In Discussions, Shopping, Style

The True Cost of Fast Fashion

I wandered into the mall the other day and started looking through some of my favourite haunts – Banana Republic, Aritzia, Club Monaco.. and a few things sprang out at me immediately:

EVERYTHING IS REALLY EXPENSIVE

I know that ever since I went through my little two week thrifting experiment where I picked up all of this for less than $200, it has completely shifted my worldview on what things cost and just how little resale value it really has after it has lost its shiny lustre.

shopping-clothes-wardrobe-shop

So when I started looking at the prices carefully and seeing $185 for a skirt or $215 for a dress, my heart started having palpitations.

Did I seriously ever pay that kind of money for something that would end up as $7 on a rack in a thrift store, if it ever made it there?

…AND IT IS ONLY POLYESTER

To add insult to injury, it is all polyester! 100% polyester!

Going for $185! Or $215!

Plus taxes!!! 15% mind you, in Quebec.

I just can’t believe that this is what things cost these days in the world of fast fashion.

shopping-clothes-wardrobe-shop-vintage-dress


It makes me wonder if it’s just cheaper to buy a sewing machine and learn how to make my own clothes by hand. I’m sure the cost of the fabric would probably kill me, not to mention the learning curve, but in the long run, maybe it’d be cheaper if I could just alter and sew everything I wanted instead of trying to buy it at retail.

The markups must be incredible, I am guessing those items were at best $10 to make, and with the marketing juggernauts behind their brands, it shoots up the price (and profits) beyond imagination.

THE QUALITY IS ALSO QUESTIONABLE

Aside from polyester, loose threads, seams just barely tacked on, patterns not matching, and unlined pieces are the bane of my shopping existence.

For items that are properly sewn and lined, 00% silk, virgin wool or so on, the price tag is in the THOUSANDS.

Unbelievable.

Photograph-Vienna-Austria-Streets-Shopping

NOW I TRY MY BEST TO SHOP LIKE THIS:

  • Not at all. Best thing to do is not to buy anything.
  • Shop my own closet.
  • Borrow items.
  • Thrift them.
  • Buy from independent designers who do quality work for reasonable prices.

HAVE YOU NOTICED THE SAME THING?


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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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10 Comments

  1. SarahN

    Interesting to read Sense’s comment, after only just watching the ’10 item’ youtube clip you recently posted (ie right before reading this).

    I’m aghast at prices, and won’t buy polyester unless it’s workout wear or it’s second hand. I will buy new: jeans, knickers, tank tops (cotton/stretch). Blouses/tops/jumpers/jackets/coats – all happy to buy second hand – but will buy new with right materials etc. Pants are a mixed bunch – I have new and thrifted work pants and pros and cons on both to be honest. I hate shopping pants so… I have enough…

    I hate more – things ‘wearing out’ – namely, cotton tank tops and long sleeved tees going sorta see through/ my sweat eats out some of the fabric. Items I wash after wearing… Just wear out. It’s part of what they are, but it annoys me NO end. And underarm stains… I have done hydrogen peroxide trick, but it’s not ‘wow’ on the improvement scale, just ‘hmmm better’. Without these issues, I’d be happier with items for longer and need to buy less, and less often.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      You know what, with white shirts, buy the cheapest you can. You can never fix the underarm problem.

      Reply
  2. r
    raluca

    I’m not annoyed at the prices, I’m annoyed at the lack of value we get for the money. If something costs 10 dollars and you can wear it exactly once, it’s still a bad deal, even if the nominal amount is small. If something costs 200$ but you can wear it 200 times, then it’s an excellent deal.
    So yeah, the prices, they might be high, but actually, the fact that they try to sell crappy clothing is the big problem for me.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      If only there was a cost-per-wear stat on every price tag

      Reply
  3. S
    Sense

    Definitely! This is why I keep my costs down when buying clothes–shirts under $20 and pants under $30. They don’t last a long time with me. I’m really klutzy and spill/bump into EVERYTHING. Plus, my lab and fieldwork has me crawling around and working in dirt and grease a lot (and I never know when that is going to happen), so I just assume everything I buy will end up needing to be replaced within the year. Looking at it like that, it is not worth me buying nice things that are designed to last a long time!

    Clothes you can buy in NZ are even worse–at least the US-bought stuff lasts as long as I don’t stain or rip it and is cheap. The Kiwi-bought clothes are twice or three times the cost and last about 2 washes, then there are holes and they start to fall apart/shrink/become deformed. My friend can wear through $300 boots in 3 months of careful wearing. I seriously don’t know where they buy their material, but it is EXPENSIVE. CRAP.

    I now only shop in the US on my once a year visits, and bring the new clothes to NZ to wear for the year.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Two of the worst words when it comes to clothing: EXPENSIVE CRAP

      I feel terrible for my NZ and Australian friends because it is so hard to get quality items there 🙁 At least in Canada we can get them, even if we have to pay duties/shipping/import/currency USD exchange

      Reply
  4. Cassie

    Absolutely! I’m finding Banana Republic and Aritzia less and less appealing these days due to the exorbitant price and questionable fabrics. I purchased a number of items last month, but right now I’m just feeling disillusioned with clothing stores and shopping in general. My husband asked me yesterday what I wanted for my birthday and I couldn’t think of a single thing. I don’t want anything. I feel like I’ve hit peak stuff. Very little of what’s in the stores nowadays is worth adding to our home anyway.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I myself, am feeling quite disillusioned with retail. I mean $30 for some pants and don’t even look comfortable? Now I am stuck with trying to find pants to wear to work after putting on 5 lbs.

      Reply
  5. S
    Sophie

    I saw that along time ago, when I was at Zara. Their premium line Zara Studio was the most expensive by the price, and the worst by the quality. I we all have enough info about the sweat- shop issue….
    I has been almost three years since I stopped shopping at so called “High-street” retails. The experience of thrifting is great, Just last Friday I got myself Margiela pants, and today I hunted Brunello Cucinelli dress (knocking on wood, I am Russian, and allowed to be superstitious 😉 )
    Now I need to make some Feng shui in order to hunt Choos in size 36…

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      Thrifting is my new jam.

      I will help send some good feng shui vibes your way for Choos in a 36 😉

      Reply

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