Why is Sustainability Expensive?
Is sustainability expensive? There are many aspects to design and making of fashion pieces that seem expensive at the outset. But as you keep and maintain those pieces, the costs upfront start to move towards affordability and eventually worthiness.
Firstly the cost of raw organic materials or even just natural fibers is a lot more than mass produced, chemically managed fabrics. This is because plants that grow naturally take longer to grow, are susceptible to pests and weather patterns. In the end these plants produce less and have taken longer to make the end fabric.
From here it takes people power to make a piece of clothing. Not automated machines. It takes a LOT of people power. Sustainability cares about those people. Are they being paid enough to survive? Do they get comfortable working conditions just like Australian conditions? Do these makers produce these pieces without adverse environmental damage to their communities such as dyes, chemicals or excessive use of water? If you want to answer yes to these questions, then it costs extra money to do the right thing. And RAHA couldn’t imagine producing garments at people’s expense. It’s also why we choose to produce in Australia, where we can liaise with all the skilled people that help make our products. We also ask a lot of questions about textile manufacture to ensure any fabric imported also adheres to these ideals.
Lastly the process of paying better wages and buying better fabrics leads to creating higher quality garments that last a longer period of time and can withstand washing and wearing conditions. Design is extremely important here. It’s not just about having a garment that lasts, but a well-designed piece will fit into fashion for a long time and you can happily wear it without feeling outdated. Designing like this also adds cost to the bottom line as it takes a lot longer than designing for commercial fast sales.
All these factors combined creates a formula that costs more than fast fashion produced items. However the next phase of moving toward affordability rests with the consumer. It’s all about how long you keep the item and how it works back with the wardrobe you already have. It’s about buying quality not quantity. At RAHA we encourage the buyer hierarchy of needs:
It’s time to change our buying habits and when we do spend on clothes it should be seen as an investment made to last. So in summary, buy better and keep it longer.