People like H&M and Zara are pushing us very hard. People start to think those prices are normal, that you should be able to buy a man’s shirt for £20. But you can’t even buy the fabric for one of our shirts for £20, let alone make the shirt or live off the profits.
Dries Van Noten (via aantwerp)
…of course you should be able to buy a man’s shirt for £20. god forbid people are provided with affordable fashion
I’ve got to disagree here. Those £20 shirts are priced low to encourage greater consumption by people in more developed countries like the UK. The shirts are typically designed by people living in MDCs, but the cotton is grown, cleaned, dyed, woven, processed, cut, sewn, packaged and shipped by people in developing countries.
The garment production chain is long and cumbersome, and in order to keep shirts at £20 a pop, there is an excessive amount of worker exploitation throughout the chain. Wages are astonishingly low, even by the cost of living in DCs.
In Bangladesh, where places like H&M and Zara source some of their their clothes, garment workers have recently fought hard and had their minimum wage raised to £42 a month from ~£25. (I won’t even get into cotton farming, because it makes me feel all sorts of conflicted.) Garment workers for companies who produce low cost garments don’t really receive any benefits - no health, pension, education, training, childcare, etc. Conditions are not strongly regulated, and this can lead to dangerous work environments. Keeping production costs down helps keep the retail price low, and consequently sell more shirts.
Nothing H&M and Zara and other low-cost clothing retailers offer are designed around quality. They are practically disposable clothes, focused on market trends and continuous sales. Because the quality is low, they fall apart quickly and are designed to be replaced often. This makes them not really as affordable as they originally seem.
As for the cost of fabric:
For a plain long sleeved collared dress shirt in size 36, you need about 2.5/8 metres of fabric, plus buttons, thread and interfacing. Mid-range 100% cotton jacquard costs around £40~ per metre. So the fabric alone for a shirt can be around £105. Factor in the skilled garment worker’s salary, plus packaging, marketing, shipping, etc, etc…
The £20 shirt is a terribly manipulated figure. It’s not a sustainable cost, and it greatly diminishes the value we put on the work that goes into making the shirt.
I’m not 100% sure what the answer to all this is, but I think talking about how the things we consumed are produced is a good start. Quality over quantity.