Aparna Sharma tells us how sustainably-made clothes can save you money over time.
Have you heard of calculating the Cost Per Wear (CPW) for the clothes you buy? It’s a simple concept which will help you stay sustainable and stylish. Sustainably-made clothes usually have a higher price tag than clothes from fast fashion brands, as they are tailor made, with fabrics which are circular and eco-friendly.
CPW, calculated by dividing the price by the number of times an item of clothing is worn, is a basic metric which enables you to work out the value of the investment you made on any particular item of clothing. It is simply a calculation that helps consumers to see the lifetime value of their purchases by calculating the cost each time they wear it. Clothes from sustainable brands are usually well made, and they are meant to last longer than cheap clothes. A sustainable brand is committed to ensuring that you use the outfit for as long as possible and some of them can go back to the soil at the end of their lifetime.
Fast vs Slow Fashion
This is an extremely nuanced conversation and it depends on multiple factors like your personal style, budget, and accessibility to sustainable fashion. If you find sustainable fashion brands expensive but you want to consume fashion responsibly, you can buy from thrift stores or attend clothing swap events. Bangkok Recycling Chain has clothing swap parties regularly, and I personally love swapping clothes.
If you can afford the price tag, buying from sustainable brands is much better for the environment than buying from fast fashion brands. If you bought a fast fashion item for THB 500 and wore it four times and got bored of it or it started tearing, your CPW on that item would be THB 125 (500 ÷ 4). Conversely, if you spent THB 1500 on an organic cotton dress from a sustainable brand, these brands are usually made to last and their items are more unique, so you’ll probably want to wear them more often. Just by wearing the dress 15 times, its CPW would be THB 100 (1500 ÷ 15). Ideally, a sustainably made item of clothing should last for at least 40 to 50 wears – one of the main criteria to be considered a sustainable brand is that it should be high quality and last for a long time compared to cheaply made clothes.
On average, to justify a garment’s environmental footprint, you should wear it at least 30 times or pass it on to someone who will use it so that it does not end up in a landfill. When you custom make from a tailor or buy unique clothes from sustainable brands, you will easily be able to use it 30 times without it falling apart. There is an increase in the number of brands which are committed to making clothes sustainable and stylish. As demand goes up, they are becoming more affordable too. By investing in fewer higher-quality garments, you’ll make a difference for the planet and also save money in the long run.
Here are four sustainable brands I can highly recommend:
Okhai: This brand empowers more than 25,000 artisans and their price is lower than some fast fashion brands. They mostly use regular cotton, but they are committed to empowering indigenous artisan communities. They are based in Gujarat, India and deliver worldwide.
Shibui: They make sustainability so gorgeous and stylish. They are vegan and cruelty free, and all their garments are made from sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, hemp etc. Their designs are so versatile and can be worn multiple times. Based in Rampur, UP, India, they deliver to Thailand.
Hibiscus Heroes: This Auroville (Pondicherry)-based brand makes clothes from plant-based dyes and they use only sustainable fabrics. Their boho-chic designs are perfect for Sunday brunches and beach holidays. You can also style them for everyday office wear, depending on your personal style.
Folkcharm: This is a Thailand-based brand WITH classic designs that can be worn every day. Their clothes are hand woven in Loei, Thailand, and they use organic cotton and natural dyes.