True Cost

In any economic climate, it's natural to consider the price of the products we buy, and whether their value justifies their cost.

We often receive comments regarding the prices for Nau products. One customer recently commented that, "The clothing is great and unique but the pricing is outrageous," while another wrote, "You have to own the grid to afford those prices." We're big believers in making considered choices, so we understand our customers' desire to understand what value our prices reflect. Here's a look at the true cost of producing our wares.

In part, our prices reflect a conscious choice to create high quality, environmentally conscious clothing for the outdoor and lifestyle fashion markets. Many fine companies have set a high bar for quality, performance and aesthetics in these markets, and we want to compete with them while influencing them to be more sustainable. So having made that decision, we set out to craft the best possible products to meet our definition of quality: the combination of beauty, performance and sustainability.

As a result, our prices are necessarily in line with the prices of competitors like Patagonia, Arc'Teryx, Diesel and Prada. We recognize, and regret, that for some customers our products will be too expensive. At this point, however, the alternative-lower-priced goods that many could afford would require compromising on beauty, performance and sustainability. That's because our prices don't reflect some arbitrary mark-up, but rather the true cost of making high-quality product.

So What's in the Price?

Developing, producing and distributing innovative, high-performance clothing with timeless aesthetics does have real costs. Peruse any Nau product and you'll see visible evidence of many of the factors that contribute to these costs.

The stitchless glued seams of the Asylum Jacket, the high thread count organic cotton fabric of a Super Supple shirt, the premium Merino wool of the Merino3 Hoody; these features and many more offer visible testaments to the high quality materials and fabrications that influence our products' true cost.

Yet there are many other costs in producing sustainable products can't be seen so easily. We only work with factories that agree to abide by - and pass regular independent third party inspections of - a strict code of conduct that includes minimum age requirements, maximum hours and safe working conditions. We maintain transparent chains of custody that allow us to trace the supply of fibers (like organic cotton) back to the farm where they were grown. We independently test our products against a Restricted Substance List (RSL) of chemicals that, while inexpensive, are environmentally toxic.

We invest in these and many other choices because they add comfort, performance, and beauty to our products, while helping to mitigate the environmental impacts of producing, using and recycling our clothing. Taken together, we believe these benefits offer real value to our customers.

Must all "Green" Choices Cost More?

Given that sustainable clothing has all these costs, is eco-friendly design really just a luxury for the rich?We don't think so.

We believe that there are big costs, both to the environment and to the consumer, in doing ‘low cost' business. It's becoming increasingly clear that supply chains designed to drive down prices succeed at the expense of labor, the environment and product quality. Demand for low prices drives down wages for workers around the world. Cheap, disposable goods accelerate the consumption of resources, as they are bought, broken and pitched in a landfill.

And while consumers may get a good deal at the register, the repeated costs of replacing low-quality disposable goods quickly adds up. As individuals we may pay less up front, but in the end we all end up paying environmental and social costs for these lower prices.

We believe that as individuals we need to think differently about value, both for our own sakes and the sake of the environment. If we are to make real progress in dealing with climate change, resource depletion and social justice-as well as all the junk accumulating in closets and storage lockers-we need to take a longer view of the worth of the products we purchase. We believe in investing in fewer, better things and treasuring them for the utility they offer.

So we aim to produce clothing that offers multiple uses, from sport to lifestyle and outdoor to urban, so you need fewer pieces to move through your life. We put time into creating classic designs that won't go out of style, so you don't need to buy a new jacket every time the seasons change. And we pay for high quality materials and constructions that won't need replacement for a long time.

The New Normal

We pay the true costs of producing high quality product, and we ask our customers to invest in it, because we believe that beautiful clothing with long lasting performance and sustainable design offers real value. And we're happy that many in our community agree. In reply to some of the comments about price that we've received, readers on our blog have offered these responses:

"I like to think of it as the difference between eating organic vs. [not]: costs a bit more but well worth it in the long run and I appreciate knowing that part of my money goes to a cause rather than just the bottom line." And, "I'm definitely not a high-income person, and I've been trying to adhere to the treasuring idea. Buying less - only getting what I truly need, and when I do buy something not settling for the ordinary...I see this as an investment. Not just a jacket for myself, but for the future. You see, being green, treating workers well, considering both form and function - all of this could become the new normal."

We want to be a part of creating this "new normal." We envision a day when the sustainable technologies that we are helping to develop will be more widespread throughout the clothing industry, with lower costs that make them available to more people. We recognize that, for the moment, we're not yet serving everyone. But we hope that by pushing the leading edge of this movement forward, we can help to create a better, more sustainable world.