The value of the $300 blazer

Earlier this year, BF told me that he wanted to get a new blazer (his one and only, in fact) for himself. Since we were going to Bangkok for a short holiday, I suggested to him to get a tailored one there. In Singapore, if I did my research correctly, the price of a blazer can cost up to $1,200 at a decent tailor! That was way over his budget. I didn’t know what was the exact price to expect either if we were to buy the blazer at a tailor in Bangkok. In my mind, it would probably be cheaper than buying locally.

On the first day of our trip, we headed to a tailor near Asok area. It was a very nice and quiet place despite being in a busy centralized area. There were rows of cloth lying all around waiting to be sewn as clothes. It was a family business. The person who served us was the son of the owner. He was professional looking and presentable; wearing a vest with formal shirt and pants. He had very good service too, and wasn’t pushy in any way.

BF had to decide on the material that he wanted for his blazer. I gave him some advice since being his personal shopper was my part time job. :p After choosing the different details for the blazer, he was already pretty sold to get it. The remaining (yet pertinent) question was how much the blazer was. So he asked the tailor.

The tailor replied, “7500 baht.” (~S$300)

Knowing that the estimated price of a tailored blazer in Singapore is $1200, I was like, “Wow okay! This is quite worth it! Some more custom made and good quality one leh! Good buy! :D”

BF, instead, had a very different response. From the corner of my eye, I saw that his eyes widened. He turned to looked at me and mouthed out, “Wa, so expensive?!” He was trying hard to be subtle with his reaction.

This is the first time I bought something with him that he actually said that it was expensive. It made a lot of impact to me.

I responded, “Huh? Expensive meh?”

BF: Yeah! I was expecting only $100+ leh. This one a bit out of my budget. Didn’t know blazer cost so much.

Me: Really ar?

BF: I thought those normal blazer (off the shelves) at Uniqlo or Zara around $100+ only? No meh?

Me: This one is customized to your measurements leh. How can compare?

BF: Oh… Just didn’t expect price to be so different.

Me: I don’t mind paying it for you, I think it’s pretty worth it. And you can use it for a long time. As long as you don’t get too round in future :p

BF: Nonono, it’s okay, I’ll pay for it.

Well to be honest, he did make some sense. There really isn’t a need to spend $300 for a blazer because he isn’t even going to wear it everyday. It was meant for weddings and special occasions. It did, however, provide me with a new perspective on how we view the value of things with respect to different factors.

When BF was comparing the price of tailor made and off-the-shelves blazers, he was looking if it would serve its basic purpose. In this case, it was to get a blazer in case there was a need for one. I guess it didn’t really matter to him if the blazer was going to be a perfect fit, as long as it looked decently good on him. Whether it was going to be $10 or $300, a blazer is just a blazer, and making it fancier isn’t going to serve it’s purpose better. In fact, a $100 from Uniqlo could maybe even be used for a longer period of time, you never know. Therefore, the $300 blazer was in relative expensive to him.

When I was comparing the price of the blazer from tailor to tailor, it was comparing it to its competitors on a level playing field. It goes way beyond the blazer serving its original function. This is when customers decide if they want to pay a premium to get the blazer. The competitive edge that each tailor might offer would be, for example, customer service, brand or quality that I might get in addition to the blazer.

This happens more often in our society than you know it. Food, for instance, is a very good example. Why are people willing to queue up for KOI bubble tea when there is Sweet talk selling at 40% of the price? Have you ever caught yourself queuing for an hour just to go into a hyped restaurant that has almost the same standard of food as the nearby Tze Char stall?

What about the house that you have bought (or going to buy)? Did you pay another $100,000 for more space in the living room, because it is worth being more comfortable? Or that branded Louis Vuitton bag that you have been saving up for months just so that you could walk down Orchard Road like how Paris Hilton does it? (I wonder where she is now, though…) :p

I think this is an important concept to implement when investing. When buying a company’s stock, you want to see if it is charging a premium to its original product as compared to other similar items in the market. If the customers sees the value of the premium and they don’t mind paying for it, this is where you have the competitive edge. Think Apple. And Nike. And don’t forget SIA.

A good branding usually comes along with its reputation too. Reputation should essentially be one of the cores of building a business. Just like trust, once tarnished, it is hard for others to believe you ever again. When investing, I want to know my money is safely kept with a company that I can trust. If the tailor had tried to haggle with us on the price, or gave us bad customer service, our impression would have changed. He stayed committed to his datelines and we managed to get the blazer AND a formal shirt tailored in just 4 days of our trip!

As daily consumers, maybe we should also start to ask ourselves why do we pay for the price of something before we purchase something. I have emphasized on the concept of frugality before, and sometimes paying more may not lead to a better decision.

P.S.: If you were curious to know how the blazer looks like, it kinda resembles the one in the featured image at the top of this post. And BF looked really hawt in it! :p

Thanks for reading!

Miss Niao xoxo

Author: missniao

Hello! I blog about financial matters and things that average people can do to have a better retirement. I want to inspire people to take control of their money and have a better understanding about it. If you are interested to know more, follow me @ missniao.wordpress.com! :)

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