Many women are familiar with the feeling. You’re scouring the shelves at your favourite store and find the perfect top to match your new skirt. After wrestling with other shoppers and squeezing into the fitting room, you slip on the garment under the bright fluorescent lights. But when you look in the mirror, you discover that seemingly perfect top is completely see-through.
Such an experience is sure to disappoint many consumers – and could cause a retailer to forfeit a sale. Yet as labour costs rise around the globe, many companies are leaning on cheap, lightweight fabrics as a means to cut costs and protect their margins. Not only do thinner synthetic fabrics translate into lower material prices, but their lighter weight (as related to cotton) means they’re also less expensive to transport.
But in a world where basic camisoles and tank tops can be on the shelves for USD3 or less, are prices finally as low as they can go? According to industry experts, there remains a little wiggle room left for retailers selling apparel at these prices – but not much. “We probably are close to or at rock bottom,” said Vincent Quan, an associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.