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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Are Expensive Jeans Better Than Cheap Jeans?

Are Expensive Jeans Better Than Cheap Jeans?

I had some Kohl's cash available today, so I went with my family to get a dress shirt for my son.  My son was sharing a dress shirt with his brother, and let's just say that doesn't work well when both have events around the same time.

While I was at Kohl's, I decided to check out some jeans for me.  The last time I bought jeans was in 2009, 5 years ago.  There was a clearance sale at K-mart, and I bought 4 pairs of Wrangler Jeans for $8 each.  I also got a pair of Levis for $13.  The Levis are nice and made out of sturdy denim, but are not the popular style like the 501 or 505 that most people think of when they hear "Levis".  These Levis were a low-cost version to compete at the lower end of the market and don't really look like Levis at all.

Expensive Jeans for Sale
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Kohl's had a sale going on a store brand of jeans: buy one for $55, get one free.  This works out to $27.50 per pair, which isn't too bad I guess.  But I was interested in Levis.  The last time I had a "real" pair of Levis was in the early 2000's about 15 years ago.  I walked over to the Levis, which were in a separate area of the store, and found all kinds of Levis styles.  I pulled out a pair of 34W 34L 505's and was hit with sticker shock- $58.

Real Levis!

Why Do People Buy Expensive Jeans Instead of Cheap Jeans?

The $58 price tag got me thinking about how much it costs to make jeans.  If Wrangler can make a pair of denim jeans that sells for $8 why are Levis 7x the price?  The answer is simple- because people will pay it.

Levis are perceived as a quality product
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

People like Levis and enough people value having a real pair of Levis at $58, apparently.  But what is the value of Levis over Wranglers and other cheaper jeans?  The Wranglers have lasted 5 years, so they are obviously well constructed.  In fact, the material and construction of Wranglers and Levis are almost the same.

People Like Expensive Jeans!
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

I think the value of expensive jeans is exclusivity and perceived value.  People who wear expensive jeans think they are getting something extra for the money, and they are.  Expensive jeans are perceived as superior- the brand and logo is enough to distinguish one pair of jeans from another even if the construction and materials are the same.  If Levis were sold for $8, some people would want to wear more expensive jeans to separate themselves from the crowd.

Expensive Jeans!
Another part of the value of expensive jeans is you can get something you know you will like.  I liked my old pair of Levis 505.  I even wore them as cut-off shorts for a year after the holes in the knees got huge.  Levis are consistent in fit and quality.  Once you know what you like, you can get it again.  I associate Levis with quality and know I would like them.

Should I Buy Cheap Jeans or Expensive Jeans?

I decided that I didn't really need new jeans.  My 5 year old $8 Wranglers are still hanging in there.  My cheap version $13 Levis, although very faded, don't have any holes and are still fine.  But I am still looking for that clearance deal on Levis 505s.  Since Levis are in such high demand, I doubt that I will find the kind of Levis I want selling for less than $40 or so.

Are Expensive Jeans Better Than Cheap Jeans?
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Eventually, I will want to buy new jeans to replace my old jeans when they finally wear out.  Will I buy expensive jeans or cheap jeans?  Realistically, I will probably end up buying more cheap jeans.  If I try on enough types of cheap jeans, I will be able to find some that fit well and have the wash of denim that I like.  As far as exclusivity, I simply don't care what people think of my clothes.  So for me, there is not enough extra value in buying expensive jeans if I can find some cheap jeans that work.

Recommended Reading:
How to Find Really Cheap Winter Clothes at Clearance Sales

Guide to Kohl's Cash and Discounts

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