In this blog, I thought I'd take some time to share with you why I am committed to be a good quality apparel retailer.
Often, I’m questioned in store about the cost of the brands and items I elect to stock. I won’t pretend my items and clothing isn’t a little more on the pricier side compared to some of the fast fashion larger retailers that with that comes a host of issues that question my morals and what we stand for here at Innocence and Attitude.
I have always been committed to sourcing and selling great quality, well priced, fashionable clothes to tweens and youth that will last their active lifestyles (and God only knows what they get up to sometimes in their clothes). As a parent myself I’ve seen it all and what you my customers want are clothes that are not only fashionable but sturdy and can do it all. But to explain things a bit further, we really need to delve into the term fast fashion and why it’s a dirty and often gross word.
What is this fast fashion you speak of? Tell me more...
I’m glad you asked, so buckle in. Traditionally brands put out a new collection each season. Fast fashion retailers can churn out a new collection once a week if they wanted to. Why do they do it? To get us to spend more of our money with them and to keep you going back for more. Or, in other words, to drive us, consumers, to mindless consumption. Plus, we as humans have gotten so tied up in having a new outfit or look for that special occasion that we leap out to grab something shiny, fun and new! Hands up if you are guilty of it?
So, why don't I like fast fashion?
Because clothes shouldn't be so cheap that we can afford to throw out whatever was worn last week and replace it with something new for this week. Someone is paying the price of these cheap clothes, which worries me.
I recently watched the documentary, The True Cost, which goes behind the scenes and shows us what life is like working on the floor in a textile factory in Bangladesh. It's ethically wrong. The big retailers are pushing the owners of these factories to make their clothes for less and less, and it's the workers who are slaving away at the machines for an insulting amount of money. All so we can buy clothes for under $5.
Secondly, buying cheap clothes allows us to purchase lots of them. I recently came across a staggering statistic that in Australia, we Aussies purchase 27kg of clothes a year! OMG! But what bothered me even more, was that it's estimated that 23kg of our clothing ends up in landfills each year.
Maybe you can understand why I'm not too fond of fast fashion.
In my store, I select the brands. As a rule, I choose clothes that have been designed in Australia and are made from good quality, well wearing fabrics. I wish I could say that my clothes are also Australian made, but that's out of my control.
Why don't cheap clothes last?
When buying clothes from the under $5 category, you probably accept that they're not the best quality. To me, that's a no brainer. That said, there are times when you have to stretch your money out to each family member. I get it, and that's when buying the cheaper clothes at least gets everyone dressed.
However, cheaper clothes usually don't last long. They're generally made from poor quality fabrics, and the stitching isn't as tight as the higher quality lines. My store's brands are smaller independent businesses, and their clothes are made in small batches. While you pay more, you generally get a better, longer-lasting garment.
Cost per wear
In the apparel retail industry, we encourage our customers to do an equation when deciding to purchase an item: Cost of garment divided by estimated wears.
For example, I have the Arched Drifter Pant by Indie Kids priced at $59.95, made from 98% cotton, 2% elastane. Because these pants are well made with good quality fabric, I would expect these pants to withstand many washes and wears.
So, let's say Tom is going to wear them for around 6 months, until he grows again:
Cost $59.95 divided by 26 wears (weeks) = around $2.30 a wear
Tom could choose a cheaper pair from a larger retailer for around $15, but will these pants withstand the rough and tumble of his everyday life for around six months? Before purchasing, I would check the stitching, the weight of the pants and if there is piling. If these pants are ruined after a few wears and need to be replaced, they aren't so cheap after all.
How to identify good quality clothes?
A great deal of my life is spent looking at apparel. I do know the difference between good quality and bad quality.
Here are some tips on what to look for:
• Manufacturers who make their apparel from good quality fabrics are normally very keen to share the makeup of the garment. Look for the specs on the garment. Brief details about the composition of the fabric (eg) when the label just states polyester, cotton, elastane this can be a warning flag for low-end fabrics.
• Do the light test. When buying items like tees and shirts in a store, hold the garment up to the light. If the fabric lets a lot of light through, this reveals that it hasn't been woven or knitted densely, and this item probably won't hold its shape for too long.
• Good quality jeans should be stiff and heavy at the start. Cheaper jeans may feel light and soft when first trying them on because they've been made with less quality denim. Good quality denim needs to be worn in because it has a higher thread count.
• Check the stitching. Look for frequent stitching with no gaps. If the stitching is loose, common sense tells me this isn't going to wash that well.
How to create a less is more wardrobe.
There are so many advantages of choosing to buy quality over quantity. Overall, it could save you in the long run. As parents and carers, we should be trying to encourage our kids to live sustainably. I'm not sure how clothes ever became such a disposable consumable.
The biggest tip I can give you is to buy items that will mix and match. I get it, the kids don't want to be wearing the same outfit to footy each week, but we can strategically choose a mix of clothes that they will be able to mix and changeup.
A versatile winter wardrobe should include:
Warm and heavy jacket
Share, swap and mix with others.
Your kids will often outgrow their better-quality clothes before they've worn them out, which gives these garments the opportunity for another owner. These clothes could be passed down to other family members or friends.
If you need help with getting the versatile winter wardrobe organised, make sure you reach out. I'd love to help you and together let’s look after the planet too, making decisions we know will make it that little bit brighter and better all round.