Why do women pay more?

A study shows that women pay 37% more for women’s fashion than men for ‘gender-targeted items’, but why are women paying the ‘pink tax’?

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Luxury brands are exceptionally good at charging women more than men, and according to Business of Fashion, Saint Laurent has the biggest price gap between the genders. The different gender versions share the same design, colour and materials compositions, yet a black t-shirt in silk costs $490 for men and £590 for women.

Illustration by Paul Price.

Illustration by Paul Price.

Although the purpose behind the ‘pink tax’ is not clear, there is several logical reasons for it, such as materials and workmanship, consumer demand and gender-based tariffs. It is easy to understand the fact that some of women’s luxury garments, such as dresses with embellishment, require more craftsmanship than men’s. It is pretty logical, but what is not logical, is why women would have to pay more for a garment which is almost the same.

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These two shirts from Gap is almost identical, but the women’s version costs 2 euros more. The reason for this might be the consequence of an actual tax, because tariffs often depend on the gender of the consumer. Business of Fashion said that in 2014, as much as 86 % of US apparel import were gender-classified. Director of the Mosbacher Institute, Dr Lori Taylor, states that “There are a couple of reasons why prices are different between men’s and women’s. One is textbook price discrimination… That’s not a policy concern. But the other is tax differential, that is fixable and it should be fixed”.

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There might be another reasons as well, and that might be the fact that women shop more and are willing to pay more. In the luxury market, the product’s price is based on the status of the product and the brand, as well as the cost of producing it. Kit Yarrow, a consumer psychologist and professor Emerita at Golden Gate University states that;

“So much of it is psychological – that pricing is really a way to create desire or raise the stature of a brand or product. There may occasionally be price inflation, if pricing is a way to establish the value of a product, especially with luxury brands”.

He adds,

“Women’s fashions are much more competitive than men’s and it does take greater effort to promote your products in that arena, but a $100 difference in a t-shirt? Nothing makes sense to me in that except for opportunism”.

Have you ever noticed the bespoke ‘Pink Tax’?


Text: Christine Rye-Johnson

Images: Business of Fashion, Daily Mail, Independent

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