Why are clothes so expensive here?

chris

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I dont really shop in chain stores, here or elsewhere.
But I have been in textile manufacturing plants here in Argentina, and worn clothes made from the fabrics they make.
I was in a Jeans factory 2 weeks ago in the Conurbano, and the idea that its 100% human exploitation wasnt what I have seen. The employees are all drinking mate, listening to futbol or cumbia on their personal radios, and a far cry from the 10,000 workers in Vietnamese or Chinese factories.
I have met several owners of clothing plants here who do not resemble your descriptions at all.
I was in a knitting factory in Mar Del Plata a few weeks ago, too- happy, healthy looking workers, running modern cnc knitting machines, in a nice small family owned factory, making very high quality sweaters from excellent argentine wool, alpaca, and even cashemere. One of several dozen such plants in MDQ.
I know a couple dozen designers who work with individual sewers and knitters, as well as small contract shops.
Argentine workers get unions, feriados, jubilado benefits, and annual government mandated cost of living increases- none of which occur in Bangladesh.
I have at least a dozen pairs of Argentine made shoes going on 14 years now, still look great, from several different manufacturers.
I have Argentine made undies on right now over 5 years old, washed a million times, and the elastic is still good.
I have been sewing, myself, since the sixties, and have made clothing myself- and I think that a big part of people's gripes is that they are used to the cheap mass market stuff, and dont know how to shop for quality.
Mens shoes made in Argentina are very good quality, at least the ones sold in shops like Guido (much cheaper than similar quality in UK or US) but I find it hard to find wide enough shoes in a large size.
 

Ries

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Everybody wears different things.
My knowledge is based on the things I wear.
For instance, in the US, I work in my metal shop, and wear 100% cotton workshirts and tough pants. (synthetics melt to your skin when they burn- and, welding and forging, hot things tend to fly around. cotton is safe and comfortable)
In the USA, I tend to wear cotton hickory strip work shirts, or blue denim button front long sleeve shirts. These tend to cost $40 to $60 each, on amazon, more at small locally owned workwear stores. Carhartt, for example, makes good denim shirts- and they can easily run sixty bucks.
Here, I buy Pampero- made from argentine cotton, in argentine factories. I actually buy sometimes at the main store, where they also do manufacturing, and have met the owner. I also buy Ombu, another brand of durable well made basic work clothes.
In day to day heavy use, these shirts are just as tough and durable and longlasting as the chinese or mexican made ones sold in the USA- and they cost 5000 to 6000 pesos right now- 1/3 to 1/2 the US cost.
Same thing with pants- double knee wrangler or carhartt jeans are a minimum of $50 us. Pampero and Ombu and similar cotton work pants or cargo pants are 1/3, and very durable.
I like the bombachos gauchos, which are the pampero pants that are pleated and button at the ankle, that gauchos wear. Again, well made, and not anywhere near what something similar would cost in the US.
 

NoSoyDeAqui

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TLDR: clothing in Argentina is expensive for locals, reasonable for hard currency. The industry is subsidized, and lends itself to various corrupt practices. A prime example of argentine political cynicism.

Ries: I also like the Ombu pants. But, at $6,000 they represent about 10hs of work for the person making them. At u$d60-70 the US-made Carhartts equal 3-4 hours of work in their KY/TN plants.

Not sure where your money comes from (and I say this very respectfully), but if you enjoy foreign-earned hard currency then, yeah, those Ombu look OK. The argie worker is stuck though. OTOH, the US worker can get for u$d30 a pair of Carhartts made in Mexico, lighter fabric. Or just go to Tractor Supply and get a pair of their just fine Blue Mountain, Mumbai-made, work pants for u$d12. All places with decent working conditions.

And, as you know, capital expense in textiles is an important fraction of cost....in Argentina, most machines are imported...at the official rate! a nice subsidy, but to get them you better grease the wheels...

But wait, there is more! ....or you think I was forgetting the subsidized energy costs?

And the Pro-Tejer lobby...and the unions...

With all the above you wonder: subsidized expensive clothes....where does the money go? Well, you might ask your friend about that, but yeah...and of course the coimas....and of course, inflation that magically thinly spreads all these inefficiencies among all, the poorer the worse....

Cheers
 

antipodean

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With all the above you wonder: subsidized expensive clothes....where does the money go? Well, you might ask your friend about that, but yeah...and of course the coimas....and of course, inflation that magically thinly spreads all these inefficiencies among all, the poorer the worse....
In short the subsidies and "protectionism" for this sector make pigs fly (if you're the owner of one of those ubiquitous Argentine brands charging very high prices for very low quality, that is...)
 

on the brink

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Uruguayans cross the river in droves to stock on "inexpensive, well made clothes" made in Argentina. Just imagine what things must be like over there.....
 

Ries

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TLDR: clothing in Argentina is expensive for locals, reasonable for hard currency. The industry is subsidized, and lends itself to various corrupt practices. A prime example of argentine political cynicism.

Ries: I also like the Ombu pants. But, at $6,000 they represent about 10hs of work for the person making them. At u$d60-70 the US-made Carhartts equal 3-4 hours of work in their KY/TN plants.

Not sure where your money comes from (and I say this very respectfully), but if you enjoy foreign-earned hard currency then, yeah, those Ombu look OK. The argie worker is stuck though. OTOH, the US worker can get for u$d30 a pair of Carhartts made in Mexico, lighter fabric. Or just go to Tractor Supply and get a pair of their just fine Blue Mountain, Mumbai-made, work pants for u$d12. All places with decent working conditions.

And, as you know, capital expense in textiles is an important fraction of cost....in Argentina, most machines are imported...at the official rate! a nice subsidy, but to get them you better grease the wheels...

But wait, there is more! ....or you think I was forgetting the subsidized energy costs?

And the Pro-Tejer lobby...and the unions...

With all the above you wonder: subsidized expensive clothes....where does the money go? Well, you might ask your friend about that, but yeah...and of course the coimas....and of course, inflation that magically thinly spreads all these inefficiencies among all, the poorer the worse....

In short the subsidies and "protectionism" for this sector make pigs fly (if you're the owner of one of those ubiquitous Argentine brands charging very high prices for very low quality, that is...)
This article describes people angry at a right wing Macri supporter, but doesnt tell us anything about subsidies.
Every major industrialized country subsidizes industries to keep jobs.
Argentina spends peanuts, compared to Germany, Japan, the US, or Korea.
I am in favor of subsidies to keep argentine textile and clothing companies afloat.
The US has not done so, and, as a result, we import almost all clothing.
No jobs at all is worse, in my opinion, than the jobs they have here in Argentina.
not sure where you buy $30 carhartts, but the ones I wear when working cost $60 and up.
I was, as I mentioned, in a mid sized argentine textile factory last month.
Yes, just as in the USA, many of the standard sewing machines were imported from Taiwan or China.
However, all the pressing machines were Argentine made.
The young manager has recently replaced his entire washing and drying line with modern, low energy and low water use machines.
Imagine a row of ten foot tall, 8 foot wide washing machines, with centralized automatic soap dispensing, All Made in Cordoba.
Same thing with his new gigantic energy efficient dryers- Cordoba.
And he had these two gigiantic spin dryers, which the clothing goes in before it actually goes into the dryers- 25 hp or so each, the size of jet engines. Industria Argentina.
His manual cutting machines were all Argentine.
His one CNC cutter was turkish, and the laser he uses for "whiskers" and those slits you see in jeans was, I believe, Korean, but probably 75% of his machinery was Argentine in origin.
Argentina still has a large (and, no doubt, subsidized) manufacturing sector including forging, ag equipment, industrial motors and transformers, food machinery (all those pasta machines you see in the fresh pasta places are Industria Argentina) woodworking, light machining, hand tools, along with many more things. All of which mean local jobs.
I generally find that NeoCon antipathy against subsidies and tariffs are more emotional and moral in nature than economic.
No mention is ever made of what jobs will replace all the jobs that cheap imports take away.
I have seen this happen again and again in the US- no replacement jobs for all those lost in industries I have been around, going back to the seventies when I worked in loudspeaker manufacturing, which once got all its parts from Chicago, bicycle building (they used to make bikes in the US- now, its all china, including 2500$ Specialized framesets) Argentina still has bike factories.
This is repeated over and over in the Argentine economy- jobs exist here because you cant get the cheap chinese, vietnamese, and bangladeshi imports.
 

Johnny

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Speaking of where to find a clothing item-where might I look for rubber soled sandals? Something of quality with decent arch support. merrell-sandalias-kahuna-iii.jpg
 

casado

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Everybody wears different things.
My knowledge is based on the things I wear.
For instance, in the US, I work in my metal shop, and wear 100% cotton workshirts and tough pants. (synthetics melt to your skin when they burn- and, welding and forging, hot things tend to fly around. cotton is safe and comfortable)
In the USA, I tend to wear cotton hickory strip work shirts, or blue denim button front long sleeve shirts. These tend to cost $40 to $60 each, on amazon, more at small locally owned workwear stores. Carhartt, for example, makes good denim shirts- and they can easily run sixty bucks.
Here, I buy Pampero- made from argentine cotton, in argentine factories. I actually buy sometimes at the main store, where they also do manufacturing, and have met the owner. I also buy Ombu, another brand of durable well made basic work clothes.
In day to day heavy use, these shirts are just as tough and durable and longlasting as the chinese or mexican made ones sold in the USA- and they cost 5000 to 6000 pesos right now- 1/3 to 1/2 the US cost.
Same thing with pants- double knee wrangler or carhartt jeans are a minimum of $50 us. Pampero and Ombu and similar cotton work pants or cargo pants are 1/3, and very durable.
I like the bombachos gauchos, which are the pampero pants that are pleated and button at the ankle, that gauchos wear. Again, well made, and not anywhere near what something similar would cost in the US.
Thanks Ries. You put a lot of great info about clothes in this thread―not only about where to buy but also about the industry and manufactoring.
 
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