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.
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.
Penny, the frugalfashionshopper