Category: MasonBentley

The True Cost of Fashion x

October-1947--Women-at-wo-001This was written a while ago – but I think still has some relevance today..


Working at the rock face of fashion I have realised that very few people actually know how the modern clothing business truly works, particularly in terms of cost..and therefore profit.

Researching a visual to explain things quickly I came across the website of Everlane, who produced the following pictures..



The aim behind the pictures was to illustrate how consumers are ‘ripped off’ along the chain of events that leads to a designer purchase.  But is it entirely accurate?

From make to wholesaler = 224% margin

From Wholesaler to retailer = 333% margin.

Which are big margins – but the diagram doesn’t explain them – the margins do represent a percentage of the profit but it’s only a percentage not the full whack.  The margins are also required to cover other costs:

Further shipping,  more transport, import duties, administration, design time, development, currency exchange, banking fees, marketing, loss leaders, pattern cutters, equipment, fittings, pattern changes, warehousing and storage, rent, utilities, IT costs, even labels, zips, threads and buttons..and probably much more.

At the second tier, for the retailer there could be a brick and mortar shop to pay for, employees and all the associated costs, advertisng, their own loss leaders etc etc…

The pictures do prove that nothing in fashion is simple.

It is possible to cut these costs.  If you’re mass market and contract out to a third world country I’ve heard you can get a t-shirt made for 2p.  In fact clothes have never been cheaper and are now fully accessible to all. Which has to be a good thing..But at what cost? 1,100 people died in the Bangladeshi factory disaster…is it ethical? Is it exploitation? Where does the line get drawn?

There are other alternatives abroad – better factories, better conditions where many of the ‘luxury’ fashion labels get their product made.  And yes, with their financial clout and established infra-structure maybe they can make those sort of profits..but even then think how much money goes into marketing to support their brands?  And think about the problems that can go wrong – the delays, the accidents, the unexpected that all has to be factored in.  And all the time all that money being spent on manufacture is money draining out of the UK economy.

So where does this leave a British based start-up fashion label like us?

We can’t buy our materials in bulk so there is no reduction in cost for us there.

We can’t make our stock in bulk so there is no reduction here either.

Our ‘factory’ is an ‘atelier’ – a room of skilled – masterful – sewers based in London who make everything by hand.  Not at a cost not per garment, but per hour.  Look at a sewing machine, look at an expensive piece of silk and look at the finished product – the tiny stitches, the French seams.  It’s not a fast job.  Each hour is £25.00 plus VAT.  But that is the cost of a craftsperson at the top of their profession..

We have no choice, we have to start at the designer end, the hard end – so why bother?

We still believe that there is an element of magic in fashion.  We believe we can make a profit by cutting out the wholesaler and selling direct – only time will tell.  And we believe that at some point consumers acknowledge they are buying more than the tangible item itself..we believe that value can take on a new meaning, that design can be desirable, treasured and trusted…our atelier is so good they do work for Victoria Beckham.  We have drive, we have passion and we have a designer in Anna who has an acknowledged pedigree having worked with the greats such as Karl Lagerfeld and Valentino..she knows this industry and she was born to design.

The truth is that the Everlane illustration was too simplistic – the bottom-line is that in the retail world not all products are created equally.  And some are definitely created with more love and care than others.  Only sales will confirm whether that is worth the price.

Laters, Kate x

Something in the air..

5956049589_5dfe001ed0_zPhoto by Joel Robinson

The winds of change are a blowin’….

Anna and I have been thinking hard and we’ve made the decision to split MasonBentley into our distinctive fortes. I’ll carry on the Blog which will subtly change to Maison Bentley Style, whilst Anna will continue with her label under the name ‘Anna Mason’ and when we need to support each other, we will…think of us as the wrinklier versions of Rosie Assoulin and Leandra Medine…

This does mean there will be changes to the Blog – I’m hoping these won’t take long or be too complicated but the upheaval does mean the perfect excuse for another Blog Party to celebrate a re-launch.  Watch this space for more info.

We’ll also be using this time to write a letter to ourselves for the future at – you are always your best mentor and champion and sometimes, just sometimes we need that extra something to grow bigger and better wings..write yourself a letter now, saying where you want to be in a years time…and see if it comes true..

Laters, Kate x

A Harper Moment..

jo-lg A Retail Director at Harpers Bazaar, Jo Glynn-smith knows her crepe de chine from her charmeuse..and we were delighted that she chose to wear MasonBentley during the extravaganza that is London Fashion Week.photoAnd the Harper was delighted to make it to Burberry!


Go Rosie!

photo-1 When the spotlight was on, it was an honour Jo choose to walk the dream with us.

Laters, Kate x

Somerset House 13.9.13

IMG_2736Soaking up the buzz..Anna street stye.IMG_2724 Size does matter.

IMG_2729 The gorgeous Alex Willis-Bray with legs up to her armpits. Check out her great Blog.

IMG_2723After our interview for South West London TV.

IMG_2734 IMG_2738 IMG_2737 IMG_2743 Yep. He was taking pictures through his visor…and had yeti chest hair..there’s a fine line between Fashion and Victim.IMG_2730 IMG_2744 IMG_2745 IMG_2747 IMG_2748Laters, Kate x

Friday 13..LFW

Screen-Shot-2013-09-03-at-10-1.24.19(photo from a great website: – has some fab info about happenings over fashion week, including vintage shows etc. Recommended)

It’s here!!! The Fashion Week spaceship has landed in London!..and Anna and I are very excitingly heading in to Somerset House TODAY to do a little interview with the lovely Alex Willis-Bray of South West London TV to talk about MasonBentley..a time to soak up the fashion and future..and have a little dream whilst eyeing up the runways…

Will report back later..gotta go and find something to wear..hey..wait a minute..aren’t I the co-director of a fashion label????…..

Laters, Kate x

Heel the Love..

783-10004-3744254109_wine_mTantalising autumn shoe in to-die-for oxblood by the indomitable Isabel Marant

Somtimes it can just be the little things that make the mark between a good shoe and a great shoe like the perfect colour or the way they’ve been stitched. But invariably I find there’s a gap between the shoes I see in my head and the reality of what’s available.

Take this Burberry boot..


Mouth-watering in design,  colour and texture.  I want this shape to wear with pencil skirts, 3/4 length trousers..but for every day?

f78903e17bcf2a7337ff6dd64d8d37489ddc89de Even my ankles would get vertigo.  I need 24 hour shoes I can run in.

Why is it the more expensive the brand the higher the heel? Is it a subtle comment to say the women who can afford these shoes don’t need to work walk?, or are they hell-bent on proving that comfort and height costs special engineering and therefore more money? Except I believe that after a certain height every shoe becomes a taxi-shoe and only good for extra pain.

This autumn I want shoes with character that tell a story…a 1940s vibe mixed with a bit of 70s with a splash of growing up gentley modern elegance..I want a desert boot with a wedge heel to wear with jeans…a really masculine type with lots of stitching..


And a black pair with a brogue tassel for dresses and skirts..

IMG_2691I’ve found these conker coloured vintage 70s shoes that I love…

IMG_2694But these other two have a place reserved in my wardrobe..

IMG_2695IMG_2697And ALL the heels are 2.5 inches..

So if you know where to get any of these or similar please say..otherwise I’ll have to keep on dreaming..

Laters, Kate x

The Work Behind

IMG_2523Last week we spent filming The Collection for an upcoming project..more on that later… image imageimageimageThe joy with a small, tight Company is you have full creative freedom, and the opportunity to try your hand at a variety of anything. A big thank you to Rudi, Nathalie, Caroline and Emily for all their help xxx

Laters, Kate x