Let’s talk affordable fashion from an ethical point of view, and a sustainable point of view…
It might seem like a silly question — “what is affordable fashion?” But for some reason this hopelessly vague and subjective term creeps into many fashion discussions: online chats, blog posts, social media comments, brand advertisements, etc. Everyone is hunting on Google for affordable versions of their dream outfit, which suggests that everyone has an idea of what they consider to be a fair price for their desired clothing. We feel compelled to share our take on fairly priced clothing and why the term “affordable” is irrelevant in ethical consumerism.
Maybe it’s time the word ‘affordable’ dies so we can replace it with the word ‘fair.’
AFFORDABILITY VS. ETHICAL (SLOW-FASHION) SHOPPING:
One way to shop ethically is to get to know responsible brands in your own neighbourhood. There’s much talk in the news about fair trade fashion, but not all brands import from overseas. In other words, ‘fair-trade’ applies to a limited corner of the ethical market.
LOCALLY-DESIGNED IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY LOCALLY-MADE
Here in North America we have some stellar slow-fashion districts working hard to offer it all. We have factories producing small-batch collections to coordinate their production with demand in real-time. We have local brands offering complimentary tailoring and hemming to ensure you will actually wear and love your purchase. Here at Public Myth we spend much time gathering feedback and weighing many decisions before we put a style into production. Unethical fast-fashion business models look to cut back on extra efforts like these in order to keep a low price tag as top priority. To us, if affordability means paying a low price at the expense of fellow human beings’ health and welfare, then affordability is not our end goal. Maybe it’s time the word “affordable” dies so we can replace it with the word “fair.” We’d rather pay a fair price than an inhumanely affordable price, wouldn’t you?
TIP: it’s true, most ethically-produced clothing is rarely the lowest price on the market. One way to establish fair pricing is to ensure that the VALUE MATCHES THE PRICE TAG. Let’s all teach ourselves how to recognize quality fabrics and sewing construction that will last for years. After all, cheap disposable fashion is NOT affordable in the long run. How many times do we we really want to go hunting for the perfect plain white T-shirt or super flattering leggings? Our time is valuable. Shopping to replace defective clothing year after year sounds expensive to us.
A SUSTAINABLE STATE OF MIND
If you’re still feeling that affordability is a concept you aren’t willing to part with, but your heart is nudging you to bend towards more conscious consumerism, we have good news, SUSTAINABILITY is the ultimate formula for affordability. Anyone can curate a thoughtful and sustainable wardrobe with much less investment than you’d spend as a fast, disposable fashion consumer. Picture this… re-purposing goods, thrifting for second-hand styles, redesigning some older clothes that have become outdated… and then investing in some extra special, long-lasting new pieces that you will treasure for years. Make your new purchases something to covet and something you’ll take care of.
OVER-CONSUMERISM IS NEVER AFFORDABLE
Sustainability might drum up ideas of biodegradable fabrics, natural fibres and environmentalism, but it’s more of an umbrella term that encompasses many habits, values and conscious efforts. Sustainability involves reducing consumerism by buying fewer items and choosing them wisely. (See how this crosses over into the realm of affordability?) We are ecstatic to see the growing popularity surrounding the #FewerBetter Movement. Women everywhere are jumping on board to put an end to the false idea that the more clothes we have, the better. Over-consumerism has been looming and growing social media influence, but the backlash is strong! It’s beautiful! People are dramatically changing their behaviours and personal ideas of what kind of a consumer they wish to be. We just want the world to know that we all have it in us to make fair choices as shoppers while still feeling good about the dollars we have invested. We urge our readers to explore affordability by looking to increase longevity instead of decreasing price tags. Let’s all play the long game and practice integrity.
6 WAYS TO MAKE ETHICAL SHOPPING MORE FAIRLY-PRICED
AVOID IMPULSE SHOPPING! Buy items you’ve put thought into. You’ll work hard to preserve these pieces!
BUILD A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR LOCAL FACTORY BRANDS! They’ll let you know about sample sales and warehouse events. FYI a product DESIGNED in your city is not automatically MADE in your city.
RE-PURPOSE YOUR OLDER WARDROBE PIECES. Take them to a tailor to improve fit, mend defects, reinforce stitching or even fully redesign them.
AVOID BUYING INTO FASHION FADS. Invest in an assortment of timeless styles and basics. The fast-fashion business model relies on incessant marketing geared to make women feel that their month-old purchases are already out of style. For every gorgeous style of clothing out there, someone has written an article telling the world it’s dead and outdated. Beware of these biased messages and shop on your own terms, at your own pace.
BECOME A STUDENT OF HIGH-END FASHION. Learn how to spot long-lasting fabrics and garment construction.
ACCEPT THAT FAST FASHION IS THE DEFAULT STANDARD of brands you have known and trusted for years. As soon as we are honest with ourselves about how unethical our everyday brands are, we start noticing the many ethical brands that are rising up and putting integrity first. It’s not necessary to shame yourself for past purchases that happened to be unethically produced, what’s done is done. But it pays to recognize our shopping behaviours and note when we are mindlessly supporting unethical brands out of convenience. We could instead be practising conscious consumerism and discover endless ethical product alternatives in all price ranges.
You all have your own idea of what constitutes an affordable price point… there is something special AND ETHICAL out there for everyone… Trust us!