Friday, November 30, 2007

Battle of the Sweaters

I'm reading yesterday's WSJ because yesterday I got sucked into the virtual vortex known as Facebook. Yes, I exert no self control over my laptop. So this morning I'm catching up on the news, and I came across an interesting article on the battle of two cashmere (a fancy word for Mongolian goat hair) sweaters. One is Land's End and cost $99.50 before shipping and handling. The other is Brunello Cucinelli and cost $950 before tax and valet parking at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills.

While quality and feel is marginally better with the more expensive cashmere sweater, the cut and style is far better with the $950 sweater. Also, the author received no compliments on the Land's End sweater. Which, really, comes as no surprise. It's not like Land's End makes an appearance in Bryant Park during Fashion Week. And while neither do places like H&M, their bread and butter is knocking off the runways.

I was fascinated with the re-tracing of the journey from Mongolian goat, to bales, to auction blocks, to Chinese factory floor or 17th century castle in Italy. Land's End made opaque references to quality control and high standards, without offering information on the exact whereabouts and specific conditions of its factories in China. Small nation that it is. On the other hand, Cucinelli details the work hours, 90 minute lunch break, and invites the author to visit the factory.

I have to continually remind myself that while I am paying for the quality of item purchased, I am also paying for the quality and conditions of those who make what I buy. Grotesquely large CEO compensation aside.


SavingDiva said...

$950 for a sweater!!!!! JEEZ!

I rarely think about the conditions of the workers that make my clothing. I know it's horrible, but I feel as if it's really far removed.

Kay said...
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hazygrey said...

I read that article too. While I can't see myself spending $950 on one sweater, I don't really have problems with people who do as long as they can afford it. I know many people would still have issues with what they consider as wanton luxury. But this article gave you a good perspective on why luxury goods cost so much and how the high cost of some goods is not just about extravagance. It does also make me a bit worried under what conditions my cheap gap and old navy clothes are made under.

PiggyBankBlues said...

great comment, my sentiments exactly! working conditions on a factory vacillate just as much as in an office. goldman sachs is different than philippine national bank. it's just that the level of conditions are much poorer.