I haven’t bought any charity shop clothes for some time. I’ve looked but kept to two of my golden rules: i) don’t drop your standards, and ii) only buy exactly what you need. And I succeeded in not saying, ‘oooh I must have that’, which is something I admit I do at times! But I do confess to buying two pairs of jeans from Primark at £11 each, and three T-shirts from Peacocks at £4 each. So I was going to write about my frugal and quite tiny wardrobe that I’m taking on holiday this year.

But a few days ago, I watched, the documentary The True Cost, which was a sobering experience. Cheap fast fashion has revolutionised the fashion industry, and while I don’t turn my nose up at people who shop in Primark (because I say check your privilege before you condemn the people who buy cheap clothes. For many, yes it’s cheap fashion but the clue is in the word cheap, a large number can’t afford anything else) I do think we should ask questions about who made our clothes.

It was clear from the documentary that if brands and major chain stores (like the documentary no names) weren’t actually using sweat shops (an image of which usually conjures up dangerous buildings as well as poor conditions) the profit margins they chase lead to even the better manufacturers having to push their workers so hard working conditions are bordering on the poor.

And unless a label states ‘Made in Britain’ or Made in (whatever country you live in) you can guarantee that the clothes have been manufactured elsewhere in China or Bangladesh or …., the list goes on and on.  And it’s a hard life making clothes.

So what to do? OK, there are some good campaigns out there including fashion revolution which asks that every time you buy you ask #whomademyclothes

Of course, you could buy clothes that are only made in your own country – think of the small carbon footprint. Or you could buy ethically sourced clothes from brands like People Tree. Or consider a bespoke tailor. How I wish, for instance, I could afford to buy more from Masato – do you remember that amazing coat I bought from him, he made it for me!


Most of us probably do have too much stuff, including clothes, and I know the mantra is buy less and wear more exclusive, expensive clothes but seriously I would have only about three things in my wardrobe if I did that. So 99% of my clothes come from charity shops. And this way you’re not only recycling clothes and saving them from being thrown into the incinerator you’re supporting a charity. It has to be a win-win situation.

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper



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3 thoughts on “Who made your clothes?

  • 7th August 2015 at 6:22 pm

    Penny, no one will ever forget that coat!!!

  • 17th April 2016 at 9:41 am

    A fantastic post and very true. We are all doing the best we can and sometimes people have to buy from the cheaper stores although some of the more expensive ones also use cheap labour. What I don’t like however is the way people use these stores so they can have throw away fashion. I know of one person who boasted to me that she bought all her clothes for her holiday from primark so when she saw lots of things she wanted to bring back from her holiday she could just throw the clothes away as they were so cheap to replace. Argh!! I’m with you I buy from charity shops or I make my own. I care for my clothes and keep them, trying to steer away from obvious fad trends. We all need to consider our impact on the environment and on others.

    • 18th April 2016 at 7:31 am

      I do so agree with you – the thing about charity shop shopping is that for me, first it’s about buying quality clothes at an affordable (for me) price, but second, it is an ethical thing to do to keep the clothes from landfill and to use them again when someone has discarded them. We do need to become more discerning about wastage and the cost to this earth, and to the workers, of buying cheap clothes.

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