15-07-2019 - - 0 comments
Can you really afford Fast Fashion?

Of course you can, who can't afford a bikini for £1 or a summer dress for £10?  But what is the real cost of bargain basement style?  

One man springs to mind when we think 'fast fashion' but he's not a designer, editor or model.  Not always thought of as a style icon (but then again, why not?), David Attenborough has had us all tuned in to, and utterly shocked by, his documentaries that have flagged the issue of plastic in our oceans.  And when it comes to cheap and easy fashion, he's had a big impact on Distinctively Me founder Jill White.  "Like many people, I stopped buying bottled water in response to his recent campaigns but I also started to look a little closer into the issue of plastic in our oceans and I was shocked" says Jill.

Did you know that washing polyester clothes in a domestic washing machine creates microfibers, which add to the problem of plastic in our oceans?  Scary, right?

50% of clothes made today are made of polyester. On average we are buying 60% more clothes than we did 10 years ago, and we are keeping each garment half as long. That's a lot of polyester ending up in landfill.

Research shows that ¾ of Britons throw away unwanted clothing rather than donating or recycling it.   When clothes are so cheap, it's easy to see why we place such little value in them.  Why would we bother recycling our 'out of date' pieces when they are of so little value and of such low quality?   The problem with the 'wear it, bin it' philosophy is that non-biodegradable fabrics, of which polyester is one, sit in landfill for up to 200 years!  Shocking.

Jill White:  "Whenever I research the impact of Fast Fashion the statistics amaze me and I realise how ill-informed we are around this subject".

For instance, did you know that:

  • Making one pair of jeans generates as much greenhouse gas as driving a car for 80 miles?
  • It takes 2,700 litres of water to make one cotton shirt, which is the equivalent amount of water that the average person drinks in 2 ½ years!
  • Women comprise 80% of all textile workers, and pay is very low. For example, women in Bangladesh makeabout $96 per month which is 3.5 times less than the amount needed in order to live a "decent life with basic facilities."
  • 60% of those working in the global fashion industry are under the age of 18

Research shows that Britons will spend £2.7bn this summer on over 50million summer outfits, a significant number of which will only be worn once!

Clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, and the annual value of clothing discarded prematurely is more than $400bn.

So, if we do buy that dress for £10, how many times do we wear it? Once? Twice? Never?

Compare that to the dress you absolutely love. "I have a couple of 'go to' dresses in my wardrobe that I bought about 15-20 years ago. I love wearing them today as much as I did when I bought them all those years ago" says Jill.

Buying a key piece in a style to suit your body shape, in a colour to suit your look and in a fabric that is timeless and easy to care for will always feel wonderful to wear.

Yes you'll pay more for these pieces but when you look at the cost per wear, they all of a sudden become real value for money.  "I probably paid about £200-250 for the dresses, but I must have worn them at least 30 times.  That's only 2 or 3 times a year but I wear them every single year.  The cost per wear is less than £10.  Perhaps the price of a wear once, fast fashion dress.  I know which one I'd rather have!" comments Jill.

So let us ask you to think about this?  Yes, you can afford 'fast fashion', but you can also afford to buy in a more sustainable way for a large part of your wardrobe. Made to measure is ideal for your capsule pieces as you will be wearing them at least 30 times and probably a lot more.

Here's Jill's advice on how to build a more sustainable wardrobe and still look and feel great in your clothes.

  • Empty your wardrobe of anything that doesn't fit you, doesn't suit you or doesn't feel nice on. Sell these items or give them to your local charity shop
  • Work out which styles suit you. The key is to balance out your body - so if you are pear shape i.e. your hips are your biggest point, then simple shapes on your bottom half and more detail and volume on your top half will give you an hourglass look
  • Make a note of the colours that really work for you - neutrals (white, cream, silver), basics (black, navy, brown, grey) and pop colours (reds, bright blues, pinks, greens, violets...)
  • Define your capsule wardrobe i.e. the pieces that are your staples and you wear them every week and probably more than once a week. Invest in these pieces and buy the best you can afford - it will payback in cost per wear. Make sure you get the perfect fit
  • When buying fashion / pop pieces, check that you can wear them with 3 other items in your wardrobe and on 3 different occasions
  • Check the fabric your clothes are made of and where they are made

We hope this gives you food for thought so that you can make a more informed decision when buying your clothes in the future.  Surely it's time we didn't just look at the price of the label but the price to our planet too.






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