Your questions about Jeans



Let's answer some questions about production cost of jeans, export quota's charges, brand name jeans & copy jeans, jeans buyer's charges and more:

As our daytime (jeans) activities keep us more occupied than we had hoped for, we have been forced to limit the quantity of information that will be placed on this Jeans manufacturing web site and try to focus on what interests you: the visitor looking for jeans information.

To enable us to do so we will open a new section on this page, where you can post all of your questions that are related to jeans manufacturing, jeans manufacturers, jeans exports and other jeans stuff. Feel free to correct us at any time, if you believe our information to be incorrect. We're doing this based on personal experience and, mind you, without any obligation, but we don't (pretend to) know all about the business.
We will then select a few questions that we think will interest most people in our audience every week and post both question and answer on our website.

Not long ago, a Mr. George, a potential jeans buyer from the USA, send us an email asking about Jeans prices in China.

As we work for a Thai Jeans company, we wouldn't know a whole lot about the prices in China, but we thought it might be a good idea to use this opportunity to talk a little about prices and how they are calculated.
First and most important, there is the cotton denim fabric. This base material comes in many different weights, qualities, color, weaving, etc. We will talk more about that in another article in the near future. On average a jean pant will consume approximately 1.5 yards of fabric. So, if we were to use a fabric of US$ 2.50 per yard, than this would come to $ 3.75.
Second, we need sewing thread, buttons and / or zipper, and rivets to attach and hold everything together. These 3 items together will cost about US$ 0.25.
Third thing to remember when calculating the total price of a pair of jeans is: Labels, (hang-)tags, imitation leather waistbelt patch and a small plu label, which would come to app. US$ 0.40
Fourth there is the labors costs to take into account. The denim cutters, the jeans sewers, the jeans buttons and rivets placers, the quality inspectors, the drivers, the jeans packing staff, the jeans taggers and the warehouse people all add some value to this pair of jeans, so we will need to add a few minutes (or even seconds) worth of salary from all of them, however hard to calculator. Let's say this will be about $1.50 total per jean.
Another important detail is the jeans washing and other treatments on number five. Again there are hundreds of possible treatments available these days. Starting from a standard rinse wash and ending at special laser treatments with personalized images or messages on the jeans. For this calculation we will work with just a standard pumice stonewash. The cost of such a stonewash will be somewhere around the $0.60 per jeans.

About every other week we receive e-mails in which people ask us if we can produce jeans pants with brand names like: Citizens of Humanity, True Religion, Rock & Republic, Miss Sixty, Diesel, Antik, Chip & Pepper and a few more jeans designer names we had no idea that were even worth copying.

Obviously, we can not make exact copies or replica's of designer jeans.

Even brand specific details like back pocket designs, for which the Antik jeans are now somewhat famous, or alternative styles of buttons and rivets are a definite "No, No!". However, when it comes to the cut, the washing, the denim fabric, the sewing styles and thread color of the original jeans, there are a lot of things most garment manufacturers are wiling to duplicate, or better said: replicate. And we are not just talking Asian "non-copy" brands like "D-sell" or "Revy's" type of reproductions, but also the hundreds of legitimate jeans sellers that base their new products entirely on the somewhat more conservative design that are sold by Gap and Old Navy. During a recent cleanup of our sample room, it was estimated that 70% of the samples we have received from our customers, to be used as reference for their own new styles, where labeled with Old Navy or GAP...

There was a time when Levi's claimed copyright on their famous 501 model, these days better known as a standard 5 pocket jeans, but in the last 10 years or so, we have not heard of any cases where a designer would try to claim a copyright on his or her designs or styles. The differences between so called new designs and and last season's fashion jeans designs are minimal and would be impossible to claim as one person's new invention. From time to time we do meet people that claim revolutionized sewing techniques for which they have applied for a patent, but until this day we have never seen any claims being made as a result of these patents. In our opinion such an patent would only be useful when the sewing technique can be fully automated and the machine that performs the sewing could than be patented as a result.

This week we will start with a question from a gentleman that was friendly enough to include an image with his question.

His jeans question is:


i'm looking into the fashion of jeans for 2004/5 and i've figured out how most of the old fashion look is done, but in struggling on 2 things, i wondered if you could help, how do you make the faded type look on jeans in certain parts and how do you make holes in jeans, but still keep the white lines of fabric showing underneath, i have attached a picture of what i mean, hope you can help.

(name withheld)
Jeans model

Thanks for this "first" jeans question!

Let me start by explaining that all information that we will provide on this Jeans questions page is based on the techniques as they are currently used by the small en medium Jeans manufacturers in Thailand. Some jeans processing techniques may be considered somewhat primitive, but always remember that in a country with relative low labor costs one always needs to weigh investment in new technologies against the advantages of human "hand made quality" labor.

With that in mind, we'd go about it in the following manner:

First we would cut and sew the basic jean, without placing the patch on the left knee.

The next step would be to then use a sandblaster or similar device to create the faded look on the upper legs. Once that is done, it's back to sewing where we would sew on the patch that has already been sliced up in the mean time. The cuts that are needed are not anywhere near as big as in the picture. We normally make these cuts (almost incisions) by using small scissors or a strong knife. After sewing the patch on, we would also make some incisions on right upper leg to get the damaged look there. Next a bundle about 30 of these pants would be placed in a large washing machine together with specially processed pumice- and possibly some other stones. After washing the jeans in this machines for several hours, the final effect should basically be the same as that in the picture.
The fact that the horizontal white threads on the upper leg area are not affected (as much) by the stonewashing process has to do with the fact that when the textile mill weaves the denim the thread that is used horizontally is much thicker and thus stronger than that what is used vertically (to put it very simple). These threads are still white because the indigo dye stuff, which is used to give the jeans it's famous blue colors, has not been able to penetrate the fabric all the way to the core.

The second jeans related question comes from a new jeans buyer / importer in the United States. It's touches on one of the many other factors that is involved when having your own jeans brand or jeans styles made overseas.

Kind people at,

While communicating with your most preferred Jeans manufacturer they mentioned that they will have to charge something called Export Quota Charges.

Can you tell me a bit more about what it is and why I would need that?

thanks for taking time to read this and for your soonest reply.

E. from Ca., USA

Dear E.,

To keep it sort & simple:

Export quota is an old tool to shield the United States' garment industry from being overwhelmed by importation of foreign produced garments. Even though the quota system will be a abolished by early 2005 (as was confirmed very recently by the US government), it does affect all shipments of garments from so-called quota countries in the year 2004. Most of these countries can produce garments at much lower prices than the USA, or even it's surrounding countries, can. To give the US garment industry time to adapt, the export quota's for textile and garments were introduced in the multi fiber agreement (MFA) of 1975. These export quota's are also used a tool to assist developing nations, by giving them a relative higher amount of the quota, thus making the developing nation's product cheaper than other nation's. Quota charges tend to follow the seasonal influences. Charges are usually lower between March and July and start rising in August, at least: when there is no reshuffling of quota's like we have seen in recent years. To answer your second question: Yes, you will need to the export quota, cat. 347 for jeans and other cotton pants, to be precise. You can only get the export quota from actual manufacturers with a clean rap sheet. In prior years garment exporters (non-factories!) would be able to trade this export quota as they pleased, resulting in highly inflated prices and aiding the illegal practice of transshipments without the correct country of origin documents. So, for a jeans buyer to get a shipment of jeans into the United States there are 2 documents that are crucial: 1) the textile visa with the export quota and 2) a certificate which states the country of origin for both fabric and the completed jeans.

Hopes this answers your question.

Check back for more Q & A's soon.

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