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?