is sustainability in the fashion industry for the privileged few?

one of the main reasons people hesitate to turn to a sustainable lifestyle is comparatively higher costs. eco-friendly products are often costlier and sustainable clothes are no different. because of these reasons, many people have relegated the sustainable fashion industry to those who can afford a privileged lifestyle. so, let’s see if we can find just how much truth there is to this statement.

why do sustainable products cost more than regular products?

most companies that sell sustainable products or source their products sustainably have to take into account all the hidden costs involved in the production of a product. For instance, providing good working conditions is an important cost of production that most companies try to cut down to save costs. Sustainable products account for various hidden costs like:

environmental costs like how much water is consumed during sourcing the raw materials and if the production is labour intensive.

 human costs that ensure safe and better working conditions.

life cycle costs are the cost of creating disposable closed-loop cycles which would include making the products either reusable or disposable.

all these costs male sustainable products costlier than plastic. but does that mean, we cannot build a sustainable closet for ourselves? 

can you afford a sustainable closet?

yes, you can.

if you have decided to go sustainable and your wallet doesn’t seem to be on your side, then listen up folks because there might still be hope.

firstly, set a budget for how many clothes you need. exceptionally cheap prices can make us buy more than we need to so setting a budget might help you understand how much you need. if you are happy with the amount you spend on clothes every year, then you can set that as your budget for building a sustainable wardrobe.

now that you have a budget, make a list of the clothes you actually need just like you make a grocery list. open your closet, see what is missing and what is not wearable anymore. when you review your wardrobe, you might even find clothes you didn’t realize you have. You might even find ways to pair your clothes in new ways. once you do start shopping, make sure the clothes you like are something you need. ask yourself questions like whether you already own something similar, whether it will go well with other pieces in the wardrobe, and is it within your budget. happy shopping!!!

you can also decide to consume less since owning less makes our lives less complicated. buying less also reduces waste and as a result, will also reduce your carbon footprint.

other than this, you can also decide to buy second-hand or pre-loved clothes.

why do we need to shift towards sustainability in the long term?

It is true that currently certain sustainable brands are in a price range that is not accessible to everyone. However, there is no easy alternative for the same. Slow fashion is not just about buying sustainable clothes but incorporating the idea of “less is more” in your lifestyle. As an industry, it means launching fewer collections and making sure the products that we are selling are strong and durable.

It is not about throwing your current clothes and buying sustainable clothes. That just creates more waste. It’s about how you can use the clothes you have and style them in multiple ways instead of buying ten tops that are cheap but will be thrown out within two to three months. 

many organizations also feel that creating a sustainable brand is more expensive but experts suggest that reducing waste and being energy efficient will only save costs for the organizations in the long run. Gradually, the industry will have to integrate sustainability in a way that it becomes the norm and the prices could become lower if there is enough competition in the market that currently doesn’t exist. it’s about how much we are ready to invest as a civilization to make a difference.