If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it.
March 1, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Have any of you actually purchased "Price upon request" clothing or jewelry? What did that entail?

I see things constantly in magazines that are marked with Price upon request. Google says that these things are usually not for sale, not put into production, etc. Usually does not mean never, right?

Have any Mefites done this? The price, was it outrageous, even more than the usual (crazy) prices for these types of things? What was it?

Have you worked in the fashion or jewelry industry enough to answer this question, or do you regularly get to take "price upon request" swag home?

I'm not super fashionable, but I am super curious.
posted by Grlnxtdr to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That typically means "too expensive for you schlubs reading this magazine".

At least, that seems to be the case with boutique music gear. I've also found that when you call to get pricing on them, they automatically assume you can't afford it (if you could, you wouldn't call to price, you'd call to buy), and treat you as such.

YMMV, but that's been my (only tangentially related) experience. I would assume it's similar in fashion.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 12:53 PM on March 1, 2012

I worked in the jewellery industry and sold "price upon request items".

It's not always because the prices are astronomically high - it's often because the items are unique and priced specifically.

Our (chain) store's catalog might have had, say, a phenomenal sapphire solitaire ring featured - but because each centre stone will vary in its appraised/retail value. Though each store might have the same mount, our store's ring might be $18,500, while the nearly identical ring in the other store might be $15,800, the difference being only the quality of the centre stone. Some pearl necklaces can be purchased in bulk and the retail price can be set because the costs are fixed and amortized and they're designed to be sold at a price point - other pearl necklaces, such as a South Sea pearl matched 20mm strand with high-quality gorgeous pearls are so specific that each one is individually priced because there is no bulk purchase for such a thing - we'd have only one in stock, and if a client wanted to compare, we'd have to pull from the other stores, since there might only be ten strands over thirty stores, placed at the premier locations only. Making an appointment at a store would give them time to make sure it's in stock.

In vintage or antique jewellery, the price can be set as a percentage of the appraised value, which changes as the market fluctuates, so it's better not to publish.

The last reason for prices not to be published is, of course, for protection. Some thieves go "shopping" for specific things, as much as people do. No sense alerting them to what might be available - they tend not to like making appointments to view them, and I'd also have to take care not to book them on the security guard's lunch.
posted by peagood at 12:57 PM on March 1, 2012 [6 favorites]

I fell in love with a necklace I saw in a magazine. The only information the magazine provided about the necklace was the name of the designer, so I googled and found a contact phone number. When I called, I was told that the designer whom the magazine credited for the necklace was not the actual designer. They did give me the real designer's name, and I contacted a phone number I found online for her.

After a series of phone calls at the end of which I talked to the actual designer, who made the necklace herself specifically for the magazine, I learned that the necklace was one-of-a-kind and not for sale. I left my phone number and forgot all about it.

About three months later, I got a phone call from the designer telling me that she was making a scaled down version of my necklace for the sale. She told me the price and offered me the chance to buy one, which I did. It cost $800, which is more than I'd ever spent on a piece of jewelry before. I'm sorry I did now because the silver has tarnished and because the necklace is made of found elements, I can't clean it properly without it falling apart.

I doubt my story is typical. Like, if you wanted to order a pair of those Alexander McQueen hoof shoes, you'd have to special order them. I bet they're way more than $800.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 1:02 PM on March 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't know much about fashion but I have worked on fashion photo shoots. A lot of fashion editorials are shot for no/low money by everyone involved and the trade off is a lot of creative freedom. It is common for a magazine to give a photographer and stylist a 'pull sheet'. The stylist will then take that around to designers they know and pull whatever clothing they think will work for the idea. Since the stylists can be a lot more creative than usual, they can do things like take unique pieces, one-offs, proof of concepts, or other things designers have laying around. Since they're not production samples it's not a big deal for the designers to lend them out for shoots, and their creative project that never would have seen the light of day otherwise gets published.

I bet a lot of these 'price upon request' probably mean there is no price (unless you are ungodly rich and call the designer up...)

The other reason might be because a lot of high-end garments are made and tailored to the client. These are the kind of places where you make an appointment at a showroom and have the attention of a stylist. This would be the if-you-have-to-ask-it's-too-expensive realm.

Or it could be that the stylist assistant (which was my job a few times) pulled something and forgot to write down the price and it went to press before it could be tracked down.
posted by bradbane at 1:07 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

These days, the price of precious metals is changing so fast that some jewelers have stopped posting current prices, because they change from week to week, and even day to day. So "price upon request" may just reflect prices changing too fast to make listing worth it.
posted by valkyryn at 1:30 PM on March 1, 2012

Yeah, I work for a magazine that's published "price upon request" stuff. It's not always extremely expensive; a lot of times, like valkyryn mentioned, it's an item where the price may fluctuate, or there are many unique pieces similar to the item that are priced differently. It could also be what bradbane said, that at press time we couldn't get the price. I've also had to change the given price on items in layouts, where the reason given was "the price of gold changed."
posted by limeonaire at 1:44 PM on March 1, 2012

Just thirding or fourthing the "I work for a magazine who publishes 'price upon request' stuff." Often the price upon request stuff—while by no means cheap is far from being the most expensive thing in the magazine. It usually means it's bespoke or made only upon request.

the stylist assistant ... pulled something and forgot to write down the price and it went to press before it could be tracked down.

Just from my perspective, from the magazine's side—that would never happen (not the forgetting, just that being the reason the price wasn't printed). The price would be tracked down at some point in the process. It's always come from the publicist for us.
posted by good day merlock at 4:39 PM on March 1, 2012

Thanks for the great answers, guys. Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back.

So, it's not always about the price being so high that you couldn't afford it, but more about the individuality of the piece.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 6:47 AM on March 2, 2012

So, it's not always about the price being so high that you couldn't afford it, but more about the individuality of the piece.

Usually. Sometimes that "individuality" really is just "Look, this is really expensive," but a lot of really expensive items are sold in low enough volumes that prices are always negotiated. Because most people in post-industrial cultures are used to treating prices as fixed, sellers that do a lot of negotiation sometimes find it helpful to just not list the price at all, which tends to discourage the casual windowshopping.
posted by valkyryn at 8:02 AM on March 5, 2012

« Older I suppose Apparating is out of the question?   |   What to read to understand the city of Washington... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.