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Getting dressed could get pricier

posted 19 Jan 2011, 15:27 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 19 Jan 2011, 15:30 ]
Cotton and other raw materials used to make and transport clothing is getting more expensive, and consumers could soon start to feel the pinch.
USA-CLOTHING INFLATION - Quality fabric is essential to designer Salvatore Giardina. He is growing his two-year old custom men's suit business, and cutting corners is not an option.

So as prices for the fabrics he uses- mainly wool and some cotton- rise, he is making adjustments.

SALVATORE GIARDINA, PRESIDENT, FORTUNA TRADING SAYING:

"Depending on the price increase from my supplier, either I will absorb some of it and I'll pass some of it along to my customer."

Prices of raw materials used to make clothing have spiked sharply. In 2010 for example, cotton prices were up 90 percent.

Economists have been surprised both at the speed and the magnitude of the rise. In some ways, it was a perfect storm.

Jeffrey Silberman is the Chairperson of the Textile Development and Marketing Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

 JEFFERY SILBERMAN, CHAIRPERSON, TEXTILE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY,  SAYING:

"The floods in Pakistan, the weather in china, poor crops all over the world. There is a shortage of cotton. And so what that has done is that has driven the price up."

Increasing demand is a big factor- as China's growing middle class buys more clothing and other textiles.

And rising energy costs are also driving prices higher as it gets more expensive to transport goods.

So here in the United States many retailers are moving to raise prices and/or trade down to less expensive fabrics.

JEFFERY SILBERMAN, CHAIRPERSON, TEXTILE DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING, FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, SAYING:

"Everybody so far has been kind of pleasantly surprised that there has not been a strong push back but then again we are only about halfway through and they haven't really felt the impact that is coming. So I think it will continue to rise until the consumer says no."

Giardina however, says he has no choice but to stick with what his customer demand:

SALVATORE GIARDINA, PRESIDENT, FORTUNA TRADING  SAYING:

"I do look for better priced fabrics however the challenge is finding fabrics that are high quality. Because I have a business that makes high quality suits you cannot use a low quality fabric in a high end suit. It just doesn't work."

But mainstream retailers are hoping the strategy will work. Analysts say prices at the consumer level could start moving noticeably higher as soon as next month.

Bobbi Rebell, Reuters

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