Ever wondered how a pair of jeans, even great-looking ones, could possibly cost $300 or more? The Wall Street Journal has the answer—and in large part, it’s because the fancy pants were made in America, writes Christina Binkley. If a pair of $300 True Religion jeans had been made in China, they’d cost you more like $40, says that company’s head. Plus, expensive “premium jeans” require input from a range of people, from seamstresses to button makers to wholesalers.
But there’s plenty of profit involved, too. While True Religion’s best-selling style, Super T, costs $50 per pair to make, it goes for $152 wholesale and $335 retail. In general, retailers mark up the price to between 2.2 and 2.6 times the cost. Each step of the process costs the consumer about five times what it cost to make: The seamstress’ work alone, for example, may cost $23 but be valued at more than $100 in stores. One maker notes that his premium jeans make a profit of 40% to 50%, while his less expensive ones bring in a profit of just 20%.