Originally Posted by laphroaig
It takes some mega factory the equivalent of 30 man-minutes to make that $1200 pair of jeans.
By the same token, you can buy a suit that took some guy 30 minutes to make. I'm guessing that you are being deliberately provocative, but you come off sounding ignorant.
The most expensive denim is painstakingly difficult and time consuming to work with. Yarn can combed and carded by hand, and dipped and sundried several dozen times before it is woven on specialized machines specifically designed to mimic century old techniques. The output from these machines is very low, and the amount of denim made can be extremely low. On selvedge denim jeans, it can take a lot of yarns of denim to make a pair, because you have more waste if you need selvedge outseams.
A lot of the more coveted denim is made in extremely small batches, which incurs a significant upcharge.
A recent WSJ article quoted the labor for manufacture at $9, but for a pair of artisanal denim jeans, the cost can be considerably higher, especially if made in Japan. Definitely not as high as for a great or even good suit, but then again, a really good suit costs about 10 times as much.
Finishes can cost as much as $40. This is a major expense, obviously, and $40 post manufacture treatments are rare, but a $16-20 wash is fairly commonplace on the better jeans. Yes, you can tell the difference.
I recently saw a pair of Carhartt's "high end" jeans, which they tried to retail at around $65. Terrible cut aside, the materials, make and finishing were all truly atrocious. Brands like J. Crew and The GAP can do better for less because of the huge volume, but even then, they are forced to take obvious shortcuts.
Now, a $1200 pair of jeans (and the only jeans I've seen in that range are either made by luxury companies, who make "jeans" out of non-standard materials like cashmere, or are the jeans by Rby45RPM with lots of extra bells and whistles (silver rivets and buttons - completely unnecessary, pocket bags made from the most expensive shirting fabric, and so on.) However, I've seen plenty of $400-$500 jeans, and even $800 jeans, that are not marked up as much as a high end RTW suit.