Today, we find ourselves in the midst of designer baby wear that costs as much or more than adult fashions.
One might think that baby clothes would cost much less, considering the fact that infants outgrow their clothing very quickly, but this is not the case.
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons baby clothing is so expensive.
Why Are Baby Clothes So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
1. Advertisement Guilt
Guilt evoked by advertisements can sometimes prompt young mothers to spend more than they intended to spend on baby clothes.
The manufacturers of these garments and retail establishments take advantage of this by marking the prices of infant clothing much higher than seems reasonable.
A recent study conducted by Kelton Research suggests that even in challenging times, new mothers feel increasing pressure to over-spend on their baby’s attire.
More than 1,900 mothers were subjects in the study.
The results suggest an increased likelihood of new mothers responding to feelings of guilt during their infant shopping, rather than paying attention to the pragmatic realities of budgets and practicality.
The study revealed what young mothers go through from both economic and emotional perspectives.
During their pregnancies, and while their infants are still newborns, they appear to be intent on absorbing as much information as they can about their babies.
This prompts them to try to make prudent decisions when purchasing their clothing, equipment, and toys.
The same advertisements can make it seem perfectly reasonable for them to pass up inexpensive options, even when they are just as good as the more expensive options that they end up purchasing instead.
Large percentages of the study’s subjects chose to purchase brand name or designer products even after demonstrations showed that the brand names were of equal or lesser quality to lower-priced items.
Fifty-eight percent of the pregnant, first-time mothers admitted that they were consumed with worry and anxiety about specific products they felt were necessary due to advertising pressure.
Thirty-seven percent of them expressed feelings of guilt over not being able to provide their babies with products that were more expensive, again due to the pressure they experienced after watching aggressive advertising aimed at prompting them to buy more expensive, high-end baby items.
The researchers who conducted the study found that as many as 85% of young mothers are more acutely aware of baby or pregnancy-related advertisements than they were of ads that were related to other topics.
The advertisements appeared to cause them emotional stress and feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and of being conflicted.
More than one-third of them admitted that the advertising prompted them to spend far more money than they had originally wanted to spend.
In addition to factoring in the “guilt equation,” almost 60% of new mothers stated that they felt stressed about the state of their personal finances or the national economy, while over half of them confessed to their low baby product budgets.
About three-quarters of them made other concessions, such as cutting back on how often they eat out, purchasing clothing for themselves, and going to movies and other means of entertainment, and were not as adversely affected by the ads.
Clothing manufacturers and retailers are aware of the effects of their ads and understand that parents will, indeed, pay more for baby clothes.
They, therefore, mark up the prices.
2. The Organic Trend
The fashion world has created much hype about trends in infant clothing.
The designers of these garments spend hours trying to produce clothing that will trend and sell well.
With the prevalence of the Internet, today’s parents are far more aware of chemicals and additives that can be harmful to their babies than ever before.
Many opt to jump on the heavily-advertised organic clothing bandwagon, and for good reason.
Baby clothing that is not labeled as organic often contains harmful chemicals that can cause rashes and worse.
However, organic baby clothes are more expensive than typical department store clothing.
The quality of the organic cotton used to construct high-quality infant clothing is more costly than other types of cotton because it is grown without pesticides, which makes cotton crops smaller.
Organic crops also naturally just produce smaller crops per acre.
Because no pesticides are used, farmers must hand-hoe the crops to remove weeds.
The organic cotton used in many high-end baby clothes is also grown without GMO seeds, which adds to the cost.
Organic baby clothing is processed with natural dyes that are less likely to cause rashes than the dyes used in conventional clothing.
Not only that, but clothing made from organic cotton lasts longer than baby clothes made with lower quality cotton, so it has to be replaced less often.
Parents are also willing to pay more for more eco-friendly products, such as organic cotton.
Less expensive cotton is often sprayed with all kinds of pesticides that can also have adverse effects on infants.
Organic clothing for babies is also noted for being more comfortable, as the fabrics are softer and do not chafe.
Another important factor is clothing’s sustainability.
Manufacturing organic baby clothing is far better for the environment than other types of fabrics.
3. Designer Labels
Statistics show that the designer baby clothes market is projected to grow exponentially in the future.
An increasing number of parents are showing interest in buying luxurious designer brands for their infants’ daily wear.
There is a big marketing push for parents to purchase famous branded names for their babies, and designer items cost more.
It is not unusual to hear of a parent spending well over $500 on a single article of designer clothing, even though babies quickly outgrow their clothing.
The clothing feeds into the status symbol market that is perpetuated by global advertising that sells status and lifestyle to a baby’s parents, who want to convey to others that they can afford to properly care for their children.
The parents who fit into this demographic and can afford the more expensive luxury brands of infant clothing argue that the clothing is investment-worthy.
Designer brands tend to be of higher quality, which results in longer-lasting garments that are worth the extra expense.
Included in the argument is the position that the clothing can be handed down to siblings or given to someone else who has an infant.
They also have good resale value and can be sold for more in high-end consignment stores.
Vanessa Groce, editor of Earnshaw’s, a children’s apparel trade magazine, noted that parents who buy designer clothes for their babies often view their babies as extensions of themselves.
The babies are too young to know they are wearing designer clothing and wouldn’t understand its ramifications even if they did.
Due to various marketing studies, the retail industry is well aware of the preferences of this particular demographic and they price baby clothes accordingly.
4. Higher Manufacturing Costs
While one might reason that baby clothes are just smaller versions of adult clothing, they actually have higher manufacturing costs.
Lacework and other intricate designs take more labor to make.
Baby clothes also have to undergo testing because there are specific safety regulations that have to be met before infant clothing can be sold.
Tests have to be run after each step in the manufacturing process.
Potentially hazardous chemicals and embellishments, such as fire retardant and removable items, such as specific sizes of buttons can make a difference to a child’s safety.
Children’s clothing also requires specialized machinery for its manufacture and more intensive human labor.
The costs for these things are passed on to the consumers.
During the manufacturing process, there are numerous quality checks that do not occur with adult clothing.
Each step is carefully monitored so that the clothing is not only well-made, but it is also safe for infants to wear.
These added labor costs are passed down to the consumers in the form of more expensive infant wear.
Making baby clothes costs more than making adult clothing because it is more labor-intensive.
Overall, more hand work must be undertaken to finish each item because of the comparative tiny sizing.
In addition to adhering to the aforementioned safety standards, all of the edges must be hemmed and stitched, and generally, more work goes into their construction.
Not all fabrics are suitable for children, especially those made with certain dyes or fabrics that are scratchy and that can irritate an infant’s skin.
Extra caution must be taken with fasteners, buttons, and other implements that might end up in an infant’s mouth if not stitched securely.
It takes more skill to stitch things such as sleeves and other small details.
It also takes more time.
Baby clothing should not utilize drawstrings, so allowances such as elastic must be taken into consideration as design elements.
Infant construction entails making the clothing easily accessible to parents.
The clothing’s safety, convenience, and comfort can be expensive to insure.
Simple infant garments can be some of the most difficult to construct.
The tiny elements, such as snaps around the baby’s neck or between the legs can be difficult to affect.
6. One-Of-A-Kind Or Boutique-Specific Garments
Some boutique clothing is designed and sewn in very small numbers.
Some items are even one-of-a-kind designs.
This drives up their prices considerably because it is less expensive to manufacture large numbers of garments than to stitch one.
The more unique a baby’s outfit is, the more it will cost.
Baby boutiques tend to have high overhead, as the cost of opening one can range from $250K to half a million dollars.
For someone to open a box-type baby boutique, he or she can expect to pay a minimum investment of $1 million.
Because the sale volume is lower than that of large department stores, baby boutiques must use a large percentage of their earnings to pay labor expenses and for buying inventory that is more expensive than normal wholesale fare by definition.
7. Supply And Demand
The manufacturers of baby clothing understand that parents want their infants to look good.
If they can make particularly attractive baby clothes, they can charge more with the confidence that parents will purchase them.
Manufacturers of baby clothes are willing to invest more financial resources into manufacturing the types of children’s clothing that not only look good but are safer for babies.
The types of fabric used to create high-end baby clothing come from cotton that doesn’t produce large crops per acre compared to cotton that is used for lower-quality garments.
By definition, plants that are organically grown produce smaller crops per acre than plants that are conventionally grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
Therefore, the economic model of supply and demand plays a significant role as there is less organic cotton available than conventional cotton, thus driving up the price.
A certain demand for baby clothing often reveals itself before the infant is even born.
As parents prepare for birth, they often purchase a layette, or basic baby wardrobe, that typically contains several receiving blankets, numerous burp cloths, and several hooded towels that are specially constructed to accommodate the baby’s head, as well as other items of this nature.
Because babies outgrow their clothing so quickly, up to a half dozen sets of clothes are usually purchased.
This may include the same number of pairs of socks, sleep sacks, pajamas, onesies, several one-piece rompers, five sets of tops and bottoms, a few larger shirts, a couple of sweaters used for layering, several soft hats, and any clothing that is suitable for seasonal wear, such as snowsuits and heavier coats or jackets.
Because the layette items are necessary, retail stores can raise the prices higher, knowing that parents must come up with a way to purchase them.
8. Raw Materials
The creation of children’s clothes requires a wide variety of raw materials, such as specially treated fabrics, thread, and special zippers, as well as child-specific fasteners.
Most manufacturers of infant clothing do not mill their own textiles.
Some partner with specialty textile companies that produce fabrics for their designs that have fire retardants and are colored with chemically safe dyes.
Today’s trends also call for ecologically friendly fabrics.
Soft types of fabric are generally preferred.
The clothing must be designed and patterns must be created to replicate the designs.
Manufacturers count on standardized clothing designs that fit certain body shapes depending on an infant’s weight and age.
All of these steps add up to higher labor costs, which are passed down to the consumers.
Trim items are also abundant in infant clothing.
Things, such as lace, pockets, belts, cuffs, collars, ribbons, trimmings, frills, zippers, snaps, bows, knee pads, elbow patches, and other add-ons must be specially designed to accommodate the needs of children.
An item that is perfectly safe on an adult garment might be hazardous to an infant’s clothing.
All specialty items that are used in the manufacture of infant clothing are purchased for higher prices.
These costs are absorbed by the consumers who are willing to pay higher prices for their children’s clothing.
The manufacture of baby clothing is much more regulated than manufacturing clothing for adults.
Specialized techniques and meticulous attention to detail are expensive to affect.
9. Design Costs
The designers who create children’s clothing must be specially trained to consider many things.
This extra training can be expensive for the manufacturers but is a necessity to lower the liability related to children’s clothing-related hazards.
The design of children’s clothing is more labor-intensive than the design of adult clothing and is based on several fundamental concepts.
The safety, appearance, and comfort of the infant’s clothing become their primary focus.
However, the approach to design varies with the age of the baby.
Another important consideration is the ease of caring for the garment because children can be hard on clothes.
Infant clothing must be durable, especially outerwear and play clothes.
Fancy dresses require more unique quality and certain embellishments.
There are also seasonal elements to consider.
Design is, overall, a complex issue.
The designer must make special allowances for things such as oversewn seams and the fabric contents that are safest for babies.
These extra design considerations are more expensive for the manufacturers, and also contribute to the overall expense of the clothing.
10. Parental Vulnerability And The Internet
In mimicking the adult fashion market, the manufacturers of baby clothes realize that there is a specific demographic that consists of parents who will go over and above board to keep their infants looking fabulous by dressing them in high-quality designer clothing.
A child’s every move is recorded and documented on social media outlets.
Parents no longer just dress their children for visits with family and friends.
They dress them for the entire world to see.
Marketing companies are aware of this and take full advantage of it by offering tiny clothing at high prices.
With the popularity of the Internet and influences from celebrity parents such as the Kardashians, online and on television, children can now become famous from their parents simply uploading pictures and videos of them.
Parents who watch these programs are satiating a desire for a slice of the cake.
A mother of four who lives in Oregon has over 34,000 followers based on the fact that she uploads photos of her daughter’s daily outfits.
The child is frequently dressed in cashmere sweaters and Parisian rompers made by top designers, such as Bonpoint and Oscar et Valentine.
Tiny Dolce and Gabbana swimsuits bring more and more viewers.
Advertisers of designer baby clothes are aware of the desires of parents who buy their products to try to recreate themselves through their children.
To accommodate this, they have created lines of baby clothing that are simply miniature versions of the same clothing worn by the baby’s parents.
It is made of better, more expensive materials and has a higher quality of workmanship.
In other words, it is the clothing that designer-label-loving parents would purchase for themselves if they’d had buying power as infants.
Clever marketers understand this.