Original post appears on Virtue + Vice | News.

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For years I specialized in taking an expensive luxury product and knocking it off cheaply for my fast fashion customers. Here are some of the tricks of the trade I picked up during my years of product development. These are tricks that secretly decrease the cost and value of the product without the consumer ever really knowing.

cheating the duties system

I am going to let you in on a huge sourcing secret that is the fast fashion industry best friend CVC. CVC stands for chief value cotton. CVC is a blend of cotton and synthetic fibers, usually polyester because that is the cheapest. The key is to have at least 51% of the blend be cotton.

The cvc fabric feels like cotton fabric to the average customer, so they think they are getting cotton, but by mixing in the cheaper poly, it saves brands tons of money.

The savings to the brand don’t stop at the fabric though. There are also import benefits when the garment is shipped to the states. The duties on cotton are much cheaper than synthetics. Because CVC has at least 51% cotton, the clothes are counted under cotton duties and depending on what type of product is being imported companies can save up to 10%!

seams save $

In the sustainable fashion community, we hear a lot of talk about zero waste marker plans. A marker plan is when you take all of the pieces or a paper sewing pattern, in all of the different sizes that need to be made, and lay them down on the fabric to be cut. Zero waste plans position the patterns in such a way that there is minimal fabric waste.

For the most part, I agree with this practice, we should not be wasting resources. But, it is important to remember that companies actually save money by using strategic fabric cutting plans like this. And, sometimes these plans actually create a lower quality product.

To get everything to fit in the most strategic way, seams are often added, and the fit of the garment is changed ever so slightly. Brands think that customers won’t notice when they take off a 1/2″ here or a 1/4″ there on their patterns, but subconsciously you do – those are the clothes that you really want to like, but end up sitting in your closet.

Have you noticed the trend of a seam smack dab down the middle of the back of a shirt or someplace else artsy? That isn’t a design element, it’s actually a cost-saving trick. When patterns can be chopped into smaller pieces, more of them can fit and less fabric will be wasted. Sometimes brands will even play it up like it’s intentional by sewing the extra seam with a contrast color thread to make it really stand out.

clothes that fit perfectly in the store, but then start to twist once you take them home

Why is it that the left leg of your pants always seems to twist? First, let me squash the rumor that this is a sign that your pants are too tight. It’s not.

When pants are sewn they are sewn from the right inseam to the left. The two pieces of fabric start perfectly aligned. But, as the fabric is hastily dragged through the sewing machine the top fabric gets fed through slower than the bottom, so the sewing technician needs to start stretching and pulling the top fabric to line up with the bottom.

The end result looks and fits a little wonky. There is another trick to hide that in stores. The pants are steamed and pressed into place, so when you try them on in the store you don’t notice the sewing defect. But, once those pants are laundered, they relax back into their natural state and the customer is left with a twisting leg.

The issue could be easily resolved by sewing slower. But, in a factory where time is money going slower for a higher quality product is sometimes not an option.

Have you noticed any of these cost savings tricks in the clothes you buy? Or, do you have questions about your clothing? Ask away in the comments section!

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Original post by Virtue + Vice | News can be read at https://shopvirtueandvice.com/blogs/news/how-brands-make-their-products-cheaper-without-customers-realizing.

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