Spring brings rise in clothing prices

by Leslie Turk

You're going to have to dig a little deeper into your Levi jeans pockets in the coming months.
The Associated Press is reporting that a decade of falling clothing prices has come to an end. According to Burt Flickinger III, president of Strategic Resource Group, clothing prices are expected to rise about 10 percent over the next few months and even bigger increases will be felt later in the year. SRG is a leading U.S. retail and consumer goods consulting firm.

Already, notes the AP, Brooks Brothers' wrinkle-free men's dress shirts now cost $88, up from $79.50. Levi Strauss & Co., Wrangler jeans maker VF Corp., J.C. Penney Co., Nike and designer shoe seller Steve Madden also plan increases.

Tame inflation and cheap overseas labor helped hold down costs over the past decade, according to the story, and retailers and clothing makers experimented with fabric blends to cut prices during the recession. But labor and raw materials costs in a recovering world economy are putting the squeeze on retailers and manufacturers.

"All of our brands, every single brand, will take some price increases," Eric Wiseman, chairman and CEO of VF Corp., told Independent Retailer for a story published Monday. VF Corp.'s brands include The North Face, Nautica, Wrangler and Lee. Cotton, which has more than doubled in price in the past year, accounts for half the production cost of jeans, which make up about one-third of VF's sales.

Read the AP story here.