Short on Price, Long on Value

I think most will agree that I have a bit of a thing for bargains, although there is considerable dispute about what a bargain actually is. For instance, there are those who consider a pair of bespoke shoes from Cleverley to be stupendously expensive, and those who consider them ‘excellent value.’

Worth is generally subjective, and there are many items of clothing that – at both ends of the price spectrum – can represent either a fortunate steal or a lavish waste.

I have fair experience with both, and the delight when one realises the former is only equalled by the disappointment with the latter; there is nothing worse than purchasing an item only to find it months or even years later, crumpled and dusty at the bottom of the wardrobe, sad and forgotten.

I recently found a jumper that I must have worn on only a couple of occasions that, while relatively inexpensive as a purchase, is actually something of an absurd extravagance – and one which often comes when one purchases something because it is cheap, rather than because it is worth having.

However, it is possible to keep your nerve and find a combination of economy and worth in the marketplace, and it is especially worthwhile when the prospected utility of the item is limited by forces outside of human control; in this case, the British weather.

I have slowly been amassing a collection of cotton shorts as the pairs from my youth are of a strange cut and/or style and have had to be condemned. I now own some of stone blue linen, seersucker, white and mustard but I have looked to add to this collection without spending significant sums of cash; there’s nothing sadder than a pair of designer shorts on a glum Englishman who stares from his window at the driving rain outside.

H&M shorts

After some indifferent searching, I found a pair that fit the bill. There are those who would scoff at items purchased from the famous, pile ‘em high Swedish clothing colossus H&M. Any money spent at the store, they would argue, is wasted. I am not so dismissive. In fact, I have been something of a cheerleader for the store, simply because some items of clothing represent, what I would consider to be, a bargain.

Case in point; this pair of smart, 100% cotton shorts bought for £7.99. Most of the cheap to mid-range high street stores like TopMan, Zara and Uniqlo have been retailing cotton shorts at between £20 and £35 – not a bad price, considering the recent spike in the cost of cotton – but, at the lower range, more than double the cost of those from H&M.

“There has to be something wrong with them”, the most practical and non-brand focused gentleman would be excused for saying, but he would be wrong. In comparison to other more expensive shorts I own, they are perhaps a little less refined when it comes to the stitching, but this is not immediately noticeable. Crucially, they don’t look like they’re going to fall apart after a couple of summers.

For such an item, I would expect to pay up to £18, but here they were priced at less than half that amount – and not even part of a promotion. I purchased a khaki pair but may well return for a pair of bright green or blue.


  1. gary said:

    made with slave labour, when you buy them you second that idea=belsen

    May 17, 2012
  2. HelenaVictoria said:

    Gary – I have a friend that work in the H&M purchasing division and she says that being such a big company, they are constantly watched by pressure groups and would never be stupid enough to risk their reputation by using slave labour. They have in fact moved ahead of legislation and are actually rather ethical in comparison to most retailers. If you believe that price is an indication of the way that a company are treating their suppliers or their workers, you are extremely deceived. H&M are deploying ‘economies of scale’ – hence, being able to source material very cheaply.

    Your reference to Belsen is moreover disrespectful.

    May 18, 2012
  3. billy hoyle said:

    Gary – 99% of this stuff produced the same place – doesn’t matter whether you pay £10 or £30. The difference in cost to customer, is largely made up of margins for the retailer and marketing costs, there is essentially no difference in labour costs (unfortunately).

    May 18, 2012

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