Bargains are great, aren’t they? Well, they are when they are real bargains. Sadly, in a world flooded with fast-fashion, that bargain you bought might not really be a saving. Instead, it is just, well, a cheap item. It is not like you saved a lot of money off of what would otherwise be an expensive garment or got a high-quality piece of clothing for a great price. With fast-fashion, you are usually paying less for less quality. This has terrible consequences for the environment, with one survey showing that nearly a fifth of 2,000 British shoppers surveyed admitting to binning clothes. These head to the landfill and contribute to polluting the world around us.
You might also be upset to find out it isn’t even worth it financially. For the short term, a £20 pair of shoes might look nice and last a year if you are lucky, before wearing out. But if you have to spend £20 every year on a replacement pair, then over three years that is £60 spent. It makes more sense to spend that £60 at the start on a pair of shoes that will last three years or more, especially if they are more comfortable and a higher quality.
Durability as a Key Factor
People are finding it hard on their bank accounts to change up their wardrobe to suit the ever-changing world of trends. But, with our money only stretching so far, many of us are turning to cheaper outlets for our clothing. Cut-cost fashion must also find somewhere to make savings along the production line. You cannot sell a £5 dress without using cheaper materials and such. This often leads to garments made quickly with non-organic fabrics. Plus, as the Independent reported, the process of dying these clothes is the second largest contributor to water pollution.
The price of fast-fashion, as stated prior, impacts your wallet too. While the short-term purchase may be cheaper, the cost to keep replacing the item over the years will add up. If a more expensive version will last a number of years, it could end up being comparatively cheaper.
The durability of fast-fashion is a key factor. By its very nature, it is expected that the garment you have purchased will not be kept long, nor will it be expected to last for years. On the flip side, fashion with an emphasis on quality and durability will see you through. This manifests particularly in the threads lost during washing. Cheap clothes tend to shed tiny microfibres when washed, which end up polluting our oceans.
The Real Price of Quality
Quality clothing does not necessarily mean overly expensive clothing. As Life Hacker rightly states, a high price does not always mean high quality. Take a look at these top tips for seeking out good quality, regardless of the price tag:
- Ignore the initial price tag—As mentioned before, this is not always an indicator or quality. People can, and will, charge good money for a poor product. Take a look at the item itself.
- Give it a scrunching—Take some of the material in your hand and ball it up for a few seconds, then let go. A good quality material will survive, and the wrinkles will fall out. Cheap material will stay wrinkled and creased.
- See if the pattern lines up at the seams—It is the little things that are the biggest giveaway!
- Check for gaps in the stitching—An item that will last will have no gaps between stitches on the seam, and also have more stitches per inch. Take a good look at those stitches!
- Are there any spare buttons supplied?—This is like a calling card from the designer. If the item comes with spare buttons, then the item is expected to last enough for it to require a button mend at some point!
The bargain is not on the price tag; it is in how many times you will wear it. It is always recommended to invest a little in timeless staples that can be mixed and matched for a variety of outfits. For example, for many women, flat boots are a versatile staple that can be used for range of occasions, so make sure to buy a quality pair to withstand all those wears. Divide its cost by the amount of times you think you’ll wear it and that will give you the cost per wear. If it’s something you will wear every day, definitely check the quality of the item.
From both a financial and ethical perspective, it is clear that fast fashion is a threat. It’s not enough to commit to recycling these essentially single-use clothing items, as most of these items contain a mix of threads — there isn’t a commercial-sized facility capable of separating these materials for recycling.
It is therefore far more sustainable for wallets and for the recycling industry for people to move away from fast fashion and focus on higher quality garments. Not only will they last longer, but they will be much easier to recycle when the time comes. Fashion needs a shift in mindset to consider the long-term journey, instead of the immediate purchase, in order to work alongside the waste and recycling industry.