This post was inspired by all that noise the WSJ caused earlier this week when it decided to print an article about $300 denim. While a 100% markup at both the wholesale and retail levels seems ridiculous and causes consumers to question how a business can get away with such “robbery,” this question is misguided. Barring another industrial revolution, manufacturers and retailers will continue to sell items at absurd prices, and there’s nothing you can do about that because you’re only a customer. What you can do, however, is make better, more informed decisions. As Lawrence puts it, “buy better, buy less.”
As a corollary to the BBBL Theorem, I present to you the P/U Ratio, or price to use ratio. The theorem is simple—just divide the price of the article in question by the amount of times you expect to use that article over the course of ownership. Take, for example, a first year law student who wants to invest in, oh, I don’t know, a $300 pair of selvedge jeans. At first, homeboy shudders at the thought; Sallie Mae would not approve of such purchase. But let’s do the math. Let’s assume little lawyer-to-be will wear these jeans two to three times a week, or more simply about 100 times a year. After three years of law school, he will have worn those jeans 300 times. According to the P/U Ratio, this comes out to $1 every day he wears said jeans. Consider the fact that after three years those jeans will have some dope distress marks in the back pocket and throughout the legs—he’ll have another two years after law school to wear said jeans before they can be considered a depreciating asset.
Now, take for example, a made-to-measure tuxedo. Let’s say it retails for $2000. For those of us who are not classic pianists, you may wear this item three times during any three year period of your life. The P/U Ratio tells us that said tuxedo costs $666.66 every time you put that thing on during that three year period. Unless you have some serious fuck you money, this seems like a silly purchase.
Look, the theory is not perfect, I get that. And my examples are mainly illustrative. Nothing can take into account the many intangibles that go into buying clothing (e.g., every time you find yourself in a situation that requires a tuxedo you probably will want to look like you have the capacity to spend $666.66 each time you throw the thing on). But that doesn’t take away from the fact that it’s a useful tool in helping you grow from Big Willy to William. So, next time you have a choice between a pair of $300 jeans that you will get great use out of and a $100 pair of drop crotch pants that may take you 10 wears to become appalled with yourself, just remember that said jediwear is roughly 10x as much as said expensive pair of jeans each time you step into them over a three year period.