I’m often told by my readers that despite their good intentions, they just can’t afford ethical, sustainable fashion. They’re on a student’s budget, or they’re just struggling to pay for basic necessities, and throwing an extra $50 to $100 toward a piece of clothing because of an abstract notion of sustainability or ethical manufacturing is a hard pill to swallow.
You know, two people in the past week have brought up an old saying: “I’m too poor to buy cheap clothes.” It means that when you’re on a budget, you can’t afford to buy something that will break or fall apart after a few months, necessitating replacement. It’s a nod toward the old way of doing things, when our grandparents saved up and bought something to keep for a long time.
I was on the phone with my grandmother the other day, and when I told her about my Newsweek article about the impending secondhand clothing crisis, she was confused. Why would Americans throw out so much clothing? She still wears her sweater from the 80s, and gets compliments on it.
But, that isn’t even the whole story. She bragged that she had gotten that high quality sweater on deep discount from an upscale department store that was going out of business. My other grandmother was the same way, talking with pride about the half dozen Lacoste polo shirts she got for my grandfather on sale. He wore them until he passed away.
So, take a page out of their book: Get the good stuff on discount. I’m talking forever items, things that are on discount even though they aren’t necessarily trendy or out of season. Classic sweaters. Good jeans. Comfortable shoes. LBDs.
And where do you find said discounts? On the big retailer websites that have created a green vertical, like Yooxygen, ASOS Eco Edit, or Urban Renewal. These retailers tend to ghetto their sustainable offerings in a special place, but subject them to the same seasonal discount strategies as the rest of their conventional fashion. The result is that you can head to the digital back page, and find some amazing forever items for a bargain.
(Some of these items may be sold out by the time you get to them, since they’re on sale at the time of publication. No worries! Either click on the name of the designer to see what else the store has by her, or explore the entire green vertical – especially the last pages – to see what’s since been discounted.)