Sure, a pair of Loubs can cost upward of $700, when four years ago they rarely hit the $500 mark. And most ready-to-wear dresses hover in the $2,500-$3,000 range.
But when it comes to a skirt from Banana, or a pair of flats from J.Crew, the prices are actually about the same as they were a decade or two ago.
To wit: The average pair of jeans costs just $20, according to market research firm NPD.
Eric Wilson covered this phenomenon for the NYT's back in 2008. Now, WWD has revisited the issue, suggesting that as the economy improves, prices of clothes you find at "regular" stores will increase.
"With wage pressures rising in China, raw materials prices climbing and demand beginning to recover worldwide from both consumers and manufacturers, there is a growing sense deflationary pressures could be easing and its opposite might begin to take hold," says writer Evan Clark.
There's certainly a major, major discrepancy between the price of luxury goods and the price of low and mid-priced clothing. In reality, the production probably isn't much different.
However, unlike food or other perishable goods, prices of clothes don't rise and lower by shipment. To start raising prices at stores like Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch might just anger shoppers. The only way for retailers to get more money out of their clients is to universally raise prices in the way grocers do.
And we don't think that'll happen anytime soon. If it does, though, will you start shopping exclusively at big box discounters like Target, or will you save up your money for a dress from Club Monaco?