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Retail Gains for Men’s Jeans Outpace Women’s

The average retail price of jeans is beginning to reflect the labor- and resource-intensive processes required to produce a single pair.

A new report by retail data analytics firm Edited dives into the cost of jeans. Tracking U.S. pricing on jeans month-on-month, Edited shows that the average advertised full price has climbed considerably since 2018.

The full price of men’s jeans, as of March 17, 2020, is up 46 percent to $211.60. This growth reflects how the male consumer is evolving into a key fashion consumer.

Meanwhile, the price of women’s jeans grew 16 percent to $170—demonstrating it’s the more competitive market, Edited wrote.

Though $200-plus price tags are a hallmark of the premium denim sector, Edited’s data shows a shift away from the inexpensive fast-fashion styles that have plagued the denim industry for years. Even Gap is inching closer to the $100 mark, Edited noted, with 55 percent of its U.S. women’s jeans being advertised full price for $70-$80.

Prices for women’s jeans by mass market brands like Uniqlo and Zara in the U.S., however, continue to hover around $30-$40.

Seeing green

The rising price of jeans falls in line with the growing number of sustainable jeans hitting the market, and the stories brands are creating around their eco products.

In fact, Edited’s data shows that the amount of new sustainable denim arrivals online has nearly doubled from Q1 2008 to Q1 2020.

“Due to the considerable amount of pollution denim production has caused the environment combined with the pressure on retailers to make critical changes, the demand for eco-friendly alternatives continues to rise,” Edited wrote.

These garments, the report noted, are primarily made with recycled or repurposed fabrics and alternative fibers like organic cotton, Repreve and hemp, and are coupled with consumer-oriented messaging on how to care for the jeans.

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Cotton and hemp jeans by Prosperity Textile
Cotton and hemp jeans by Prosperity Textile Courtesy

But sustainability comes with a cost, though precise numbers can vary significantly from company to company and the technologies already in place.

In recent interviews about the cost of going green, representatives from Candiani, Cone Denim, Bossa and Global Denim share how continual investment in emerging technologies is the new normal for any denim company that wants to secure a future for its business.

All in all, Mexico’s Global Denim’s investments in sustainable technologies are “in the order of seven figures,” said Anatt Finkler, Global Denim creative director.

Companies also rack up additional costs to have their processes and products audited and certified by third parties to verify claims. And many of those costs ultimately get passed on to the end consumer.

“In a perfect world, it would be cost neutral to operate sustainably,” said Steve Maggard, president of Cone Denim. “But that is not the case currently.”