The fashion industry is responsible for an estimated 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions; that’s why sustainable clothing has become a necessity and not a luxury anymore.
There’s also more choice for people looking for sustainable tees options with higher demand. However, one of the main issues for this to really take off is that more than two-thirds of consumers find sustainable clothes too expensive.
But is it just a perception based on the experience a decade ago? With new innovations and more competition, sustainable fashion is destined to be the new normal, so to explore further, we’re looking into whether sustainable clothes are affordable.
What is sustainable fashion?
But what is sustainable fashion? In short, it’s clothing made in a way that cares about environmental issues and aims to reduce negative impact. More than half of all consumers support brands focusing on ethical, sustainable practices in the fashion industry.
Sustainable fashion brands consider the environment and human experience when making clothes, including reducing pollution, eliminating waste and the use of toxic chemicals, providing fair pay and treatment of workers, and supporting essential issues.
Sustainable fashion also means that clothing is of a higher quality and is built to last, reducing the continuous cycle of filling landfills and purchasing new items.
But why do sustainable clothes tend to be more expensive? First of all, they’re usually made from organic fibers that don’t contain pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, etc. Such plants, e.g., cotton, take more time to grow and produce less material than GMO ones.
There are also strict government regulations that make it hard to get certified, and because of that, there are much fewer certified organic sources to choose from, which makes it more expensive.
Investing in and scaling up new technologies for various new sustainable materials also costs a pretty penny.
In addition, paying workers fair wages and creating a safe working environment is more expensive than using underpaid, unsafe factories.
Lastly, even such seemingly insignificant factors as sustainable packaging can add to the cost.
And yet, while sustainable fashion may still lean towards the more expensive side, the change is happening, and the growing demand is key to lowering costs, just as it has been in other industries.
It’s important not to forget “cost per wear,” too, which relates to how many times a garment has been worn. While you may pay only $5-10 per t-shirt, you’ll wear it only so many times until it pills and stretches. A more expensive piece or a higher quality item will last you much longer, and the cost per wear will be lower.
In addition to that, there’s also second-hand clothing and thrifting, which has become incredibly popular these days. It’s not only less expensive, but it also encourages mindful consumption and reuse of old pieces.
Lastly, large brands are also following the growing demand for ethical, sustainable, and fair trade products and come out with special lines or completely transform the way they produce clothing (e.g., Patagonia or Levis).
They’re also investing in new fiber materials and overhauling their production processes because they have the funds to do so.
The future is sustainable
It’s amazing and promising that we have so many more sustainable and ethical fashion brands on the market that care about their materials, pay a living wage, and stay transparent about their efforts.
New innovations in production and new sustainable materials not only reduce our impact on the environment but also care for the health of the people.
With more choices, the costs for consumers get lower, making sustainable fashion affordable to more and more people.