I’ve previously spoken about the privilege that comes with being able to afford to shop sustainably. People are often deterred by the price of sustainable fashion versus the cost of fast fashion. But, I truly believe that if you are able to afford sustainable fashion, then there is no reason why you shouldn’t.
If we look at why sustainable fashion is more expensive than fast fashion, then the price difference may be less of a shock. This post isn’t for those who have no choice but to shop fast fashion, but it’s for those who are actively involved in throwaway culture.
The demand for sustainable fashion is growing, but the majority of manufactured garments are for the fast fashion industry. There is a long way to go before demand affects pricing. If we begin to look at price tags and look at the real cost – environmental and social impact – then we may begin to see a further influx of people choosing sustainable.
‘Cutting costs = cutting corners’
Firstly, the big factor is manufacturing – because most sustainable brands are independent businesses that produce less, they have to sell for more. As said previously the cost is often seen as a deterrent, but because sustainable production isn’t the norm it costs more to manufacture sustainable garments. If we also take into account fair wages, and keeping environmental impact to a minimum, these costs begin to stack up. But, these higher costs mean you get higher quality items that will last longer, so it becomes a worthwhile investment.
Fast fashion has conditioned us to believe that clothes should be cheap. Behind the price tag there is slave labour, cheap fabrics, and bulk production. From sourcing to selling, each stage is extremely detrimental to the environment and those working within the production process. Cheap fabrics come from non-renewable fossil fuels and the people that create the garments aren’t paid for their labour. That’s what makes fast fashion so cheap. There is always someone/something paying for the lack of costs of fast fashion garments.
Sustainable brands are not the only option either. These brands can be very expensive, so it’s beneficial to look at what you already have and upcycle. As well as upcycling, sites like Depop and Vinted are great ways to shop and sell garments. These sites are full of extremely talented people that produce gorgeous garments and accessories and it’s a great way to branch out from Instagram trends.
As customer attitudes change, the industry must adapt. We are seeing a decline in the high street as many people turn to online shopping (particularly in the current climate). This has also led to discovering more innovative ways of shopping like rentals. E-commerce sites wastes 30% less energy than traditional retailers (Harpers Bazaar), and this supports the shift to an online shopping approach.
As demand grows, prices will reduce. Covid-19 has taught us all the importance of supporting smaller businesses and protecting one another, so now is the time to change your shopping habits to reflect this.