Clothing prices have dropped for a decade as tame inflation and cheap overseas labor helped hold down costs. Retailers and clothing makers cut frills and experimented with fabric blends to cut prices during the recession.
But as the world economy recovers and demand for goods rises, a surge in labor and raw materials costs is squeezing retailers and manufacturers who have run out of ways to pare costs.
Cotton has more than doubled in price over the past year, hitting all-time highs. The price of other synthetic fabrics has jumped roughly 50 percent as demand for alternatives and blends has risen.
Clothing prices are expected to rise about 10 percent in coming months, with the biggest increases coming in the second half of the year, said Burt Flickinger III president of Strategic Resource Group.