“Buy Less, Choose Well”

Fashion trade press has been reporting for some time on the rising costs of cotton, and according to the Financial Times, the wholesale cost of clothing is set to rise 10 to 15 percent by the end of this year. This could mean a rise in garment prices of anywhere between 5 and 20 percent, and many retailers are debating how much of a rise they can pass on to consumers. Some may choose to absorb the additional costs (I believe Marks and Spencer did this.)

New Look, cheap clothing, fast fashion, rising cost of cotton

Tank tops from New Look, about 3.30 USD each.

So what does that mean for us? More expensive clothing. But is that a bad thing? It is unlikely that many of the luxury brands are going to see steep rises in garment prices, this will likely have more of an impact on fast fashion and mid range clothing. I think that this might be a very good thing, as this may encourage us to buy less.

Canadian shopping habits are certainly a lot better than what I experienced in the UK. Here, there are less fast fashion brands with super cheap, trendy clothing. But in England, it is quite easy to go out and buy a brand new outfit for every Saturday night, and not break the bank. This has resulted in a habit of buying lots, cheaply, and discarding it after a few wears (the recession slowed this down a little…but not as much as it should have.)

New Look, cheap clothing, fast fashion, rising cost of cotton

Summer dresses from New Look, about 15 USD each.

I am sure we are all guilty of excess buying. I tend to buy cheap cotton tank tops to wear under sweaters and blouses. I have bought seven in the past few months, when really, I could have bought two and I would have been fine. But those seven only cost me about $30, which is ridiculously cheap. When it comes to the rest of my clothing, I buy less cheap items and more investment pieces, that I know I will wear for some time. But that is also because of my age (early thirties), teens and twenty-somethings are much more likely to consumer cheap clothing in large quantities.

The problem is we have landfills full of dumped clothing, charities rejecting super cheap clothing (they can’t resell it) and a huge amount of resources going into making more and more cheap clothes. For once I agree with Vivienne Westwood, who said “Buy less, choose well. Don’t buy things for the sake of it because then everyone looks alike….I offer no choice but to ask for the end of indiscriminate consumption. If you have to choose something, save up and choose well.” (Living Brands)

New Look, cheap clothing, fast fashion, rising cost of cotton

Trousers from New Look, approximately 16.50 USD each.

She makes a very good point (although I’m sure her sales team weren’t too impressed with it.) The pieces I have bought that are slightly more expensive but thoughtful purchases have always been worn more and lasted longer than the cheap pieces I have bought from fast fashion stores or value retailers. And when you think about it, most us really don’t need very many new clothes. If we bought fashion on a buy for replacement basis (like we often do food, toilet paper, and socks) then most of us would probably not need to shop for a few years. I would probably have enough shoes to last me a decade. But of course we aren’t all going to do that…quite yet. For now, the mantra of “buy less, choose well” sounds like a great idea.

All clothing items from New Look.

  • http://www.heirloomofstyle.com Nicolemiles1

    As a mid 20-something who’s spent a lot of time in H&M and Forever 21 here in The States, this is the toughest lesson I’ve learned. Bottom line, it’s never worth it.

    I’ve had pants dye anything that I sat on, a dress rip the day I bought it and jewelry turn my fingers green (all from Forever 21, might I add).

    I used the excuse that I was a college student, and an entry-level employee who couldn’t afford to buy higher priced items but if I was to add up all the money I spent on those trendy items I’d have been better off investing in something that lasted.

    On the flip side, I have experienced purchasing higher priced items that didn’t last either so I think it’s truly a matter of learning what a well constructed item looks like and shopping wisely.

    Thanks for posting this!

  • kazoo

    Most of my purchases are designer stuff on Ebay. I might pay say, J Crew prices (a lot for Ebay), but I’ve bought some amazing kit and had fun doing it. I’m a bottom feeder scavenging on everyone else’s over-consumption. High-end second-hand is great because there’s no new production, and depending on the brand, production in the first place was probably not in a sweatshop.

    It also helped to have a year off from shopping altogether when I was traveling. Coming back to my wardrobe, it was immediately clear what had been a waste of money, either on shit quality or stuff that dates immediately. Nowadays if I see something I like I wait. Then I know I really want it.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I need to venture onto Ebay more often… I guess I am just worried about fit.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, not all high end products are good quality, but most are. I have a few brands I trust and that I;ve had good experiences with…unfortunately there is a lot of trial and error.