Britain’s Cheap Clothes

Having watched Channel 4 Dispatches on 23rd January, here are some thoughts:

If you are paying £19.99 for a garment on line what is the retailer paying the factory to make it?  Do we really think they will be paying enough for the factory to then pay the workers minimum wage?

That £19.99 has to pay for designing the garment, sourcing the fabric, buying the fabric, paying the factory and the transport costs to get the garment to you as well as paying the people in the factory to cut out and sew the garment and pack it.

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Read Huffington Post‘s article about the programme, for more detail.

Have you tried making a dress?  Dressmaking is a skill, one that is traditionally undervalued as ‘domestic work’ or women’s work’, making a dress in a factory is also skilled work.  We need to start valuing the work that goes into making our ‘cheap clothing’.

On the programme Tazeen Ahmad pointed out that the customers for these brands are young 16-24 year olds with limited income, yet they are purchasing a dress for £19.99 to wear once and consign it to the back of their wardrobe.

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This is a culture we need to change.  I was listening to the excellent Podcast The Guilty Feminist Episode 30 Ethical Clothing with Aisling Bea who explained that we ‘have to’ buy a new dress to wear to a friends Wedding otherwise we are saying you aren’t worth that much to me, I’m wearing the same dress I wore to the last wedding, and interesting way of thinking about it.  Do you think a bride takes that much notice of what the guests are wearing?  Honestly, find yourself a really nice dress (preferably from the charity shop), one you feel great in and wear it all the time, not just to weddings!  If you want to change the look, add different accessories.

Do you agree with me?  Or do you find yourself ‘having to’ buy a new outfit for every event?

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2 thoughts on “Britain’s Cheap Clothes

  1. Since I started making the majority of my clothes 3 years ago I definitely get more wear out of them, and my going out dresses aren’t just one hit wonders.
    For the young generation it’s a vicious circle, if the prices are so cheap there’ll always be fast fashion, and there’ll always be some greedy person who will exploit the vulnerable. Hopefully more programs like this will make the public more aware, but I imagine it will take years for things to change.

    1. I agree, it will take a long time. The skills aren’t being taught in school, or at home and there is a lack of good quality fabric readily available. Lives are ‘busy’ working long hours to make ends meet, it’s a paradigm shift that is needed! All we can do is our little bit, to show how you can live differently and gradually things will change.

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