Home Fashion Just because your designer clothes are expensive, it doesnt make them ethical

Just because your designer clothes are expensive, it doesnt make them ethical


author imageOrsola de CastroFounder and creative director of Fashion RevolutionMonday 2 Jul 2018 9:38 am

Just because your designer clothes are expensive, it doesn't make them ethical

There are many preconceptions around the role that luxury fashion plays in the industrys impact, both socially and environmentally (Photo: Getty).

When is an investment really an investment?

At this fashion moment in time, we are surrounded by shifting discourses like never before. Its not just trends — which segue into each other in a seemingly ceaseless rhythm dictated by demand for constant availability — but also concepts. Questions like, is fake fur more ethical than real fur?, should I go vegan? and should I boycott a brand if I disagree with its practices? are being constantly asked.

One question in particular that takes prominent place in the fashion conversation is, should I stop buying vast quantities of cheap clothing and “invest” in an expensive piece that will last forever?

When it comes to expensive goods, there are many preconceptions around the role that luxury fashion plays in the industrys impact, both socially and environmentally. Consumers tend to trust that an expensive product is better made, and that the people who made it are paid fairly, since the product is expensive.



This is far from being the case. The luxury sector produces in the same countries, often in the same factory clusters as the high street, and supply chain workers wages are similar across the sectors.

In the vast majority of cases, producing a luxury garment affords no extra luxury to the people who make it.

We just need to think of leather, one of the most polluting processes in the entire supply chain, with workers regularly operating in unsafe environments which are responsible for unsustainable levels of water and land contamination in the surrounding areas and beyond.

So before investing in an it bag instead of a high street version, be aware that there are more questions that need asking, or your expensive investment will prove just as costly for the planet.

A true investment should not be about how much money we are prepared to spend, but about knowing that the product we buy complies completely with our wish to make things better.

There are better ways to spend your money than just splash out on designer clothes.

You could, instead, splash out on an innovative young designers clothes; they might not be as easy to find as the ubiquitous luxury on the high street, but this makes finding them all the more exciting. Several young designers are redesigning not just the aesthetics of luxury, but its core values as well.

Your hard earned money doesnt always benefit the people who make mass-produced designer luxury products; it is often swallowed up by marketing campaigns and glossy shop fittings.



On the other hand, when supporting lesser known, smaller brands, there is a stronger connection to their team and its community and your money is more likely to be used evenly, throughout the brands shorter, more traceable, smaller value chain.

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So investing in your quality product plays a role in ameliorating its makers quality of life.

Lets re-imagine the concept of investment and bust the myth that buying designer is the only antidote to buying cheap fast fashion, especially because not everyone has the luxury of buying investment pieces in the first place. So how can we make it work?

Investment should be more about connecting emotionally to what we buy and taking better care of the clothes we already own. Instead of investing in more expensive clothes, extend the life of your current clothes by getting them mended if they tear, or altered for a better fit.

Joan Crawford said, Care for your clothes like the good friend they are. In my opinion, this is the soundest investment of all.

And last, but not least, if you want to start the journey to different consumption habits, check out our Fashion Revolution website – look at our fanzines (you can download them for free) and our Fashion Transparency Index. Be curious, find out, do something. You wont regret it.


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