Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

What exactly is it about these dresses that make them worth $20,000 each?

Asked by Dutchess_III (38147points) March 28th, 2016

Sasha and Malia Obama’s state dinner dresses.

I’m no seamstress, but if I was I think I could make them for less than a thousand each. And even at that, I don’t see how it would cost me even that much to make them.

Can someone enlighten me?

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28 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Nothing objective.
Only rarity.

Seek's avatar

Just like anything else: it’s what the market will bear. Wordfame, knowing your audience, etc.

It’s a lot like how some Japanese department stores will sell a cantaloupe for $800.

jca's avatar

Custom fitted, hand embroidered, best fabrics.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right, but how is that worth $20,000 @jca?

jca's avatar

You’re paying also for the talent of the designer plus all of the hours of labor for the various people who make the dress and their talents, plus there is profit, of course. If there weren’t profit, there would be no reason for the fashion house to continue.

I just read the article I linked and they talk about the consultation, the mock up dress, etc. That labor has to be paid for, and it’s all put into the cost of the finished product.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s just incredible to me.

canidmajor's avatar

Depending on the designer and the materials used, these could be considered wearable art. Because the price of art is based primarily on what the market will bear, as @Seek mentions, as art, $20,000 is not unreasonable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, whomever chose them, they certainly have good taste, anyway. And I’m really so proud of the girls, whom I know not at all.

ragingloli's avatar

I have watched too much Anime to consider these dresses as anything but ghastly.

janbb's avatar

They are two beautiful young and poised women. I’ll miss this First Family so much.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I will too.

ragingloli's avatar

They should have worn something like this

Tropical_Willie's avatar

We had a family friend that did wedding gowns, people would fly from Italy or Germany to New England for fittings and to pick-up the gowns.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s some of her gown were over $15,000, with hand-sewed on sequins and real pearls.

$15,000 (1980) in today’s dollars would be over $45,000.

Jeruba's avatar

@ragingloli, it’s you!—isn’t it?

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Anything is worth what one is willing to pay.

Price for passage on Concorde was partially determined by asking individuals what they thought it would cost.

At the time that figure was well over what was required for Air France and British Airways to be profitable with the program.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Branding. A pair of Manolo Blahnik costs $700, while a knock-off of comparable design and construction might be $50 or less.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I loves me some knock offs!

janbb's avatar

The price of status handbags is another fine example of this. What pocket book could possibly be worth $3,000 – $5,000? It’s all status and what people are willing to pay.

However, I imagine the Obamas were given or lent those gowns for the publicity by the designer just as Oscar attendees are.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, the article said they were paid for out of pocket by the Obamas.

janbb's avatar

Actually, it doesn’t say if they were or weren’t:

“While it’s true that Sasha and Malia Obama wore two dresses worth about $40,000 to a state dinner at the White House, American taxpayers didn’t pick up the tab. In 2014, Michelle Obama’s press secretary Joanna Rosholm said that the First Lady’s (and, by extension, the First Daughters’) gowns are generally paid for for out of pocket, although dresses are occasionally donated:

“Mrs. Obama pays for her clothing. For official events of public or historic significance, such as a state visit, the first lady’s clothes may be given as a gift by a designer and accepted on behalf of the U.S. government. They are then stored by the National Archives.’’”

jerv's avatar

Welcome to the world of fashion.

The way I see it, Apple has been pricing their products such that their profit margins are over ten times the industry average and nobody bats an eye (indeed, many defend Apple with great religious fervor) so it’s not like inflated prices for the sake of “art” is a totally new thing. It’s really no different from Ray-ban, Gucci, Prada, Mercedes-Benz, Monet, or any other display of status. Those dresses are worth $20k because it’s worth that much to some people to make a social impression. The dresses themselves didn’t cost nearly that much, but the prestige that comes with them does cost a lot. Some people really will pay $120 for a plain white t-shirt

ragingloli's avatar

They should round the corners and put an apple logo on it, then they can add another 0 to the price tag.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I’ve read your Philistine comments.

As an industrial designer you all make me very sad.

jerv's avatar

@SecondHandStoke As one who considered industrial design work to be something that is over and done with once an item goes into full production, I can see how price depends on quantity. Something like a dress for a “head of state” level dinner will likely be unique, so the entire design cost goes into the price of one dress. For something like a computer, just design it once, stamp out a few million copies and spread the R&D costs. As for the price of hand-crafted items, it depends on whether we’re talking skilled labor or kids in a sweatshop.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

You guys are such peasants. Step into the gentlemen’s shoe department:

Here’s a nice pair of Testoni Men’s dress shoes for $38,000

The Nike Air Force 1 tennis shoe for $50,000. (Nothing like niche marketing. Are you awake Mr. Presidient?)

How about some butt-ugly Loius Vuittons for only $10,000. “Everybody adores it. The shoes are made with waxed croc cowhide and are totally manly!” Sounds like a hard sell to me.

And should the ladies feel outdone…
Tanzanite Stiletto Sandals (in silver-leaf-leather and diamonds) by Stuart Weitzman, 2 million dollars. Jesus, you can’t even pour champagne into them. What a gip.

Stuart will also do a nice Ruby Red replica of Dorothy’s slippers from the Wizard of Oz for 1.9 million. He promises to use a half pound of rubies for each shoe. For a little extra, Stuart will throw in a guy to drink champagne out of your shoes in public wherever you go.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh come on @Espiritus_Corvus!!! I have seen ALL of those at Goodwill for $2.99, except for Dorthy’s slippers! People are absolutely insane.

jca's avatar

I have trouble seeing the logic of $100 sneakers.

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