"If you examine hot new trends such as colored skinny jeans, faux leather outerwear, handbags and apparel ... with zippers instead of buttons or laces or less fabric, you will see that these are all ways a manufacturer can cut costs," says Andrea Woroch, savings expert for Kinoli Inc., creator of CouponSherpa.com. "These small changes per item really add up to a lot of cost savings for the retailers. Plus, they are promoted to you as the hot, new thing and priced higher to boot."
Apparel suppliers say it's cheaper to dye a pair of jeans one solid color than it is to acid wash or treat denim many times to achieve a desired denim wash, and they use less fabric in a thinner grade of cotton to manufacture skinny jeans and most "jeggings," or leggings that resemble skin-tight jeans. Zippers are faster and cheaper to sew in than buttons and lace, and they can take the place of more expensive fabric or leather, too.
"Most low-priced, low-quality nonbranded or private-label clothing today will simply fall apart faster than its branded counterparts," says James Dion, president of Dionco, a Chicago-based retail consulting firm.