Over the past few years We’ve often heard comments about designing in Bali, and how cheap it is to produce here, and how we make ridiculous profits at the expense of marginalized workers…
Here’s our truth. This is why it costs so much. We can only speak to our personal experience, as that’s the only truth we have.
Labor costs in Bali are cheaper, and it’s one of the controversial things about being here, but that’s what makes it possible. That’s what makes any retail business work. You get/make the thing for less and you sell the thing for more.
In the west we’ve sadly become so used to Walmart, H&M, and Amazon with their cheap prices, and that somehow became the norm. A lot of the bigger companies employ legions of people from developing countries to create throwaway clothes for pennies. They work in deplorable conditions, with no oversight or regard for waste or the environment in the process. We try to do things a little differently…
We’ve found that nothing but the best and most notable artisans are able to do what we need them to do, at the level of quality and complexity we need, and that costs a lot more than what the words “made in Bali” might conjure up for you… It’s possible to get cheaper labor than we do, but the quality may, and will, suffer. We pay way above standard skilled wages to keep our workers happy, present, and creative.
Our craftsmen work in a safe, healthy, ventilated work environment with plenty of breaks and days off for the workers. That’s something that’s been extremely important to us as we’ve seen some appalling working conditions…
We work with our scraps and bits, upcycling, and recycling whenever we can, and make a product that lasts. We believe that slow fashion is better than fast...
So how much does it cost though, really?
Let’s take a jacket for example, which is the most expensive thing we make.
The total landed cost of one of our jackets is roughly 1/3 of the purchase price
I know what you’re thinking….. we’re raging 300% markup… $500 profit!!
But that’s just one jacket…I’m sure you needed to see more than one color of jacket, or size, at a festival or online so you could decide which one you wanted…There are 4 (or more) color combinations, in 4 sizes. So just to make sure your new jacket is available in your size and color preference costs us $4000
Ok so that’s one jacket style. We have 8. Let’s not get into the rest because it would be redundant. Let’s just say our production for the festival season and dedicated web stock costs upwards of 40 grand each year.
Then there’s sampling.
The sampling process takes more time and the craftsmen deserve more money for that, and it’s the most important part. Each piece goes through about 3 or 4 renditions before it’s perfect and ready to produce.
Sampling costs for the season are about $4-5000…
Then the Costs On the Bali side:
Flights, production manager, runner: $7000/ year
And the Costs on the other side of the ocean:
Shipping/receiving person, Accountant, broker for shipments, bonding fees, business licenses, website fees, inventory software, insurance, vending gear and infrastructure: $7500/year
Now we’ve arrived at Your Favorite Festival
Each festival costs about $3000 sometimes more after: gas to get there, vending fees, staff tickets, staffing, insurance and associated costs. The festivals themselves we love, and we are infinitely grateful for the abundance they provide…for about 4 months of the year.
We do about 8 or 9 a year, and they all want their money well before the festival itself.
Festival costs: $30,000 a season.
So here’s the final breakdown:
Cost of goods sold: 40,000
Pre-processing including sampling: 11,000
On the ground costs: 7500
Festival costs: 30,000
So the total costs for us to get your new favorite jacket to you at your favorite festival or from the website: 88,500
Please note those costs don’t include our time, rent, food, insurance, taxes, or life…and as any entrepreneur can tell you, being self employed means you work about 60-80 hours a week…
Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely love our life, we love our lifestyle and what we do, we love being creative and being our own boss. We love the opportunity to live in paradise, and to travel. We are so grateful to be surrounded by our friends doing what they love too, and to be able to raise our daughter to hopefully be able to do the same.
Some people might do it differently, some people might pay their staff less, or do it all for cheaper, or sell their stuff for a higher markup…but this is our story, and this is our answer to “but why does this jacket cost so much?”