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How much does it cost to make a dress?

Whilst you could easily purchase a mass produced dress for under $25. The social and environmental costs are so much more.

It's ridiculously low price tags like this that generate the misconception that if you can buy a dress for $25 then a slow fashion label selling a dress for $250 must be rolling in money. So how does fast fashion make it so cheap?


When an item is this cheap it's often at the expense of the garment workers, who are exploited and mistreated with unsafe working conditions, & forced to work long hours for very low wages. This coupled with the environmental disaster that is huge amounts CO2 pollution, water wastage, and polluting oceans with microplastics and toxic dyes. And then you have the high rate of fast fashion garments being thrown straight into landfill after a single wear. There is simply nothing good about fast fashion!


By choosing to wear slow fashion we can all make a positive social and environmental impact, whilst looking & feeling great doing it.


At Seagrass we are committed to making clothes we are proud of. Which means, sourcing high quality ethically and sustainably made fabrics, that are printed in a more environmentally friendly process. Our digitally printed fabrics use very low water & power consumption, along with significantly less ink to further reduce wastage. All our garments are made locally by highly skilled dressmakers who are paid fairly, and treated respectfully.


To give you an idea on how much it really costs to make a dress in an ethical and sustainable fashion (pun intended), we're going to break down the costs that go into one of our latest release dresses.

This "Speak of the Devil" shirt smock dress is made using the most gorgeously soft & luxurious Tencel fabric, which not only feels amazing to wear, it's also one of the most sustainable fabrics available (read more about Tencel fabric on our Ethics and Sustainability page). It's crush resistant, breathable, doesn't shrink and retains colour vibrancy.. but, this sort of quality doesn't come cheap.


Our Tencel fabric comes in at a raw cost of $44per metre including shipping & taxes. This dress uses on average 1.8m of fabric =$79.20


Local cutting & sewing production cost = $70 per piece.


Add to those marketing, transaction fees, website overheads, print design, photoshoots, buttons, shipping, labels and packaging = $50 per piece.


This brings us to $199.20 for a dress that retails for $249 (minus 10% GST) so that leaves $24.90 profit per dress


However, all this is assuming the dress has been sold at full price. Which brings us to another unsustainable expectation that fast fashion has imbedded into todays society. The SALE. We are now conditioned to expect a SALE every week (Black Friday / Boxing Day / EOFY / Mid Season / Flash Sale, the list goes on and on). These constant SALES not only devalue the recommended retail price, but also encourages us to over consume.


Honestly, this is one of our biggest ethical struggles. We have always tried to avoid SALES, with preference to basing our prices on the best price everyday. Our only discount items until recently, were our "Last Chance Sale" items which were restricted to fabrics that had almost sold out, & production was limited to a few select sizes, or final stock items. But the SALE expectation has almost reached a point that unless it's on sale, you are paying too much. This is an issue we navigate continually with great care and consideration to not push over consumption, & also ensure we are still making ourselves a wage.



So is it all worth it?


We are truly grateful & fortunate to have such a strong and loyal supporter base who have entrusted us to ethically and sustainably make your clothing for so many years. Slow fashion is not the industry to get into if you want to make a lot of fast money. But lucky for us, that's not our motivation. Quite simply we want to use our creative skills and passions to make unique and original clothing. Seagrass has always been about creating a lifestyle with freedom & flexibility for more family time, whilst also providing enough money to live modestly. We wouldn't want it any other way, & feel truly blessed to be given the opportunity to do what we love.


Seagrass is committed to making clothes we are proud of, and that you love wearing. We genuinely love making your clothes, and being part of an industry that is making a positive impact on society and the environment. We love working with all our amazing local dressmakers. We love designing new prints, and seeing them out in the world being worn loud and proud.


We hope that in being transparent about our production costs we can make people think a little more about how much a dress really costs to make, and the people behind making it. We believe the world would be a much better place if there was more transparency across all sectors of manufacturing, particularly in the fashion industry.


The clothes you choose to wear really does make the world of difference. Buy less, choose well, make it last!!

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