When it comes to buying baby and kids clothing the prices can be ridiculously small. But have you ever stopped to think about the costs associated with making that kids tee shirt or baby bodysuit – including the cost of the materials and the cost of labor for the person who sews the item? When you add profit on top, it’s hard to fathom the often tiny costs associated with global manufacturing.
It can be easy to feel that because we have little choice about where our clothes are made, there’s no point thinking any further about the choices we make when we shop. We might think that everything made overseas must be poor quality, made by exploited workers and involve polluting the environment. We may think we have no other option than to settle for cheap adult, baby and kids clothing that doesn’t last long, but console ourselves that at least we’re saving by only paying a tiny amount at the cash register.
Unfortunately buying bottom dollar is usually a false economy that sees us regularly forking out small amounts that add up to a lot of money. But paying just a little bit more for baby and kids clothing can have real benefits and long term savings to consumers, not to mention the environment and overseas workers. Here are eight great benefits of avoiding cheap bargain-basement baby and kids clothing and paying a little bit more.
Even if the item is cheap, most people purchase clothing with the hope that it will be fit for purpose. The difference in price between a poor quality baby tee shirt or hoodie and quality, can be the difference of only a dollar or two. But that extra dollar buys you kids clothing that will last significantly longer.
We have become so accustomed to clothes where the colour runs, the stitching comes undone, or the item shrinks or stretches after only a couple of wears or washes. The extra dollar you pay at the cash register may pay for more generous seams that won’t split, higher quality fabric and dyes, and a better fit, which means your clothing will last longer and your dollar will travel further.
Since the 1990s average consumption has increased by 500%. While the price we pay for things have fallen, we’re consuming more. That means we’re shopping more.
By spending a little more to purchase clothing that lasts longer and stays looking good for more than one season, you’ll spend less time on the endless roundabout of cheap, fashionable clothing.
When I was growing up in the late 1970s and 1980s it was common for kids clothes to be handed down to younger siblings. I had an older sister and although most of my clothes were hand-me-downs, they were well made, well fitting clothes that lasted well beyond me growing out of them.
By spending a little extra on children’s tee shirts, long sleeve tees and tops, clothes will outlast your children and can be worn by three or four different kids. You can invest in some really cute pieces that your children will love and enjoy wearing for a long time.
Sharing and exchanging with your friends can also be a lot of fun too. Sharing costs nothing and you can benefit from hand-me-downs from friends that are a perfect fit for your growing kids.
Possible harmful chemicals that have been detected in cheap fast fashion include formaldehyde and AZO dye. These can cause allergies to the skin and throat, cause burns and are also possible carcinogens.
Manufacturing with superior materials and dyes, means that cheap dyes and toxic chemicals that are added to ‘finish’ clothing and improve the look of the final product are avoided. The extra dollar you spend on a few quality blank tee shirts can protect your child or someone else from a range of chemicals that could be harmful.
By spending a little bit extra for the initial purchase, you’ll save money by having to shop for clothing less often. It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a few dollars each week is nothing, but it soon adds up. You can test for yourself by writing down every purchase you make and adding them up at the end of each month. Compare this with paying a bit more for clothes that last longer and see how it impacts your total spending.
Many of us donate unwanted clothing to charity and imagine our clothing will continue its life being worn by someone else. The reality is that the bulk of clothes that are donated to charity end up in landfill.
By paying a little more for clothes, you will be less inclined to make impulse purchases that you regret and throw away later. By making smarter purchasing decisions, your extra dollar can help reduce the millions of clothes that are thrown out each day and unnecessarily end up in landfill.
Becoming aware of the difference between a poor quality and better quality piece of clothing, means being able to recognise differences in the way a garment is put together. This includes the quality and size of seams and hems, stitching quality, and the thickness, weave, and content of fabrics.
Spending an extra dollar or two on quality clothing can help you develop a designers eye for manufacturing details that will provide quality, longevity and a great looking collection at a small price. Your kids will always be well dressed, and you won’t be disappointed in your purchases.
When we purchase less often, in favour of being a discerning shopper of quality, ethically made clothing, we act as a role model for our children and for others to develop conscious purchasing habits, with less impact on people and the planet.
The clothing industry is not the only industry with cheap manufacturing, producing low quality items that keep us in the cycle of endless spending and throwing away. The new benefits you realise and habits you develop will influence your purchasing in other areas as well. That’s the power of the ripple that spreads out into an ocean.
Finally, we may feel that we have no ability to influence the world, but we do. When we avoid cheap, poorly made fast fashion, we are rejecting some of the worst conditions and manufacturing processes that the fast fashion industry is notorious for. Your extra dollar can go much further than just getting you quality kids and baby clothes that last longer.
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I’d love to hear about your environmentally and socially conscious approaches to purchasing. Can you think of other ways to make clothes last longer? How often do you wash your clothes? After each wear or more? Do you mend your clothes? Do you have a clever way of re purposing worn out clothes? Let me know in the comments below.