Paying More for the Quality We Deserve
Written by jacqui Broberg
Photography Rio Chantel Photography
As an independent designer who is currently in the process of developing a product, I can tell you that I agonize over my cost sheets. I stare at my raw materials costing just hoping that something will pop out at me to show me how I can get the costs down. It is a dance of a few dollars here, a few cents there. It’s a matter of minimums that I may or may not meet in order to get the better price on fabric; or trying to decide if the compostable packaging I’ve chosen is really worth the extra $.30 per garment.
I’ve devoted myself to making a portion of the orders that I receive, but at some point I will need to hire a sewist (or two, or three) to help me and I will gladly pay them what they deserve. I will need to have my patterns digitized and graded for multiple sizes. I will need to pay for photography and other marketing tools. The cost continues to rise and my longing to make my sustainable brand accessible continues to grow.
It can feel hopeless to try to look at sustainable fashion through a lens of accessibility, but here is my take on the bigger picture.
The Value of Your Dollar
If we have to save money to purchase a piece of clothing that we are coveting, we’re creating a healthy relationship with our money. There is psychology in the act of saving; it overrides our innate tendency to prioritize the present over the future, which is exactly the type of behavior fast fashion relies on. Instant gratification is a fleeting (and depleting) feeling, so when we make the conscious choice to save for something we know we’ll love it can help us to feel more empowered.
When you make a plan to save for a sustainable garment, you’re empowering yourself all over the place. You feel accomplished in the act of saving money, you feel confident by using your dollar to support a business that aligns with your values, and you feel at ease knowing where that garment came from and knowing that there was little to no harm done in the making of it.
Your Body is a Temple
If you support sustainable fashion, you probably also support sustainable living and eating as well. We know that what we put in our bodies matters greatly to our physical and mental health.
What about what we put on our bodies? What you wear should support your body in a multitude of ways. It could be through the fabric choice: organically grown cotton, naturally antimicrobial silk, highly renewable hemp. It could be through the type of garment which many sustainable brands strive to create: a garment that is versatile yet comfortable.
The process of creating such a garment is one that respects the Earth and the human beings who were involved in its creation. These types of garments that are made with so much intention will naturally cost more because they are made to last much, much longer. In turn, the longer your clothes last, the less you need to buy.
The premise of this piece is about the monetary cost and value of sustainable fashion, but accessibility comes in many forms. As we enter into a new age of awareness within sustainable fashion, it is clear to see the need for more brands that offer broader size ranges, more gender fluid garments, and more sustainable adaptive fashion to support folks with physical disabilities.
We see now more brands are starting to offer a multitude of sizes and cuts, as well as different payment options to support a more accessible business model. There is an invisible tightwire that so many brands are trying to master; the effort to serve many different folks while still maintaining the worth of the product. It can feel like an impossible balance to achieve. However, if we can support the idea that sustainable fashion is an investment for our benefit and the benefit of the Earth, then we get a little closer to evening out that balancing act.
It’s important to note that sustainable fashion has developed in a way which often excludes people of marginalized groups and folks of low socioeconomic status. We have to recognize this first, so that we can move forward in a way that is inclusive and equity-driven. Sustainability in all forms is a mindset put into practice; it is a mindset that challenges the capitalist propensity that we all live with and one that honors the Black, Brown, and Indigenous people who originated and implemented a sustainable way of life.
Sustainable fashion is not reserved for a select few, it’s for all of us who believe that there is more to getting dressed than just the clothing we wear. It’s for all who believe that supporting a brand they believe in is more important than the need for what’s trending. It’s for all who can see value beyond the dollar. We all deserve to have clothes that are made to last; we all deserve to feel confident in what we wear.
Jacqui Broberg is the founder of fig nine, an ethical brand that is reimagining the wrap dress for all who embrace self-love and functional style. Join her community and get exclusive insights into where fig nine is headed here: www.fignine.com