I don't often get on a soapbox about things that tick me off but when I heard about Anthropologie selling king size handmade quilts for just $228-$248, I couldn't help it.
As I clicked the link to find the source of such supposed handmade fabulousness, my mind kept saying "let it be some amazing-looking quilt that they are charging over a thousand dollars for..." Not such crazy thinking in my opinion. After all this is the same company that charges $140- $300 for dresses made with a yard and a half of fabric. Lest you think this entire post is me knockin' Anthropologie's game completely, and trashing the goods they peddle, I happen to be a big fan of their aesthetic, style, and fashion forwardness. It's all I can do not to add this and this to a shopping cart.
But something gets my hackles up when I see non-big-box retailers with "style street cred" marketing handmade quilts, highlighting the hours spent making it, all the hands that touched it, all the processes and colors, etc... and then you click on the quilt and see they're not even charging what some of their more expensive clothing costs!
I don't want to be accused of lifting any of their photos from their site, so I will only link to my examples here, here, here, and here. I'll wait while you go look.
I know, right?
So they're telling the world, which is made up of mostly non-quilters (let's face it, we're an awesome bunch, but we aren't in the majority...I think the woodworkers have us beat), that the retail value of a king size handmade quilt can be boiled down to the equivalent of $3.44/hr ($248 / 72 hours)?!?!
Do I even need to rant about how many other jobs, already considered low-wage, pay more than this? I don't think so.
I will say that this angers me because it is devaluing the learning and making of a craft...ANY craft, including quilting, to a level so low no one could possibly compete in the marketplace. It perpetuates the myth that a real quilt, made with quality materials, only costs around $250 to make! And we all here know, it really doesn't.
According to Anthropologie's pricing structure on these handmade quilts, the time put in to make one isn't even worth the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour. This would put them at an apparently unreachable $522, which to someone who has put in that kind of time, energy, and skill into the making of a quilt before (not to mention the cost of materials) is chump change.
So for those people who have already purchased one of these "Hothouse Quilts" and are snuggling down under it, you should feel awesome. Great. Fantastic! Because as far as I'm concerned, you just got the deal of a lifetime. Just don't go asking your local quilter to make you one for that price and wonder why you got such a nasty look in return before being told sweetly (quilters are usually saccharine sweet when giving this reply, don't be fooled though, we want to smack you upside the head....hard) "Sorry, but I couldn't make you that for anything less than $500, plus materials."
As for me, I'll seethe in silence (and on my blog apparently), but stick to making quilts for myself and as gifts.....the only way for a quilter to stay sane and solvent in this market!
Stepping off the soapbox to make room for your comments below,