Should Fabric Be That Price?

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Is there really a huge difference between the cheaper ones and expensive ones?

Whether you’re going to sew yourself or give to a tailor/designer, fabric choice is important to the outcome and how much you’d spend in the long run. So how much should you pay for a particular fabric? How do you know when you’re paying too much, and when you’re getting a good bargain, saving money?

Shopping for fabric is kind of like shopping for anything else in Nigeria. You can’t trust shop owners’ (read as Tejuosho or Balogun fabric sellers) suggestions 90% of the time. So sometimes, you get great fabric at a really good price and most times, you put get home and feel cheated by the price you paid.

I asked how our followers on Instagram differentiated expensive fabric from cheap ones, their answers are here.

Why are there different price points?

A lot of the answers I got was “texture”, because if a fabric has a great texture, it should be of a higher quality right? Not always. Below is a list of some of the biggest differences between expensive and cheap fabric.

  • Fiber Content: this in general terms means that fabric that contain higher percentages of natural fibers (silk, cotton, wool, linen) will have a higher price versus blends or those made of man made fibers (nylon, acetate, polyester).
  • Colors: Usually, a trending shade or print will be more expensive. If it’s cheaper, it might mean that the dyes used for such fabric are more prone to bleeding or fading.
  • Marketing: Designer fabric doesn’t always mean it’s amazing. They might just have a reputation and have spent a lot more on branding, marketing, shipping which all has to be factored into final costs.
  • Sustainability: Eco-friendly fabrics are always more expensive, except when you buy from deadstock fabric. They’re usually remnants and available in very small quantities.
How much should I pay for fabric?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a formula for calculating how much to pay for a particular fabric! But as it is with almost anything else, it depends on what you like, what you want to use it for and most importantly, your budget.

Before you go fabric shopping, you can ask yourself the following questions.

  • If I buy a cheaper fabric, will I be sacrificing any important qualities like breathability, comfort against my skin, or natural fiber content?
  • Do I need a durable fabric that will last a long time, or am I ok with this garment not lasting as long?
  • Do I need a lot of yardage? If so, a more affordable option might be more realistic for your budget. On the other hand, if you only need a yard, maybe you can get yourself a treat.
  • Will this fabric make my project look and feel significantly different/cheaper than a more expensive option?

Look at the answers to these questions and ask yourself, can you use a more affordable fabric for this project? Or should you buy the more expensive option?

Shop smarter, Save money
  •  Fake it till you make it. Some luxury fabrics have very similar faux siblings. Instead of leather, look for vegan options or faux suede. Instead of silk, look for satin or noil. (They kuku already call them silk in Lagos markets anyways)
  • Shop deadstock for cheap deals. You can often find designer one-offs at affordable prices or shop deadstock fabrics from us here.
  • Look for blends. If you can’t afford the real thing, you can shop the blends, they are cheaper and combine great features of both natural and synthetic fibers.
  • Learn your fabric terms. When shopping, look at how the vendors describe the fabric and then compare their price points with ones you’ve previously owned/bought. Don’t go pay the price of silk only to get “silk”.
  • When in doubt, check. Rub a small swatch of the fabric together vigorously between your fingers. Does it pill? If so, it might not last as long—but remember, this can still happen to fabrics with a high price tag.
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