Who Made Your Pants?

Gorgeous Pants. By women, for women.

How much do you think shops pay manufacturers?

There is a lot of discussion in the press and online at the moment about UK Manufacturing and that is a wonderful thing. There are loads of us making all kinds of thing here in the UK, not least lingerie and we all need to be out there, shouting about what we do and getting heard.

One of the things that most UK manufacturers I know are really wary about talking about is mark up and margin. It’s entirely possible to imagine that if we are really open about how much retailers, shops and distributers want to pay us for our goods, that those retailers might not talk to us! But it’s really important. We’ve been asked about our pricing, and why we charge £18 for a lot of our pants. It’s really simple – we can’t afford to pay UK wages, UK rent, UK insurance etc etc etc by charging anything less.

How much do YOU think a shop will wanto to pay a manufacturer for pants to sell at £10, £20? Go on – have a think before you read on.

Those of you who have shopped with us for a while will remember that our prices were £10/pant for a long time. The reality of selling at £10 is this:

Customer pays £10 to shop.
Shops takes £8.33, government gets £1.67.
Shops wants, usually, 250% markup so wants to buy from manufacturer for £3.33,
From that, manufacturer has to pay wages, rent, insurance, training, materials, taxes, etc etc and make their own profit so that they can afford to keep going

For our £18 pants, it would look like this…

Customer pays £18 to shop
Shop gets £15, government gets £3
Shops buys from manufacturer for approx £6.00
From £6 x however many sales, manufacturer has to pay wages, rent, insurance, training, materials, taxes, etc etc and make their own profit so that they can afford to keep going

Once it’s laid out, it’s easy to see why prices are what they are – and why sweatshops exist. Some shops will even want 450% mark up, meaning they’d want to buy pants at £1.85 to sell at £10. £1.85 to cover wages, rent, insurance, training, materials, taxes, etc etc and make their own profit? It’s just not possible..

I’d love to know what you think about this, really – especially how much you actually thought shops would pay.

Thanks for reading



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5 Responses

  1. sarahsfleeces says:

    I’ve had exactly the same battles!

    At first I found that small shops wanted between 40-80% markup and then large shops wanted a minimum of 100%.

    I then discovered that they were already buying a (sometimes) less well made product, but definitely a thinner “micro” fleece compared to our “polar” fleece, at a third of the price that we can make them here in England!

    Thankfully some believe in UK manufacturing enough to try us out so we are getting there but it’s definitely an up hill battle.

    At least they all think our products are gorgeous having wear tested them so that’s a huge thing in our favour and the same goes for your pants, they’re fabulous (I speak from “wear testing” experience lol!) you’ve just got to stick to your guns and believe in what you’re doing 🙂

  2. What the market will bear. How many times have we heard that one? @getaguru we manufacture, distribute and retail so we see the problems from a lot of perspectives.
    This does us no particular favours as each part of the business has it’s problems and overheads. Often it appears Retail gets the biggest markup but the lowest volume of sales. Everyone wants their products in a prime location and prime locations are very expensive and very risky ventures.
    There are so many businesses that want to get rich quick and easy, just outsource, save a bundle and put all the money and effort into misleading marketing.
    There are many ways to import cheap products and rebrand them and the markup is easy and tempting although so disrespectful to consumers.
    We believe that importing products that can be made local is very short sighted and damaging socially, economically and environmentally.
    The solution? We would say enjoy the challenge but we are sure you already are. We don’t have the answers, we enjoy the challenge every day ourselves.
    The real big issue in our eyes is how to convince an overwhelmed consumer that our product is different. It’ s the genuine article and not something created by a dream team of marketing executives.
    Small business owners are some of the most creative people. Thats why large companies are always knicking their ideas. We hope that, Who Made You Pants thrives and most importantly that you enjoy the journey because we @getaguru like the cut of your jib.

    • beckypants says:

      Thanks for this really thoughtful and thorough comment! I like that you like the cut of our jib 🙂 There really is so much more to ‘value’ than the price, we all know that – I see it as being part of the challenge to tell show people this. Buying better, buying less, buying and loving and keeping and valuing. All important stuff. Thanks so much 🙂


  3. zarazilla says:

    “We believe that importing products that can be made local is very short sighted and damaging socially, economically and environmentally.”
    That’s an interesting issue you raise there – my counterpoint would be that by importing goods you are helping out economically and socially the people in the countries which you have imported from. Oftentimes these countries aren’t as well-off as the UK is, so they rely very heavily trading with richer countries. There is also something to be said here about ‘efficiency’ but that’s going off-topic even more so I won’t get into it.
    Of course there are a lot of issues with labour conditions etc., but in places where slavery genuinely isn’t a problem, these workers are working in these factories because that’s the best way they can find to spend their time – the best return for money of their time.
    In terms of quality of product, many mass-manufacturing bases in developing countries don’t concentrate on quality and this is where you can win and charge ‘premium’ for your goods…

  4. beckypants says:

    There have been some really interesting responses to this here and direct to me, a few particularly along the lines of ‘woah, so you sell for £18, take £15, costs are £6 and so you’re making £9 profit per pair?!

    Firstly, our costs are not yet £6. We are still grant funded for the training work we still do, though this is reducing as our revenues go up. Our up front costs have been huge. We’ve worked out what is an achievable cost price to get to, and so we’re now aiming to get there

    Our prices being what they are means that, for the first time, we’re actually able to talk to sensibly to retailers – there was no point before as we just could not meet their expectations. Now we can – and so we are starting to have those conversations. We’d love to be stocked in some lovely shops, but it would have been at a huge loss to us to do so before.

    And re the profit thing. Oh I look forward to that day! We are not yet making ANY profit – we are, as above, still grant funded. We are not yet (the management team) being paid our full wages. We do not have a full paid office team – we have volunteers. We have been training, from a standing start, since 2008. We are still training. Employability is a hard thing to teach and harder to embed.

    Hope this answers the questions that have been raised – please do ask if there are more!

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