...and I'm turning to you all to explain it to me. Yesterday I discovered that you can buy items made with Liberty of London fabrics at Target. There's a variety of stuff, from apparel for men, women, and kids to home decor and accessories.
Now, I'm all for items made out of high quality materials available at easily accessible places like Target. What I don't understand is the prices. They are so cheap. OK, before everyone starts chiming in with buying in bulk and specialty lines created just for a lower end market, my question is a wee bit rhetorical. But my irritation is genuine. I just don't know exactly who I'm irritated with.
To explain, let me back up a few steps. As I was perusing the online Target site, this top caught my eye. "Cute," I thought. Then I checked the price and my jaw pretty much dropped. $19.99. That's what they have a top sewn out of Liberty of London cotton fabric priced at. I figure there's about 1 1/2 yards of fabric in the top, plus the cost of labor, and transportation. Add to that the cost of carrying it in the store. You also have to factor in retail markup which is usually about 100%. That means that, wholesale, the top cost a little less than $10.
I am perplexed, befuddled, confused. How can this be? When little ole me wants to sew something out of Liberty of Lawn cotton, I pay around $38 per yard. That's just the fabric. I haven't accounted for my time, the other materials, electricity, wear and tear on my sewing machine, or even the cost of shipping the fabric to my home.
Something just doesn't add up. I understand that the fabric manufacturer can cut Target a really good deal and the Target can scour the globe for cheap labor to sew these items. I understand why things at Target are inexpensive. But, if Liberty can afford to sell to Target so cheaply, why is it the most expensive cotton fabric you're likely to encounter. It's not just a little more expensive than the designer cottons or the Japanese fabrics. It runs about twice as much per yard. And, please don't tell me that it is 54" rather than 45" wide. That doesn't quite cover the price disparity.
I should add that I know that Liberty is fabulous stuff. How? Because,about 6 months ago, after lusting after it online for a long while, I broke down and bought 1 1/2 yards of a Liberty print. It has been sitting on my shelf, waiting for just the right project. Seeing that Target top yesterday reminded me that I had a similar pattern. I'm lucky that it was already late last night when I made my Target/Liberty discovery because the sun could not come up quickly enough for me to get started on my own, much more expensive, version of this top. I needed to make it to prove a point.
Don't let the pretty peach blossoms distract you.
I understand that those of us who sew or knit don't necessarily do so to save money. Many times I've bought yarn for a sweater that cost more than I would pay in a store for an already existing sweater. I get it. It's about the process and the pride that goes with making it yourself. I expect to pay a premium for quality materials and that's exactly why I bought the Liberty cotton in the first place. But I become very suspicious when I see that Liberty of London can lower their prices to meet Target's pricing criteria, but still waves the banner of paying for the quality of Liberty when it comes to selling it's fabric to home sewers like me...and you.
So, I ask you, dear friends, explain it to me. In short, simple sentences. Because right now I'm feeling like a bit of a sucker.