Guardarrr #33: Sustainable fashion cannot be cheap

Esta es la versión inglesa de mi boletín, puedes encontrar el mismo texto en castellano aquí.

(Today I will again talk about a specific brand, and, again, it has little to do with them specifically. This is just a case study showing that certain choices in production and sales of clothing are just not compatible.)

At the clothing swap on May 28 of this year, I found a lovely pink jumpsuit. So much so that I kept it on after trying it. It still even had the price tag on, and soon the person who had brought it appeared on my social media saying: “Cute!!! That was mine 😎 I love it but it didn’t fit me well so I’m glad it found a home haha”.

And it was wonderful! Pink, light, with ruffles and pockets. Relaxed but put together. It seemed well made and to the touch I could have sworn it was fine linen, which would make perfect sense for a summer piece. Crisp and yet to be washed for the first time. A set but with pants offering the double benefit of having to wear only one piece and at the same time and avoiding the chaffing I suffer with dresses.

As for the cons, the buttons on the front would occasionally come open and, of course, the extra fun of all jumpsuits: having to undress completely to go to the bathroom.

Overall, I was very happy and convinced that I had hit one of the jackpots in my swap career.

Coming home and looking inside my acquisition more seriously,I discovered that it is not linen but 90% viscose and 10% nylon sewn in Italy. Also, they had the audacity to ask for hand washing it. And it was the fabric composition that made me suspect that this jumpsuit was trying to be something it wasn’t.

Let me explain: I know that a clothing brand would not buy fabrics at Ribes & Casals for the retail price but just to give you an idea: Lino Rosa Bombón there goes at €14.95 per meter while Viscosa Rosa at €6.95 is more than two times cheaper… Although I didn’t find the exact match for the fabric used for this jumpsuit on the Ribes & Casals webpage, that 10% nylon should give the piece more body, more resistance and make it even cheaper.

In my experience, if a brand has chosen to use a fabric that looks like another but is then a much cheaper mix, typically those are garments that do not aspire to longevity. Instead, they only to appear well made at the time of purchase and then you are on your own.

Given this, the next step was to explore the brand since I had never heard of it. It’s La Comet and the plantable label made me cringe. It’s a useless feel-good gesture without any real impact on the clothes-related behavior of their clients.

This jumpsuit is no longer available. Even combing through their whole IG, I have only found a photo of another jumpsuit made of the same fabric from 2020. And, despite my eagerness for documentation, I had failed to take a photo of the price tag. I had several stickers, for it had clearly been bought on sale… I think the final price was little below €20 while the initial price was around €40-50, but I’m not sure. Its Dresses and Jumpsuits section right now has pieces ranging from €39 to €55.

But what does it matter? I have not paid anything for this garment and now I just have it. Swap magic!

And I have enjoyed it. Since I have my spreadsheet data, I can confirm that I have worn it exactly 7 times between May and October. It has gone through the same number of washes using the short, cold cycle, and now it requires a bit of upkeep due to pilling and an unravelling seam.

(If the reaction to this from La Comet PR will be to blame me for not hand-washing it, I shall eat my hat toast some cava with all of you!)

Yes, most of that pilling can be shaved off and that seam can be mended but the fact of having to do it speaks for itself. 7 wears is very little, even by fast fashion standards! And I would be even angrier if I had paid €40 for this item, the price-per-wear being almost €6 before I have to invest more time/money to be able to wear it again.

No, of course, these people are not Shein. They are trying hard not to be. But I think this little vignette illustrates the difficulties that one necessarily finds trying to be sustainable but affordable. While trying to meet all the basic requirements to be slower fashion – producing in Europe is the most visible characteristic here – the aspects of production where they can still cut some corners are the fabrics and the quality of finish. And it works to their advantage that we are illiterate in the science of materials and the logic of sewing. Hence the result.

Obviously, if the customers are willing to pay €40 for a light summer piece to wear it only 7 times – lasting a summer, perhaps – and then discard it with the crystal clear consciousness of having bought “sustainable fashion” and getting in line to buy the next outfit for the next summer, well, this is where we are at.

Intercambio de ropa | November 27th 11:00 – 14:00 at Ateneu Roig, c/ Torrent d’En Vidalet 32, Barcelona. Unsurprisingly, organizing a swap is my way of protesting Black Friday.

Ojalá tuviera el coraje para pegarme a algún Miró: Radicalizar la protesta frente a la inacción climática.

Ya intuías que lo del hidrógeno como la panacea para nuestras necesidades energéticas no podría ser tan fácil, ¿verdad? Haciendo las cuentas del hidrógeno verde.

Demasiado poco se habla de estas huellas medioambientales: Seis tipos de deportes que deberían estar prohibidos.


There are just two actions needed to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown: leave fossil fuels in the ground and stop farming animals

Unfortunately, also in fashion Giorgia knows exactly what she’s doing: “Giorgia Meloni and the Politics of Power Dressing.

Thanks but no thanks, I still remember my barely-there eyebrows of 2005 and how revolutionary the 2010s eyebrows felt like: “Where Are All The Eyebrows?

And that’s it for now! I hope that you enjoyed reading this and would be very happy to hear from you, be it regarding misleading swap finds or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com

Guardarrr is a bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona.

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