The Business of Fashion

Joe Zee, Jenna Sauers, and Matthew Henson discuss the money behind fashion—what it takes to stay stylish, and how the industry benefits from the money you spend on clothes.

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Okay. So our next topic
is personal style.

Many people want it,
a lot of people think they have it

but the question of personal style
really gets challenged

when we're talking about
expensive mass market clothes.

Let’s go towards that.

120 dollars,
that’s the price of Kanye West’s

hip-hop T-shirt
collaboration with APC.

Fans who bought it
and you know who you are,

paid 120 bucks for a white,
Egyptian cotton jersey

with APC Kanye
silk-screened inside the neckline.

Joe, how does he get away with that?

He’s Kanye West.

I mean, look, the reality is
that’s what fashion is always about.

It’s about interpretation
and that’s’ an example

but I used to say the example

that you can buy
a Hanes T-shirt for 11 dollars

or you can buy

a Gucci white T-shirt for 500

and there is always a market for that

because somebody out there bought it
or they wouldn’t have made it.

But are those people
that are buying it

idiots for want of a better word?
Are they just getting conned?

No, I mean,
it’s a big part of their business.

I mean, these artists are out there.

Of course they’re working hard with
their music and everything like that

and they’re making even more money

by incorporating fashion
into their businesses now

and if their fans
want to take part of it,

-I mean, they should.
-I think it’s a very different customer.

I have to be honest. I think the person
buying an 11 dollar Hanes T-shirt

at a local K-Mart
is going to be a very different person

than the one who buys
a Kanye T-shirt or Gucci T-shirt.

And they probably
don’t care about Kanye West

And they’re not
targeting the same people.

They might be a different person
but it’s kind of the same product.

So aren’t they still
kind of getting conned, right?

Sometimes the quality
is very different, you know?

Okay, I mean, how much
can the quality be different

for 109 dollar difference?

I think you can strip it down,
yes, it is the same thing,

but, you know, no different than going
to KFC and getting fried chicken there

versus going to
Marcus Samuelson Restaurant

and getting fried chicken there.
I mean, I think the reality is like

you pay for the branding,
you pay for the thing behind it,

but in essence,
they’re both fried chicken.

You’re right, when you’re buying
a 120 dollar T-shirt from APC,

you are subsidizing,
in addition to the branding differences

and the percentage of that sale
that’s going to Kanye,

you’re also subsidizing
a retail footprint.

You’re probably
in an expensive area of town.

It’s probably a fancy boutique.

Right but then
this is what bothers me, right.

Kanye West fans don’t necessarily
live in an expensive part of town.

A lot of his fans are people
on relatively low incomes

who are going to aspire
to buy that T-shirt but can’t.

Isn’t that a little bit unethical?

Lost your train of thought?

No, no,
I don’t want to speak on that.

Well, seriously, it’s all well and
good saying that’s just high fashion

but when the people
that are really, really struggling

to buy those items
actually can’t really afford them.

But in the end it’s all aspirational
and, I mean, if buying the T-shirt

makes them feel
a little bit more connected

to somebody that they idolize,

they appreciate what he does,
love his artistry,

I think that, you know,
it should be okay.

Is it possible for people to find
the clothes that they want second-hand?

Yes, it is.  I mean, there’s plenty
of stores around the country,

and actually in the globe,
you know, resale stores

where people who are of means
and very affluent will come and sell

their clothes that they,
maybe they maybe didn’t even touch.

Nine times out of ten,
they have tags on them.

Once you understand the retail cycle

and that the shirt you see
on the floor today,

in two weeks will be marked down 25%,

in three weeks will be
marked down 40%,

in four weeks will be
marked down half off,

why would you ever want
to pay full price for anything?

I don’t think anybody
wants full price any more.

I think they actually
want to be knowing

that they got a bargain and I think,
you know, the dirty secret is

is that even if you go to an outlet,

they are products
made specifically for the outlet.

So you think it’s 75% off,

it is actually full price,
just denoted as 75% off.

So that’s what people don’t realize

and people think like,
oh we’re getting this big bargain.

That was stuff that was actually made

at a considerable
discount for that outlet.

And nine times out of ten,

the things that make it
to the factory outlets are damaged,

they’re not worth the money
that you’re spending on them.

That price tag is a complete joke.

it seems like there’s a lot of cynicism
amongst all of you about the fact...

I think it’s just being
educated and aware.

Like I just think
we live in a generation

of individuality and creativity,

you can buy five or six things and
mix it up in such a different way.

Like, I remember growing up.

Like, you know,
DIY’s a huge thing now.

It’s like hip, it’s trendy, it’s fun.

That was called arts
and crafts when I was a kid

and no one did it if you weren’t
a grandma rocking on a porch.

Well, now they call them designers.

Yeah and I think, you know, now,

I think it is so big because
it’s another outlet for everybody today

to say like, oh, I can change this.

I can buy that shirt
but I’m going to cut the sleeves off

and I’m going to make it this,
I’m going to make it that,

and make it my own and I think
that’s what people do today.

If you want to save money,
you can like,

I’m going to buy that dress, I’m going
to wear it until I get enough of it,

then I’m going to chop it off
and I’m going to have it as a top

and like these things
happen today all the time.

Okay. So our next topic
is personal style.

Many people want it,
a lot of people think they have it

but the question of personal style
really gets challenged

when we're talking about
expensive mass market clothes.

Let’s go towards that.

120 dollars,
that’s the price of Kanye West’s

hip-hop T-shirt
collaboration with APC.

Fans who bought it
and you know who you are,

paid 120 bucks for a white,
Egyptian cotton jersey

with APC Kanye
silk-screened inside the neckline.

Joe, how does he get away with that?

He’s Kanye West.

I mean, look, the reality is
that’s what fashion is always about.

It’s about interpretation
and that’s’ an example

but I used to say the example

that you can buy
a Hanes T-shirt for 11 dollars

or you can buy

a Gucci white T-shirt for 500

and there is always a market for that

because somebody out there bought it
or they wouldn’t have made it.

But are those people
that are buying it

idiots for want of a better word?
Are they just getting conned?

No, I mean,
it’s a big part of their business.

I mean, these artists are out there.

Of course they’re working hard with
their music and everything like that

and they’re making even more money

by incorporating fashion
into their businesses now

and if their fans
want to take part of it,

-I mean, they should.
-I think it’s a very different customer.

I have to be honest. I think the person
buying an 11 dollar Hanes T-shirt

at a local K-Mart
is going to be a very different person

than the one who buys
a Kanye T-shirt or Gucci T-shirt.

And they probably
don’t care about Kanye West

And they’re not
targeting the same people.

They might be a different person
but it’s kind of the same product.

So aren’t they still
kind of getting conned, right?

Sometimes the quality
is very different, you know?

Okay, I mean, how much
can the quality be different

for 109 dollar difference?

I think you can strip it down,
yes, it is the same thing,

but, you know, no different than going
to KFC and getting fried chicken there

versus going to
Marcus Samuelson Restaurant

and getting fried chicken there.
I mean, I think the reality is like

you pay for the branding,
you pay for the thing behind it,

but in essence,
they’re both fried chicken.

You’re right, when you’re buying
a 120 dollar T-shirt from APC,

you are subsidizing,
in addition to the branding differences

and the percentage of that sale
that’s going to Kanye,

you’re also subsidizing
a retail footprint.

You’re probably
in an expensive area of town.

It’s probably a fancy boutique.

Right but then
this is what bothers me, right.

Kanye West fans don’t necessarily
live in an expensive part of town.

A lot of his fans are people
on relatively low incomes

who are going to aspire
to buy that T-shirt but can’t.

Isn’t that a little bit unethical?

Lost your train of thought?

No, no,
I don’t want to speak on that.

Well, seriously, it’s all well and
good saying that’s just high fashion

but when the people
that are really, really struggling

to buy those items
actually can’t really afford them.

But in the end it’s all aspirational
and, I mean, if buying the T-shirt

makes them feel
a little bit more connected

to somebody that they idolize,

they appreciate what he does,
love his artistry,

I think that, you know,
it should be okay.