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Updated on July 14, 2011
In the coming months, it might be more expensive to add to your tactical wardrobe. Fans of 5.11 Tactical’s pants have already noticed a $10 price increase, which went into effect March 1.
Why are clothing prices on the rise?
It comes down to the increasing cost of production. This past week, cotton hit a record high. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, cotton prices have more than doubled over the last six months. To make matters more complicated, oil and food costs are also on the rise. This has left clothing manufacturers across the globe with a much higher production bill.
In a recent interview, 5.11 Tactical CEO Dan Costa explained that 5.11’s only option to offset the price increase would be to lessen the quality. “We would have to cut back on the weight of the fabric, go to B-class factories for better pricing or cut the amount of stitches,” he elaborated. “That’s not even an option for us.”
“Here at Blackhawk, we are maintaining our price through 2011,” wrote Steve “MATO” Matulewicz, executive director of Special Operations Division, in an e-mail. “Our intent is not to kick a man while he is down (recession) and to do what is right for our customers.”
While some are standing by their price tags, other manufacturers are simply watching this upwards trend in production prices and counting down the minutes until they, too, are forced to bump up prices.
“With the ongoing instability with cotton, market prices have been increasing almost daily,” said Kevin Cain, Southeast sales manager at Tru-Spec. “Tru-Spec has done the best we can to absorb these increases without having to change pricing, but it appears we will have to make some adjustments in the neat future if things don’t settle down.”
At the time of publication, manufacturers Woolrich Elite and Propper declined to comment as to whether they would be raising prices in 2011, and representatives from Vertx and Kitanica could not be reached for comment.
Even though some are keeping quite about price changes, a favorable climate for price increases seems inevitable. While the USDA projected the global cotton production to rise next season, the higher price tags may deter cost conscious consumers from any shopping frenzies of the cotton variety.
The source of the cotton shortage can be traced back to bad weather and competition. Flooding and an onslaught of foul weather from Mother Nature have hindered the yield of the crops. The Street outlined a number of factors and events that lead to the limited crop output. Due to flooding, Pakistan lost more than 30 percent of its crops. Contributing somewhere around eight percent of the world’s cotton supply, Pakistan’s loss would be felt around the world in the form of escalating prices.
Similar H2O-based natural disasters devastated India’s cotton crops. The country banned exportation in order to meet its domestic demand. India produces 21 percent of the world’s cotton, which was yet another sucker punch to cotton industry. Severe flooding also destroyed Australia’s crops.
In addition, as the economies of developing countries become stronger so does the competition for goods. Now earning more income, many workers are purchasing more products, including cotton clothing. It is a textbook example of supply and demand, as more and more people are competing over the same products, prices will continue to rise.
What do you think about potential clothing price increases? Will you be changing what brands you buy based on recent increases?