Why is Designer Clothing So Expensive? – (Explained)

Last Updated on February 25, 2024

According to a recent study from The University of Leeds, inexpensive clothing may actually outlast more expensive items.  The EPA Office of Solid Waste reports that each American discards over 68 pounds of textiles and apparel annually.

According to a 2017 report, the average number of times a garment is worn before it is disposed of has decreased by 36% over the past 15 years due to trends that come and go in the blink of an eye.

Why is Designer Clothing So Expensive


  • Designer clothes use top-notch materials, ensuring a luxurious and durable product.
  • Skilled artisans put extra effort into crafting each piece, making the process labor-intensive and costly.
  • Limited production creates a sense of uniqueness, making the items more desirable.
  • Designers invest in staying ahead of trends, experimenting with materials, and embracing new technologies.
  • Well-established brands charge more due to their history, legacy, and perceived status associated with their name, attracting consumers willing to pay a premium.

Additional Resources – Why Are Bespoke Suits So Expensive?

The exquisite craftsmanship, attention to detail, and the promise of exclusivity make these garments highly coveted. However, for many fashion enthusiasts, the steep price tags attached to designer pieces often raise eyebrows and prompt the question: Why is designer clothing so expensive?

Why is designer clothing so expensive?

Why is designer clothing so expensive

Designer clothing is expensive due to a combination of perceived quality, brand prestige, and the emotional appeal associated with exclusive fashion, making it a symbol of luxury and status.

Here, we’ll go into the various factors contributing to the high costs associated with designer fashion.

1. Quality of Materials

Quality of Materials
Quality of Materials
Image: iStock

One of the primary reasons for the elevated cost of designer clothing lies in the quality of materials used. Designers often opt for the finest fabrics from reputable mills and suppliers. Luxurious materials such as silk, cashmere, and high-grade leather enhance the garment’s aesthetics and contribute to its durability. 

However, this was not the case in a recent study conducted by Leeds University researchers, who thoroughly tested items of clothing ranging in price from £6 to £150 to determine how durable they were. 

Several of these findings were unexpected. Ultimately, a higher-priced brand would have superior quality and a longer lifespan than the lower-priced brands. The use of superior materials ensures that the clothing not only looks luxurious but also feels luxurious, adding to the overall appeal of the designer piece.

2. Craftsmanship

Image: iStock

High fashion relies heavily on craftsmanship as a strategic tool. Preserving cultural legacy and improving craftsmanship are essential for developing luxury brands. Craftsmanship is increasingly demanding in today’s society, particularly in the luxury fashion market.

This perspective suggests that traditional craft methods play a strategic role in contemporary fashion design courses and research by creating new connections between theoretical subjects and many high-end artisanal practices.

The UK government-backed Craft Council is debating ways to keep craft traditions and skills from vanishing. The goal is to determine how best to promote both the design and innovation of crafts and the development of tools for those crafts.

Craftsmanship is a hallmark of designer clothing. Skilled artisans meticulously handcraft each garment, paying close attention to every stitch and detail. The labor-intensive nature of this process requires time and expertise, resulting in a higher production cost.

Unlike mass-produced items, where efficiency often takes precedence, designer pieces are a testament to the artistry and skill invested in their creation.

3. Limited Production Runs

Exclusivity is a key element of designer fashion. Many designers intentionally produce limited quantities of each design to maintain a sense of rarity and exclusiveness. This limited production model contrasts with fast fashion, where large quantities of identical items are churned out quickly. 

The term “limited” has been applied extensively to practically every kind of product that exists. It appeals greatly to the mindsets of Collectors, FOMO (fear of missing out), and Gram-worthy people (Gram being Instagram). Many more types would come to light if we spoke with psychologists in greater detail.

The scarcity of a particular design or collection contributes to its perceived value, justifying the higher price point.

4. Research and Development

Designers invest significant resources in research and development to stay ahead of fashion trends and create innovative designs. This process involves experimenting with new materials, techniques, and technologies.

The costs associated with staying at the forefront of the industry and the risks involved in creating unique and avant-garde designs contribute to the overall expense of designer clothing.

5. Brand Reputation

The reputation and prestige associated with a designer brand play a crucial role in determining the price of its clothing. Established designers or iconic fashion houses often command higher prices due to their legacy, brand history, and the perceived status that comes with wearing their creations. 

According to data compiled by Dataweave, the price increase of luxury accessories was off the charts, going from $456 to $633. 

For instance, in the early post-pandemic period, Farfetch offered discounts on 90% of Louis Vuitton bags, the brand’s best-selling item. In the latter half of 2020, that fell to 33%, and in 2021, there was not a single Louis Vuitton bag—or any other article of apparel, shoe, or accessory—offered at a discount. 

Consumers are willing to pay a premium for the cachet and recognition associated with these renowned labels.

Why do people buy overpriced designer clothes?

Ever wondered why some people go all out for overpriced designer clothes, even if it strains their wallets? Let’s explore the psychological factors behind this trend, including a sense of irrationality, perceived quality, boosted self-esteem, and the feeling of accomplishment.

Emotional connection

People often buy designer clothes because of an emotional connection to the brand’s image and reputation.

Also, Emotional branding speaks to consumers’ hearts. The desire to fit into a particular lifestyle or social status can override the logic of affordability.

Perceived Quality and Craftsmanship

Luxury brands are known for top-notch quality and craftsmanship. Buyers believe that the higher price is justified by superior materials and expert workmanship, making the purchase seem like a wise investment.

Boosted Self-Esteem

Wearing designer labels can elevate self-esteem by creating a sense of belonging to an exclusive group. The psychological satisfaction from donning these prestigious items contributes to an enhanced self-image.

Feeling of Accomplishment

Buying designer clothes is often associated with success and achievement. It symbolizes hard work and economic prowess, reinforcing the idea that owning such items is a tangible reward for personal accomplishments.

Why Are Luxury Brands Overrated?

The perception of overrated luxury brands often stems from a combination of factors. While these brands may offer high-quality products and a sense of exclusivity, the premium prices are driven by factors like brand prestige, marketing, and status symbols, which may not always align with the actual value or utility of the products.

Additionally, changing consumer attitudes towards more affordable and sustainable alternatives contribute to the perception that the allure of luxury is sometimes overstated.


While the cost of designer clothing may seem prohibitive to some, understanding the factors contributing to these prices can offer insights into the industry’s dynamics.

From premium materials to meticulous craftsmanship and the pursuit of exclusivity, designer fashion represents a unique blend of artistry, innovation, and luxury.

For those who appreciate the intersection of style and craftsmanship, the allure of designer clothing transcends its price tag, making each piece a symbol of sartorial excellence.