This post starts with a story.
At the end of September I needed boots. I spent several hours wandering the shops with a fairly small budget of £30. I tried on every pair of boots I saw, including some I couldn’t afford until eventually deciding the style I liked best was these:
The were fairly simple, with a sturdy heel I could actually walk in, but I liked the buckle detailing and ruched ankle. Better still they cost just £14.99.
Now, I walk A LOT, so unsurprisingly I needed to get them re heeled at the end of October, just a month after buying them. So I popped into my friendly shoe repair place and paid them £7.50 to put new heels on.
I hoped the replacements would maybe be longer lasting than the uber cheap originals, but it was not to be. Now, at the beginning of December I find myself needing to re heel my boots once more, the soles are also wearing thin and could possibly do with replacing too at a total cost of somewhere around £11.
I, of course, now find myself in a position where I will have spent more than the boots cost in the space of 2 months to keep them wearable. The boots are now well worn of course, meaning there is the odd dent in the heel and small scuffs on the toes. This style is still available in the shops and it’s tempting to just buy another pair.
We all know disposable fashion is terribly wasteful and that we should be mending our clothes, saving up to buy better quality and recycling where we can. But at what point does this mending your wardrobe become economically unviable?
I try and live my life in as eco friendly a way as I can. I look into the ethics of most places I shop and I balance my budget with my ethics. But are low priced retailers to blame for forcing us into a situation where it’s economically better to throw clothes away than to repair them?
Essentially most retailers, no matter how ethical, have a vested interest in getting us to fork out for new items rather than repairing what we already have. It’s what the fashion industry thrives on, and with their lower price points budget retailers have even more of an interest in parting you with your hard earned cash on a regular basis. Unless they start encouraging shoppers to maintain their wardrobes the cycle of over consumption is essentially unbreakable.
Low cost retailers have sprung up across the nation to feed an insatiable appetite for fashion, but the industry that deals with repairing or making your own hasn’t met this challenge with it’s own prices. It’s impossible for me to make a dress from scratch for less than I could buy it, so why learn? And when dry cleaning your suede jacket costs nearly as much as it cost to buy, why bother?
Where is the shoe polish in Primark or the Wundaweb in Peacocks? Could Timpson team up with Shoe Zone to offer a discount on your first re heeling? Could Johnsons offer a free dry clean to Primark customers?
Shopping ethically and being eco aware is about more than making sure your chosen retailer isn’t using child labour or carrying out deforestation on a massive scale. It’s about being aware of the scale of your personal consumption of resources and seeking to reduce waste.
But is there any point throwing good money after bad?
Photo by bird_flew