First you plant and grow the cotton, or grow and tend the sheep. Or, with synthetic fabrics, process the oil/wood/bamboo into filament.
It is then spun and woven, dyed, printed and finished into textiles that can then be shipped to manufacturers to be then inspected, laid out for cutting, cut and bundled for sewing. The machine operators then sew the cut goods into the finished style using a number of different machines depending on the final design; overlock, straight stitch, hemming, embroidery, and many other specialized machines are put into operation. The goods maybe ironed, labeling attached with hang tags, which may also include EDI (Electronic Data Information) for tracking. The goods are again inspected and they are then warehoused to be sorted for the different customers’ locations. The orders are picked and packed, and distributed per the stores instructions. The retailer receives the goods then again inspects the goods to be placed in the store for sale. The retailer will then price the goods up to their retail selling price which is usually around 55% above the price they paid the manufacturer. Example: if the retailer paid the manufacturer $20.00 for the goods the retailer will price for the final sale at around $45.00.
Now, the manufacturer has also marked up the goods for their own profit margin. For simplicity of this example could have been keystoned (doubled). So, the $20.00 price the manufacturer sold to the retailer means that the Cost of Goods to produce that includes all the material, zippers, buttons, and then the labor was around $10.00 to produce!!!! Now also consider, the final wholesale selling price has not included the development cost, from designing, sampling, marketing, sales representatives, grading the sizes and marker making for the cutter. Then there are the overhead costs, rent, salaries, telephones, etc. that are also not included in the cost of goods.
Now who can tell me that clothes are overpriced!!! Clothing has not increased in final selling price for the last 20 years. A pair of jeans at Target can still be purchased for $29.99 2010! I remember in the 70s when I paid $70 and above for a nice pair of California designer jeans.
The industry is also looking for speed to market and domestic production. Some ask why it should cost so much to make clothing domestically. Please tell them!