Why Does Sustainable Clothing Cost More?

When thinking about living sustainably, fashion is a huge concern for many of us due to the sheer amount of waste produced and impact on those working in the production of these pieces. The true cost of trend-led and throwaway items is often hidden behind an attractive and accessible price tag. When you make the switch to sustainable or ethically produced clothing, the price difference compared to fast fashion can be dramatic and shocking - Why is this?


Labor

One of the most drastic differences in ethically produced clothing versus fast fashion is the cost of labor and the payment given to these skilled workers. When you pay £1 for a t-shirt, it’s quite clear there aren’t even pennies available for those at the beginning of the supply chain, meaning they are unable to make a living wage. These workers are often based in Bangladesh as the legal minimum wage is roughly £65 a month, versus the estimated living cost of £135 a month; the amount needed to provide proper food, shelter and education. Overall, it is estimated that 93% of garment workers worldwide aren’t paid enough to live on.


Whilst the conditions overseas are a wider capitalist issue, many brands who seek ethical production move their labor to countries with stronger protections for their workers - such as the European Union or the United States. This immediately drives up the cost of the garment, but ensures that everyone along the supply chain is able to be paid at least the minimum wage, if not more.


Materials 

When purchasing a piece of clothing you’re looking to wear for years to come, the material composition can play a huge part in the way the item will last and wear. Brands seeking sustainable fabrics can often incur a 20%-35% increase in the cost. Some brands may also decide to produce their own fabrics if they cannot source any at the standard they’re looking for, this means they have full control over the entire production process, but ultimately drives the cost up.


It is useful to consider cost-per-wear as the vast majority of sustainable and ethical brands seek to create timeless and high quality clothing items that consumers can wear many times over several years. This is why we religiously follow #buylessbuybetter here at Twiin and encourage consumers to consider each purchase, building a more sustainable attitude towards fashion.


Certifications and Transparency

Paying a fair wage doesn’t just come down to the wage itself, nor does sourcing a sustainable material, these processes all involve paperwork and documentation which of course means extra money has to be spent. 

Whilst certification isn’t the only way to ensure these standards are met, they do establish clear standards and therefore trust between brands and consumers. With certification comes regular audits, which can quickly increase a brand’s overhead and therefore show up in the final cost of the garment. 

Here at Twiin, we’re proud to be a 1% for the Planet member. This means we are giving 1% of every sale back to the environment through donations to approved nonprofit organisations. 


Scale

One way typical fast fashion keeps its prices low is due to the high amounts of stock produced, even when there isn’t a market. Expanding production allows fixed costs to be spread across multiple units - changing a handcrafted process into a mind numbing production line in which each worker does one small piece thousands of times in a row. 

Meanwhile, slow fashion brands are made-to-order or produce in small batches. This not only means that extra love, care and time can go into each item, but also that overproduction is avoided and therefore waste is drastically reduced.

Our favourite part? When you shop from these smaller brands you’re less likely to bump into someone else wearing the same outfit as you!


So, ready to invest in some seriously sustainable style? Shop The Sustainable Edit.

June 04, 2021 — Customer Service