Not long ago we took to our facebook to publish an item, and a lady made a comment in regards to how she once bought an item and her colleague humiliated her by informing her he could get it for much cheaper, at that point she wasn’t happy.
So the question is how do we know when one is being ripped off buying African fashion online. This is a vast area and many factors come into play. 1/ The quality of the tailoring, how well did they produce the clothes. Even we won’t lie, in our earlier days we encountered a few problems with clients with previous tailors we used to work with until we had to fire them and employ more professional tailors whilst taking a few into training.
2/ The quality of the fabrics. Believe it or not, not all African fabric is the same, even those from China vary interms of quality, and those from Ghana made by different companies also vary, some are good, and some horrible especially for dresses, or depending on what else the fabric is used for. Fabrics also contribute a lot to the variation of prices in African fashion, which can indicate the quality of the goods.
3/ The popularity of the brand. Some creatives want their clothes branded across a certain demographics, just like in any other country, you have your nikes, then you have your gucci, then you have you marks and spencers, all reaching out to various social circles with different prices, even though the actual quality is not much different. Most don’t know that the factory that produce Jordans shoes that sell for $300 each pair, also produce other trainers for $15, now that is a rip off to some extent, but then again it is the brand that is being bought in that particular case.
And then the 4th element which always manifests in people’s minds in any and every case when assuming they are being ripped off is, “where else can we get this and what would be the difference in the price” as to our friend above. And the moment they find out where they can get it cheaper, they then conclude they are being ripped off.
In fact that is the one that will become the subject of this article. Because what many don’t understand when they find ways to get Africa fashion cheap doesn’t mean you are getting ripped off by the other. The truth is a lot of African fashion is created by retailers that do not run a business, they simply create and sell. In other words they do not know how to price their goods nor do they aim to expand. Instead they strive to survive and most make generally only $3 more of production costs, which is about 10Cedis here.
When charging for their clothes, most of them usually calculate the cost of the resources and then before adding their $3-5 profit ontop (if it can be called profit). Inconsiderate of their labor and time. One can get a men’s shirt here for $8 which also includes their profit also.
Know that these goods are handmade and not mass produced in factories which means by ethics, they literally should be more expensive than what is in Europe or America. Their benefits from a sale technically can probably only give them one meal a day, and if they have dreams of employing others to expand their business that will never manifest. There is a lack of business skills, education and ethics. In fact the real people getting ripped off are the tailors and craftsmen on the African streets.
Most of them live in bad conditions, their creations are in better conditions than them. This style of business has come due to the fact that in the market, there is a lot of hustling and bargaining before a price is achieved. They wish to sell it for as much as they can, yet they don’t want to lose you to the next retailer who they know might even sell it for little to no profit, hence why prices may vary yet they have been beaten so low overall.
Our current tailors are very satisfied when working with us, so much so that even on days with slow sales, they still receive a better salary then when they were bargaining on the streets. And yet our prices remain lower than than many online boutiques both African and European. Yes there is still cheaper out there, and more over there is worst quality.
Most owners of online retailers who are internet savvy are not based in Africa but source their goods from here. This makes it hard for them to double check the items they sell, and if they are buying in advance, it makes it hard for them to give options. You can buy African fashion from Africa and get poor quality, and you can also get amazing goods even better than the west.
One will have to go through a lot of trail and error in order to find a producer or retailer to their satisfaction. Online business is not easy, once your item is delivered you face the risk of a an unsatisfied client which will then cost you a lot of money especially if the items are made upon order. The cost is a 3 way delivery (1 send, 2 return and 3 send correct version again) and two items, the one returned and the one sent again.
A former colleague who actually began a lot earlier than FashionGHANA and was popular at once, recently quit earlier this year. He complained about his producers and the clients. How the tailors do not deliver ontime, they do not sew well, that the profit could not even cover the cost of his website. But most of this could be attributed to how he sourced his goods via cheap outlets.
The bottom line is when you get African fashion for cheap from Mr A and more expensive from Mr B, do consider these factors. Being able to get things much cheaper is not always a matter of getting a better deal, it sometimes is, but in other cases it’s literally a matter of taking advantage of poverty or seeking worse goods. It is best to find the moderate prices that suit you and provide quality productions, and also go by recommendations. Google reviews or the particular online boutique or contact someone who might have ordered from them before. At this point the only ripping off would be that which doesn’t produce your item well.
Credits: Dress In Main Picture by Tiffany Amber
Remember to Shop Your Print Look from Our Online Boutique at http://www.fashionghana.com/shop