Is Sustainable Fashion Affordable?
If you’re wondering why fast fashion harms both the environment and our communities—and what the alternative is (aka “is sustainable fashion affordable?”)—read on. Plus, we’ll share three key tips for finding sustainable clothing on a budget.
The Differences Between Sustainable Fashion and Fast Fashion
Sustainable fashion—the ethical production and distribution of clothing—isn’t new. However, with the rise of fast fashion over the past 20 years, it’s increasingly become a more pressing topic of conversation.
Fast fashion prioritizes speed and affordability for customers. On the surface, this can seem highly beneficial. But in the long run, fast fashion can result in potentially devastating consequences.
For starters, fast fashion is typically unethical in its production processes. These negligent fast fashion business practices can even include child labor in more severe cases.
From an environmental standpoint, fast fashion has negative impacts in multiple ways.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, fast fashion has driven textile production to new heights, with textile production responsible for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That’s more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined!
The harsh reality of fast fashion is that it can cause real harm to both our communities and our planet. Yet, millions continue to buy fast fashion yearly due to its extremely low prices.
However, this affordability often comes at the sacrifice of quality, further contributing to the negative environmental impact. Consumers discard fast fashion pieces nearly as quickly as they are purchased.
The Ethics of Sustainable Fashion
Sustainable fashion today directly responds to fast fashion.
Businesses and professionals in the fashion industry are beginning to recognize how badly fast fashion is impacting the industry’s overall reputation. As a result, more brands are touting the “sustainable fashion” label to assure customers their products are ethically sourced and produced.
The key for consumers is knowing what ethical practices make a brand sustainable.
These ethical practices can include:
- Transparency: The biggest thing to look for in a sustainable fashion brand is transparency. Finding an honest brand that is upfront about its practices is crucial.
With fast fashion brands, you can find little information about where they source their products and the production processes they use.
- Certifications: A sustainable fashion brand can ensure it adheres to ethical business practices by getting certified by a fair trade organization, such as the World Fair Trade Organisation or Fairtrade International. This not only eases the minds of customers while shopping but also provides brand owners with new opportunities to engage in ethical business.
- Eco-Friendly Materials: Materials and dyes in clothing can have a massive environmental impact, especially if clothing items end up discarded in landfills or other environmentally-harsh settings. A legitimate sustainable fashion brand should offer clear information about the sustainable fabrics and materials they use.
Why is Sustainable Fashion Often More Expensive?
Let’s address the biggest question in the room — is sustainable fashion affordable?
In general, the answer is yes, sustainable fashion is affordable, but it tends to be pricier compared to fast fashion alternatives. Even so, sustainable clothing on a budget is not out the window. At Amour Vert, we truly believe that sustainable fashion should still be within reach of the everyday consumer. The real question then becomes, “how much does it cost to make sustainable clothing?”
To start, higher costs come with additional benefits, such as greater clothing durability and higher quality. To answer the question of “how much does it cost to make sustainable clothing?,” Amour Vert is breaking down what it means to produce truly ethical clothing. In short, sustainable business practices can put more strain on a brand’s budget, leading to higher overall product costs. The costs of sustainable clothing production can include:
- Sourcing better fabrics and materials
- Paying workers higher wages
- Earning eco-friendly and fair trade certifications
While it can certainly be more affordable to opt for fast fashion, sustainable fashion ultimately provides you with higher-quality pieces that can outlast their fast fashion counterparts for years. Our pieces range from $40-$150+, depending on the material, cut, and design of the garment.
Plus, choosing to invest in quality and sustainable clothing helps build a healthier world and society.
3 Key Tips for Finding More Affordable Sustainable Fashion
For anyone who is ready to take the leap into sustainable fashion, it can be tricky to begin building up your wardrobe at first. What’s most important is knowing how to shop smart and find the best sustainable clothing on a budget to help you transform your closet.
Here are three tips for finding more affordable sustainable fashion:
1. Look for Fairly Priced Resellers
Reselling markets are easily one of the best places to find sustainable fashion at affordable prices.
For example, here at Amour Vert we provide our customers access to ReAmour, a resale marketplace for browsing, buying, and selling used clothing in good condition.
This is a process known as circular fashion, where high-quality clothing pieces are kept in circulation while they are in good condition before eventually being recycled to create new pieces. Through circular fashion, you can find many phenomenal pieces for low price points.
Circular fashion also focuses on eliminating waste and pollution as much as possible from fashion production.
2. Keep an Eye Out for Sales
Aside from resale markets, the next best option for finding affordable sustainable clothing is to simply keep an eye out for sales from your favorite sustainable brands.
Almost all brands offer sales at various points throughout the year — with many sales coinciding with special occasions, like holidays. Sales offer an excellent opportunity to grab a few extra pieces without going outside your budget, giving your new sustainable wardrobe a great jumpstart.
Keeping an eye out for sales is also a good way to grab trendy pieces that were too expensive during their initial drop but have decreased in price since.
3. Prioritize Quality Over Quantity
The simple reality is that sustainable fashion is almost always pricier than its fast fashion alternatives. However, as discussed, clothing quality is often sacrificed for affordability in fast fashion.
After you have established a good starting wardrobe by shopping at resale markets and sales, it’s worth investing in a few pricier pieces. New styles and designs are released every fashion season, allowing you to grab a few more expensive new pieces every few months.
What is most important is shopping for quality over quantity.
You can always hop on a fast fashion marketplace and grab three to four times the amount of clothing you can buy from a sustainable brand. However, five years later, it is much more likely that your sustainable pieces will maintain their quality, while your fast fashion pieces may not make it past more than a few weeks after going through the wash.
Final Thoughts: Shop Sustainable Clothing at Amour Vert
At Amour Vert, we value sustainability and quality above all else. Our hope is that we educate readers on questions about “how much does it cost to make sustainable clothing?” and “is sustainable fashion affordable?” so that our communities can be more knowledgeable on ethical fashion production.
Amour Vert prioritizes sustainable business practices, including artisan-made fashion, responsible supply chains, eco-conscious packaging, circular fashion, and sustainable materials. We offer a wide range of sustainable clothing on a budget to help you find the pieces that match your style best.
Visit our online shop today and sign up for our email list to receive 15% off on your first order!