The High Cost of Your Cheap Clothes

Source: slate.com via Rachel on Pinterest

 

Dara sent me a link to this piece on Slate, an excerpt from the book Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Thanks, Dara.

If you’ve pared your wardrobe down significantly you’ve probably made a few donations at a charity shop or thrift store. It probably felt good, as it should.

But did you think about how much of your clothing would actually be resold?

Did you think about where those cheap t-shirts from Target would end up?

Did you know that the market for those cheap second hand clothes is dwindling? That in a lot of cases you would be best off cutting up those t-shirts for use around the house. Great resource for using old t-shirts from Kristen at The Frugal Girl: Reuse, Refresh, Repurpose.

Cheap clothes have a high cost.

I know all of this. That my cheap clothes aren’t ethically sourced, they’re made for pennies by people working in terrible conditions and that they won’t last.

And yet… I find it really hard to break the cycle.

I find it hard to invest in expensive clothing.

I find it challenging to source clothing that is ethically made and comes in my size that I like. Love the Versalette but not sure it would fit my 6ft size 14 frame.

So I have t-shirts from the Gap that I will only get a year or two of wear from. I have pieces from J. Crew that were made in Indonesian sweat shops.

The only inroads I’ve made wardrobe wise is with my shoes. I have a pair of Frye boots that are American made. I had hoped my Tiekts flats were ethically made but a bit of research reveals they are made overseas (no specific country listed).

I need and I want to buy well made, ethically sourced clothing but I have yet to really commit to it. The only thing I can give myself props for is that we buy a lot less now. So we have a lot less going to donations and from there less that will end up in a landfill.

Have any of you made the switch to local and ethically sourced clothing? Can you share any brands you like or stores that specialize in this type of clothing?

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Comments

  1. Nicola says

    Our local council has just introduced a textile recycling scheme, so that stuff that cannot be resold does not go to waste :) Ever increaseing landfill tax (as well as public pressure) means that providing recycling services becomes more appealing/economically sensible.

    I too would love to have a totally ethical, sustainable wardrobe- but I find that working out what is ‘good’ is a minefield! Going to work on my sewing skills, so that if I can find ethical fabric, I’ll know that the only sweatshop labour is my own!

    • says

      That’s so progressive. :) Very nice to hear.
      We have recycling here but it is… not the best. I have to tote all of my recycling around town, attached in big bags to my stroller, to get it in the right place. And I still haven’t found a place for plastic recycling. :(
      Apple just posted a good list of companies that offer fair trade. Going to file list away for when I next need clothes.

      • Nicola says

        It does depend so much on your local council! We have three bins- black for landfill, blue for ‘dry recyclables’- paper, plastic, card etc (not glass) and brown for compostables. Any other stuff can be taken to the local tip (old appliances etc) and I think as much of that as possible is recycled (http://www.stedmundsbury.gov.uk/waste-and-recycling/recycling-centres/recycling-centres.cfm) There are glass bins at most supermarkets, along with (depending on supermarket) Oxfam clothing bins, light bulb recycling, Tetra pack recycling…

        I realise this is a bit off topic!

    • Erika Myette says

      A good company that does textile recycling and has country-wide (US) drop bins is USAgain. They have a ton of information, locations, links to relevant articles etc at: http://www.usagain.com/ I donate all our old underwear, undershirts, holy socks, and old clothing that may or may not sell at a resale shop here – and they know what to do with it. Whew!

      I haven’t read every reply yet, but has anyone posted a good store that sells reliably sourced clothing? Not just the super expensive organic stuff? Because I’ll tell you, my three crazy active dirty kids mess up their clothing too much to invest $40 a shirt…much as I’d love to buy them all organic cotton everything!!!

  2. Anne says

    What I do is buying less, buying used and mending a lot of my own things and trying to get the most wear out of it.

  3. says

    The British label People Tree have some really nice (stylish, feminine) Fair Trade clothes. They even have designer collaborations, Orla Kiely designs for them for one. They have a web shop.
    I don’t know much about American brands though.
    But I think Anne has a good point, if you don’t have access to Fair Trade fashion (or it doesn’t come in your size or preferred style) then just buying few, good quality pieces that you wear until they van not be mended anymore, is the best and most ethical option. of course buying second hand is too, if you have the time and energy to browse through thrift shops.
    Generally people just buy too much and have too much, that is the problem.

    • says

      Thanks, will check out People Tree(do like Orla Kiely!).
      I do feel better that we don’t have as much clothing anymore and what we do have we wear a lot. I never want to do the massive three garbage bag clothing donation again.

  4. Apple says

    As far as I know on the highstreet Laura Ashley, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, Warehouse, Topshop and Topman have fairtrade clothes.
    Also, there are the online fairtrade clothes shops:
    Ascension, Ethical Threads, Revolver World, Wombat, Spunky, Bishopton Trading, Epona, Life’s Not Fair, Gossypium, People Tree and Pachacuti, Pants to Poverty, Greenknickers and Cleversocks.

  5. Apple says

    I also find that sometimes even though something I buy is fair trade, yet such bad quality that I cannot wear it for more than a year or two. It’s then better to get something of a better quality form the high street and ‘live in it’ for a decade. :)

  6. Dawn says

    I’ve just this year discovered merino wool clothing and am loving it, even in oppressively hot, humid Kentucky. Ibex is one company that makes nice, but somewhat expensive tee shirts, sweaters, skirts etc. The wool is sourced in New Zealand and much of their clothing is made in the US. I’ve purchased pieces from their online website as well as from Amazon.

  7. Kate says

    With two messy and rambunctious boys, there is an 85% chance that my clothing will be stained/snagged within the first use, and I can’t bear to get upset over clothing, so that is why I opt for less expensive clothing. I’d rather them ruin a 10$ shirt than a 100$ shirt. As others stated, I think consuming less of it is a great alternative. I only have 7 shirts, and though they may be from Target and Old Navy, I wear them down to the ground, then demote them to pajama tops, then rags, then trash.
    Question- how do you approach kids clothing? I think I go by the same model for tshirts because they would get ruined even if spun of the most precious thread by hand. But since kids grow out of clothes so fast, and many are gentler than my boys, I opt for used, so I suppose sometimes we do nicer brands as long as it’s an inexpensive used one.
    Also- I have seen Ethical Threads at Whole Foods. Their tshirts were only $10 one time so I tried it, but was one of the most disappointing tops I ever bought- it was paper-thin and tore, and the seams were all crooked so the shirt always looked twisted up.

    • says

      That’s one of my reasons for not investing a lot in what I wear right now too. So many stains with a three year old. I think as my son gets older I will feel more comfortable investing more in my clothing. For now I’ll do what I can but my best way to avoid sending cheap stuff to a landfill is to have fewer things.
      My son has slowed down on growth since he hit a year. He wore shorts this summer that he wore when he was eight months hold – he’s almost three. We get a lot of clothing as gifts, things from the Gap and Gymboree. None of it is particularly great quality but it’s all held up well and can either go to donations or be kept for a second child. I did buy three pairs of shoes in different sizes off of Craigslist before we left Vancouver. They were in excellent condition. Two of them were Geox and one was Clarks I believe. They are still in great shape and we are on the third pair. There are some charity stores here but the kids clothing in it hasn’t been great. I might try and go too a boot sale or two in the fall and see what they have.

      • juanita says

        I buy my girls’ clothes a bit big (not ridiculous but big) and by the time they are too small for their intended purpose they either fit the younger one or become capris or a top with leggings instead of a dress. Even the not-high-end brands will last (for girls at least) a considerable amount of time. My girls have even worn 6mos pants as leggings under dresses when they were 5. And, these are clothes that they really enjoy. We’ve had our share of train wrecks but overall, our used clothes end up very well used.

        • says

          This! I do the same for my daughter. She’s 4, but the clothes she’s currently wearing range from 6-12 months to 5T and pretty much every size in between!

  8. says

    I have that book on my wishlist. I simply cannot afford to buy the kind of clothing from people I would like to support, so I opt out of the problem (I think) by shopping ONLY at thrift stores and consignment shops. I hate retail shops like Old Navy, etc. They make my husband sneeze and my nose itch.

        • Tiny Homestead says

          formaldehyde, and probably other chemicals that are supposed to help keep the clothes less wrinkled and staying new and fresh in transit from insects and mildew, etc.

        • says

          Me too! I think it’s mostly the accessories (shoes, flip-flops, handbags, etc.). I’ve noticed the same nausea-inducing smell when I walk past the Crocs store.

  9. says

    The CEO is a creep and I wouldn’t list it under “ethical” companies, but American Apparel is at least sweatshop free. My style (or lack thereof) is very t-shirt and jeans, so I’m very often in an AA tee and Toms.
    Most of my son’s clothes come used from a high-end resale shop or as gifts, or from AA. I’ve never understood how or why parents fill an entire closet with one child’s clothing – ours has two small wire drawers, and an additional drawer of hand-me-downs that don’t fit yet.

  10. says

    I’m with Carrie, I just buy used – everything but socks, shoes, underwear and swimwear. I actually have good luck finding pretty high quality stuff, plus my annual clothing budget is around $20.

  11. says

    I read that article a while back, and I think whether or not clothing donations are helpful varies depending on your location. I can see it being a nuisance in a big city, but in my small-town area the thrift stores are positively begging for donations. I don’t think anyone should be shopping compulsively, but I hope people are not discouraged from donating if there is a real need in their area.

    After years of overcompensating for my awkward teenage years during which my parents couldn’t afford to buy me a lot of nice clothes, the concept of quality over quantity finally sunk in. I enjoy researching what the best brands are, and then investing in really good quality pieces when I can. I am also fortunate to have an aunt who gives me wonderful cast-offs. A simpler wardrobe is so much easier to deal with, and I like that I can wear my favorite things for years and years.

  12. julie k says

    actually if you donate your scrap clothes to salvation army they “rag” them out by the pound… in other words some
    one buys them to recycle & the money goes to support lots of great causes.

  13. tara says

    I struggle with the cycle some as you do. I always want to “save” my more expense clothing for certain events or work only even if they are simply good shirts that go as well with my weekend jeans as they do with dress pants.

    I also have a 3 year old so I do keep the older, worn out jeans and shirts for messes and getting dirty. I did once manage to ruin a simple, but nice, silk/cotton blend tshirt because of said child. Like many others, I would rather ruin a $10 tshirt.

    I have purchased several items from Earth Creations (www.earthcreations.net). Their clothing is made in the USA. I had purchased a dress at a local store and then looked them up because I liked the dress, and it’s versatility, so much. I know own a few long sleeve tshirts, 2 skirts and 2 dresses.

  14. says

    I prefer to buy used over new for numerous reasons, but mainly for cost. With two small children and my own accident-prone ways, it would be a travesty to spend a fair amount of cash on clothes. For example, I spent $30 (a lot for me) on a pair of ankle boots. I ended up breaking them a year later. Now, I just go for the “cheap” stuff. I’ve even found that tops from places like American Eagle have lasted me WAY longer than more expensive or fairly made alternatives (Threads for Thought comes to mind).

  15. Jennifer says

    I hate shopping in actual stores so I do all shopping online, I make it a point to NEVER buy anything full price, on buy when I have a coupon for either free shipping or a percentage of my order that would cover the cost of shipping. I have a 2 year old, I work in a warehouse that is a family company so it is literally my father in law, the warehouse guy, and my husband so no need to impress anyone. I had some health complications after I had my son that cause a lot of weight gain so right now I do not buy anything for me (the fat clothes) that is over $10. I am one that will wear clothes until they are completely destroyed or my sister says, “seriously, get rid of that!” – lol. My hubby and I just don’t need clothing other than the T-shirts and shorts/jeans/yoga pants. We shop online at Target, Old Navy, and a lot from Deal sites (Zulily, Totsy, etc.). Since we will wear our clothes for years (I still wear stuff from high school (15 years ago)! My husband will buy 1 shirt and wear it like every day until it is completely stained, holes, and I just trash it. So I think even though we aren’t specifically buying from ethically sourced places, I am at least not paying full price, plus we do our share with organic foods, don’t eat animals, I am slowly starting a small garden so hopefully we are making a difference in other areas. Until Ethically sourced, good quality stuff is a bit cheaper, or when I finally loose all this weight, then I will be more willing to spend more money on ethically sourced clothing.

  16. Michelle says

    I’m working on this very thing. I have a small wardrobe, but a lot of it is not made in the US. However, I have found Kika Paprika. An eco-friendly, made in the US clothing line, founded by women. They carry clothing to fit many shapes and sizes!

  17. says

    So true. There is no such thing as cheap– someone or something down the line bears the cost. I’m new to this blog so maybe you’re already familiar with this book but it’s got important things to say on the topic
    http://www.amazon.com/Cheap-Ellen-Ruppel-Shell/dp/0143117637
    I too am ‘investing’ in pieces I know will last for years. Some linen basics from http://www.pip-squeakchapeau.com/ for example. My mother thinks I’m mad for spending hundreds on a pair of Italian shoes but then I only have three pairs and she has thirty…

  18. Kirsten says

    It is pretty amazing to me that this change is so difficult, myself included! To me, it seems like the best option (when faced with a budget) is to purchase used. However, sometimes it is hard to find the right thing used, that is when researched and purchasing from a quality, fair trade company should happen. My goal for 2012 was to only purchase two new things, a pair of flats and one undetermined item. I have purchased the flats, which I researched quite a bit (made in the U.S., the company will recycle them when they get too worn) but I was still a little disappointed with the quality. Unfortunately, I also already passed my 2 item limit. I received 2 Nordstrom gift cards for my birthday in December, and just recently purchased 2 tops with part of that money. My goal for the rest of 2012 is to only buy used though.

  19. Dara says

    My take on the article is to be mindful on the QUANTITY of clothes purchased and to buy the best QUALITY one can afford, whatever price that may be. You have to be careful because sometimes the expensive stuff is not quality made and the cheaper stuff lasts. The problem as I see it is buying “fast fashion” clothing fills your closet, you wear it a few times, then donate it when you get bored or the fashion changes, and then buy more clothes to fill the closet up again….and again…and again! I think consignment shopping should be our first stop before hitting the “new” clothing shops, but I’ll be the first to admit, that I don’t always follow this advice….

    The whole ethical, fair trade, etc… makes my head spin because so much research needs to be done ahead of time and can be hard to find.

    Kids clothing: Thrift and Consignment stores are the answer (when possible!) when hand-me-downs have stopped or to fill in holes in the wardrobe! And Reuse and Repurpose (as others have mentioned).

    Here’s hoping I can follow my own advice most of the time….

  20. Maria says

    Quality over quantity for me. I have very few clothes, donated the bulk of what was a full closet to my church’s charity drive for the poor. At least the clothes are given to those that need them, rather than “sold”. If I didn’t wear it, it didn’t fit me – there must be someone out there who would be relieved to have them, use them, appreciate them.

    I became a more discerning shopper. I keep a small list of clothing (and household) items that I need, will soon need to replace, and now only buy from that list.

    Regarding quality, I found a fantastic tailor to make wool trousers, dresses, and shirts – with a price LESS than what I would pay for an off-the-rack pair of wool trousers, even the “sale” ones I bought in the past. I looked into and priced higher end quality pieces and would still have to pay for alterations to get trousers to fit, and many of such pairs went to charity after a while. Now, I have trousers made to fit, supporting my local tailor, and the fabrics come from Italy. What a difference to wear clothing that fits so well, makes me feel confident in that, and they are classic timeless pieces that will last. Fewer pieces in my closet, but knowing I wear them is money well spent. Cost per wear – far cheaper than the junk I bought on sale.

    I read a book called “Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Lustre” by Dana Thomas. It’s about designer and so-called designer brands, sweat shops, counterfeit goods, and true luxury items. Fascinating reading, and made me think about the so-called cheaper clothing items and where they really come from, and who really benefits from buying such things. Haunting really.

    • says

      I agree 100% Maria. I’m super picky when it comes to fit, so I ask my local tailor to copy clothes I already own and love. It saves time shopping. I use better quality fabrics, and it costs no more than the Banana Republic clothes I used to buy!

      • Maria says

        Me too Christine! I have a well worn classic little black dress that was falling apart. I brought it to my tailor to copy. I could then add – I want a darts here, a longer kick pleat, slightly lower neck…no worries! Made to measure, quality fabric, exactly what I want – and way cheaper than the “nicer” stuff at Banana Republic, even when they have a sale!

  21. Amelia Barney says

    I like to dress my family in all the same color that is why i look for cheap t-shirts for everyone in when we go on vacation. In a crowd i can spot my family within seconds. Last time I got such a great price they even designed their own logo for the front as long as it had our last name in it. That turned out to be very interesting.

  22. Erin says

    Hmm, for my budget, Gap and J Crew aren’t the cheap options unless on sale. Those are the places I sometimes get my more quality clothes. Also, only Gap jeans fit me right. I guess I’ll have to research more for ethical and high quality brands.

  23. says

    I basically “redid” my wardrobe in GAP clothes a year ago when I decided that my college era clothes were simply not going to fit my post baby body. I regret that now. I have found some fantastic resale shops around here, though, and am actually treating myself to some new shorts this weekend at one of them!

    For new clothes, I really like Patagonia. Quite expensive, but very well made, and they are trying to get “greener” and more labor friendly. Obviously, they don’t make dress pants or things like that, but for my lifestyle, it’s just about perfect.

    • Melissa N says

      Love Patagonia here too! They started their annual half price sale yesterday for anyone who’s interested. I really watch their sales, and I love every item I have from them.

    • Cielia says

      Ditto on Patagonia! My husband and I buy so much of it that we’re starting to look like the Bobsie twins.

  24. Lauren says

    I’m trying to be better about not rushing into buying things. That way I can keep my eye out and but something only when it’s just right. I’m still struggling with this whole issue though. I still can’t quite predict what will last and I’ll love and use for years, and what will get pushed to the back of the closet.

    Another struggle is that since having a baby, my favorite clothes don’t fit right anymore. I’ve had to bite the bullet and pretty much replace my wardrobe. I don’t want to invest too much though because I doubt they will fit again if I get pregnant a second time. Thank goodness for stretchy clothes at least!

  25. says

    I have a really hard time with buying more expensive well-made clothing. My entire life I’ve been raised to believe that’s not the label that counts, so when I see a t-shirt at target for 14 bucks I’m more inclined to lean that way than go for the name brand. I know I need to to more research and get more involved. As an aspiring minimalist, a pared down wardrobe from Walmart certainly isn’t going to last. :P

  26. Melissa N says

    I really appreciate you writing this post. This is one of the issues I have a difficult time with when I consider cutting costs in my home. I personally like to buy nice, well made clothes for myself and prefer brands like Patagonia and Horny Toad, both California based and with mission statements I can feel good about. I always watch for sales and never pay full price. But for my 5 children who grow fast and stain their clothes, we pass things around with other family members or church families, and buy good quality items to fill in the cracks, again on sale or clearance. I sometimes anticipate what size my children will be next year at the same time and pick items that are marked down for the season if we are all set and don’t need anything now. I really agree that it is best to buy good brands, good quality, with good mission statements.

  27. Pamela R says

    I didn’t have a change to read all the comments, but I love, love, love Fair Indigo. They provide good quality, reasonable prices, much of it is American made and all of it is Fair Trade. They are super local to me (Madison, WI), but ship all over. They also have EXCELLENT customer service, in my experience and a good return policy. I always shopped used and they were my first experience buying new again. I still feel better about used, but when I realized how much I spent on the items from there and how long they’ve lasted for me (especially t-shirts), I’ve felt good about going back.
    http://www.fairindigo.com

  28. says

    If it helps any…yes much of the cheap clothing doesn’t get resold at Charity Shops but it definitely gets recycled (I know from first-hand experience!). The rag-man pays an amount per tonne, and he recycles. The best way to use your local charity-shop as a recycler (if you choose to do this – and please consider the storage space each shop has – it can be a burden for some)…is if you have clothing that you do not feel will be fit to sell for whatever reason – say it’s damaged or low-quality, then bag up separately and label it as ‘Rags’. Now some shops won’t accept, but some will – so ask first. One of the biggest assets a charity shop has are it’s volunteers. And it is the time it takes to sort clothing that eats into profits when unsaleable items are donated. Identifying them before they get sorted helps with this. But as I said, check with the shop first – some make good money from recycling, some don’t.
    If you’d rather sell your clothing, there are now places that pay for your clothing/shoes by weight. I presume they work on a similar principle as the rag-man. You don’t get much, but it is an option and some even collect from your door. And after all ‘every little helps!’ – you could always donate the cash proceeds to charity from your own endeavours!

  29. says

    My problem isn’t the unwillingness to spend the money to get good clothes, but the fact that it seems like when I do spend the money, I still get clothes that fall apart. I spent $80 on some highly recommended jeans from Loft 5 months ago and tonight I just found a hole in them. Rest assured that they will be getting a call from me in the morning, but still. I felt like I was making a really smart purchase. I researched ahead of time, I thought about it, I forked out the cash for something that was supposed to be quality… then it’s not. I wish there was a list somewhere of clothes that are actually worth the cash, rather than high priced junk.

    • says

      I hear you, Claire, I’ve had similar issues with what I thought were investment pieces. I bought a pair of flats that I thought would last forever but they’re aging fast and less than a year old. Sure, I wear them almost every day right now but I expect for the price I paid that I would get at least four or five good years out of them. About to email the company about it.
      I’m going to continue to research and look at reviews before buying. I’ll share any good finds here.

      • says

        I’ve found very little correlation between price and durability with expensive clothes. In fact, I had a salesperson in a high-end suit shop tell me that I could expect their expensive suits to wear *faster* than the store-brand suits at JC Penney.

        The idea is that the more expensive suits are more comfortable to wear because the fabric is made of finer threads, etc. – but the finer threads are more prone to damage from wear than the heavier stuff in the cheaper suits.

        About the best I figure I’m going to do is finding clothes that are both reasonably priced and reasonably durable (my t-shirts, jeans, etc.) and/or repairable (my Birkenstocks, for example).

        I realize that women’s fashion can be a whole different universe though!

  30. Caitlin says

    I have put in place a rule to try and only buy ethically sourced or used clothes and shoes. This makes me buy a lot less, and I really have to plan my purchases. Clothing Brand Experiment from Toronto has nice hoodies, and basics http://www.clothingbrandexperiment.com/. I also recently got a pair of flats from Cydwok shoes (made in California + biodegradable) http://cydwoq.com/ which are amazing!

  31. Rosie says

    I’ve heard that tons of unsold clothing at thrift shops gets sold to poor countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It then undermines their own economies.
    When I have a pretty shirt that has a hole or doesn’t fit anymore, I make it into a tote bag. It’s really simple, and there are instructions on instructables.com. The bags can be used for groceries, library bags, craft bags, gifts, laundry bags, etc. Also use old shirts for rags around the house. Am flat broke most of the time so I don’t even buy clothes at a thrift shop, but I really admire the company Patagonia and will someday buy from them. I like the idea of going to a local tailor, too. Thanks for that idea.

  32. Lizzie says

    How ironic that this was the ad on Google Reader that accompanied this post: “Shop Princess Vera Wang Juniors’ Collection. Only at Kohl’s!”

    • says

      Vera Wang makes children’s clothing? Ack.
      I’ve posted before about why I have ads on my blog. It’s not ideal but I spend a lot of time on this blog and it is nice to earn a little bit from it. If my other writing endeavors become income earners in the future I will make the blog ad free.

  33. says

    I know one denim brand that I trust, they are expensive, but so very worth it. Agave Denim. Everything made in California, cotton, weave, design, sewing, everything. Super high quality and flattering fit. Looong inseam as well. And a big price tag of course, but Ive had my two pairs for three years now, I wear them several times a week (and sit on my bicycle a lot, aka the jeans-killer) – they can take it. Check them out.

    I feel bad buying them from the US (Im in Europe), but I reckon it’s better than buying something here that was shipped in from Asia.

  34. BPM says

    Of course, another solution would be to sew your clothes, but I won’t sugar-coat it : it takes time, patience and work to make nice-looking home-made garments. And with two young children, it’ll be near to impossible.

    However, baby clothes are good practice, as they use little fabric and are simple and quick to make. Plus your baby won’t complain about the look and baby clothes are always super cute, no matter how crooked the seams :)

    And learning to sew has another benefit : you quickly learn to recognise quality in ready-to-wear.

    About ready-to-wear, I’ll also add a warning : where I live, the country listed on the “made in” label is the *last* country where the garment was handled. So some brands have, for instance, shoes made in Asia, then shipped to Italy for a tiny last thing (eg lace-up, maybe just polish ?) – that way, the shoes get a beautiful, shiny “made in Italy” label and, of course, a bigger retail price.

  35. says

    Love Patagonia. Just finished reading a book written by Patagonia’s CEO, Yvonne Chouinard, called “Let My People Go Surfing” (http://www.patagonia.com/ca/patagonia.go?assetid=49086). Great book about ethics and social responsibility. Definitely worth the read.

    I run a socially responsible tee shirt company in Calgary, Canada called Design Cause (www.designcause.ca) and we have started buying from Jerico Apparel who produces ethically manufactured high quality clothes in Canada. Their products have gotten a lot of great reviews. (http://www.jerico.ca/)

  36. Ari says

    softstarshoes.com
    Handmade leather shoes/moccasins in the US. Awesome kids shoes, comfy adults shoes. Reasonable overseas shipping too.

  37. says

    I find that the easiest way to reduce the impact our clothing makes is to not just donate to the thrift store, but shop there too. I try to only buy things new that I really can’t find secondhand.

  38. says

    I read some comments above noting frustration over receiving supposedly ‘high-quality’ items, only to find out it was ‘junk’ or fell apart on them. I am sorry to hear this but price is not the only indicator of quality. Research where the item was made and what materials the item was made out of. Also higher quality clothing must be cared for properly. Some finer materials are not made to go into the washer and must be dry-cleaned. In fact, if you are investing in most high quality clothing, I recommend dry-cleaning always. A cheaper idea would be to wash clothes on a gentle cycle and tumble dry (or air dry).

    I am an owner of a growing boutique, Sastique Fashions (http://sastique.com), and am beginning to provide items that are US-made only. I realize this is not a ‘get rich quick’ way of operating but if it allows me to better manage the quality that’s turned over to me, then so be it. My customers also appreciate the faster turn around and I can assure them that their order will come at a precise date. When dealing with manufacturers overseas, having to wait for customs normally meant additional shipping time for customers.

    As difficult as it may seem at first, I hope that you continue supporting he value of quality sewn clothing and share your thoughts about purchasing US-made only items, as it is truly more sustainable.

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