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It’s Apples and Oranges, Right?

June 7th, 2010 Posted in Hats in the News

We’ve all been in a mall at SOME point in our lives, right? The majority of us have probably been in some mall within the past two weeks. Some of us may have been in a mall as recently as yesterday. It has become the staple of American society, and as the list of items to be consumed grows, and the number of retailers happy to help you consume them balloons, we’re often left in a vexing position.

Let’s say you walk into Nordstrom and you’re leafing through a rack of Rock Republic jeans, none of which are under $175. Sure they look good, yeah they feel great, and they have a recognizable name, but is it enough to convince you to buy them? You decide to think about it, and do a little more shopping. You walk into Macy’s, and find some jeans that have some design on the back pockets, they look pretty good, and they feel alright. Best of all, they’re only $40.

Seems like a steal, right? One would suppose, except that you really don’t know why one is $135 more than the other, or at least most of us don’t. I’m sure Rock Republic would be more than happy to sell you on their jeans, as would the less expensive jean company, but often times that information isn’t immediately available when you are ready to make your purchase. So you make your decision based on other factors (economic, your personal style, affinity for brand names, etc.).

How are you
supposed to know the difference between style and value?

There lies the puzzle that we’re left to figure out. We as the consumer (and though I have a retailer perspective, my everyday life makes me a consumer) are constantly bombarded with a variety of styles, colors, materials, and perhaps most importantly, prices, yet we have little knowledge as to why things cost what they do.

This has become an interesting puzzle for the retailer as well, especially when you see a boom in your particular industry. Hats became a bigger part of everyday fashion a little over a year ago. Now every clothing retailer that is anybody has hats as a part of their “look”, from Express to Banana Republic, to even Target. Hell, you can walk into Walmart and probably find a $10 fedora.

With all of the options out there, who’s job is it to educate the consumer? Perhaps more importantly, does the consumer even care? I suppose it depends on who the consumer is, and what they’re looking for. Still, somewhere along the line, many of us will be in a position debate between a $40 item and a $150 item. Do we have the right information to make the best decision?

- James

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