Does sustainable fashion really cost more? In this post, we dive into why sustainable and ethical clothing often comes with a bigger price tag and whether it can be affordable.
April 17, 2021
Sustainability has become somewhat of a buzzword over the past decade. An increasing number of entrepreneurs are starting sustainable brands while existing industry leaders have begun using the term as part of their marketing strategy. Amidst all the voices, it can be hard to differentiate performative marketing from an authentic ethical ethos.
In this blog post, we’re sharing what sustainable fashion is, what it costs, and if affordable sustainable fashion can exist.
What Is Sustainable Fashion?
Sustainable fashion embraces a more progressive fashion industry. Opposed to fast fashion, sustainable fashion strives for ecological and social integrity at every point along the production line.
Although every sustainable fashion company functions differently, at the core of these brands is a motivation to be kinder to the environment and to treat workers with the respect and rights that they deserve. As a result of this, many sustainable fashion brands prioritise organic or recycled materials, small production runs, and hospitable working environments above all else.
Why Sustainable Clothing Costs More
Many of us have become accustomed to the lower price points of the fast fashion industry. Fast fashion brands can churn out astonishing numbers of garments due to their focus on profit. These businesses prioritise profit above all else, which results in a disregard for working conditions, wages, and environmental impact. In short, sustainable fashion values everything the fast fashion industry willingly overlooks.
People and planet over profit
A sustainable product isn't manufactured and marketed with the sole purpose of making a profit. Instead, a sustainable product is produced to be an ethical and viable alternative to fast fashions self-seeking ethos.
Materials sourcing and manufacturing
Sustainable fashion requires more complex material sourcing and manufacturing methods. Often these methods demand materials to be recycled or repurposed old to reduce waste. As these methods are more complex and less common, the cost of them is higher. We’re beginning to see an increase in affordable sustainable fashion brands, but these price points are rarely comparable to the low prices of fast fashion facilitates.
High-quality products stand the test of time
High quality doesn't come cheap, and it's something sustainable brands refuse to compromise on. Unlike fast fashion items, sustainable garments last a long time. These garments limit the number of materials polluting our oceans and increasing our landfill.
Although sustainable fashion might have a higher initial price point, its longevity makes these items a worthy investment. Instead of buying something, throwing it away, and replacing it a few months later, sustainable clothing lasts. Sustainable clothing demands less frequent purchases, saving you money in the long run. Fewer purchases also help reduce energy use, and therefore, lessens the carbon footprint of the products you're buying.
What’s Happening Behind the Scenes
Fast fashion does an outstanding job at concealing its supply chain. As consumers, we've been trained to believe that the items on the shelf don’t have a life before we encounter them.
Sustainable brands don't believe in perpetuating this illogical style of consumerism. Part of the sustainable fashion movement includes being transparent about the manufacturing process. By being transparent, the consumer has more control over where their money goes and who is getting paid to make their items. A lack of transparency enables fat-cat corporations to exploit their workers. Rather than unknowingly lining the pockets of a few, sustainability shares the wealth.
Designer Versus Affordable Sustainable Fashion
Designer brands attain a much higher price point compared to sustainable fashion brands. Consumers of these luxury goods are left in the dark about where their money is going and who worked hard to produce their product. Sustainable fashion not only allows for fair worker rights, but it shows consumers that this money is contributing to positive and progressive working conditions.
The key difference between fast fashion and sustainable fashion is investment. If you purchase a fast fashion item, you’re buying into a consumer chain that demands you to repeat this purchase again and again, thereby driving up the cost, and no longer making it affordable. There is already an increase in affordable sustainable fashion brands, and in many ways, sustainable fashion already is an affordable option. When you buy from an affordable sustainable fashion brand, you’re investing in an item with longevity and movement that continues to put people and the planet before profit.