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Getting out of hand

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby ulvetano » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:29 am

Has to simply be capitalism and marketing. There is no substantial difference in the top tier brands that I can tell. I continue to be thrilled with my $115 Outdoor Research shell bought on S&C last Fall. It's battled thru frigid temps, winds, the Andes, etc. Spending $650 for the same thing would be ridiculous. Buy that ski pass and screw the overpriced gear!

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby lackerstef » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:36 am

Just head to the streets of BC and maybe you can nab one of these:
http://gearjunkie.com/arcteryx-capes-for-vancouver-homeless

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby lackerstef » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:40 am

Zambo wrote:
lordhelmut wrote:I guess what I'm really asking is, despite increasing labor costs overseas and standard yearly inflation, what is the main difference between a pro shell made from Arcteryx to Patagonia to Marmot to North Face? Are they charging for a logo or is the craftsmanship really all that more spectacular? I've heard from credible mountaineers that using Frogg Toggs for 20$ are sufficient enough for them in the summer months, and they just get a new pair when they breakdown. I've seen expert skiers and boarders ride around the mountains in the dead of winter in Carharts.

And if these companies do unload most of their inventory during their massive sales, where do the profits come from? Sorry, I'm almost completely ignorant how retail works, but I do know that nobody should pay 680$ for a jacket. If labor costs are in fact increasing, but they are still selling most of their stuff at wholesale prices during their sales, where do the profits come from?


Good questions Brian. I have wondered this for years, and never gotten a good answer from anyone!

Essentially, I have always wondered what (if any) tangible differences are there between the top brands. Undoubtedly people can ramble on about branding, consumerism, image, perceptions, etc. I have no doubt in my mind that these play a huge role in brand like Arx and Patagonia charging high prices.

But is that all of it? Does the name alone warran the extra hundreds of dollars? It can't be the only difference, can it?

I would love to hear about the craftsmanship/production which supposedly sets apart the top brands. It would be cool to hear one of the product engineers try to defend a $600 Arcteryx shell against a comparable North Face for half the price. It is materials, stitching, better machines they are made on (??) or what? No question that all retail is marked up 100% of cost, but what exactly are physical the differences in the products that warrant such high prices?

Like I said, I've never really seen anyone be able to answer that question in a satisfying way....


Zambo - I remember you having the same Alpha SV shell in the Missouri Gulch area last year. Don't you agree that craftsmanship (including seam taping and articulation) is a step above all other companies? When I find Arc on sale, I jump.

Re: Getting out of hand

Postby Zambo » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:49 am

lackerstef wrote:
Zambo wrote:
lordhelmut wrote:I guess what I'm really asking is, despite increasing labor costs overseas and standard yearly inflation, what is the main difference between a pro shell made from Arcteryx to Patagonia to Marmot to North Face? Are they charging for a logo or is the craftsmanship really all that more spectacular? I've heard from credible mountaineers that using Frogg Toggs for 20$ are sufficient enough for them in the summer months, and they just get a new pair when they breakdown. I've seen expert skiers and boarders ride around the mountains in the dead of winter in Carharts.

And if these companies do unload most of their inventory during their massive sales, where do the profits come from? Sorry, I'm almost completely ignorant how retail works, but I do know that nobody should pay 680$ for a jacket. If labor costs are in fact increasing, but they are still selling most of their stuff at wholesale prices during their sales, where do the profits come from?


Good questions Brian. I have wondered this for years, and never gotten a good answer from anyone!

Essentially, I have always wondered what (if any) tangible differences are there between the top brands. Undoubtedly people can ramble on about branding, consumerism, image, perceptions, etc. I have no doubt in my mind that these play a huge role in brand like Arx and Patagonia charging high prices.

But is that all of it? Does the name alone warran the extra hundreds of dollars? It can't be the only difference, can it?

I would love to hear about the craftsmanship/production which supposedly sets apart the top brands. It would be cool to hear one of the product engineers try to defend a $600 Arcteryx shell against a comparable North Face for half the price. It is materials, stitching, better machines they are made on (??) or what? No question that all retail is marked up 100% of cost, but what exactly are physical the differences in the products that warrant such high prices?

Like I said, I've never really seen anyone be able to answer that question in a satisfying way....


Zambo - I remember you having the same Alpha SV shell in the Missouri Gulch area last year. Don't you agree that craftsmanship (including seam taping and articulation) is a step above all other companies? When I find Arc on sale, I jump.


Haha - good memory. Yes, I would absolutely agree that the craftsmanship is excellent, and I love my SV. It hasn't failed me yet and it's a great piece. Also, I have an Arcteryx soft shell which has traveled the world with me, and that thing is a tank. I love that jacket more than any other piece of gear I own.

Having said that, I'm still just not sure the Alpha SV is $600 good (I bought mine half off). Or at least, I'm not sure what dollar amount it is better than a comparable product. I own lots of other cheap crap that has served me wonderfully out there.

So ya, I do agree there is some difference, but I would still love to hear a product engineer go through the various jackets I guess; try to figure out how much is hype, and how much is tangible.

Also, one other thing to note here is that most of the big brands are owned by a few parent companies: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_outdoor_industry_parent_companies. So, I wonder what makes a Columbia shell different form a Mountain Hardware, for example? If anything??
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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby lordhelmut » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:50 am

plantmandan wrote:It's that price because, apparently, there are people out there willing to pay it. You can't blame Patagonia for that.

Personally, I'd rather take a month long road trip to Bishop and Joshua Tree for the same price.


Ticketmaster has made a living off of this very logic.

Maybe Yvon Choiunard can get on here and break it down, dollar by dollar, to make it all a little less confusing.

I agree with the month long road trip part.

And I guess I forgot to factor in the rich soccer mom/trophy wife thought process and low level of brain activity.

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby DaveSwink » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:52 am

I love Patagonia quality and craftsmanship. My Patagucci R1 or merino hoody, and capeline baselayers are the first pieces I chose for winter adventures. I wear Patagonia sweaters around town all winter because they look so good. On the other hand, I have never paid more than 70% for any of it. I appreciate those who pay full price for subsidizing Patagonia so they can sell to me at nice discounts! 8)

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby speth » Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:54 am

Cruiser wrote:I'll admit that ~$700 is right at the high end of the spectrum for a ski/mountaineering jacket. But if you consider what a quality suit jacket or top coat can cost then $700 starts to seem a little more in line. I get that most of us aren't the target demographic for companies like Gucci, Armani, Burberry, and the like. Still, there's plenty of folks who are and they are the ones who will look at the upper end Patagucci or Arc'teryx jackets and pull the trigger without remorse in preparation for their next heli-ski trip to AK.


$700 will tailor fit your body - I've never worn a Patagonia jacket that fit my frame well.

I'd also look damn fine in a 700 dollar suit. Just sayin'... :)
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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby Jtjohnso24 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:04 am

Patagonia makes great stuff, but it's definitley overpriced. I know they take the time to make sure their products are environmentally friendly from the very start. That adds additional costs. I can't afford their grear unless it goes on sale, but I highly recommend reading Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. It's basically his story and business model. Patagonia does a lot of great stuff. Most notably, buying a big chunk of Patagonia and giving it back to the people.

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby tylermacguire » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:11 am

Just another reason why life is too short to pay retail for gear.

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby DaveSwink » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:12 am

Jtjohnso24 wrote:Patagonia makes great stuff, but it's definitley overpriced. I know they take the time to make sure their products are environmentally friendly from the very start. That adds additional costs. I can't afford their grear unless it goes on sale, but I highly recommend reading Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard. It's basically his story and business model. Patagonia does a lot of great stuff. Most notably, buying a big chunk of Patagonia and giving it back to the people.


Totally agree, when considering the bolded caveat. For example, I bought the merino hoody for $60 and I don't think anyone sells a comparable hoody for that price. Smartwool's hoody is nice but I don't see it on sale that low.

Edit: On the other hand, I really like First Ascent gear and it is reasonable all of the time and very good value on one of their frequent sales!

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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby winmag4582001 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:23 am

My wife has worked at the corprate offices of a large retailer for thirteen years now. The biggest thing I've seen is that they will charge the maximum that you("Jill" is what they call you people)will pay. Arc'tyrx, Patagonia, Osprey have huge margins because they are considered "stylish" while TNF, MHW and others that use the exact same technology are generally 20-40% cheaper because they are "utility". Goretex has its limitations, and after the $300 retail mark on any brand of shell using goretex, you are paying solely for the stitching in the pocket. I'm sure you will see this jacket on backcountry.com next spring for %65 off.
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Re: Getting out of hand

Postby TheF79 » Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:30 am

Huge mark-ups (100% or more) seem to be pretty common as you go "up the food chain" in all clothing. And just like you can get really good deals on outdoor gear, same goes for the outlets for Sak's, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, and other high end clothing stores. Production costs obviously play some role in prices, but branding goes a long way. For lots of consumer goods (and talent in things like sports or music), people are willing to pay substantial "superstar" preminums for "the best," even if the best is only a small percentage better than the next best alternative.

By the way, someone mentioned labor costs in Vietnam, and someone else mentioned exchange rates. I was curious, so I checked it out, and the Dollar has actually appreciated quite a bit against the Dong. In 2008 a Dollar would buy 16,000 Dongs, but in 2012, you can buy a whopping 21,000 Dongs for a dollar! [-X no snickering!

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