Price Points & Fabrics

Well, it's been 2 days since we launched the online fabric store and I just wanted to say thank you so much to all of you for your kind words, comments & all the fabric orders!!!  I'm really blown away by all of the support and appreciate you all so much!!

I received a comment about the "sticker shock" one reader got when she headed over to the Pure Style Home Shop to view fabrics & she asked me what I thought about the price point & using it in my own home and in clients' homes.  I have to say that I really appreciate this commenter's honesty and of course, with a price point of $120/ yard for our fabrics, I knew this would be an issue and have mentioned it serveral times before on the blog, but I thought now that the fabric line has actually launched, it would be a good time to talk about price points & what all goes into it. 

First question- Do I have fabrics that cost this much in my own home?  Yes. 

Do I use them in client's homes?  Yes, in pretty much every single project....  BUT, my client's budgets determine where the fabric will go.  For example, right now in a tight budgeted living room we're working on with a client, we are using a $275/ yard Ralph Lauren fabric in the room but it's going on a pillow so we need only 1 yard. 

{Some Schumacher Fabrics mixed in with my Live Paisley in a client's living room}

Statement fabrics play such an important role in creating a vibe & a mood in a room and showing a family's personality, that for me they're really one of those "splurges" that we typically recommend making in a room.  We may use pieces from Ikea or Target in a room but the little shot of the perfect fabric in there (whether it be $25 or $250/ yard ) is what brings the room up and makes it personal & right.  We often use the most expensive fabrics on the pillows to keep the budget down, while still getting that perfect fabric in our rooms.

Do I love it when amazing fabric can go on the curtains?  Yes!!  But is it always practical for the budget? Nope. 

{my house}

In my own house I have off-the-rack cheapie curtains from Ikea along with curtains I made myself out of inexpensive white linen, but I have awesome pillows ;)  Some of my favorite pillows in my house are $200+/ yard and some of the others were $10 thrift store fabric finds...  The cost isn't the determining factor for me because if it's pillows, you only need a yard.  

It's all a matter of what's important to you & what you value and where you decide to put your money in a room.  And beautiful rooms can be created at virtually any price point.  No one needs decorative pillows to survive, but most of us have them anyway. 

The next question that I've just learned the answer to myself through this crazy process of creating a line of textiles is: Why do fabrics cost what they do?  I often wondered why I could buy a Duralee print for $30/ yard and then buy a Schumacher for $120/ yard?  Was it because the Schumacher people were just making waaaaaaaay more money?  But there's so much more that goes into it than that.

I've learned about mills & jobbers and open textile designs and exclusive textiles designs and the difference in mass-produced and smaller companies...   I'm still learning and it's kind of confusing but this is what I've gotten out of it all so far:   There are companies out there who make "open" prints.  They mass-produce fabrics and sell them to as  many textile companies as they can.  Kravet, Duralee, Fabricut, Calico Corners and others can all buy the same prints and sell them under their own names.  The prints cost less because the print is "open" and anyone can buy it.  It's basically up for grabs.  This is why you might see Kravet and Fabricut carrying the same fabric.

There are other mass-produced designs that the big textile companies buy that are "exclusives."  They buy the design (maybe for just a period of time in some cases) and they are the only ones selling it.  This is good for them because they don't have competitors selling the same product.  Lots of times these exclusive designs are by certain designers and they also have rights to use the designer's name on the fabric collection.  This of course, adds to the cost because the designer has to get paid royalties too. 

...Keep in mind that all of these instances deal with fabrics that are massed-produced in huge quantities.  These big fabric companies are carried all across the US in showrooms and retail stores and are very popular.  Because they are producing & selling so many yards of fabric, the production and materials cost per yard is very low so that it's still low by the time it gets to the general public.

For boutique and smaller companies (like me!) the production costs are much higher.  If you are producing in smaller runs and have a smaller market, it just costs more to produce per yard.  Add high quality linen & printing procedures and you have a more expensive end product.  I could never have afforded to do a mass-produced line.  It's been a while since I got the information, but if I remember tallying up what it would cost to set up 1 design in 1 colorway and print a certain number of thousands of yards, it was something like $20,000- $30,000!!  (Ending up with a fabric collection that would have cost me a cool 1.5 +/- million in investments.  ouch!  But just not possible.  We've invested a lot to create our fabric line, but nowhere close to 1.5 ;) 

If you are buying mass-produced items, you get the price benefit of everyone else's dollars combined with yours to make a less expensive item.  If you're buying items from smaller companies, with smaller markets, you don't have that benefit, but you are receiving something that not as many people have, so it's a bit more unique.  Pros & cons to both.   It's a bit like Home Depot vs. your local hardware store or Superwalmart groceries vs. your local grocery store groceries.  Walmart's stuff is cheaper because there are Walmarts everywhere.  The local grocery stores selling items at higher prices aren't making more, they're just paying more so they have to sell their goods at higher prices.  It's up to you which way you decide to go where you spend your money.  I don't think either is right or wrong, but some people have very strong opinions one way or the other.

{image from here}

Another thing I've learned is that fabric (or any product really) passes through many hands before it reaches the end consumer.  When we buy things from a retailer, they are marking it up.  They have to.  It's how they stay in business. 

There are lots of different ways that fabrics are sold & the internet is often making a direct connection between fabric companies & the end user, but in general, this is what I've noticed the exchange of goods normally looks like:

Production Cost --> Fabric Company --> Fabric Showroom --> Decorator -->End user

Production Cost--> Fabric Company--> Retailer--> End User

{The Washington Design Center is filled with fabric showrooms; image from }

There are retail prices marked on many items & typically, you can find things at just below retail on the internet, in effect, creating a new, slightly lower retail price.  But basically, the real retail or the lowered retail price is the price that most end users pay for fabrics whether they buy through a retailer or a decorator selling at those prices.  (Decorators all charge differently & have different contracts so this isn't always the case.)

So when the final retail price for a fabric is determined, it's based upon:
first, giving the showroom a price
next, creating a trade-only price
and finally, determining the final retail price

or just going from retailer to final retail price.  (If you think about it, retailers are getting a very good price from companies, but retailers typically have more overhead than showrooms and designers because retail rents are usually fairly high, so they need to mark up more to stay in business, ending up with that same retail price everyone else is selling at. ALTHOUGH..  A lot of online stores are putting retailers out of business now because they don't have that overhead but are still getting those prices from wholesalers...  world's a changing!)

{image from here}

As I just mentioned, the internet has provided a direct link from companies to the end users, but in order for companies to remain loyal to the people selling their product and not, "cut them out," companies need to be sure not to undercut their distributors (ie showrooms, decorators and retailers.)  It would be very easy to cut out all the "middle men" from the equation, but in the end , then they would have no one but themselves selling their products & depending upon their business model, it could be difficult to stay in business. 

I thought long and hard before deciding how I wanted to sell my fabrics.  I thought about just selling online retail myself.  I thought about taking my designs to a large company & selling them, virtually having no fabric company but getting paid for my designs and trying to keep my name attached and being able to retail my fabrics online at lower prices along with anyone else who wanted to retail them.  And I thought about selling through showrooms and select retail stores... 

{I thought about what was best for all of us}

It took me a while to make the decision, but for now I have decided that I want to keep control of my line &
my designs and I think the company itself.  In the end, because of this decision not to go mass-produced, my fabrics will not be as affordable as I wish they could be and not everyone will be able to buy them.  It's a fact I wish I could change and I would looove for everyone to be able to afford yards & yards of them.  I truly do.  But it's not reality.

It's also important to me to support & protect those companies & people selling my products because they are the ones really getting it done.  As a decorator myself, I appreciate companies that offer trade pricing and I wanted to be able to do the same for decorators who want to use our products.

And I know there are those out there who are not in the interior design trade who think that they should get wholesale & trade pricing on everything they buy, but I don't think that's very fair.  Designers buy thousands & thousands of products per year and build relationships with the companies they work with to get the trade pricing they have access to.  It's how they make their living.   I think it's unfair for someone in an unrelated field to expect that they should be able to get the same price that a distributor of a product gets.  (Don't hate me if you're one of those people please!! :)

I want a deal as much as the next person, but when I buy my clothes from say Macy's or Nordstrom, I don't get employee discounts because I don't work at either of those places.   And I don't expect one either.  It's the same thing when buying goods for the home.  When a decorator buys something from a company for a client or a showroom purchases something, they are selling a product for that company and they get that discount / they get paid for selling the product. 
And the fact is that almost everything you buy passes through multiple hands before it reaches yours.  (Most companies just don't lay it out the way I just did because it can scare people away...  I hope I didn't scare you away though!!)

Anyway, I'm still learning and it's all very new to me.  But this is what I've gotten out of it all so far.  I hope this explains how we've determined our price & I hope it makes sense to you.  It's so important for me that anyone who buys our fabrics feels that they are worth what they are paying for and that they're happy with their decision.

Anyway, I'm off for the day but don't forget to enter the LL Textiles giveaway if you haven't already!  It ends Friday & click here to enter. 

xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.


Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Great information in this post!! Your fabrics are simply gorgeous, I love their completely unique flavor, they are not designs you see everywhere. All the best with this venture and I also simply adore the images of the fabrics. Timeless. Janell

Rebecca Gibbs said...

Your fabrics are so unique and fresh! People will pay for that! Thank you for sharing the cost behind the fabric with us...and congrats!

kwaltz1 said...

can anyone tell me the name of the fabric in the picture - the yellow background with green pillow (so i won't have to search it out)?

ArchitectDesign™ said...

I think you handled this so well, very diplomatically and as you say SO much goes into it! I think your lovely fabrics are all the better for being on the higher end and not mass market retailed. You'd probably loose quality control that way and you don't want your name attached to something you wouldn't buy yourself, right? Anyway, you're doing a GREAT job!

ash said...

Good explanation, Lauren! I think that in our constant quest for the most "affordable" option, we often forget that there is usually a higher price for quality and items produced on a smaller scale. Your textiles are so beautiful, congratulations on the launch! And your pregnancy : ) I'm right there with you, due around the beginning of June.

Natalie said...

Amen! Agreed agreed and agreed. You did explain it so well for those who may not understand (love the Macy's employee discount comparison). Trade pricing is a necessity for us in the trade and I hope it's not look at as "unfair"! Thanks for helping explain it.

Cait said...

I LOVE Fernstar- so unique and classic. I also love the Happikat color's all fabulous! Congratulations on such an amazing accomplishment!


Fantastic post Lauren!
I think your textiles are very well priced given their originality, aesthetic and quality.
You are in business to make money not to go into debt. The way you positioned your textile line, Your time creativity, other people's time and expertise (people that work for you, yourself and everyone at the mill, consultants that you have used to create this and continue to sell the product, people that ship organize and create and moderate the website) costs lots of money.
The line is beautiful, I wish you lots of success!!!
xoxo Edyta

Acquired Objects said...

Very good explanation and I totally understand the production of fabrics isn’t inexpensive and yours are so worth it! Now my only problem is what pattern and color to choose since I can only afford one or two patterns!

Unknown said...

I like this post! Very informative and nicely written. Your textiles are GORGEOUS. I'm definitely figuring out how to incorporate some (or LOTS) of them into our home. :) It might have to be in small bits, at least at first, but it'll happen!

An Urban Cottage said...

TMI for me but thank you for tackling what I'm sure is a difficult subject. I thought your fabrics were very fairly priced.

Brooke said...

Your fabrics are beautiful!! This is such a great post- it was really interesting to learn how it all works. Thank you for taking the time to explain. All the best to you and your business!!

Anonymous said...

Great article Lauren! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and insight into the process of bringing your vision to life. Your line is just gorgeous and very fresh and unique.

DecAPorter said...

I will definitely keep this post in mind next time a client needs to understand the care & effort put into bespoke fabric.
Such pretty designs - hoping to be able to use them soon!
Jennifer @Dec-a-Porter

Leslie said...

Thanks for the explanation! It's really interesting to read about the process. :)

Mary Ann Pickett said...

This was really fascinating. I applaud you for starting the business that you have! Can't wait to see your now.

Barbara Matson said...

Fabulous explanation. People need to realize that locally made craftsmenship costs. You fabric looks luxurious and worth every penny! Still hoping to win the giveaway though :)

Holly Gruszka said...

Thank you for this very informative and honest post. I've been taking a few classes and the most recent fabrics class taught us some basics, but this gives me a better understanding of price points and how companies can charge what they do (and why I can find the same fabulous Thom Filicia fabric on Calico Corners and Kravet). Again, thank you. And all the best on your new venture - your textiles are beautiful and now I must go enter the giveaway in the hopes of a win. Have a great day!

Sheila Zeller said...

What an excellent post, Lauren. Thank you for this! It's so hard to explain, but you've nailed it. I'm going to link this article on FB & Twitter now... and hope that everyone reads it!

Mona Thompson Providence Ltd. said...

Lauren, You always explain things so well. The internet and HGTV shows have done a service and dis-service (probably not a word) to the design industry. In the end for all of get what you pay for. It's sooo fun to find a real deal but that is the exception, not the norm. I wish you the best of luck with your new fabric line. I know it will be a great success. XO, Mona

Ann said...

Very informative post. I am one of those people that tends to be frugal but if I can understand that I'm getting what I pay for, then I'm far more likely to buy what I really need. Thanks for sharing the story behind your experience in pricing!

kayce hughes said...

so beautifully said as always.

Susan Jacoby said...

Lauren, Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.I am not looking for a "deal" nor am I ignorant of the way the business works or what determines quality, as some commenters have inferred. Of course being near Mpls/St. Paul, I use Ikea ALL the time. But I also buy Hickory Chair and have had a chat with Alexa Hampton about furniture marketing. I get it. I respect your decisions and the thinking behind them. The prices just came as a bit of a surprise. I guess I misunderstood your brand a bit. My bad. I wish you all the best.

Jodie Okun Interiors said...

this post is excellent! you esplained it so well...i think i might use this to help explain some things to my clients:) your fabrics are gorgeous...and i love how the photos tell a story. thanks for sharing!

Lynne said...

Your fabrics are amazing!
I hope to purchase a yard just to hold it, close my eyes, and imagine what it could be.

Lauren said...

sjdesign- I SO appreciated your question & willingness to ask. I knew that it would be an eyebrow raiser and so appreciate that you mentioned it. Thank you!!

Ann from On Sutton Place said...

This was so interesting Lauren. I love fabric and have for most of my life. Someday, hopefully sooner than later, I will have pillows made from Lauren Liess fabric in my home. Count on it.

travelkate said...

Congrats on your new line! The fabrics are beautiful! I have long wondered about this topic--I really appreciate this informative post!

angela said...

It is so brave to work hard, put yourself out there and take the criticism, be it merited or not. You should be proud of yourself! It's not your obligation to produce these for cheap. Your name is on it. If people love it and can afford it, they'll buy it. Free market and all that. My husband is a business owner, and I know he always cared about his quality of work before, but stamping his business name on it is different. (Oh, and here's another analogy. I'm in the dental profession. I get free electric toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other products. Why? If I love it, and it is effective, my patients will hear about it and buy it.) I'd love to get wholesale pricing, but that's the way business works. Wouldn't everyone else love free electric toothbrushes? Okay, not as much as designer fabric :)

traci zeller designs said...

What a wonderful post, Lauren, so that everyone can understand a little bit better. But how exactly am I supposed to concentrate when I just want to love up on a most adorable little boy???? Too cute for words!!

Anonymous said...

I really think this is a refreshing post, Lauren. I am in the middle of having custom drapes made for my living room right now. Although I can't afford a super expensive window treatment installation, I think it's important to splurge on a few showstopping pieces (e.g., a pillow or two in a fabulous textile) here and there. I live in the District and I'm happy to support your efforts. Congrats again!

Cathy said...

A well written post tackling a difficult subject and tough question. This is one I'll bookmark. Just today I was telling a client that they should not be scared off by a more expensive fabric, that if they love it they should buy a yard and make a pillow!


Vel Criste said...

Thanks for the honesty and the detailed account on how the price turned out to be as such. I am sure now, people will understand the " ouchy" price tag of your beautiful and good quality fabric! Best of luck to you and your fledgling endeavor!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! I love fabrics (across all price ranges) and really enjoyed reading this informative post about what goes into the pricing and distribution of a fabric line. Your fabrics are gorgeous, and while the price point is very high, I think it is still reasonable and good value for the product offered. Thanks for sharing:)

Andrea said...

As a designer, I say THANK YOU! Thank you for acknowledging that designers and those specific to the trade should get proper "to the trade pricing" Many just don't understand why and you did a great job explaining.

As for your price point, its in line with other designers promoting lines like yourself. I just hate that you had to defend your price :( But you did a magnificent job explaining!

And like you said, be selective, splurge here and there on key items!

Wishing you all the success you deserve!

christina @ greige said...


I love the fabrics! Congratulations on bringing a beautiful product to us! Wishing you the best.

I find that customers have a hard time understanding this process and it makes me feel guilty sometimes!

I cannot wait to see them in person!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the honesty and the detailed account on how the price turned out to be as such. I am sure now, people will understand the " ouchy" price tag of your beautiful and good quality fabric! Best of luck to you and your fledgling endeavor!I am looking forward the sheets of loft beds

Share Knowledges said...

The floral pillow is so beautiful and I sure your customer will give a review for why to buy this only. The mixture of each pattens is gorgeous, the new look of blog is really great.

Donna Benedetto said...

First off let me say your fabrics are gorgeous and actually priced well for the quality. I think the mind set for people is quantity over quality and lets face it you get what you pay for. You are 100% correct in saying that a clients budget determines where a higher priced fabric can and would be used but certainly can be used in every single home. It is sometimes the differance between good and really great decorating. I wish you much success and I commend you for keeping the line your own and really controlling how it is projected in the market.

Unknown said...

Thanks SO much for this post! I've always been interested in the process of how fabric reaches my stash cupboard and it was really interesting to read about the different stages and how fabric is priced. I'm slightly less resentful now at paying premium prices for stunning fabrics!!! lol x

Lori said...

Thank you for the thorough and accurate explanation of our very complicated industry. I often say internally that if people saw what went in to manufacturing a yard of fabric, they would be AMAZED that it wasn't ten times as much! It is a fascinating industry filled with passionate people and so much beauty. Many wishes for success, your line is stunning and worth every penny!
Lori Cropp
Merchandise Manager-Calico Corners

Cecilia said...

Before interior design, I worked in Product Development, Production, Merchandising, Buying Planning and Finance on both sides of the fashion industry (retail and manufacturing). I think you did an excellent job of explaining what determines the retail price - and discussing the cost of production, the cost of design and even behind that, the cost of sampling and developing a product or line. I've seen the fabrics in person, and can attest to the quality of the fabric and the design. You've done a fantastic job! And how you've managed to balance family life and new pregnancy is admirable!

LindsB said...

I love that you are so honest and lay out all the information here. You are an amazing designer, business woman, mom, and just about superwoman. While your fabrics are cheap, they also arent at the top of the market either. I think you priced them well considering these are your own designs and you are a small business owner. I cant WAIT to see all the amazing projects people do with your fabrics!

LindsB said...

I mean they ARENT cheap- oops for that typo

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. As a designer, I deal with the "sticker shock" factor often. You did a great job explaining the whole process. I think people are used to being able to go buy a decent pair of drapes from Ikea/Target so when we offer a really nice pair of linen drapes that are lined, yes of course it will cost more. The quality is very different and the product is unique to you. You get what you pay for. But I think you just choose, like Lauren said, what you want to spend your money on. I definitely have a mix of Ikea items and antique items in my home and I'm totally happy with that. :)

Bubble and Squeak said...

The fabrics are beautiful! It's so nice to see something fresh!
Thanks for sharing!

Sarah said...

Thank you for the informative post. I really appreciate the time you took to put it together and think that it is an excellent overview on pricing and production. I love your fabrics and wish you the best.

the language of design said...

I commend you for your well written explanation which you really did not have to do. I wish you great success with your line and the fabric looks beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post, I'm just starting my own online retail business and it's nice to see someone letting people know where the pricing comes from! Lovely site too!!

Blue Turtle said...

Thanks for sharing your expertise and thoughts. I learned a lot from you today. Keep posting!

Jeavon @ Interior Design Pro

Heather Peterson said...

This post is SO great. I'm fairly new to the professional design world, and untangling all of the pricing and sales structures has been an education, to say the least. Helpful to see that it is not totally clear to you, either!

LOVE the fabrics. Best of luck as they make their way into the world!


GoodProspect said...

Great post. Thank you for all the information and for your personal thoughts on the matter. Your voice truly came through as genuine, informative, and kind. And it helps.

I love your fabrics--I think they are so beautiful! And it is just not my priority to spend that kind of money on fabric or pillows. But I love that I get to see them on your blog in so many applications.

I long ago trained myself to admire beautiful things for the time I can admire them, and then let it go; dismiss the need to possess everything I admire.

Best wishes for Lauren Liess Textiles' stellar success! said...

Wow! This is THE most fantastic explaination of pricing and to-the-trade that I've ever read. And, so honest. Love it Lauren!!! There are some people (buyers), as with every product everywhere, who get defensive and snippy about pricing. Maybe because they can't afford it so therefore the seller is evil, or who criticize out of jealousy, or whatever. But the reality is this, I believe. We all choose to spend our dollars, hard earned or not, on what we find important, and as you said, it's all about what's important to the individual. I love and appreciate the value of high end fabrics. It is an avenue for expressing our unique personalities in decorating like nothing else can. But, while I use them for clients, I can't use them in my own home for other than pillows and such. That's my reality, but it's not theirs. You should never feel you must defend your pricing. It is what it is. And, it is WORTH it. Your linens are gorgeous and exclusive. Your buyer, client or not, gets what they pay for. And that's something you can feel great about! I wish you all the success in the world, and I'd love to be in your shoes :) Carol (formerly of Sofas & Sage).

Catherine said...

The fabrics are all gorgeous Lauren!

Unknown said...

Hey Lauren, Great explanation of a complex issue. I'm so proud of you and your new line and the fact that you are sticking to your principles regarding pricing. Specialty fabrics are not for everyone, that's why there are so many options available in the marketplace. I'm looking forward to seeing your line grow. I am sure it will be a banner success. :)

design home said...

wow a great post..


debra @ 5th and state said...

lauren this was a very thoughtful and educational post. i too learned from it. the time you took to explain the business, your stance on trade discounts (yeah!) and your business plan are to be commended. well done!

i predict massive success as you get your product out there and continue to add more lines. my favorite is the black/oatmeal queens anne lace. you are wildly talented my friend!