Ecofriendly Fashion - Pricing

I've been asked quite alot lately why many of the eco friendly fashion labels in Australia are quite expensive to buy. I am often posed with the question, "why would I buy this organic cotton t-shirt for $80 when I can go to "(insert big department store)" and buy the same thing for $20?

Well, the answer isn't as simple as it seems, nor is it what most consumers would like to hear.

I have always been quite abashed that people would rather buy their goods as cheap as possible to save their own back pockets, rather than loking into where things have come from, and considered what making this thing cheaply might have done to someone elses life.

Environmentally and Ethically conscious clothing, craft, food, and homeware companies try to avoid several common cancers in their production.

1. Slave labour. Yes we've all heard the term, but what does it really mean? In many countries today children are kidnapped by trafficers, and sold to businesses in back streets of major cities. These young girls and boys are then forced to work as prostitutes, machinists, handicraft workers and other such positions, with very little or no pay. Often these children are told that they will be beaten if they try to leave, and are forced to stay working in these businesses for many years with no food, bed, or sense of well being.
This is how us westerners can buy t-shirts from our local stores for as little as $5. If the store bought it from a wholesaler for half that price, and the wholesaler bought it from the manufacturer at half that price again, and the manufacturer still made a profit, what exactly did the person who physically made the garment get paid? Makes you wonder....
OK, so you paid $150 for that organic jersey dress. After the retailer bought it from the wholesaler and added their 100%, and the wholesaler bought it from the manufacturer and added their 100%, you would hope that the farmer who made the cotton and the machinist who sewed it got a little piece of the pie. And when you do the maths, it still isn't much.

2. Quality of Fabric.
Organic - As it is much more time consuming for a farmer to grow things organically, this brings the price of the fibre up a little bit. They need to work on methods to keep pests off their crops instead of flying overhead in a plane and spraying pesticides. Also, farmers who grow organically often cannot produce or sell in bulk as it is very difficult to find large area's of certified organic soil. Many chemicals leak in from nearby properties and estates deeming the land unusable for organic growing.
Recycled - Thank goodness many of us think to give our unwanted clothing to op shops! Unfortunately some of us do not. People have a terrible habit of throwing things that they don't want into the garbage bin instead of thinking of where else it might be used. Quality recycled materials are getting harder and harder to find, and the people (like me!) using them spend alot of time sourcing out the best stuff to make wonderful garments for you to wear!
Other Sustainable Fibres such as Bamboo and Hemp - As these fibres are not farmed very widely, they are not as easy to buy in bulk, therefore are more 'boutique', driving the raw price up from more common fibres such as cotton. Bamboo and Hemp also have to go through many expensive processes to make them soft enough to be made into fabric.

3. Made in Australia. This one is pretty easy. A dress might take 3 hours to make. You probably pay someone in Australia $20 - $25 an hour to sew. You probably pay someone in China $2 an hour to sew. Which equals a massive difference in the shelf price of an item.

You can ponder as much as you like about companies like Bonds taking their manufacturing offshore, but would you be willing to spend the extra $10 or so to buy a pair of their undies if they were made in Australia? Hmmm, tough one isn't it?

from: ecofriendlyfashion blog


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