We sure have come a long way. Hopefully that’s true for you personally, but it is certainly true when it comes to the economy. For example, there was a time in the not-too distant past when you had to ride a horse to the store once a week to purchase bags of flour and sugar. Today, with the click of a button, you can have convenience foods delivered to your door.
We have completely altered the way we do business and consume in every industry, but in no industry have we strayed further from its original roots than the clothing industry.
Today, fast-fashion is the norm. You can go to the store and purchase a T-shirt for $5. This has been the main way the average consumer shops for clothing for nearly a century, which means most of us don’t know any different.
But we’re harming ourselves and the planet by shopping this way. It’s time to rethink fast fashion and get back to our roots of shopping for our clothing locally.
Where did we go wrong?
The answer to this question isn’t easy or simple. It could be that the garment-making industry in the United States was destroyed by cheap garment imports from other countries. It could also be that labor unions created their own demise by forcing factories into bankruptcy. The truth is certainly somewhere in the middle, but once the United States started using cheap labor to manufacture clothing overseas, we haven’t looked back.
Before fast fashion took over the U.S., the clothing industry was very different. During the turn of the 20th Century and for centuries before, clothing was custom tailored to fit. Seamstresses were valued, and most women had sewing skills. Men and women only had a few outfits and darning socks was the norm.
There’s no denying that the way we consume clothing today is convenient, and dare we say it, fun. It can be a blast to spend a Saturday shopping at local boutiques, but it’s time we went back to our roots and started spending more of our money purchasing garments that are made closer to home. Here’s why.
It’s more eco-friendly
Your shopping habits have a huge effect on the environment. The more clothes you buy, the more clothes you’ll eventually get rid of. Not to mention, you’re increasing demand for cheap clothing by buying it frequently, which only encourages the factories to keep producing massive amounts of clothing.
Don’t even get us started on what kinds of materials are used to make these items of clothing, how much pollution is created by transporting items of clothing over thousands of miles, or the kinds of toxic dyes that are used.
Buying fewer items of clothing made out of high-quality materials doesn’t mean you’re doomed to look frumpy. The surprising truth is that the most stylish women actually have very few clothes. Instead, they choose what they add to their closets wisely.
Living wage and working conditions
When you buy clothing, you’re paying for a lot more than the clothes themselves. You’re voting on what kind of manufacturing process you support, and if you’re buying $5 T-shirts, you’re voting for paying workers low wages and poor factory conditions.
Because very few people know how to sew, and almost no one has a friend or family member who works in a clothing factory (because 97-percent of the clothing in the United States is imported), we have no idea what it takes to make clothing.
Don’t want to spend more on clothes? It can be hard to pay more than what you’re used to, but by paying workers what they’re worth, you’ll think more carefully about what you buy, and you’ll have a lot less clothes in the closet.
We haven’t even talked about the quality of locally-made clothing over factory-produced clothing that’s manufactured overseas! It lasts longer, providing buyers with more value over time, and it prevents garments from ending up in the landfill.
The next time you pick up that dirt-cheap shirt and think about adding it to your shopping cart, stop and think about the impact your purchase will have over time. We bet you’ll feel a lot better if you purchase well-made clothing from a U.S. manufacturer or local seamstress. We bet you’ll look a lot more fashionable too!