“I am not expensive, I am fair.” That is the response of Mercedes Zubizarreta, creative half of the Spanish firm Zubi together with her sister Elena, when a client complains about the price that the label marks one of their cotton bags: 75 euros.
The reply summarizes the sentiment of the brand’s latest podcast, Chatting with Zubi , and one of his most viral posts to date on his Instagram account. On both platforms, the sisters behind the bags stamped with photos taken all over the planet, have wanted to reel off the costs of their accessories and garments,achieving the applause of many other Spanish brands that are also often questioned about their pricing policy.
Many times the new generations do not know how expensive wool is nor have they seen their grandmother knit a sweater for hours. We believe that it is important to explain everything that is behind a product and make it clear that there are many factors that go beyond the tangible ”, Zubizarreta tells S Moda. “We did not expect the post to have such an impact, but we think that in Spain it costs too much to talk about money and that sometimes you have to.
They have done it in their podcast, in an illustrative episode in which, based on the example of a garment that costs 150 euros, they conclude that by subtracting direct and indirect costs, the benefit for the brand would be reduced to 10%, that is, 15 euros . “And this is the theory because most of the time this profit is reinvested in the company and you stay at zero,” they say.
His analysis of all the variables that influence the price of an ethically manufactured product comes at a time when more and more international firms decide to be transparent regarding the costs of production, distribution, logistics and all other processes since the product is conceived until it reaches the customer’s hands.
Some like Everlane reveal in their online storethe breakdown of their main designs, others such as the French Maison Cléo or the Scottish Olivia Rose, both digital natives and known thanks to Instagram, have published in their respective accounts a detailed list of all costs : from the fabric to the production time passing for the labels, the commissions of the payment by bank card or the web hosting.
“It is scary to say that only 35% of the final price (55 euros in the example of a garment that sells for 150) is dedicated to manufacturing the product”, acknowledges Mercedes Zubizarreta, “but the other 65% of indirect costs it is just as necessary.
This less tangible investment includes, as they explain in detail in a pencil drawing that has had a greater impact than they expected, the taxes that the brand must pay, the salaries of the personnel, the rent of the stores and the hosting of the web, campaign photographs and their subsequent digital retouching or web marketing, to name just a few of the aspects they mention.
Some clients have answered us that we can suppress the podcast or photographic retouching as saving measures, but in the end people choose your brand because of the universe that surrounds it.In some way the client himself demands that everything you do be careful, beautiful and appetizing. Therefore, all this investment is just as necessary ”, reflects the co-founder of Zubi.
Many Spanish brands have applauded on social networks that Zubi “open this melon.” “The exercise they have done is very illustrative and creates awareness about the thousands of things that brands have to take into account when manufacturing and marketing our product in a responsible manner”, defends María Vázquez, head of the handbag firm and leather pocket .
“If a leather bag costs 50 euros we can surely affirm that there is labor and environmental exploitation behind it. Once the consumer has become aware of the harmful impact behind a ridiculous price, they no longer contribute to that exploitation.
Buy you a plastic bag in a low cost storeIt’s like eating a bad hamburger, within a minute you feel remorse and you know that you could have saved it, because that bag will not pass the screen at your next closet cleaning and will end up being one more residue inside the clothes container. The problem is that this message has to be repeated many times to make it sink in, ”adds the designer.
Like Zubi, who makes both clothes and accessories in workshops in Cuenca, Galicia, Barcelona or Valencia, firms such as Bolsillo, whose production is in Ubrique; Small Affaire , which manufactures its jewelery in various workshops in our geography; or Becomely from Madrid , underline the importance of highlighting well-made products, designed with love and away from the consumerist philosophy promoted by fast fashion.
“I think that the problem is not that our prices are high, but that the consumer is very used to paying little for the products they consume. This is due to the fast fashion offer: It is not the same to manufacture fifty units of the same product here than to produce thousands on another continent ”, defends Quique Vidal, who launched Becomely in 2013 combining the craftsmanship of its dresses with the technology of 3D accessories.
All these firms have heard – or read – at some point that comment of “uff, how expensive.” Writer Lauren Bravo explained in The Independent that while the prices of sustainable and ethical brands “are higher than those we have become accustomed to, the reality is that they need to be.”
And he added: “The word ‘expensive’ is subjective, but the price of fabric, thread, pattern making, machinery and other expenses is not. And the cost of human labor should not be negotiable either. ”
When we explain to one of those clients who complains about the price that we have employed a seamstress who was unemployed, that we have to pay for the workshop we have in Almonacid del Marquesado (Cuenca) and that every time we visit the team welcomes us with donuts, they begin to understand it.
Even so, we are aware that for many pockets our products can be expensive, we cannot be a brand for everyone, nor do we want to demonize the big chains, but this is the firm that we want to do, “defends Mercedes Zubizarreta.
To bring their designs closer to those fans of the brand who cannot afford them and free up stock, they bet on the sales a couple of times a year, but neither can they reach the aggressive discounts of the big chains. “In recent times, offers and discounts are unfortunately the order of the day due to the need to save business or as a customer service call.
They have educated us in consumerism and in the offer, the more reduced and the more discount something has, the less you think about it, but it is important to give value to the product and the brand avoiding entering the price war »says Nuria Blázquez, head of the jewelry label Small Affaire.
Above all, because for these small firms selling below full price means not earning even the 15 euros in the example at the beginning.
Although the three Spanish firms consulted assure that “they do not believe it necessary to reach the point of breaking down their costs for the customer”, as Quique Vidal explains, they support Zubi’s action “because it helps the consumer to value what it really means for a company local manufacture a product in an artisan way and with principles ”.