A Rejoinder and Statement of Principles

by Erin on May 15, 2008

I don't usually take the time to reply to negative comments that are left on this blog — why encourage people who are spoiling for a fight? I'm not bothered by their criticism, for the most part (and if it's justified I do try to take it to heart, however unpleasant it may be to do so!). But most of the time replying to negative comments falls under the heading "Never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty and only the pig enjoys it."

However, there have been a few comments on a recent post which I feel I need to respond to, if only for clarification. A commenter, mainly anonymous, but also signing one comment "7/10 split", suggested that I am a "professional what? writer/ advertisers? whose goal is to sell things", and also a "shill."

For the record: I am not a "professional advertiser". I am a writer, but of a very particular kind.

The same commenter (who may be this blogger) also suggested that I don't sew the dresses that I post here. If you would like to see pictures of ME in the dresses I have sewn (and I admit, I don't often post pictures of myself here because, all things considered, I had a better time in labor — and I didn't have an epidural! — than I do having my picture taken) you can see them in five out of the first six pictures here.
(The dresses shown in that link include a Duro, the pink jellybean dress, the blogiversary dress, the stunt Valentine's Dress, and the yellow-bird dress.)

Whether you enjoy my posts or not, I would like to state unequivocally that I do NOT accept money to post about any particular dress, fabric, pattern, pair of shoes, etc. There is NO payola or kickback scheme in effect on this blog.

For book reviews, I am, as is common practice in publishing, often provided with free copies of the book in question, to review or to give away.

The advertisers on the right-hand side are just that: advertisers. They have no influence on content, and I do *not* ask them for free stuff.

I accept pictorial ads ONLY from people who sell patterns, fabric, or vintage clothes, or are otherwise related to sewing. I must approve the ad before it will run. My ad rates are very low; $25/month (with a minimum three-month commitment, because I'm lazy and don't want to be bothered putting up and taking down ads all the time). I also participate in Google's AdSense program, which are the boxed text ads you see on the page, and in the Amazon Associates program, which gives me a commission on books purchased by Amazon customers who clicked on links to books from this blog. (To give you an idea of the revenue from those two sources; my last "payment" from Amazon was a $35 gift certificate which I used … to buy more sewing books. Google pays every two months or so; I think my last check from them was in the $125 range.)

I have set up "Dress a Day Inc" as a LLC company, so that, if I say something libelous and am sued, the company will be the target of any lawsuit (and not my family). This means I file taxes on all the income from this blog — if there is any, after paying hosting fees to my internet service provider.

As for the comments about the sweater in question, I am doing a little research on the subject; the commenter suggested that the sweater probably cost less than $1 to make, and that all the labor involved was sweatshop labor in Asia. I don't think that's right, given that the cost of a pound of even low-grade cotton is about .71 — that's a pound of unspun cotton. From what I can tell, the spinning of one pound of raw cotton fiber produces 840 yards of yarn. That seems to be on the low end of the number of yards you'd need for a sweater — any knitters want to jump in here? — and the sweater I posted about was 14 gauge, which is a fairly fine knit). So, at least .71 in raw materials, plus the spinning cost, plus the fashioning cost, plus the cost of the buttons — I think it would be hard to get the raw goods cost of this garment under $1. Even leaving aside that the garment is made in China (I called and asked) — there's the cost of the coming up with the design, a job almost certainly done by an American at American wages. (J.Crew employs about 7600 people.) The same commenter said that the sweater I linked to could be found in discount stores for under $20; if, in fact, that is the case — why haven't I found it there? It's not like I haven't been looking! Do you factor the salary of the designer into the cost of the sweater? If not, why not? Do you factor in the jobs of the catalog writers (Americans), shop employees (American and for the stores in Japan, Japanese)? The distribution center employees (in Virginia and North Carolina)? The UPS guy who will bring it to me? (Hi Luis!) The short answer, it seems to me, is that a narrow focus on manufacturing jobs is not helpful; if the company can't manufacture goods at a reasonable price, then all those other jobs I mentioned above — they go away, too. Despite conjecture about how much of the price of the sweater is pure profit, large retail chains have VERY small profit margins — one source puts it at 2%. Another source (from 1998!) puts the apparel profit margin at 5.4% … and given the rising costs of commodities since 1998, I can't imagine that margin has gone up.

I apologize for such a long and tedious post, without even any pretty pictures to enliven it; I promise not to make a habit of this kind of thing. However, I do treasure the trust you place in me by visiting this blog, leaving comments, and contributing to a little oasis of dress-loving camaraderie online, and I didn't want to give credence to accusations of shilling, payola, and "blogging under false pretenses" by letting them go by in silence.

(Comments of the kind "all her taste is in her mouth," "this is soooooo ugly lol", and "i cant believe u wear this!" will still be ignored. De gustibus, etc.)

If you ever have any questions about me or this blog, well, my email address is on the right-hand side, towards the bottom. I do try to answer all the email I receive.

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