A couple of weeks ago, I read a blog post about the author’s realization that she’d replaced buying fast fashion or disposable clothing with sewing fast or disposable clothing (sadly I don’t remember the site, it’s not one of my regular sites). Fast fashion items tend to be poorly made from cheap materials and generally don’t last more than a season, if that. They’re often made overseas in wretched factories like the one that collapsed last year in Bangladesh. I don’t like disposable fashion for a number of reasons, and generally avoid buying any.
I realized I have a pair of PJs I bought at Target three or four years ago that are close to disposable—and I’ve gotten close to four years of use out of them. Conversely, I have some clothes I’ve sewn that have gotten zero use, either because of fit or the end result didn’t look good on me or some sort of user error.
So there’s my dilemma: am I falling into the trap of replacing one less than ideal product with another? Waste is waste whether I made the item or not. Certainly, the process of manufacturing cloth produces a lot of pollution no matter where that cloth goes.
I’m writing all of this because Sunday Kent and I shopped at Old Navy. Now I’m not pointing a finger at Old Navy, well maybe just a bit, but neither of us have any illusions that the items we got are couture quality. Of course we didn’t pay couture prices, either. I justified my purchases by getting things I can’t make well for myself (shorts) but must confess I also bought a camp shirt because I love the fabric.
So the other part of the dilemma (aside from moral and environmental issues) is budget. Those clothes were inexpensive: we got four shirts for Kent, two pairs of shorts for me, the aforementioned camp shirt and two tank tops for under $100. The fabric alone would have cost far more than that—never mind the additional cost of notions like thread, interfacing or buttons or the cost of patterns if needed.
Clearly I’ve got no answers. What do you think about this issue?