Disney Princess T-Shirts

How much would I pay for a t-shirt?  In Hong Kong, I would saunter down to Fa Yuen Street and pick up five for HK$100 (~US$14) without even haggling.  Keep that in mind when you read the following news story (correction: corporate press release) in Ming Pao via Yahoo! News:

(photo: Ming Pao)

In conjunction with Hong Kong fashion brand Moiselle, the Disney company will be making available limited and popular editions of Disney Princess t-shirts in the Greater China area as of today.

Immediately available are three series: Snow White, Cinderalla and Sleeping Beauty.

Within each series, there will be limited editions of 80 each, to be allocated as 10, 30 and 40 for Taiwan, mainland China and Hong Kong respectively.  You can take these ratios as indicators of cultural snobbishness (sorry, Taiwan).  The limited editions will be offered first to the VIP customers at prices between HK$3,000 and HK$4,000 apiece.  Each t-shirt comes with a 'birth certificate' and a hologram tag.

The popular editions will have 20 styles, with 150 to 200 pieces produced per style priced at between HK$800 and HK$1,500.  These t-shirts are less elaborate in handiwork that the limited editions, but they will have serial numbers inside.

Later in the year, Disney will add the Little Mermaid, Belle and Jasmine lines as well.  Males will be getting the Seven Dwarves and Aladdin lines.

Outrageous prices?  Well, who am I to say?  At the beginning of this post, I have told you what my consumer habits are.  If there are others who are willing to meet these prices, then it is demand-and-supply and more power to them (and Disney). 

I am mindful that beyond all this, there are some socially positive implications when brand equity are marked at exorbitant prices.  The brands must protect that equity by being socially responsible, as the damage from being revealed to rely on sweatshop labor would be immense.  They are selling a t-shirt for HK$4,000 when the unit labor cost is probably less than HK$100.  Why try to squeeze their supplier to push the unit labor cost down to HK$75 when a newspaper exposť could destroy the entire Disney brand?