The Real Cost Of Shopping Clothes

Is it worth it it to compromise our morality for a bunch of rags?

A small reminder, it’s currently the year of  2019. Anything you can think of is available on the market. It can make you feel significant, interesting, different, cool. But not a single piece of clothing or another purchase will make us cooler or significant. If there is something that is definitely cool and sexy, it’s the ability to think.

Who makes our clothes and why are they so cheap?

We don’t buy a 50 cents milk, knowing what the quality is going to be. But we’re buying $9.99 T-shirt without a problem? Behind the business model of giants like H&M, Zara, Bershka, Forever21 there are young women and men, even children, working in bad conditions and for an insultingly low wage. Otherwise, there is no way that we could have a $10 T-shirt.

When we own tons of clothes there often comes a time when we don’t know what to do with them. The uncontrollable disposal in common containers places quick fashion among the top 5 biggest pollutants on the Earth. Despite the big profits, the industry does not invest in acceptable human conditions and an example of that is the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh which collapsed on a working day and the result of that was the death of more than 1100 people. That’s how much it costs to be cool.

Businesses continue to have unethical practices

They exist either because of our lack of knowledge or because we don’t care. I want to believe that when people are informed and know the truth they can more easily make the right decision. We can’t remove quick fashion from the game, at least not in the timespan of a single human life. At first, the change happens in our heads. When we begin to believe that confidence does not come with the new piece of clothing. To be cool is not to have a lot and to have what you are told you must have. If we, the women of the so-called civilized world, are really fighting for equal rights, why are we wearing clothes tailored also by women, living in absolute poverty and working in a life-threatening environment? If, regardless of our gender, we consider ourselves intelligent people, then why are we doing this to our planet?


We’ve all been in the vicious circle of cheap products

If something is really scary, that is the way we accept our consumerist behaviour: “everyone is doing this so it’s okay”. The moment when I became aware was last spring when I had to take the summer clothes out and put the winter ones in. My apartment is very small but the number of clothes would have been a lot even if I lived in a two-story house. I got scared because I was swamped with things I had forgotten I possessed. I looked for places where I could give away these clothes I wasn’t going to wear.

They were 95% of everything that I had amassed on the floor. And then I found out some very unpleasant facts. It turned out that I was even late in becoming aware. The topic of quick fashion and its consequences isn’t new but if you don’t know a lot about it too like I didn’t at the beginning, the following movies reflect reality in details: “The true cost”, “Minimalism”, “Fashion factories undercover“. The internet also offers a lot of articles through which you can inform yourselves about the scale of the problem as well.

Sustainability is the only tool you will ever need

What is sustainable fashion actually? These are clothes made of sustainable materials like silk, flax, hemp, even innovative materials like recycled glass. The philosophy of this kind of fashion is to own fewer things, but of higher quality. By doing that you actually have the chance to build your own style by creating different combinations and to not follow the trend. Without turning “modern” into a bad word, we have no need for clothes which will look ridiculous on us after six months just because they won’t be “trendy”.

Take a look at the Bulgarian sustainable brands. There are a lot of talented young people who are making clothes out of recycled materials and they need our support. A quick balance: if every month you buy two 10$ T-shirts, which you will be wearing 5 times before throwing them away, that’s 240$ a year. Five sustainable and plain T-shirts would also cost 240$ and they will be combined and put on a lot more than a few times because they will be lasting. If you think it would be boring and ridiculous to wear five T-shirts, think about the fact that these are not the only things you are wearing. Anuschka Rees offers interesting ways in which we can combine our clothes and build our style in her book “The curated closet“.

As a step towards an aware consumption, you can follow the FASHION REVOLUTION movement. This is an amazing global organization that fights for transparency in the fashion industry and for an unstoppable asking of the question “Who is tailoring my clothes?” What makes their work priceless is that they offer decisions through concrete actions, regardless of whether you are a student, a producer, a designer, a journalist, or a person whose profession has nothing to do with fashion. Anyone can contribute, every voice and action are of significance. You can familiarize yourselves with all of their projects here:

What about the clothes we have already piled up?

There are a few options for them. You can sell them through different websites and bazaars, intended for that. Super cute Ellie, the creator of Popara, even took part in a very interesting Оh La La vintage bazaar that took place on May 19th. You can donate them to someone who would need them. But please, make sure they really go to a person who you’re sure will wear them. We don’t need someone else to throw them away instead of us. If the piece of clothing is neither suitable for a donation nor for sale, then it’s time for containers for textile. There are such in many locations in Sofia and you can see the addresses here: They gather the clothes and give them new life as fibres, filling, or for creating energy.

The awareness, the sustainable thinking, the responsibility – these are not processes that happen in our head overnight. We need to look deeper into ourselves, as with any other problem, and look for the source. The world is looking for a change and we can’t keep up the old ways. I believe in the principle that where there is a problem, there is a possibility. You’ve probably already been a part of the fashion movement and you know how it’s working. You know how to attract attention. Use these qualities of yours and set an example of how to live sustainably and in a modern way. Let’s make caring great again because everything else costs us too dear.


model: @simonakostova_

photographer: @deeper.dimension

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