There’s no denying that designer furniture can sometimes be shockingly expensive. Some of that pricing can certainly be explained by a high emphasis on craftmanship in some pieces, including high-quality fabrics, metals, and woods, in addition to a lot of love, thought, and care put into the overall design of the item. However, even given all that, pricing differences often seem illogical. A quick browse through the Neiman Marcus furniture section will show you a side chair for $2000, a coffee table for nearly $6000, and a simple console table for over $3000. So why is designer furniture so expensive? The answer, as it turns out, is a number of reasons.
Oftentimes, furniture is sold in a way that means it filters through multiple middlemen before finding its way to the end user. During the course of these transactions in the supply chain, each middleman will mark the price up a little bit before passing the product on to the next consumer. This chain of events means that the price of the furniture has been artificially inflated at multiple points before the end user is able to buy it.
The fact of the matter is that real estate is expensive. If you are buying from a brick-and-mortar store, or a furniture brand that owns some brick-and-mortar stores, they will need to mark up the prices of their goods significantly to pay their rents, mortgages and property taxes if applicable, and in-person staff. When buying furniture, it’s great to be able to see it in person to determine fully whether it will meet your needs, but having that privilege is often something you (literally) end up paying for.
Designer Branding and Originality Cost
At the end of the day, furniture is worth what people are willing to pay for it. Many designer brands have a sustained track record of quality and exclusivity—oftentimes over several decades—that allow them to pump up the prices at which they sell their goods, because customers have an expectation that they are paying for quality, and are willing to absorb the extra premium to do so. Sometimes, particular furniture brands or pieces can even be a status symbol the same way an expensive handbag or expensive car might be, so that is certainly another motivator. In the same way designer brands can up the selling price of a piece of furniture, there is also an allure to owning particularly unique or artisanal pieces. However, smaller runs of furniture often have a higher price-per-item because they don’t have the same economy of scale as larger runs. So, beware: owning something unique or designer can be cool, but you’re definitely paying for the privilege as well as the quality.
The furniture supply chain is definitely complicated, and there are a lot of weird pitfalls you might encounter in the process of trying to find affordable furniture. That being said, if you know what to look out for, finding affordable, stylish furniture is far from impossible. Just make sure you know what you’re paying for!