2018 second half money talk, or how expensive an ethical wardrobe is?

Money is the typical contention point of ethical fashion, because price is, of course, fast fashion’s forte. And once we have accepted that 5€ t-shirts are possible, how do you convince people that it has to be 30 at least? The fact that most online pushers of sustainable fashion either make it, distribute it or receive it for free to review it plug it in doesn’t help either.

So to be the change you want to be in the world tell where at least my money goes while following my list of priorities in wardrobe detoxing, here you have the first half of 2017, the second half of 2017, and the first half of 2018. This post is about last six months, July to December 2018. You have the full list and the total above, and more details below, from most euros spent to least.

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Learning to sew, Sep-Dec: 4 x 78 = 312€

First of all, it is unclear if these expenses should even be here… the 312€ look very expensive and I could explain them away with ‘I am learning a new skill, these are not fashion expenses’. But they are. I consider myself brave (ha!) for admitting myself that the first garment I made – that beige skirt in the photo above – is the most expensive garment I own. But that money was spent in the first half of 2018. In last few months I’ve been focusing on repairs. Someplace on this blog I have already confessed that all my repair and refashion costs so far have been covered by my mother and the work was done by a trusted seamstress in Rīga.

To be very detailed about these 312€, this is the tangible list of what they’ve got me. In fixes: (a) attaching the embroidery to Liisa bag well enough; (b) fixed swap cardigan; (c) fixed lace undershirt; (d) adjusted WAG skirt; (e) adjusted Street One jacket and No Pasarán t-shirt got turned into an applique; (f) C’s jeans taken in for my waist. And my mom’s and Julie’s deadstocks became a yoga mat bag. So the total balance is an increased lifespan of six garments and one new thing. And I did all this in four months = 32 hours in the studio and then some at home. And, and, and… an I could do it all again because now I know how to. Hell yeah.

Verdict: Yes, please, more! This is a life skill I want to master. And I’ve found the right place to do it, my beloved Opció Diamant.

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Ezra W. Smith embroidery: 105.74

You can read all about this one here. The story has it all: friendship, women artists, and me learning a new skill.

Verdict: 100% a good idea.

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Swedish Stockings, recycling the old ones and 3 new pairs: 12.90 + 92.36 = 105.26€

Oh, this is a hard one. The idea and marketing of Swedish Stockings is impeccable. And my needs and whims also play a role here by deciding that their most expensive product is just the one for me. The price is not friendly at all, and they don’t last long. Excited by their recycling program and wanting the promised discount, I jumped all the hoops. And made a big, fat ripped tight package. As you can see in my 2017 post mentioning my first purchase, I was expecting a 30% discount for those who have sent in old tights. The voucher to be included in my package clearly said 20%, so I was apparently overexcited. Now comes the stupid part: one actually has to mail those tights. And the bigger your package is the less worthy your discount.


Just do the math! Because of some additional idiocy I did my purchase in Swedish kronas, I really don’t know if I just missed the euro option. But I’ll do the example in euros. In my case 39€ x 3 = 117€. I got a 20% discount which means that my total at checkout should be 93.60 (heh, the kronas worked in my favor!), so the price of each pair comes down to 31.20€. But I had previously paid 12.90€ at the Spanish post office. And that bring my final price per pair up to 35.5€.

The stinger? Simply joining their mailing list gets you 15% off, without sending any packages. That would be 33.15€ per pair. And if you would like to be the very responsible person and send your tights before having bought anything from Swedish Stockings, that cold mailing will get you only 10% off. And, no, joining the mailing list and using the recycling discount are not compatible, I tried.

I know, I know, the Swedish Stocking ladies do not get the euros I paid the Spanish post office, but that doesn’t change the outcome for the customer.

The second stinger (for the careless reader)? While you could get an impression that these people are closing the loop and making new stockings from your old ones. Nope. “We want to close the loop and eventually be able to fully recycle old hosiery. However, to make that possible we need to be able to separate the polyamide in the yarn […] from the elastane […] to make new pantyhose. Unfortunately, this technology isn’t commercially available just yet although it isn’t far away. In the meantime, we have a short term solution. We are grinding old pantyhose down to be used as filler material in fibre glass tanks for oil and grease traps, in the commercial industry. These tanks are extremely hard wearing and last a long time […].”

So after this math exercise the whole ‘send us your tights’ exercise feels a bit like a trick to push me towards an interaction with the brand and get me in one of those ‘I’ll do a thing that doesn’t make economic/time-use sense for me just to be the best possible person’ binds.

As for use, they are fluffy and comfy. They truly are. However, for 39€ a pair I would expect them to last more. I keep reading about happy Wolford customers that have had the same tights for decades, and I’m envious. At least on my feet these Swedish Stocking get transparent patches at the toes after 10 wears or so. Those are not holes, but look like so if I have to take my shoes off. I already had a couple of such moments in the airport and at the sewing studio, and really didn’t like it. After some 20 wears those bald patches become holes. And three pairs for a season is a bit too few even in Barcelona winter.

The current fugliness!

Verdict: It’s a lot of money for nice but not durable tights. These in combination with leggings will carry me till spring but I’ll have to think about my hosiery again in autumn. Oh, the decision fatigue! At least one thing is clear: I’m off stay-ups (because there were some 5 years when I wore mostly those), and really enjoy the comfort and silhouette of black opaque tights.

The practical lesson: If you want in on their game, send them a small, light envelope with three very few denier tights, preferably from Sweden. That will make your discount worthwhile.

Fun fact: The ‘please send us ripped tights’ voucher that came with my November package doesn’t mention any discounts for sending them in, it just refers to their website. I imagine that this means that 10% off is all you get. Meh.

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People Tree Yoga Top: 37.15€

The old sports bra was dead, and somebody on FB suggested People Tree. The best random anonymous lead I’ve had so far! The beginning was very promising: tight and comfy, and very cotton-y. It’s stretch jersey of 95% organic Fairtrade certified cotton and 5% elastane and so much nicer to touch than its fully plastic predecessor. But after a lot of wears already and a couple of washes, the underbust elastic is a bit too wide. The plastic performance fabrics have their advantages, they do. Also, I think it’s made for people with less breasts, at least with less difference between the breast and underbust/waist circumference. I haven’t practiced any serious yoga with this one, but it doesn’t seem too reliable for doing headstands with any dignity. And even less so for more demanding sports. This is a pajamas crop top.

Verdict: Okayish. Serves me now but I’m not sure I’d repeat it.

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Zara black lace top from Humana: 7.59€

From my September’s ‘I just have to buy something‘ scratch at a Humana in Oporto. It’s nice and versatile, 15 wears already, but the fast fashion quality is showing too. The fabric is thin, the construction is weird, and it already has holes without much mending potential. I’m treating it as a replacement for the black floral shirt, but who am I kidding? Nothing can replace the black floral shirt.

Verdict: It’s nice but won’t last long. No #100wears for this one.

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Thread: 6.90€

I have been living on Carmen’s supplies and haven’t had to buy notions for sewing in these months. As an exception, these euros were for the pink thread meant to fix the sequin barrette (still a to-do) that also came handy with the pink ruffle blouse, and some blue embroidery thread to mend my Bonne Maison knee-highs.

Verdict: Reasonable. I’m doing my best not to accumulate notions, but this was a September excitement slip-up.

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Zara white ruffle top from Humana: 5.19€

It’s funny how it’s so hard to know which garments will wear well upon acquiring them. I imagine it’s my ignorance (still), not a true mystery, but this top was that case. I bought two at that Humana, thinking that the black one was the great score. But after 13 wears, this has much more potential for longevity and making me feel my best. Also, I am considering this a replacement for the white zipper blouse, so it’s a 1-out-1-in acquisition. Also, I’m still very proud how I managed that ‘gotta buy a garment urge’.

Verdict: Great, five golden stars.

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What will 2019 bring? Less money, first of all, as I’m transitioning towards self employment. So curbing my fashion spending would be a good idea… The 2018 total, including sewing classes were 1016.33€. Only garments, repairs and notions: 528.33€. That is not cheap, I think. Especially for somebody that is not making any major purchases. Just for a reference, my unemployment benefits will be around 1000€/month. Hence the responsible thing would be to stop spending money on garments altogether. The good news is that I do not foresee urgent purchases anytime soon. But the sewing classes stay… so that’s at least 78€ per month; assuming two vacation months in summer that would already make 780€. That much for curbing my expenses.

The other news is that torturing people with statistics in November paid better than I expected, so I made myself a 130€ birthday gift in early January by tracing down the last vegan Veja Taua sneakers I could find and getting two pairs. Boom!

Despite the professional organizing knowledge that ‘buying duplicates rarely work’, this one shall. My reasons are the following: (a) I have already shredded (100+ wears!) through three pairs of the same model and loved them (proof 1, proof 2), (b) they are clearly discontinued and not coming back, (c) I bought the next most similar option from Veja, and I don’t like them, (d) even the Amazon seller who sold these was running out of them. Knowing that I’m currently OK in the sneaker department – Veja Arcade, Veja Wata, and December swap Vans copycats are all in great shape – it is possible that these two boxes, my sleeping beauties, will be dormant until well into 2019, if not 2020, who knows. And that’s fine. My heart is all fuzzy knowing that, when the moment of need will come, I won’t depend on the fugly whims of Veja or other desperate google searches. Sweet.

My dormant Brazilian treasure.

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Congratulations! You have reached the end of this extra-long confession. What have been your wardrobe investments in 2018? Do you have a fashion budget or do you move in intuitive ways? Which fashion spending is yours: the truly rational based in need, the capricious stemming from ‘oh so beautiful’ or the one looking for added value (what else apart from the garment do you get, who made it, who benefited)? Have you ever found yourself making the added value excuses of ‘I didn’t really need this but at least it from the little local shop / responsibly made / support an artist’? What’s your experience with duplicates?

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Luīze

2 Comments

  1. I spent 1100Euros on clothes,bags,shoes in 2018.
    I would have been more careful with the spending,if for the first 6 months I would have also sum up the repairs,underwear…Only on clothes, I spent 400 I think,as I seem to have changed from sport clothes to mostly dresses.
    For this year, I’m more strict about the spending because I’d like to better use my money and to really use my clothes.
    Around 85% of my clothes is bought used,shoes are mostly new and for them, I look for what works best for my long daily walks.
    So….I have excuses for why I buy and afterwards I feel guilty about not wearing them. I try do give them to someone who will use them,but…there is always a but

    • Hi, Dori! Well, knowing the status quo is the first important step, then, depending on what is feasible in your life, you can adjust that. So I hope you have a no-guilt 2019!

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