3 Pricing Tips for Sustainable Fashion Businesses

Olivia Gecseg Monday, 9 September 2019

The pricing of ethical fashion is such a huge topic at the moment. What are people willing to pay for garments that don’t have negative effects on our planet and communities? This week, Oxfam’s #SecondHandSeptember campaign in particular got me thinking hard about what motivates people to spend top dollar on sustainable designer brands. The booming second hand clothing, resale and rental markets offering highly affordable sustainability is making it imperative for designers to learn to communicate where the value lies in their products.

Transparency and sustainability are value commodities in today’s market. There is a rising trend for products in these categories and the evidence is there, that consumers will spend more for well-made, long lasting, and conscious clothing. This tells us that brands can charge more if they have a strong ethical or sustainable ethos. But short of ramping up your prices, how can you approach this with sensitivity to your customer and product?

In our Pricing Ethical Products and Finances Masterclass we spoke to three guest experts in the fashion and retail industries about the best ways for ethical brands to approach their pricing structures. Professional members can access the full interviews and takeaways but I wanted to share three key pricing tips from this Masterclass that all members can start applying today. Read on to get our experts’ advice:

“Having the wrong pricing is like flying a plane with only half as much fuel as you need to reach your destination. You will crash!” – Thierry Bayle, Global Fashion Management


1) Know what your customer wants to pay before you start making anything

Even before you pick up a pencil to sketch out a design, you need to have done your research on your customer. Without knowing the selling price of the item, choosing fabrics and trims is an impossibility. Save yourself a lot of time and energy going back to suppliers and negotiating costs down to fit your pricing but doing it the other way round from the start.

You can do this by:

  • Checking out your competitor’s pricing, which might be a part of a competitive analysis if you’ve done one.
  • Asking your customers direct. Send out a customer satisfaction survey with questions about other products they purchase and open questions on how they view your current prices.
  • Research your target market thoroughly. Understanding your audience is so important for a whole range of factors, but knowing their disposable income and as much about their lifestyles before setting your pricing will avoid miscommunication.

2) Start with a capsule and samples to get a feel for the market

“Is the market really willing to pay for your brand or your styles?” – Jeroen van der Heide

Having tons of leftover stock isn’t good for any brand, and not least a sustainable business, whose waste has the potential to affect major reputational damage.

By just producing a small capsule collection to begin with, you’ll learn how people respond to your designs – and your prices. If things don’t go as planned, you won’t be left with bulky, expensive stock and wasted materials. 

If you are a clothing designer you can make your samples yourself, cutting down additional manufacturing costs

3) Work on a small margin to begin with and reduce your costs in other ways

For any business that sells products, careful attention to margins will allow you room to grow in the long term. However, aiming too high right from the get go is a risky tactic, so starting small and slowly increasing as you build customer and supplier relationships is the key.

“It’s not just your product you have to sell. You have to sell factories the desire to work with you, mills to give you the best price possible, agents to sell you – they all have to want to work with you.”- Maria Pesin, Vibe Consulting

This is particularly true for sustainable design businesses who will struggle to achieve low manufacturing deals due to a lack of economy of scale, i.e. cheap costs due to larger runs of products.

Learn to counteract your smaller margins by cutting costs in other areas, such as in fabrics, trims, import duties, or shipping modes.


For more insight into how sustainable businesses should approach their pricing structures, check out our full Masterclass on the topic. You’ll find full-length interviews with all the industry experts mentioned in this blog post, as well as compressive takeaways you can revisit at any time. Not a Professional Member already? It’s so easy to join. Simply head to our sign up page to gain access to all our Professional Member resources.