But the truth of the matter is that higher quality materials and sturdier, construction costs more to produce. However, the value of such an item is so much greater than that of a cheap garment, that once you feel the effect of quality clothing, you’ll never go back.
Quality is in declineBack when clothing was made by hand, it was made with an ethic of lasting quality and long-term use. Families couldn’t afford to buy new clothes at the start of every school year, or replace their kid’s shoes every time they had a hole.
It wasn’t just our clothing that was built to last. Cars, machines, appliances, and just about everything was made to be repaired, reused, and re-purposed for as long as possible.
However, that all changed with the industrial revolution. Factories started producing massive amounts of cheap products, families started having more disposable income, and the trash was more and more often where old or used items ended up. Clothing was no exception.
GlobalizationWith the globalization of markets over the last thirty years, the problem has increased exponentially. Now that a T-shirt can be produced in china for a fraction of the price as before, it has become harder and harder to convince someone why they should spend fifty dollars on a high quality shirt, when they sell shirts for ten dollars at the local superstore.
And to many people, this seems like the greatest thing ever. Now anyone can afford a new outfit, a cheeseburger, or even a new smartphone. However, there’s a dark side to all this cheap, and disposable production.
With reuse and repair on the decline, we face an ever growing problem.
Sustainability and planned obsolescenceIt’s no secret that our landfills are filling up, that the oceans host islands of trash, and that our planet’s resources are being stretched thin. By now everyone has seen documentaries heralding the end of the world, or at the very least the impact of our disposable culture.
And whether you’re a fanatical advocate for climate change, or hold a healthy skepticism of our global impact, there are some truths we can all see easily.
Just like mine, your parents and grandparents have probably told you plenty of times how they used to make things that would last. Yet these days, even advanced technology like smartphones are actually designed to break, slow down, and become obsolete within a couple of years.
The same is true of your clothing. The local thrift store’s racks are overflowing with unused and unwanted garments that at best, will be given to the homeless, but all too likely will wind up in a landfill. Most American families buy new clothes many times a year and have little regard for waste. Our culture is designed to encourage this consumptive behavior.
The positive impact of quality designIt certainly seems logical that you would save money by buying the cheapest clothes you can find. However, a deeper examination of the facts will reveal the error in that logic.
Take, for example, a simple T-shirt. Normally made out of cotton, one will cost anywhere from $12 to $25. Although it’s effective on the first day you wear it, a cotton T-shirt will quickly absorb sweat, take on odors, and require washing. After several months of regular use, it will have stretched, worn, and may already have one or two small holes. Of course, that’s no big deal, because it was so cheap that you can donate that one, and buy another.
However, had you bought a high quality T-shirt made from a material such as merino wool, you would have had a very different experience. Merino wool is an excellent example of the impact of quality materials on your clothing’s utility. It wicks moisture away from your body, has anti-microbial properties that prevent it from taking on odors, is lighter, stronger, and far softer on your skin.
All in all, if you needed to pack five cotton T-shirts for your trip last week, you would have been just fine with only one merino wool T-shirt. That means less space in your bag taken up by sweaty, stinky T-shirts, and more comfort for your adventure. Not only would that merino wool shirt do you good for your next trip, it will also hold up to years of heavy use without complaint.
Although the merino wool T-shirt may cost a pretty penny at first, you’re likely to spend that much several times over on cotton shirts before you ever consider retiring the merino wool one. That is, if you ever even consider doing such a thing. Better to just pass it down to your children, and to your children’s children.
Quality materials for athletic clothingMost people already know that high quality athletic wear is going to cost quite a bit. To some, that’s a good excuse to hit the thrift shop, or find the cheapest gear they can get their hands on. However, there’s no time when you need high quality more than when you are pushing your body to the limit.
Higher quality clothing is made to be more breathable, more durable, and lighter weight. When you’re out in the back-country, or working hard in the gym, it’s especially important to stay comfortable. If you find yourself out in alpine environments climbing, skiing, or hiking, it might even be downright essential to your survival.
High quality athletic wear is often made from blends of fabrics, to achieve the best qualities of each material. Merino wool, which I mentioned before is often blended with materials like elastane, polyester, or nylon. The result are high performance, durable fabrics that are fast to dry and resistant to odor.
The difference in your day to dayHowever, it’s not just athletes that benefit from quality materials close to the skin. A style minded city-dweller will know the difference that a quality outfit will make, both in the impressions it leaves and also the comfort it provides.
Besides, there are lots of times when it would be nice to know your shirt doesn’t smell like nervous body odor. Imagine walking into your next board meeting with confidence and style. Because, after all, the same principles hold true in the woods as well as the city. Quality shows, as does the confidence that it inspires in you.
Besides, wouldn’t it be nice to not have to do laundry every five days. Imagine if your clothes smelled fresh for days of use and only needed washing to clean off an unfortunate spill or a spot of dirt. That’s not just a fantasy, that’s what life is really like when you buy clothing made from quality materials.
Here at Gimmerton, we strive to help you not only look and feel your best, but to also make it easy to reduce your negative impact on the planet and live sustainably.
The next time you’re looking to buy a cheap piece of clothing, think about the big picture, and ask yourself if you would be better served by something better made.