By Jamie Roberts
Often, cheap clothing purchases are worn only once or twice before being thrown out; nearly a fifth of UK shoppers admitted that they threw clothes in the bin.
‘Bargain hunting’ has become something quite different in recent years. Instead of signifying a quality item purchased at a low price, it seems we’re determined to simply find the cheapest item and call that a ‘bargain’. Due to this, there are so many online outlets offering cut-price clothing, allowing everyone the buzz of a brand-new dress scooped up for just £10 or less. But in truth, the main motivator for such a purchase tends to be the price rather than the quality or style of the item of clothing.
What effect is fast fashion having on the environment?
Like everyone, we often feel pressured to change our wardrobes up very quickly. This can put consumers off from investing in an item of clothing in case it goes out of style quickly. With our money only stretching so far, many of us are turning to cheaper outlets for our clothing.
Corners also have to be cut along the production line to suit cost cutting. For example, a batch of dresses worth £5 each can’t be made without using cheaper materials and such. This often leads to garments being made quickly with non-organic fabrics. Another disadvantage of this as The Independent reported, is that the process of dying these clothes is the second largest contributor to water pollution highlighting that we’re not just losing money, we’re also harming the environment.
By its very nature, it is expected that the garment you have purchased will not be kept long, nor will it be expected to last for years. On the flip side, fashion with an emphasis on quality and durability will see you through. This manifests particularly in the threads lost during washing. Cheap clothes tend to shed tiny microfibres when washed, which end up polluting our oceans.
How can you judge the quality of a product?
On the contrary, however, many people incorrectly assume that high quality must be expensive. But, as Life Hacker rightly states, a high price doesn’t always mean high quality. A low-quality shirt can easily be sold at a high price, and you can find high-quality garments at a low price — a bargain in the true sense of the word!
But just how do you spot the quality of an item? Follow our steps below!
- Look at the seams of patterned clothing — it’s the little things that are the biggest giveaway! On patterned items of clothing, an effort will be made to make sure the pattern lines up at the seams. A mismatched seam is a good giveaway of low quality.
- Ignore the price tag — as mentioned before, this isn’t always an indicator or quality. People can, and will, charge good money for a poor product. Look at the item itself before you check out the price tag!
- Check the stitching for gaps — an item that will last will have no gaps between stitches on the seam, and also have more stitches per inch. Take a good look at that seam!
- An option to repair when needed — this is like a calling card from the designer. If the item comes with spare buttons, then the item is expected to last enough for it to require a button mend at some point.
- Give clothing a little scrunch test — take some of the material in your hand and ball it up for a few seconds, then let go. A good quality material will survive and the wrinkles will fall out. Cheap material will stay wrinkled and creased.
Always be aware that a real bargain is something that you’ll get plenty of wear out of for a reasonable price. It’s always recommended to invest a little in timeless staples. You don’t need lots of low-cost, low-quality pieces to make a variety of outfits. For example, a few good quality sets of matching shoes and bags can be mixed and matched with other staple items in your wardrobe for any different looks and outfit ideas.
Are you making a financial saving?
The true cost of an item of clothing is how much you paid for it initially divided by how many times you wore it. That leaves you with a ‘cost-per-wear’. It’s a common misconception that If we’re sacrificing style, comfort, and quality in such clothes, surely we’re making up for it with financial savings.
Now, let’s say you buy a £70 dress. It costs you more in the short-term sure, but it fits great, it’s comfy, and it’s well-made. You wear it around twice a month, maybe for work for that important monthly meeting, and when you’re out for drinks with friends or at a party. After a year, you’ve worn that dress 24 times at just under £3 a wear. For a quality dress, it’ll probably serve you for much more than a year too, and each wear will lower its cost-per-wear even further. Even if you recycle it at this point, it worked out cheaper per-wear than the £10 dress — and it probably looked and felt better too!
Let’s look again at that ‘bargain’ £10 dress — you wear it twice before the seam pulls, the thin material rips or you realise it’s not very comfy to wear. It heads to the bin, and you’ve paid £5 per wear for that dress.
If it’s something you’ll wear every day, check the quality of the item first instead of the price tag. It’s not only better for the planet, but it’s better for you!