Tagged: 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 FutureMe.org – 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

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

Fabulous Friday..

IMG_2520Dressing is telling the story of who we are: Anna wearing the Bergman in Soho for our series of Press Meetings…She promised me she would get a picture of her next to real Will.I.am in within 24 hours…like yeah Honey..

beak_streetFirst stop. Town Daily – a seductive glossy mag and a daily Blog dedicated to discovering the best London has to offer, where we had  a chat with their lovely Fashion Editor, Nadia Balame. Plans are afoot..watch this space.

IMG_2509Town is published under the umbrella of Brave New World which works to bring creative talents and business development together, so we spoke to their dynamic Chief Executive Crispin Jameson as well..who then introduced us to Jo Malone..honestly, what a charming lady..the sort of person you want to settle down to have a long chat with over a strong brew in a beautiful garden somewhere delicious..

IMG_2507Lunch in a little Italian round the corner. Loved the linen napkins over the lights..

photo-119Got to Vogue House early so soaked up a few rays in the garden opposite.

IMG_2519An iconic moment.

IMG_2516At Tatler we met with Sophie Goodwin, Style Editor. Professional to a stitch, utterly approachable and a true lover of fashion.  A bridge has been made and we will be in further contact.

IMG_2513 IMG_2512

Up to Vogue to meet Serena Hood, Executive Fashion Editor and her enthusiastic team. Chatty, spontaneous and warm, we left two of our Deneuve Collars with them..fingers crossed they make a shoot.


We did have a ‘Devil Wears Prada’ moment..


The day was still young. Anna wearing the Harper and mate Kate in the Macaroon in Abba style poses ready to paint the town red..

photo-1Which they did with style..

IMG_2339And ful-filled promises!!

Laters, Kate x

Proud as Peacocks!!

IMG_1953The latest variation of the Bergman in our Collection…and testament to just how much we love our customer…because of the way we work, we can be flexible on the little things that really matter like hem length and even colour….just ask, and we will always do our utmost to help: The Bergman in the  colour way of the Kaftan dress?…no problem.

And doesn’t it look Dandy?

A stand out breath of fresh patterned air in a summer of simple monochrome.

Laters, Kate xxx

P.S. It’s been rather an exciting week for us (NB typical, undisputed British understatement)…if you can believe this – gulp – we still can’t…The Collection and the pair of us are heading in to see VOGUE and TATLER next week. F*** me!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AND we have requests of clothes for London Fashion Week!! Whoo hoooo!

It’s not so much ‘what are we going to wear?’..but SHOES what SHOES?!!!!


An update..

It’s been just over two weeks since our Preview Launch and life certainly hasn’t stood still.  The most popular items of the Collection have so far proved to be…


The Bergman

IMG_2232The Bergman Print

Bardot - in loose, light cotton - £290 - Feel romantic in the perfect any day summer dress.  Add heels to take into the night.

The Bardot

IMG_2100The Macaroon

Trilby - in silk crepe de chine, available in three colours - cream, baby pink and mink- £350 - Top off your favourite trousers or jeans by slipping on the Trilby's louche attitude.

The Trilby

Harper - in broiderie anglais, available in white and also in black - £275 - A hint of vintage drama. The Harper is the ultimate cotton blouse.  Wear me with jeans or dress me up.

The Harper

And Anna has been busy experimenting with various additions..A vest for the Audrey skirt so it cleverly turns into a dress..

IMG_2460 IMG_2461or down-grade it to day-wear with a plain white t-shirt..

Audrey Skirt - with beautiful pleated waistband, also available in black - £290 - Update your entire wardrobe by wearing the midi length skirt.  Wear with a t-shirt of pristine white shirt.

Also a softer, less formal take on the Harper…the scoop necked Harper..


Excitingly, because of the number of appointments we’ve been asked for we’ve made the decision that starting from Thursday 4 July and continuing every thursday until August we will hold a show room day for anyone who wants to see us and try the clothes on…Please contact us for further details.

For those further afield: If we know your size and basic measurements, we can make for you and ship.  Our contact details are here.

Next week we’re going to spread our net a bit wider and heading off to the wilds of Oxford:

On Tuesday 2 July from 10 am – 2.00 pm at Bledington, OX7 6XA we will be taking part in a special sale along with Para-B, Juliet Faucus, Lou Searby Scarves, Little Knickerbocker, a Laurent-Perrier Champagne Bar and many more..

If you are free..we would love to see you there!

Pray for a good dose of vitamin D..

Laters, Kate xxx