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Why Do Bras Cost So Much?

We stumbled upon a Wall Street Journal article that explained why one bra had recently risen in price by more than 44%, and laid out the reasons why. We were not necessarily shocked as we had seen bra price increases at the store, but seeing the statistic that dye had risen 300% was a stunning number. Here’s why your bras are costing more.

The Economics of Rising Bra Prices

Young woman holding bra to her T shirt.
Image credit: gbbot via Shutterstock.

Recently, the world of lingerie has witnessed a significant shift in pricing dynamics, and one particular example that caught the attention of consumers and retailers alike surrounds the price of the Natalia Underwire Bra. Priced at $68 for years, its price increased to $98 (price as of January 2024). In this article, we will delve into the factors that have led to this price hike and explore the intricate web of inflationary forces that have converged on bras like the Natalia.

Bra Prices Range

Blonde woman bra shopping.
Image credit: Deman via Shutterstock.

Of course, we can go to Walmart, Target or Marshall’s and find bras for under $20, and sometimes we find a bra that fits well. But other times we want better workmanship, design, fabric, colors or fit, and going to Nordstrom or a specialty store is the right move.

The Natalia Underwire Bra: A Brief History

Journelle bra in burgundy.
Image courtesy Journelle.

Before we delve into the reasons behind the price increase, let’s take a moment to understand the Natalia Underwire Bra’s journey. Introduced to the market in 2016, this bra quickly gained popularity, becoming a staple in department stores and specialty boutiques. For years, customers could purchase it for $68.

The Bra Price Hike: Unpacking the Factors

Bras and panties on pink surface.
Image credit: NazarBazar via Shutterstock.

The decision to increase the price of the Natalia Underwire Bra to $98 was a response to a complex set of inflationary forces that have been affecting the lingerie industry. These factors, when analyzed individually and collectively, shed light on the reasoning behind this significant price adjustment.

Escalating Manufacturing Costs

Graphic of increasing prices.
Image credit: Berit Kessler via Shutterstock.

One of the primary factors contributing to the price hike is the soaring manufacturing costs. Guido Campello, owner of Journelle, the company responsible for producing the Natalia Underwire Bra, noted that costs had doubled in some cases since 2019. These increased manufacturing expenses encompass various elements, such as materials, labor, and production processes.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Supply chain graphic.
Image credit Aun Photographer via Shutterstock.

In recent years, global supply chain disruptions have become a common theme across various industries. The lingerie sector is no exception. Delays in the procurement of essential materials, shipping challenges, and distribution bottlenecks have all contributed to rising costs, which inevitably get passed on to consumers. According to the Wall Street Journal article, dye increased 300%, lace and elastic 40%, hooks 25%, and the underwire 20%.

Fluctuating Exchange Rates

Black lace.
Image credit kedrov via Shutterstock.

Currency fluctuations have also played a role in driving up the cost of imported materials and components (like specialty lace) used in the production of bras like the Natalia Underwire Bra. Exchange rate volatility can lead to unpredictable price increases, affecting the overall production expenses.

Retailers’ Dilemma

Two women bra shopping together.
Image credit: Olesia Bilkei via Shutterstock.

While Journelle made the decision to raise its price to $98, this move presented a challenge for retailers. Some retailers found it difficult to sell the bra at the new, higher price point, fearing it might deter customers who were accustomed to the $68 price tag. This pricing misalignment prompted a few retailers to discontinue carrying the product altogether.

It is a gorgeous bra; we get the appeal. On the one hand, it is significantly less expensive than other bras made by Journelle and other higher end manufacturers. On the other hand, less expensive bras can be found. Ultimately, the consumer has a choice.

The Takeaway

Assorted bras.
Image credit: Poberezhna via Shutterstock.

The newer $98 price tag on the Natalia Underwire Bra reflects a confluence of inflationary forces affecting the lingerie industry. Rising manufacturing costs, supply chain disruptions, and fluctuating exchange rates have all contributed to this price adjustment. While it may be a difficult adjustment for some consumers and retailers, understanding the underlying economic factors can provide clarity on why this change was necessary.

As consumers navigate the changing landscape of lingerie pricing, it’s essential to recognize that the Natalia Underwire Bra is not alone in facing these challenges. The broader retail industry grapples with similar pressures, and as economic conditions evolve, pricing dynamics will continue to shift.Is there a clothing product that you have seen soar in price? We would love to know about it.

Woman looking in mirror.
Image credit Ground Picture via Shutterstock.

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Author

  • Dede Wilson

    Dédé Wilson is a journalist with over 17 cookbooks to her name and is the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners LLC, currently publishing through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone.

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