Spend more on fashion and save the environment?

It’s sounds a little bit like a piece of wisdom from your grandmother ‘invest a little bit more in a dress and it’ll last you forever’. The most common approach among young women is nowadays the cheaper, the better and even if it only looks good for the next party. But if we want to be ethical consumers, we should probably take grandma’s advice.

The fact that one of the key factors in ‘green fashion’ is to buy less and wear things longer is often overlooked and seldom turns up in advertisements for ethical fashion – be it H&M or People Tree. The reason for this is quite obvious: luring people in their shops and into buying something new is essential for any company’s survival and it’s hard to resist and not buy something new, especially when everything else in the closet seems so boring and the dress we last bought  already bleached out after the first wash.

But does it make us happy to buy something new or does the gratification of wearing and loving a piece, we bought 3 years ago wipe out the excitement, we feel when we walk through the doors with a big bag full of new clothes? And does the theory that more expensive clothes last longer really love up to its promise?

Here is a little investigation based on my closet:

Sports top Nike: bought in 2007/  5 years

~  €30

This is probably the most amazing piece of clothing: I do lots of exercise on a regular basis and even though I have 3 sports tops, it still means that this goes through a weekly laundry cycle, even after 5 years it does not only look good but it still holds everything in place.

Steve Madden heels/ bought in 2009/ 3 years

~ $100

3 years is a long time for a pair of sandals in my life. I tend to walk a lot and these have been all over Manhattan (and Brooklyn with me). I had the heels repaired once but otherwise they are still in good shape. What I love about them is that they are so versatile, they go with many Outfits and are easy to walk in for some afternoon shopping or dancing at night without aching feet.

PINK (vis Beacon’s Closet NY) bought in 2009/ 3 years

~ $40

I love this oversized shirt. I sleep in it, I wear it with skirts, high-waist black jeans and shorts. It’s from high-quality men’s fashion store PINK and made out of the most comfortable materials ever.

H&M white T-shirt bought in 2012/ 6 months

~ £4

This is already the second T -shirt I bought within a year. The sewing is poorly done and the shirt looses shape after a few washes already. It’s also hard to remove stains. I probably have to throw this one out soon and I am not buying a white T-shirt at H&M again.

Zara boyfriend blazer/ bought in 2008/ 4 years

~ : €50

Ok, some buttons are missing and the inside is maybe a little bit worn our but otherwise pretty acceptable. I have worn this jacket a lot: it’s incredible versatile and works for more elegant occasions as well as for casual Saturdays.

Boots Hallhuber-bought in 2008/ 4 years

~ €130

If you consider inflation these were not very cheap at 130 but they got more compliments than any other flat shoe I owned and in terms of comfort, they were almost like house shoes, so I barely couldn’t take them off for two winters. I had them repaired but they are far from as pretty as they were. I still wear them for walks in autumn and winter.

Bra Triumph/ bought in 2007/ 5 years

~ : € 30

Almost all my bras are from Triumph. They last forever, if you follow the instructions and hand-wash them only. They are usually high-quality and very comfortable. Bras are very labour-intensive garments and sadly many manufactures (including Triumph) are linked to child labour and illegal wage-dumping. The less you buy, the less you support this and it’s better for the environment too.

Plastic ballet flats / a few months

~ 10

I don’t have a picture because I don’t buy them anymore. They usually last a few months (6 tops) and even though they are cheap it’s not really worth the money, especially since you can get real leather flats (which will last you about 1, 5 years if you wear them a lot) and since they are always uncomfortable.

Marc by Marc Jacobs bag/ bought in 2010/ 2 years

~ $400

It was expensive but it was totally worth it. It always looks good after 2 years of intensive wear it still almost looks the same (except that the colour on the metal pieces fades a little bit is some places but you hardly notice). Ever since I had this bag, I never felt like I need another bag (ok, I have a big one for uni and a small one for going out but that’s it.

Most of these items are in a medium price category and pretty affordable for most people and I have had them for a considerable long time. The reason for this probably not only lies in good quality but also in their design. Most of them are classics or very versatile pieces, which can be worn on different occasions and with different styles. What do you think is buying less and keeping things longer a good way to avoid waste and the impact of fashion on the environment?


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