What do soybean farmers and China's severe weather pattern have to do with fashion? Both play an important role in what you spend shopping, as a matter of fact.
The costs of producing apparel are going up just as retailers are getting back on their feet and making money again, which means -- according to the Wall Street Journal -- many will raise prices to cover the increasingly expensive materials like cotton, as well as labor and operations.
The reasons behind the expected rise go something like this: We've seen gains in retailers' profits -- including, at long last, Saks -- as shoppers ease back into spending at the same time the cotton farming industry is producing less, having switched to other crops like soybeans when the the supply-demand curve tipped the other way. Plus, analysts cite poor weather in China -- the world's largest cotton producer -- as having significantly diminished the cotton crop.
Sure, some retailers are planning to circumvent the issue with strategies like diluting fabrics with new blends (JCPenney), but the bottom line is that it's highly likely a Fall 2010 piece of clothing will end up costing more than it would have in Fall 2009, which will no doubt be a tough pill to swallow for retailers and consumers alike, both still just recovering from a tough year for fashion in 2009.