Finance Friday – January 13, 2017


On Transparency

This is my new carry-on bag from Everlane.  I could tell you its size, or the price, but what’s way more interesting to me is that I could also tell you where it was produced, and how much the materials cost, plus labor, plus shipping.

On a very rare occasion I might find a bag like this on sale at Everlane (though they don’t call it a sale). When products are overproduced, you get to choose your own price, so that inventory is cleared more quickly. Neat, right?

Sure, this sort of transparency is risky. I’m positive that I could quibble with Everlane’s costing methodology, and who knows if factory workers are really so smiley as they are in the photos, and when headlines say a new entrant is “fixing” a giant category like retail or apparel, some caution is warranted.

But it’s just as true that our supply chains have become so complex that it takes leading companies like Intel and Nike (all credit to them) years to try to add back the sort of transparency that Everlane is baking in from the start.

So let’s try, and learn, and try some more. The next time you buy something, try to find out about where it was produced, and by whom, and how. See if that changes your mind about what’s a fair price, or how much you need the thing in the first place.

Try, and See.



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