BADLANDS ASKS: How Much Do You Think Clothing Should Cost?
Obviously, if you're here and reading this, you care about where your clothes were made, and how. But as we all know, sometimes putting your morals into practice can be pretty challenging if you don't have a lot of resources, or should I say, income. And it is for that reason, that we here at BADLANDS think it most important to change our expectations around how much we should consume, so that consuming sustainably becomes easier and more accessible.
With that being said, we wanted to ask you what your expectations around consuming are. How much do you think you should spend on clothing? How much do you buy? We asked you these questions on Instagram, and now we're ready to talk results.
Our survey begins by pondering how much our average reader spends on clothing per month. While the responses differed greatly across all questions, the majority of our respondents agreed that they spent approximately 5-10% of their monthly income on clothes. This definitely checks out considering it costs a lot to be alive these days and we truly don't have a lot of money to spend. More precisely, respondents averaged about $100 per month on clothing, and the majority admitted to purchasing about 1-3 new pieces per month. In the grand scheme of sustainability this is pretty good news! Considering that fashion social media culture pressures us to never been seen in a garment twice, it's positive to see that this is not the genuine practice.
"More precisely, respondents averaged about $100 per month on clothing, and the majority admitted to purchasing about 1-3 new pieces per month."
These results maintain that our readers are spending roughly $50 on each garment they buy, which fits pretty well with how much they assumed garments should cost. On average, responses estimated that a plain t-shirt should cost about $30, and a pair of jeans lands around $100. While some lowballed prices around $3 for a tee, and $12 for denim, others noted that they'd be willing to pay up to $150 for either if it means that the garment was produced ethically.
The expectations we have around how much we should pay for clothing and how often we should be consuming are one of the biggest challenges to sustainability. You've heard it all before, we live in a hyper-consumption culture. To us, it's normal to buy a few items of clothing every month because we're so used to it. We all do it, me especially. But that doesn't have to be the norm.
While $30-$100 can sound like a lot for clothing, if we really think about all that goes into a garment, it isn't much. That $30 is the end price of hours of labour, transportation, as well as raw materials. If a factory worker is to be paid a living wage to sew a t-shirt, which takes time, even for a professional, should they not be making close to that final price to begin with? We find it so easy, from this end of the world, to ignore the labour that goes into a garment and assume it should cost pennies.
And this isn't shaming. Like I say, I'm just as guilty for groaning over a price that's actually pretty reasonable all labour considered. But with the prices of fast fashion dropping lower and lower by the minute, we become more accustomed to rock bottom price tags, and the ability to buy more than we need. Don't get me wrong, 1-3 items a month ain't bad, but do we even need that much outside of the lens of constant consumption that we're inundated with?
"But with the prices of fast fashion dropping lower and lower by the minute, we become more accustomed to rock bottom price tags, and the ability to buy more than we need."
Again, this isn't the fault of us individuals. Society has told us that it's the norm that we can buy so much clothing, and that we should. However, this fashion model is actually pretty new considering most people sewed their own clothing through the last century. So that means, with a little information, and some criticism of the fashion industry, we can change.
Unsurprisingly, 94% of respondents said they were aware of fast fashion. We know you're savvy, you're interested, and you want to make change where you're able to. Because like we've said in the past, not everyone has access to sustainable clothing, be it location, size, price-point, etc. 81% of you also said you've purposefully bought from a sustainable brand, which is a big deal considering inaccess. 65% of those who answered added that they bought from the sustainable brand of their choice online, which makes sense as so many of us who don't live in mythical ~fashion cities~ don't have all too many sustainable brands to buy from locally. And while few of us do have access to these brands, countless respondents remarked that they frequent second-hand stores most often when buying "new" clothing.
Last, but not least, we asked what was most important to you when buying clothing - price or where it's made? While some respondents added that quality was also very important to them to ensure their garments last and that they create less waste, 69% said price mattered most. And that's nothing to be ashamed of. We don't have massive budgets to buy clothing, as the very first question in this survey shows. But if anything, being able to channel that 5-10% of our income into fewer products over time that are made better and more responsibly is the best we can do. As fashion culture tells us to consume as much as humanly possible, we consumers have to remember the human cost. It certainly isn't all on us, but it's important to do, whenever we can.