I added up how much I spent on Ethical Fashion this year

I added up how much I spent on Ethical Fashion this year

The number one response I get when talking about ethical/sustainable fashion is that it’s too expensive. I get it, the price tags are a lot higher when you compare them to fast fashion, but a big part of shopping consciously is also buying less. For the last few years it didn’t seem like I was actually spending a lot more overall buying ethical and sustainable brands because I was also buying fewer items, however I wanted to see for sure. This year I calculated all the money I spent on clothes and shoes, including the retail value of any items that were gifted to me and I was a bit surprised with the results.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American spent $1,803 on apparel and related services in 2016. Meanwhile a British survey of 2500 people found they each spent an average of £1042 (about $1400 USD) on clothing- although I’m not sure if this did or didn’t include footwear.

This year was definitely a more expensive year for me since in addition to buying a few items for my capsule wardrobe and replacing some pieces, I had to buy a new pair of running shoes, got a nice pair of heels, had to replace my swimsuit, and also invested in a sweater from Izzy Lane for my upcoming winter capsule (even though I’m not wearing it this year I still included it in my calculations). My total expenses for clothing and footwear in 2017 came to the equivalent of $1544 USD. Over $200 less than the average American, but about $145 more than the average Brit (although if the survey actually didn’t included shoes I would definitely be under).

The garments I purchased were from ethical and sustainable brands and yet my spending is close to the averages. People assume I spend more money on clothes because the items have higher price tags, and I even thought my expenses would come out to be above average this year with the 2 pricier shoes (they are about 30% of the total). Next year I’m pretty sure I’ll be under both averages.

I’m excited to have this little bit of data to back up what I suspected – that “buy less, buy better” doesn’t mean you have to spend more. Plus if you’re budget conscious and $1500 USD is too much for a year, there are so many ways to shop consciously and affordably! I have a video all about it. 🙂

Also I have to mention how much I love having a capsule wardrobe. It’s the reason I’ve been able to be more thoughtful and selective with the items I choose to invest in. I don’t mind spending more on a piece not only because it’s ethically made and environmentally friendly but because I know it’s something that’s going to work with my wardrobe and get a lot of wear.

 

 

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Do you feel you spend more shopping ethically? Has a capsule wardrobe helped you save money?

 

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14 Responses

  1. Kathryn
    | Reply

    I thought you’d be under, but I am shocked that the average American is basically spending $125 on clothing a month! WHAT!? That’s insane to me.

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      People shop A LOT so even buying cheap fast fashion can add up quickly.
      The average American throws away 70lbs of textiles a year so they must be buying a lot of new stuff to also be throwing away that much. 🙁

  2. Johanna
    | Reply

    Such a great post! So interesting, and great to use when people question my “expensive” purchases 🙂

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      Thanks! Yeah it’s nice to have this info for talking with people about the costs of ethical fashion.

  3. Hanna Saar
    | Reply

    Man, people spend a lot of money on clothes! I’m not sure, but I would estimate I spent the same amount in a year that the average american spends in a month. I was pregnant for the first 9 months, so I relied on my previous maternity wardrobe and some second hand additions. I will probably spend more next year as I plan to invest in some ethical lingerie, but overall, I don’t think I’ll come even close to that number.

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      That’s really budget conscious!

  4. Charlotte
    | Reply

    Cool comparison! But wow the average amount people spend in both countries is outrageous to me. I used to spend about 40 euros a month on average a few years ago I think. This year I tried to buy only second hand. Except for a couple of items and undies I managed to do pretty well and I think I’ve spend no more than ~15 euros a month. I’ll have to buy of couple of pieces that I need so I better start saving up for those ethical items ;

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      What I find really interesting is that historically we’re actually spending less on clothing than we ever have. We’re currently spending around a 3rd of what people spent 50 years ago, but buying WAY more.

  5. Polly Wiseman
    | Reply

    Very interesting piece – thank you! Just goes to show that a bunch of small, fast-fashion purchases add up faster than most people think, whereas good-quality clothes last the distance. Since starting capsule wardrobes three years ago, I care much more about the quality of garments and always ask myself if i’ll wear the thing in question enough for its cost-per-wear to reach 50p. That’s my way of buying less, but better.

    Side note: I expect that if you factored in buying less make-up and fewer hair and face and body products, you’d be massively under the national average. Perhaps a tally of these costs might be instructive too?

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      Cost-per-wear is such a good way to look at price/value!

      Also that’s a great idea to do beauty products too! I’ll see if I can find stats on average spending 🙂

    • Jailyn Dyer
      | Reply

      I’m definitely going to start factoring cost/wear into my purchases. It’s such a cool way to look at it. On average I keep a piece of clothing for 5 years, but for staples it can go 10 years. I have a lot fewer clothes than I used to, so I can see wear going faster, but possibly due to quality it won’t. I’ll still swap out items as they no longer fit my style or figure, but I feel like I have a pretty good wardrobe for fall/winter going forward. I still need to re-assess my spring/summer wardrobe, but I’ll do that in the spring.

  6. Archana
    | Reply

    Erin,

    I come here for some hand holding. I made a round up of my this year’s purchases. I buy mostly second hand and ethically made clothes. I wear my clothes till they have holes for the most part. But the number of additions. It bothers me. I dont know whats less. Thoughts ? My blog post :

    https://touniversewithlove.com/2017/12/15/they-came-home-2017/

    • Verena Erin
      | Reply

      I don’t think you should be hard on yourself, it seems like you got items that worked out well for your wardrobe! These are all learning opportunities, if you bought pieces that didn’t work, you can learn from them and keep in mind for the future. It’s a wonderful idea to reflect on your purchases! We all have things that don’t work out as planned, I think wardrobes and style is an ongoing journey 🙂

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