There is a perception that sustainable ethical fashion is expensive.
Of course it depends on how you look at it.
Dirt cheap has become normal. But actually, way back when (it wasn’t even that long ago) clothing was generally ethical and sustainable. It was locally-made using natural dyes and was designed to last for years. These clothes were the norm, but as fast fashion spreads and grows (like fungus) churning out cheaper and cheaper clothing, we perceive the cost of clothing to be less than what it truly costs.
In spite of that, when you love clothes but need to eat, a $5 cheap t-shirt wins over that gorgeous organic cotton Kowtow top for $60. But wait – as they say – you can have the organic cotton top and not break the bank.
Since becoming an ethical sustainable fashionista,
I have actually saved money. How?
- Take that Kowtow cotton top. Pure organic cotton clothing (so no blends) is durable, retains shape and colour and holds less odour. In other words it kicks the backside of cheap cotton (which lasts a season and shrinks or stretches along the way). You won’t need to buy another top for years.
- There aren’t many ethical and sustainable fashion brands in my neighbourhood (nowadays they live in big cities, or online marketplaces) which makes the purchase/return process (especially from US or UK to NZ) more risky. As a result, I browse as much, but buy less. I have to really like it to buy it.
- Because I really like it, I will wear it often, and for a long time. A 100 wears (check out hashtag #100wears) of any garment is a pretty good use of the garment. With more items I actually like and actually wear, I have less reason to buy more.
- I have come to understand the true cost of fast fashion and it has tainted my taste for cheap garments. Whether it’s part psychology part material, I don’t know, but the clothes just don’t feel good anymore.
- Ethical and sustainable clothing manufacturers value longevity and durability of material as well as human relationships (the suppliers and not just the consumers). This results in high quality clothing and brands that will last the distance. They care about people. Fast fashion brands – let’s be honest – only care about $$$. I’ve come to prefer the reliability and quality of ethical, sustainable brands.
HOWEVER… I did have to make a mind shift to stop myself from shopping shopping shopping. And it took a couple of years. I didn’t just suddenly wake up and exercise restraint. For me, it took time.
Now that I am here, I could not be happier. I have a small wardrobe of lovely, mostly high quality, mindfully-made items that reflect my style and work well together. I feel great and that means I look great.
I recently watched a doco on Netflix called the minimalists. Their experience and the those of the people they interviewed really resonated with my experience.
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Here are a couple of articles you might like to read on whether ethical clothing is pricey.
This one from HuffingtonPost is great in highlighting that ethical and sustainable garments reflect the true cost (both social and environmental) of clothing, while this one from Project Just gives you some tips on how to shop cheaper. They have put vintage, trade and swap up top, with points 5 and 6 covering researching ethical brands and shopping quality.