Is ethical fashion really as expensive as we think?
The average woman wears only 33% of her wardrobe. Dwell on this for a second or two. It’s crazy right?
Why the heck does the other 67% exist?
Unfortunately, we’ve been trained to think of fashion like a disposable skin that we can oh so easily strip off, and replace when we are bored. Heck, if a shirt is the price of a coffee, why wouldn’t you buy it in 7 different colours, wear only two of them, and then go back to the mall the very next week looking for something different?
The old school idea of ‘cost per wear’ (CPW) has been pushed aside by fast fashion (a topic for another day), and instead of considering how much a garment will CPW, we’re buying the cheapest garment without care if it will break the very next day.
There’s something wrong with this, on so many social and environmental levels. So, we’re bringing back CPW.
CPW describes the price you pay for a garment, divided by the amount of times you wear it. For example, if you buy a garment for $100, and wear it 4 times, that garment cost you $25 each time you wore it.
CPW encourages us to think economically about our clothes. It helps us to consider what we are buying, and how long it will last. CPW pushes us to purchase long lasting, high quality garments that cost us more up front, but save us money in the long term. If you totally embrace the cost per wear ideology, while keeping ethical fashion values at heart, you’re in for a much more pleasant dressing experience in the morning, less waste thrown to second hand shops or the bin, and a wallet that thanks you.
It’s the morning of a very special event, let’s say, your close friend’s wedding. You open your wardrobe, ready to find something to wear. Upon opening the doors, several items fall out onto the floor. Woops; it’s been a while since you hang anything on it’s hanger.
You begin sorting through the options frantically, eyeing up every piece, holding it up to your body, and throwing it down on the floor to move onto the next.
“I HAVE NOTHING TO WEAR!!!!!”
Your neighbours, 2 blocks down, heard you.
You race to the mall and buy something mediocre, slightly the wrong size, but it will do.
Now, picture this:
It’s the morning of a very special event, let’s say, your mother’s 50th birthday party. You open your wardrobe, ready to find something to wear. Upon opening the doors, you spot your favourite jumpsuit you bought with your mum last year. You remember visiting it in the store for a month, and thinking about it for hours after every visit. You remember adding up the cost per wear, and gleefully skipping out of the store with the jumpsuit in your hands after so many weeks of thoughtful consideration and jumpsuit lusting. It sparks wonderful memories of the time you wore it to your niece’s first birthday, your work Christmas party, and a summer BBQ, and it looks brand new because you’ve been meticulously following the care instructions.
A grin appears on your face; that’s the one for today.
You see, the difference between these two experiences, is the CPW ideology. The first example, involved you making careless decisions beside the sale rack, indulging in quick shopping fixes, and never stopping to think about how any of your clothes would practically suit your life and style.
The second example, is the greatest demonstration of a thoughtful CPW shopper. You’ve thought long and hard about how many times you will get to wear it, you’ve become attached to it even before purchasing, and most likely, it’s still in amazing condition because a. You’ve paid more for it, and b. You’ve followed the care instructions and repaired it straight away at the sign of any damage.
CPW has a lot to offer. It can remove feelings of dread when you ask the question ‘what do I wear?’ and exclude you from the 20% statistic. What if you thought thoroughly about every single one of your garments, and used 100% of your wardrobe? How would that make you feel in the morning? Our bet: fabulous.
To put it simply, buy better, buy well, buy thoughtfully, and love whatever enters your wardrobe. If you don’t, it’s not worth it.
Written by Kate Hall.