Supreme Luxury, is it $40,000 for label “Prestige”?

Share this post:


Proenza Schouler / Moda Operandi

Is this the supreme luxury? 

It’s gorgeous!  Luxurious, long and has really wonderful detailing.  It’s made of the most beautiful, premium skins and has that cool crochet or macramé gilet / belt- sorta like I did in 2005 for a Giuliana Teso gig.  It has a great fit if you are within a certain body type (and well over 5’6″).   It also has a big brand label.

Is it “Made in Italy”?  Well, at least some of it is.  The Shearling is probably finished there, it might even be sewn there.
Because of the labeling laws of other countries (Like Italy) large portions of the manufacturing process can be done in other countries, while just a small amount is required to be done in the country labeled as origin.  Sometimes just stitching in a label is all it takes.  And although it’s not always clear, to be able to say “Made in USA” you can’t just slap a label on once it arrives on our shores and has a little work done!

In Fashion, it’s all a bit up for grabs.

The Toscana sheep are likely bred in Spain, and finished either in Europe or Turkey.  Turkey today has wonderful tanning capabilities.  The actual sewing could take place in Slovakia or Turkey (both do beautiful work and often smaller minimums)   I would not be in the least surprised if the crochet work were done in China, even by machine.  I am pretty sure the piece traveled a bit.  It probably has more mile points than you!  (I highly recommend the film Gomorrah – it’s got a hair raising scene that postulates how some of these country of origin rules are gotten around.)

While this specific scenario – with this particular garment – is completely hypothetical,  it’s based on over 25 years in the industry…

Is it Couture?  Nope!

It’s not Custom Made, Bespoke or even really “Made-to-Order”,   past the  ‘if you order it, we will make it’  sense.  Here, when I do Made-to-Order, you can request different colors and even some size adjustments on many styles.  It just depends on the style.

This coat is definitely not One-of-a-Kind.  There are going to be more than just a couple of these coats, because the company needs to fill an order minimum.  The company also needs to use the hundreds, possibly thousands of square feet of the shearling they have committed to purchase.  A coat like this takes between 80′ and 100 square feet, depending on the size range and size of the actual skins used.  With 2 colors offered and spread across a range of styles they can easily get to the 2500 square foot minimum (per color!)  that I can’t touch at all without a nice distribution system and multiple stores behind me. 

A companies distribution abilities and the quantity discounts they receive are just a couple of the fabulous benefits of production.  When you are in production can also get custom hardware to use throughout a range of items.  Whether it’s hundreds or thousands of pieces, there is magic in those numbers!  At that scale it makes sense to spend the grand or more developing each style of custom hardware you need to cover your range.  So,  just like the skins, the more you develop – the better your costs.

If you wanted “custom” hardware from me – it would be my hardware, in my styles and in my colors, with my Logo,  just like every other company.  That would be the choice. Custom hardware for an individual commission is akin to having a fine piece jewelry custom made.

This is basically of the opposite of what I want to offer my clients!  

Another great benefit of being in production is;  production requires only one final pattern which is then graded into the full range of sizes.  We make a new pattern in every case, unless a client wants more than one piece in the same style – after that initial garment, the savings in pattern making is passed on to our clients. 

Why don’t I do a production line?  I would love to – I did, when you could still do it here in the US as an independent company & I LOVED IT!  But today it is a totally different ballgame.   So, short of a very, very deep pocketed investor – who BTW would also have to have the connections in the business.  I am on my own and very happy with working directly with my clients, creating truly rare pieces.  For my clients, personal service, perfect fit, careful attention to the details – that, is the supreme luxury.

Why does this coat have a practically Couture level price tag?  In spite of being made in production, this is a still a very expensive piece to make.  And then there is that mark-up, averaging at least 5X the cost last I checked- likely much more now given the circumstances of the last few years and of course the label.

Actual Cost to make? I have no idea, but this coat did not cost $7000-$8000 to make.  This is a prestige markup –  a markup that has nothing to do with the garment.  Not the materials that go into it, not the labor that goes into it.  Not even the markup that has to be added so it’s worthwhile for the Company (in this case Proenza) to make the garment.  They have to cover Rent, Sales, PR, Marketing etc. like any company.

Also, the company’s mark-up has to take into the account the 4-6 months or so (from shipping) that it will take to get paid on orders from stores.  Large companies like Proenza (owned by the L’Oréal Group) work with factors, who pay on shipment and receive a good % of sales.  It is another thing that has to be covered – but cash-flow is vital for all businesses.  

The manufacturer’s mark-up also has to cover any markdowns (funny how that works!) Since, most (if not all) stores will additionally create charge backs against the company who made the garment!   The manufacturer will get charged if the hangars they send the garments on are wrong, if the barcodes aren’t right, or even if the store doesn’t sell what they ordered!  There’s a whole phonebook of chargebacks to choose from!

Finally,  it can be as long as a year between getting orders from your samples, laying out for your production and getting paid!

Then, once delivered, the stores mark it up again – their mark up covers all the usual suspects (Rent, Sales, PR, Marketing etc.) on their end. 

But still, even after all this… I still can’t believe this price tag. 

Why wouldn’t you buy actual Couture if you have a Couture budget?

Isn’t that the supreme luxury?

Thank You for Signing Up


for 10% off your First Order


(cannot be used with other offers)