Friday, 4 November 2011

A little rant

This week on my Sew Curvy Facebook page, I wrote a 'status update' which I thought may be of interest to readers here too.  So I have expanded upon it a little and added a video to demonstrate the problem.

The corset on the left is by Electra Designs, the one on the right is a cheap chinese rip off.  See what corsetiere Alexis Black had to say about it on her Facebook page by clicking here.
Corset design and image theft is a big problem in the independent corsetiers world.  Individuals are constantly finding that their hard work has been ripped off and copied by unscrupulous Chinese factories, and to add insult to injury the images which they have worked hard to create and probably paid a lot of money for, are used to promote these knock-off's at ridiculous prices.

From time to time, these big companies from China offer me wholesale corsets at knock down prices. USD5.00 each to be precise. Yes $5 for a corset.

This means that the manufacturing cost of these corsets is under $2.50 which works out at about GBP2.00 and €1.50. 

If that's how much it costs to manufacture a corset in China, can you then imagine the cost of the raw material - the busk, the bones, the fabric, eyelets and the lacing plus any embellishments? Perhaps we're talking $1.50? Which leaves less than $1 per corset for the people working in the factory!

These corsets retail in the West under brands such as "Corsets UK" and other similar sites,  for between £30-100 (€40-120/$50-150).  That's a heck of a mark up!

As I said, often the designs are copied from hard working independent corsetiers. The resulting fake product is not only cheap and nasty - literally, but the fit is ...well there isn't a fit. 

Corset busks from Germany
German steel is the best steel in the world, closely followed by British steel.  Most professionals use German steel busks in their corsets.  If you consider that one German steel busk fastner is more expensive wholesale than the cost of a whole corset made in China, you can easily see the reason why it's best to either make your own corset with quality supplies, or buy a bespoke or rtw corset from a reputable and independent corsetiere.  Infact, the cost of making a quality corset can quickly add up to £50+ for the raw materials depending on fabrics used.  The money you pay for a bespoke corset is made up of this cost plus the extreme care, attention, and time lavished on each piece by it's maker.  A plain corset can take 20 and more hours to make.

Once, I had a corset for sale in a shop where I happened to be working when a couple took an interest in the peice.  They saw the price tag of £200 and dropped it with a nervous giggle and a look which said "whoever made that is having a laugh".  I didn't say anything but I was aflame with indignation!  If I was paid just £10 an hour for the length of time it took me to make the corset - not including the cost of materials, it would have cost much more!  When you think that a good hairdresser is paid up to £50-60 an hour for their work, then please tell me why an equally skilled artisan is worth less per hour just becuase their work involves a needle and thread?

In corsetry, and other sewing related artistry,  you really do get what you pay for so here's a little film from Lulu and Lush to demonstrate what I mean.

And to all ladies who sew - we must never underestimate or undervalue our skill and the care and patience it takes to produce beautiful things with it.


Miss Magpie said...

My sister used to run an alternative clothing shop and I modelled a few corsets for her on occassion. Having been laced into a 'proper' corset there truely is no comparison!

Sadly design theft is rife isn't it.

Uta said...

People have no concept of appropriate prices for clothing. While they wouldn't travel to China to get their hair cut, it feels entirely appropriate to pay only 50 Euros for a tailored wool jacket. This also translates to people believing sewing must be fast and easy (because sewn goods are so cheap). I couldn't believe the mark-up though, this was a really interesting insider's view!

JuliaB said...

Yes, it seems that design theft is rife accross many areas ... very annoying! There is really not much that can be done about it esp. if the theives are in the Far East, but at least we have the internet which makes it much easier for designers to try and do something about it.

JuliaB said...

Yes the mark up for those cheap chinese corsets is astronomical!! I get offered them quite alot by different companies in the East. Sometimes I know the corsetiers who made the designs in the pictures ! So annoying!!! I guess there's a market for them amongst 18yr old clubbers but they really are a 'wear once and throw away' item. Which is sad. So much landfill!!

Anonymous said...

Just looking at the fabric of the Miss Katie "copy" set my teeth on edge; nasty, nasty stuff! Most of my friends don't sew, and I've lost count of the number of times I've been out with them and had the, "How much? They're having a laugh". experience. I try to explain, but...

momof2gr8kidz! said...

GIRL! RIGHT ON people tell me sometimes my aprons are to expensive! really ? i pay 10 a yard, times 3 hrs of work and design and 40.00 is to much to pay for a one of a kind item?

Vicki said...

Thanks for a reminder of how much we should value our skills. I also agree with UTA who says that people have no idea of the time it takes to make things. So many people don't sew or do any crafts so they have no idea at all. I had someone tell me I should make 50 lace hand knitted shawls for the mother's day stall. The fact that the yarn cost me over $70 Australian and it took months to knit as it was intricate lace didn't seem to compute. They also thought they could sell them for $10. All we can do is educate people.

sew vala said...

Love the video, very informative. I have had the same comments about my handbags. In fact I have had people actually suggest prices to me and in some cases their idea of how much they should cost doesn't even cover the purse frame,let alone several layers of interfacing, fabric, notions etc. There can also be alot of handstiching in there too. I know my bags are not in the same league as corsets but I do agree many people have no understanding on how 'things' are made and the time and skill that goes into our goods.