The High Price of Cheap Clothes

3 Jun

Most of us get a thrill from finding cheap clothes.  Money is tight for plenty of people these days and spotting that cheap dress or shirt can feel like finding buried treasure but the thrill is all too fleeting.  Cheap dress shirts or dresses come with a hidden high price if they aren’t made well, don’t fit, and don’t last.  Cheap clothes can come with an environmental cost from wasteful and dirty mass production, and a human cost as well from poor treatment of workers who make them.  Taking a broader view, cheap clothes are not always the best value.

Hooked by a low sticker price, it’s easy for us to forget the real value that higher quality clothes provide.  A well made custom dress shirt will still be in use years after a cheaply made shirt has lost its buttons and come apart at the seams.  The cost of frequent replacement is one clear way that cheap clothes cost more than you think.  And a well-made shirt will also look better and feel better to wear, which must be worth something as well.

The environmental cost of low quality is not always obvious, in part because the manufacturing often takes place in far off locations and all we see is the shirt in the package.  The production of fabrics and clothing has historically taken an environmental toll in the form of wasted fabric, discarded clothes, and polluted water, leading to growing interest in sustainable fashion.  These environmental costs of cheap clothes are not included with the shirt inside the package we buy, or we’d be more likely to realize the high cost of cheap clothes. But just because we don’t see them doesn’t mean that these costs aren’t real.

And there’s often a significant human cost that comes from making cheap clothes. Millions of textile workers around the world endure poor working conditions for long hours and little pay, with sweatshop conditions still prevalent in some parts of the industry.

Taking all of these costs into account should help us see the value of higher quality clothing, particularly when it can be produced for a reasonable price such as with Solosso, a producer of men’s made to measure shirts.

Solosso specializes in producing high quality men’s custom dress shirts starting for $89, giving each consumer the opportunity to create just the shirt they are looking for, tailoring the product for their own unique needs and tastes, as opposed to mass produced goods where standardization and cost reduction are the focus.  You’re happier, and with less waste as a result, the world is better off.

Shirt wearers everywhere can go to the Solosso website and hand pick their own fabric, design, collar, buttons, then submit the shirt for hand production by an experienced tailor.  Since shirts are made from quality materials, according to each person’s specifications, they should be higher quality and last longer.

The production method Solosso uses for their hand-made quality dress shirts also reduces their environmental impact and boosts wages and working conditions.  The cotton they use is not yet organic, but still cleaner than most conventional cotton still, with reduced but not eliminated pesticide use, for example.  They are working to reduce their greenhouse gas footprint, and to use sustainable packaging. Solosso doesn’t claim to be perfect, but they are transparent and working to make progress, which counts for a lot.

The founder of Solosso, Severin Jan Ruegger, sees a demand for a return to quality, from many perspectives.  “After the fast fashion trend in recent years, many consumers are rediscovering timeless quality clothing,” said Jan Ruegger.  “I see a particularly strong demand for affordable high quality products that can be tailored to the specific preferences of its wearer. These are the products that consumer will keep and value for years to come.”

These shirts may not be the cheapest shirts you can find, but there’s more to value than being cheap.  And with the cost of cheap goods so high for people and planet, we cannot afford many cheap shirts.


By Glenn Croston


This article is from Ecopreneurist, and I loved it so much I couldn’t help but post it up on here!

Waste Case: Complete

3 Jun

Click image to view a gallerey

Realistic Sustainable Fashion

2 Jun

“The concept of sustainable fashion may seem an oxymoron in an industry whose mass market clientele want their clothing to be inexpensive, and to conform with the current fashion trends, which change with the seasons.” (FallNews)

A recent exhibit at the Kent State Museum, called “Sustainable Fashion: Exploring the Paradox”, is creating quite some stir in the fashion industry. Including such designers as Rogan Gregory, YSL and Calvin Klein, the exhibit is focused on creating realistic fashion choices when it comes to eco-friendly clothes. The idea is that most people want gorgeous & cheap clothing, no matter who or what gets hurt, even if it’s the planet we live in or seamstresses halfway around the globe. It incorporates fair trade aspects, organic fibers, and sustainable dying/printing techniques.

Take a look at the video below, of the average lifeline of a pair of jeans, from the exhibit.

Elephant in the Room; Progress

1 Jun

After many vigorous and painful hours of cutting textiles into tiny strips, I have made lots of progress! To explain a  small bit more on the idea I’ve been working on, I have taken some photos. For an example, I took a photo before I cut up 5 shirts, and what remains of the 5 shirts afterwards. Just take a look at the comparison!

What’s even cooler is that I got to take off all the buttons and keep them! There were about 20 buttons in total, and all sorts of colors, shapes, and sizes! Yay for free recycled buttons!

What do you think?

With Grace & Gratitude,

Ariel Johnson-Carroll

Stanford Students help with Eco-Friendly Fashion Show

1 Jun

This past week, a handful of Stanford Students, who call themselves the Sustainable Fashion Collective, helped support the Ugandan program, Project Have Hope, with an eco-friendly fashion show. The amazing program is located just outside Kampala, Uganda in a small town. The program is made up of 100 or so women who make sustainable jewelry out of old paper, scraps, and clay beads. The students at Stanford decided to hold a fashion show promoting the colorful necklaces and jewelry made by the marvelous women of Project Have Hope.

Go to the Project Have Hope website.

For more info, go to the SF Gate website.

Bottlecap Dress; Progress

31 May

So far, I have collected bottle caps from Stella Artois, DRY Soda, Sierra Nevada, Corona, Jarritos, Anchor Steam and many more. Thank goodness my friends like carbonated drinks! Over the past month or so I have been gathering up the spare bottle caps before they make their way into the trash and the other night I have spray painted them all (with Krylon’s H20 Latex Paint, of course).

I have also made the basic black dress in which I will be applying the bottle caps to. It’s a 1940’s vintage inspired “Little Black Dress” with a heart-shaped front. I love the design and think it will work wonders with the bottle caps. Perhaps there will be some vintage/deadstock buttons as well. You’ll have to wait and see…

Take a look.

Gucci Goes Green with Glasses!

30 May

Launching in August, Gucci will be releasing their new line of glasses made mostly from castor oil seeds and special acetate. These two ingredients will be taking the place of earth-polluting traditional plastic. This will decrease CO2 emissions by a TON.

The designers at Gucci are collaborating with “eyewear giant” Safilo (yeah, the guys who hold the rights to the Marc Jacobs, YSL, Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen frames). There will be different male and a female selections, as well as different colors and shades. It gets better; the packaging? Also eco-friendly!

Can’t wait. What do you think?

With Grace & Gratitude,

Ariel Johnson-Carroll

Elephant in the Room; Progress

29 May

This project is coming along swimmingly and I can’t wait to finish it. I have been cutting, stripping, tying, knotting my days away. My knuckles and I, that is… I didn’t know it was possible to get callouses on your knuckles and well, it is. So far, I have used ten shirts, two dresses, one skirt, one jacket, and one pair of pants. Impressive, I know.

The following are photos I took a while ago, soon I’ll upload photos of all the gray and white I have attached to the latch hook canvas!

What do you think?

With Grace and Gratitude,


Stella so Green

28 May

Stella McCartney,  who just came out with an eco-friendly kids line for Spring 2011, is one of the most famous Earth-conscious fashion designers out there. Stella McCartney us openly against leather, fur and the use of animals skins because as they put it “scientists have discovered the environmental impact cause by our reliance on meat and its by-products to be neither sustainable nor ecologically benign.”

The company’s offices and stores in the UK run off of Ecotricity, a company that invests it’s income into chemical offsettting programs like wind energy and has offset up to 3000 tonnes in a year. Not only are their offices sustainable, but their traveling is too! All business rides are booked through Ecoigo, a taxi service that only employs hybrid cars.

Check out their website here.

Eco-Friendly Furniture

26 May

I may not be studying Interior Design, but I feel as if I can really appreciate this Brooklyn-based company. SCRAPILE is “the collaborative work of designers Bart Bettencourt and Carlos Salgado. Seeking to create a possitive environmental impact with their work, these two have developed a unique method of collecting and repurposing discarded scraps of wood from New York’s woodworking industry. Since it’s conception in Fall 2003, this project has continued to yield an ever-evolving line of furniture and product which by its very nature insists each piece be one of a kind.” (Scrapile Bio from their website.)

The two designers behind SCRAPILE create their installations from scrap wood and forgotten-about pieces that would have gone to the landfill if they hadn’t hunted them down and grabbed them up first! The designers have created benches, tables, shelves, and even lamps with the innovative procedure.

The designs are very “Urban Outfitters” mixed with the New York lifestyle. Look at some of their collections here!


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