Quality over Quantity, and what it means for your wardrobe:
We have all been there, standing in the queue of a high street clothing shop with arms full of discounted tops, dresses and jeans – to become absolutely delighted when the final tally at the till chimes in under €100. Perhaps ordering online when we see an Instagram ad for an item that looks great and at an unbelievable price! Cheap, fast fashion allows us all to keep up with the latest fashion trends of the season - but have you ever really thought about what it is you have just spent your hard earned cash on? Is the immediate ‘rush’ you get from shopping and finding a bargain often ‘soured’ when you realise you have loads of clothes but ‘nothing’ to wear?
That discount top you purchased a few months ago might have seemed like an amazing ‘steal’ at the time, being super trendy even if it doesn’t really suit your figure or style. Then 6 months in and a handful of wears and washes, your discount top is now faded, has shrunk, lost its shape and seems a bit ‘dated’ as you have seen it coming and going. Bit of a bummer right?
As for that super cheap top or pair of pants you bought online (because they were such a ‘bargain’)...once delivered (usually weeks later than you hoped), you find they are tiny, are a very strange fit, or not the quality of material and construction you expected?
We recommend you consider buying less, but buying better! These days more people are becoming conscious of their buying habits. Asking questions like – Where is this garment made? What is it made from? Does it fit my style and my figure? Is it the right fit? Will it last and stay relevant? Is it sustainable?
“The figures speak for themselves. The clothing industry churns out 80 billion garments annually – shoppers buy up to five times more clothing now than they did in 1980, averaging 68 items a year. Zara, the world’s largest fashion brand produced more than 450 million items in 2018, for example.
Worldwide, we throw away 2.1 billion tonnes of clothing – much of it to landfill or shunted out to Africa.” [Irish Times, 2019]
It might seem extravagant to spend €80 - €100 on just one top as a wardrobe staple vs. buying several cheaper items (that might rarely get worn and won't last as long). Especially poignant if you are someone who promised yourself that you were going to spend your money on ‘experiences, not things’. Ultimately though we all have to dress, the question is how to do so smartly.
“Between the abundance of sales and the countless stores that offer fashionable clothes for so much less, we’re conditioned to think that our clothes should come cheap and, in a sense, disposable.
However, have you ever seen an exceptionally well-dressed person? They tend to have a look about them where you just know they paid more for their attire. Well, there’s a reason for it. They put some thought into what they wear.
Quality clothes, while usually more expensive, are worth the investment. They not only last longer, but they also can make you feel better.” [Santander Bank, 2020]
In reality, paying for quality saves you more money in the long run. You’ve probably heard of the ‘cost per wear’ formula, but if not, here’s a quick example:
You get 50 wears out of your €25 jeans that have some trendy detail on them. They will then seem dated in 6-12 months, or the colour runs, or they develop tears and become unwearable faster because they are of poor quality and material. These jeans have cost you just under €0.50c per wear for that year. They will also go more quickly into a landfill or our oceans, causing longer lasting damage to the environment. Questionable too is the process of their production and if the people making them are getting paid a liveable wage at those cheap prices.
Compare this to a pair of €100 jeans you purchase as an investment piece/wardrobe staple. They cost more because they fit perfectly and are a classic style from a high end designer. You manage to get 50 wears per year, over 5 years. These jeans have cost you €0.40c per wear. They have lasted far longer and you have had the benefit of better fit, style and shape over an extended period. They have become a much loved wardrobe staple. Because they were more expensive, you treat them better and may have other options rather than throwing them away (perhaps becoming a hand-me-down or going to a second hand shop for resale). In addition, it is more likely that these jeans were made in a more sustainable way with garment workers being paid a better wage in a responsible factory.
When spending more money on your clothes, you become more mindful of your purchases and take better care of them, thus resulting in working toward a more sustainable way of life. You’ll be more inclined to mix and match your higher end purchases, looking more stylish and impressive in both your work and private life. You will also be more satisfied as, generally speaking, the more you spend, the better the quality of make and material. This is not just about treating yourself but also about spending your money wisely.
When you actually sit down and think about it, the truth is in the facts. If you spend more money on key, well-made wardrobe staples instead of ‘fast-fashion’, you are bound to be better off financially, style-wise, and the environment will benefit too!