One thing I’ve observed over the years of being in this delightful wasteland of memes and anger (TLOMAA) is the neat microcosmic presentation of the effect a financially weak and business-unsavvy civilian population with a huge soundboard has on business, and how people think.
I’ve always known, or had the idea, but still..
If you extract the urge most of its users have to buy almost anything if it’s fandom-branded, most people on here, understandably, do not and cannot afford to support small artist, clothing, or luxury (anything not a necessity) businesses.
However, these are the same people who complain about capitalism, yet often in a way that leads me to believe that they don’t know what it is about capitalism they don’t like, and what literally will not and cannot be changed or blamed unless you want to obliterate the concept of money- or at least reset the global trade market and the US economy.
You see, people on tumblr are quick to try and dismantle an upcoming business’ popularity and consumer base if they think the product is too expensive.
A population of young people rightfully scrupulous of spending what they have, yet bearing totally unrealistic expectations is such a bad mix!
I hate watching this Nubian Skin drama. I hope what I’m seeing is disproportionately presented to me through a selection bias- what I’m seeing is inarguably augmented by the fact that I follow thelingerieaddict . However, this is still a trend. Anyway, in regards to the Nubian Skin drama… You know how the lingerie industry standard of ‘nude’ is just beige? And how while it certainly doesn’t match most light skinned people, it matches little to no dark skinned people? You know how the fashion industry as a whole seemingly ignores the reality that a lot of people have brown skin?
And you know how POC on tumblr are always saying ‘we need to support black businesses’? I’ll get to that one in a second.
Enter Nubian Skin Lingerie is a brand made and run by WOC. It is new. It is small. It is non-corporate. Ade Hassan started it up from the ground, and unlike huge brands like Hanes or Victorias Secret, she doesn’t (and can’t) ship her designs to a factory in another country to have her stuff made on the cheap. Nor is she stocked by every Target and Wal-Mart, or even every shopping mall. She doesn’t have that power, yet.
Starting a company is always expensive. Buying materials, getting the time to make your product (I mean you don’t have time for a regular job anymore so you have to invest and then hope it pays off!), finding and paying people to help you, making something high quality enough that people will buy, marketing it so people know it exists, trying to get other stores to carry it.. all of this takes time (which is money) and money.
But let me take a moment to explain the process of undercutting.
Undercutting is the business practice of under-pricing a product so your competition seems too expensive. This has become a standard business practice. Let’s say I make soda out of a small neighborhood factory. My soda is $6 for a 4-pack. This is what I need to charge to still make a profit and cover production costs and rent. Let’s say my competitor, who doesn’t like the homegrown popularity of my brand, and who knows someone in beverage distribution, originally sold their soda for almost the same price. So, to wipe me out, they don’t decide to make a new flavor, they don’t focus on buying commercials…they just drop the price of the soda. Initially, they’ll be eating the cost, but they can afford that more than I can. And after their deal goes through, they’ll be supported by a wider distribution range because of their new industry ties. Meanwhile, when people go to the soda aisle, they will see my $6 soda and their $4 soda and make their choice based on cost.
Even though my soda is priced to cover the necessary production costs and leave me with a little bit of profit, undercutting has now made me look too expensive.
Undercutting is exclusively only something businesses who favor profit far over quality can do- because if you’re concerned with the quality of your materials, the pay of your employees, and the ethics of your methods, it will cost you too damn much.
This concept applies everywhere in almost every industry. Undercutting is why people look at the $55 bras Nubian Skin makes and go ‘that’s too expensive’. A lot of people are used to the prices of horrible companies like H&M that have huuuuge made-in-china factory capability, major distribution, and millions in profit. That, and aaalll of the Chinese resellers you can imagine. Let me digress:
I see this habit that people have here, when someone goes “Hey look at this new small brand that came up! This person sells x-useful-or-neat-thing for $x and you can buy it here!” People inevitably will say ‘Cool!’ and ‘Take all my money!’ but eventually people start tagging onto the promo post like ‘why? this is so expensive! You can buy something like it here and here at Wal-Mart or from this (exclusively stocked via AlieExpress) store’ so now this advertisement for a new startup company has been parasitized by people making it look unreasonably and frivolously expensive.
I’ve said it before, but I need to say it again, you also need to be aware that a lot of popular blogs that turn around and offer links to ‘cheap’ clothing are promoing stores that ship directly from China, often use photos stolen from other companies to present the concept of a quality item (just like x company but way cheaper!), and incentivize these people through affiliate programs. For a website that finds artists being ripped off completely heinous, I don’t see much of a qualm about businesses doing it. Take Blackmilk for instance.
I know I’ve spoken on this in the past, but long story short, the business practices listed above are a problem for this company, especially when not only are people ripping off their product/photos, but I’ve seen people on tumblr actually accusing them of fraud, literally saying “They are selling leggings you can get from china at five times the price!”
I’ve even seen creepyyeha accused of this, even when it’s entirely not true, and the fact that ‘cheaper versions’ of any of her pieces exist is not because she bought and resold them, but because someone stole her designs and remade them with cheaper materials and labor.
You fell for it.
So what is my point here? Let me summarize. You see people rightfully complain about capitalism, but I don’t think you guys get how it works. Capitalism isn’t when everything is expensive and no one can afford it- that doesn’t even make sense how would anyone make money? No, part of capitalism is big bottom-line-based businesses choking out smaller honest companies. And how do they do that? By being cheaper. On all accounts. Cheaper materials, cheaper production costs, lower pay for employees, etc. So when you guys spit in the face of new, small, honest businesses with “this is too expensive!” even though you have NO CLUE what actual start up and production costs are (because your idea of price is defined by what dishonest, unsustainable, huge corporation, big box companies have sold you) you are doing one of the most capitalist things possible. You are undervaluing labor, buying into the cost over quality mentality, and supporting the idea that smaller companies are ‘too expensive’ and should not be supported.
This is not an attack on people who can’t afford otherwise (a populace with restricted income ((to a point)) is super fab for capitalism, in this way), this is an attack on those who attack smaller companies with their ignorance.
You want corporations to stop running everything? Then stop helping them crush their competition.
You want innovation? Companies that fill niches? Then support them. It costs money.