The High Price of Looking Good: Fashion's Gender Tax is Real
The pink tax refers to the unpleasant fact that products are typically sold to women at a higher cost than to men. It’s seeped into the tampon and razor aisles of Duane Reade—and now, it’s recently come to our attention that this foul discrepancy is plaguing the fashion arena as well.
Brands of all price points have been raising the costs on female garments, while leaving the men’s version of the same clothes untouched. The offenders are vast and cover a wide spectrum. First there’s Old Navy, for instance, has been called out for charging extra for women’s plus-size jeans, as compared to men’s. And well, that’s not cool.
The gap in price points is more obvious with higher-end brands, yet people weren’t as quick to notice. A label associated with androgyny, Saint Laurent told Business of Fashion that “the company’s policy is to align the prices of its women’s and men’s collections, but price differences still occur because most of its women’s garments require more workmanship than its men’s.” This is a valid statement, but it’s hard to believe when they’re somehow getting away with selling their Classic Marinière Sweater to both men and women in nearly identical styles, yet with a whopping price difference of $240. We understand how prices can increase if a certain style is in demand, but when there’s an $1,000 difference between a men’s jacket and a women’s jacket that are made of the exact same materials and in the exact same style, then we’re going to have to call bullshit.
On the other end of the spectrum is Alexander Wang, who actually charges men more than women for the same styles. The company said that this is because the men’s clothing runs larger and it requires more fabric. And if we’re going to believe this explanation, then shouldn’t men always be charged more than women for the same styles—and not the other way around?
Even though fashion’s pink tax is disheartening, there’s hope for the future. For one, people are actually calling out these brands and their unsavory price points. Also, it turns out men are actually spending more time and money shopping for clothes than women (how they manage to do that given the price discrepancies discussed above, we have no idea). And if all else fails, there’s always the rise of gender neutral clothing lines—which, by dint of what they are, simply cannot charge women more for anything. With these factors in mind, fashion is beginning to level the playing field with both price point and gender equality. A prime example was during this past fall when one of the top selling items in fashion were Gucci‘s Princetown leather slipper (re: fur lined loafers), for which men and women were charged the same price ($995). Kudos to Alessandro Michele.
Of all the industries out there, fashion seems to be leading the fight towards gender equality—and it’s about time their price points reflect that.
Original imagery by Kathryn Chadason.
Photos via Business of Fashion and closetfulofclothes.