I ummmed and ahhhed over posting this – mostly because I think the issue has already to been blown up to beyond epic proportions already, so in adding my two cents am I going to stir the pot or answer questions?
Miss Vinyl Ahoy posed a question to her readers just yesterday, and in true viral fashion it's gotten the blogosphere all riled up. The question was an innocent one, and just a question, but the maelstrom that followed has been a little ridiculous. The question, for those who haven't read the original article, was "Who's Screwing Who?" in reference to Forever 21 and Modcloth selling identical pieces of clothing for drastically different prices.
The simplest reason for this, is not scammy, shady, or bad business. In fact it's a very standard practice. Whilst Forever 21 does make and design and their own clothes (and do so right here in Los Angeles, contrary to popular belief!) they also purchase clothing abroad (and in the US) from large factories. Also purchasing those clothes abroad are other large wholesale companies. Forever 21 and the large wholesale distributors buy these clothes at similar prices. They're huge companies, can buy massively and therefore ensure super low prices.
Smaller companies such as Modcloth, Urban Originals, Lulu's, Spotted Moth, to name a few, simply to do not have the buying power that Forever 21 and the Wholesalers have and can't meet the minimums (which can run into hundreds of thousands) that a company like Forever 21 can meet. So how do they get the product? They buy from the wholesalers/distributors, and they buy from them at the similar price Forever 21 is able to sell straight to the consumer. Hence the higher retail cost.
So really no one is screwing anyone. Unless we get into working conditions etc, which is something I just don't want to get into in this post as it's a whole other can of worms (and again I'm not accusing anyone of anything)
Just to be clear, I have very little opinion on this – other than wanting to share facts, it's important to be informed, and as Ashe and I just discussed on Twitter, if people knew what was going on perhaps there wouldn't be this enormous fuss everytime something happened.
I still shop at Forever 21, Modcloth and even the little boutiques across Los Angeles that also purchase from the same wholesalers – I'm not judging anyone for their business practices. But what I will say is given the choice, I head downtown to the alleys in Los Angeles and buy it straight from the wholesalers too ;)