The phrase “you get what you pay for” refers to low quality goods bought at a low price. And we know it has a negative stigma. It’s just hard to resist the temptation of a perceived bargain. (Not your fault, it’s all mind games.)
And it’s true. You do get what you pay for. Low quality goods, whether they are clothes or kitchen appliances, or furniture, wear out quickly, and then need replacing. Those higher quality items might cost more, but they will last much longer. An item that lasts longer, needs to be replaced less often. Fewer replacements, less shopping, less production pollution, better for your wallet, better for the planet.
It’s this “slowing down” of the supply chain that makes slow fashion so much better for the environment.
“Make it cheap, make it fast, they’ll be back for more.”
Prior to the industrial revolution, clothing was made to last. Without machinery it took a long time to make even the simplest clothing. Therefore each item had to last a long time, so you wouldn’t have to make a replacement again soon.
It was common for a piece to be made so well that it got passed down through the generations. You may have a family quilt, jacket, or other textile that is an heirloom. So it isn’t just nostalgia that keeps it in the family. It’s its quality.
Introducing: Planned Obsolescence. Eventually businessmen (they were definitely men, sorry guys, it was a less enlightened time) got it in their heads that if items broke down more quickly, customers would have to come buy more more often. And they could price the items for less, to make it seem like the customer isn’t paying that much, because customers have a hard time keeping track of the cost of the service the type of item is providing.
A pack of cheaply-made cotton socks doesn’t cost very much. But they also don’t last very long, and in less than a year, you’re buying another pack of socks. Over the course of your lifetime, you might go through 70 packs of socks. At $10 for a pack of 6 socks, that’s $700…just for socks!
If you buy a single pair of wool socks and they last you three years(yes, my wool socks really do last this long and longer) even if that one pair of socks costs you $20, in 70 years you’re only paying $467. Apply this to every item of clothing, every material object in your life…it adds up pretty quickly.
Slow, responsible, fair.
There is a reason clothes that are responsibly sourced and produced cost more.
They take more time to make. And people like being paid for their time, as they should. So that adds up.
Its takes the average knitter 40 hours to knit a sweater. If you paid that person just $15 an hour for their skilled labor, you’re looking at a $600 sweater. And that’s just for the labor, that hasn’t factored in the cost of materials, advertising, company cost, etc.
If the materials are also domestically produced, and ethically, like with climate-beneficial wool on a small farm, those farmers deserve a fair price also, so just the yarn for that sweater could cost $100.
That’s what you are getting when an item is labeled “fair trade,” “Made in (your country),” “Responsibly sourced.”
But you get what you paid for. When greater care is taken in the production of a garment, it’s made better, it will last longer, and the materials have not been beaten unnecessarily to get them out quickly and cheaply. You are paying for quality.
Savings for you, savings for Mother Earth.
Whatever your reason for switching to a more sustainable, ethical lifestyle, high quality garments aren’t just saving your wallet. They are saving the planet.
The resources to make…everything…have to come from somewhere. If the product made with those materials is cheap, wears out quickly, and has to be replaced, those resources get burned through more quickly, and it’s the planet that fits the bill.
Paying that higher price, it’s really okay. Actually it’s better. You’re supporting real people, not abstract corporations(okay I guess they are made up of real people, but only a few are benefiting). And you’re footing more of the bill for Mother Earth.
Do you have a high quality item, or maybe a family heirloom? Tell me about it in the comments below. Share this post with your friends and see if they have any quality clothes with a quality story.
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Made by humans. Inspired by Nature.