Have you ever told someone that you liked their top, and you heard “Thanks, it was only $8/£4/€1/whatever cheap cost”? That always takes me aback, as I didn’t comment on the price of it whatsoever, but revealing how cheaply it was purchased seems to be a knee jerk reaction now for most people. I am in no way arguing for spending money for no apparent reason, but why have we, as society, become crippled by a need to be cheap? Why is buying things cheaply considered an accomplishment? (Note, I did not say frugally.)
Behind the Scenes
So, is everyone just ignoring the abhorrent labour practices that we all well-know is going on behind the scenes of fast fashion, cheap home goods, and pretty much everything else? Obviously money does play a large role in my purchasing decisions, but as a human being, I can’t just ignore the abuse, low pay, and inhumane treatment that is going into those items. Can people truly just put the blinders on and ignore that? I in no way can afford an entire slow-fashion, hand made, artisanal wardrobe, and have fast fashion pieces, but I do try to only buy those pieces when truly necessary/warranted. Is the lure of cheap prices so strong that you just forget that it is happening?
The Real Price
Does anyone know what the actual price of things should be nowadays? Not the rock bottom, super slashed, questionably attained price, but the normal price of an item made by someone paid fairly? And if they don’t, does anyone actually care to know? The cost of everything is dropping and dropping and dropping- look at how much of your household goods can now be purchased at the dollar store, and how much of your wardrobe could be purchased entirely at H&M and Forever 21. But are costs actually dropping? Or is the manufacturing and production process employing more and more questionable practices and poorer quality materials to accomplish those prices? Heads up: a properly made t-shirt should hit at least $20. Now, I know that several of you angrily started typing a response about how ridiculous that is, BUT that $22 t-shirt should last at least 2-3 years with proper care. (Not the faded, stretched out, unravelling items that I see on a daily basis…) Do you actually educate yourself on the true cost of a purchase before arbitrarily deciding what you think is a fair price?
More, More, More
I truly don’t understand why people need to do hauls, or continually buy clothing. I as much as anyone love to look at new clothing and imagine what it would be like in my wardrobe; that doesn’t mean that I need to continually purchase those things… Am I odd for trying to make the most out of what I have rather than owning things that are used a handful of times (if at all)? Can anyone explain to me why you would need to continually buy new clothing, candles, make up, shoes, tupperware, vases, pillows, whatever it is? (This is my issue with subscription boxes- I’ve no idea why anyone would need to continually replenish anything and collect more things on a monthly/quarterly basis…) You can’t possibly use it all. If you already have 20 dresses, and you buy 5 more but have no more time than normal to wear them, what are you doing with the dresses you aren’t wearing? And if you own 15 candles, and purchase 3 more, do you burn several different scented candles at once? Hoard them for the apocalypse when your Pumpkin Spice Attitude candle will apparently save you? Why do we need so much of everything?
(I would love to focus my blog entirely on style. I mean, I would certainly maintain another blog to talk about history, books, travel, baking, and everything else I love, but I have more than enough ideas and materials to discuss style ad nauseum. However, every style blogger continually features new pieces and hauls, and I’m really trying to a conscious and ethical shopper. Does anyone know of any style blogs that focus on what you own, rather than shopping [either new or second-hand]?)
From what it appears to me, people do seem to keep a great deal of pride in procuring something cheaply. I don’t understand this pride, in the face of what I discussed above- sure, you bought that dress for $25 but it was made by a woman working 18 hour days making less than $1 a day. Is there pride in that? And is there pride in adding yet another item to a stuffed wardrobe that you may wear twice and then move on?
To me, I spend time and care into deciding what I will purchase. I research my choices, and decide what is the best option for my budget, needs, and wants. When I can make the purchase and can finally use whatever it is, I do feel a pride in the fact that I know that it’s the right piece/item for me, and that I worked X amount of time to earn the money to purchase it. And I find that I take far better care of items (and enjoy them more) when I know that I worked hard to purchase that, rather than knowing it is cheap and not worth much to start with. Also, when someone says that it looks nice/is a good choice, I have something to tell them about it rather than the small amount of money I paid for it.
I know that many people will either angrily stop reading this post (probably have already stopped), or told themselves that I am out of touch. (FYI, I have a very tight budget, and typically plan 4-8 weeks ahead to buy a new piece of clothing.) I’m in no way arguing to go buy designer clothing for no apparent reason. However, think about everything that goes into that super cheap item next time, instead of mindlessly purchasing yet another skirt or table runner.
Will cheap ever end? Are we ever going to turn the corner to well made and fairly priced items being the norm again?