt cotton’s market share in the long run,” said Ms. Johnson, the analyst with the First Capital Group.

Stephanie Clifford, New York Times

Hm, consumers will only spend their money on products that make them happy. If jeans make them happy, they will buy the high priced items. But if they don’t love the products, they’ll pass.

And since most humans are facing financial issues, i’m gonna suggest that the fashion industry start experimenting with more sustainable, cheaper fabrics

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