Do you want to know how much it cost to make a bra? If YES, here are 6 factors that determine the cost of manufacturing a bra or lingerie and the profit margin.
The cost of manufacturing a bra will depend on the level of the brand and the positioning of the product in the brand’s portfolio. In this industry, the higher the brand, the bigger the difference between the product retail price and the manufacturing cost (higher the multiplication).
Note that the average mid-brand uses 3–5 multiplications (cost x 3=retail price), but a more premium brand would leverage the higher multiplies, and a more economy brand would use less multiply, in super-premium brands the multiply reaches up to 10 or 12.
Meanwhile, have it in mind there are basic products of a brand which are expected to be sold in higher quantities, so the company is using smaller multiply (2.3–2.5), as they are balancing the breakeven with quantities. Therefore, the premium or limited edition products usually have higher multiplies as they are not expected to be sold in big quantities.
There are obviously many factors that come into play regarding the cost of manufacturing a Bra. There are few unmentionables — including the length of the design process, whether it is mass-produced or not, what materials are used, manufacturing overhead, taxes, and shipping and editorial costs.
Factors That Influence The Cost Of Manufacturing A Bra
This is the expense that varies the most depending on the geographical location of the people doing the work. Bras are typically sewn piece-by-piece by specialists. In fact, it is not uncommon for a specialist to only be responsible for certain tasks such as sewing straps or inserting underwire into bras.
Unlike a blouse or skirt, manufacturing a bra requires more than simply sewing a couple pieces of fabric together. Note that even if the stitching is off by a marginal amount, it can mean the difference between a well-fitting bra and one that’s entirely uncomfortable and unsupportive.
Bra designing is not a simple process, therefore designers spend a lot of time considering a bra’s structure before making any final decisions on its cut and features, and are expected to first build a prototype before actually constructing it.
Also note that it takes months and months to get a single bra just right, and that time is well worth it when you take into account all the components of a bra (between 25 to 100+!) and the complexities of what it is required to do. Designers also have to consider the demands for different bust sizes.
The weight and shape of larger breasts, for instance, might require a different kind of underwire, padding or stitching, or simply more seams or material on a full cup bra. In addition, quality bras are produced using high-grade industrial sewing machines, which cost more but also ensure that they are better constructed.
One of the first decisions a bra manufacturer needs to make is what material to use. High-quality material looks better, feels better, and holds up longer. And naturally, these fabrics cost more per yard, especially when it comes to luxe lace, satin, etc.
Also note that high-tech fabrics, which are seeing higher and higher demand for their antibacterial, shaping and moisture-wicking capabilities, require a lot of research and testing, which drives up their manufacturing costs. That’s why sports bras, even those without underwire, can get pricey.
The raw materials gathered for the production of brassieres tend to differ tremendously depending on the product. Some are all cotton, some are all polyester, and some are combinations of natural and synthetics, and so forth. A good number of brassieres include an elastic material of some sort on the back panel that allows some expansion and movement of back muscles.
Spandex, a modern synthetic fibre extensively processed from Malaysian tree sap, is expected to be processed prior to the assembling of the brassiere because it is, in some products, the most important material in the brassiere.
Also note that a closure of some sort (most often metal hooks and eyes) must be included on the brassiere unless it is an elastic sports brassiere which can be put on over the head. Cups, padding, and straps vary not only from manufacturer to manufacturer but by style.
Complexity relates to how sophisticated a particular part is and the number of production steps and separate processes it takes to achieve the final design.
Have it in mind that at each process, the cost will increase because of the additional manual labour involved in set-up, testing and measurement as well as the extra care and attention to detail required to hold tight tolerances on multiple features.
Hooks, underwire, elastic, bows, multi-part cups, adjustable straps — every little detail make a massive difference in the fit, feel and look of your bra, but also in the manufacturing cost of it as well. Note that irregular stitching, plastic adjusters or clips (in place of metal) loose or overly stretchy elastic and ultra-stiff fabric are all signs of a bra with low-quality details.
In terms of details, packaging may seem insignificant, but it is not just for show — in fact, it plays a key role in the longevity of a bra. Careful packaging (and transportation) ensures that bras aren’t exposed to any potential damage that compromises their shape and condition before clients even purchase them, and this ultimately affects manufacturing prices.
The methods for constructing brassieres vary from one manufacturer to the next. It is a product that is still pieced out in some plants, which means that the sewing work that connects all the components are contracted out of the plant to smaller sewing operators for job work.
In addition, materials leveraged in the construction of the brassiere affects the manufacturing method. For example, if an undergarment company utilizes spandex within the product, they may manufacture the material on premises. If a company uses cotton, it may be supplied from a manufacturer who makes the material based on their specifications.
Indeed, the cost of tools is the same no matter if they are used to make one part or one million. However, the cost per finished piece varies inversely with volume. As more parts are made from a given tool, the price for each part goes down and this is one way to amortize the initial expense.
However, as volumes increase the manufacturer can also optimize the production process to maximize efficiency and reduce waste to a minimum. They can also negotiate for larger bulk volumes of raw materials from the supplier.
Profit Margin on a Bra
According to industry reports, profit margin on a bra is around 8% to 15%, especially since they have very high manufacturing cost. If you intend to buy from a manufacturer and resell, you may find non-branded undergarments that are 25% to 30% cheaper & can be sold at 7%–8% higher margin than Branded Goods.
However, material cost is a small fraction of the cost of a bra. They are complicated to cut and sew, with many little bits like the closure and strap length adjustments to be added on. Accurate cutting is extremely necessary, unlike, maybe a T-shirt where a quarter of inch cutting error really doesn’t matter. And of course lace and other embellishments have to be precisely placed and neatly stitched, or they look terrible.
Also note that the more expensive a Bra brand, the more they invest lot of money in engineering, designing, R&D, etc. They hire the best and expensive models for their promotions, provide expensive marketing materials to stores, provide training to the sales/marketing staff and care about their products including returns/exchanges and guarantees.