No Longer Grey

The sartorial experiments and ramblings of a girl named Sarah

How much should we be spending on clothes?

by Sarah on April 2, 2019, no comments

A while ago, while eating birthday cake in New York, a friend of mine asked about these sweatpants. They’re a pair of cashmere sweatpants from Grana, bought on clearance for $60, one of the greatest deals I’ve scored in a long time. So I told her, expecting a “wow, you savvy bargain hunter you” response. But she was aghast and had no idea why anybody would spend that much on a pair of sweatpants, and suddenly, I was wondering the same thing.

Having worked for 3+ years in the business of selling clothes, I’m used to thinking about fashion a certain way. I know the general production cycle, how wholesale pricing works, and typical price models. For me, spending $60 on a pair of sweatpants wasn’t absurd, because I knew they were high quality, made out of a super luxe fabric, and were made responsibly.

On the other hand, I spent $60 on a pair of sweatpants, something I could have gotten at Primark for $12.99. It’s great that so many brands are turning to sustainable practices, better fabrics, more diverse hiring practices. In the long run, it will bring prices down. But the truth is that most of these “sustainable” brands just can’t compete with fast fashion pricing.

There’s a lot of stuff to spend money on. Food. An apartment. Transportation, medical bills, student loans, charitable donations, the stock market, a bowl of really good ramen, plane tickets to go visit a friend. But for me, shopping less but shopping sustainably is part of how I choose to practice environmentalism, how I try to support minority communities, how I express my creativity. It’s part of my personal style.

From a purely economics driven standpoint, consumption is good because it increases GDP, which is good for the country (cut a lot of corners there, but that’s the gist). How that consumption happens though is a much more personal problem. Buying a lot of less expensive things versus one of two more expensive pieces have the same net result, but impact a lot of different people along the way. One way isn’t necessarily better. That’s the thing about personal style- it’s personal.

So where’s the line? Would you spend $12 on a pair of sweatpants? $60? $236? At what point is spending irresponsible? 

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