This morning I pulled out one of my favorite black and brown sweaters from my closet. I needed a black undershirt, and a black mockneck with the tags still on called out to me. “Hey lady, you bought me with great intentions, but all I do is hang here collecting dust! C’mon, sister!” I’m not really a mockneck kind of person unless I’m snow skiing. Then I am all about the mockneck. Alas, no skiing or snow in the forecast today.
This is usually how most of my clothes with tags look. It’s an awesome bargain (usually at another 30% off of the price shown at Kohl’s), but it’s actually not that awesome if I never wear it. I suppose there are various reasons why clothing in my closet still has the tags on. Maybe it was out of season, maybe I didn’t have time to try it on, or perhaps the sale mobs were so thick, it was all I could do to pile all of the $3.60 deals into my basket before they were gone. Well, not really. I’ve never been shopping with a mob. I specifically try to avoid that kind of nonsense.
I love a bargain as much as the next person, but there is always a cost associated with the bargain. This particular item was made in Vietnam. I started thinking about the amount I paid for this item, and who exactly failed to profit on it’s journey into my closet. This article talks about how Vietnamese seamstresses are paid $200/month vs. $60/month in Bangladesh. Once the item leaves the warehouse, someone has to pay tariffs and for transport across the ocean. Then someone has to pay to move the items to a distribution center and finally the retail stores. Someone had to pay a stocker to get it on the shelves (and eventually mark it down three times). I probably left out several steps, but there’s enough going on in this process that tells me that someone lost money somewhere in the logistics chain.
The saddest thing is that a lot of these “bargains” head straight from a closet to the thrift store with tags still on. Unfortunately, the sad plight of bargain items doesn’t stop there. This video called “Unravel” and this video show how the image we’ve created in our head about those wonderful heart warming donations is far from the truth. Very few of those donations are actually resold locally. Then they usually end up right back in the countries with the lowest paid workers.
So, what can we do about it?
- Stop buying something only because it’s a bargain.
- Buy only things that fit properly and that you love because they look fabulous on you.
- Buy things made in your local town, state, or country.
- Wear things out before you recycle them.
- Tell fashion trends to take a hike by purchasing simple, well-made, classic pieces.
- Make your own clothing. Teach yourself and the next generation to sew, knit, crochet, etc.
Buying something Made in the USA is not as easy as it sounds. I remember the first time a few decades ago I had enough money to actually buy something in an Ann Taylor store. I checked the tag, and it was “Made in China.” For the price, I couldn’t believe it. I thought that fashion was pulling one over on us, and not in a good way.
A few weeks ago, a Betabrand ad lit up my Facebook feed. I was more intrigued by comfortable yoga dress pants than anything. As far as I could tell, the two travel dresses and pair of yoga dress pants in my cart were Made in the USA, so I felt pretty proud of myself hitting the “Buy” button. The order came fairly quickly, and I was pleased with the think fabric of the yoga pants and the fit. Fancy sweat pants, sign me up! However, I was disappointed when I saw Made in Vietnam on the pants. I’m not sure how I missed that. The two travel dresses I ordered were Made in the USA, so I made a mistake in my research somewhere along the way. I know now to pay more attention when I’m online shopping for clothing. It was my mistake.
However, I am pleased with the clothing I purchased from Betabrand. I think it fits my work at home lifestyle, and it dresses up my normal uniform of yoga pants and t-shirt. It allows me to not have to sacrifice comfort for style. I’ve worn the dresses and the pants a few times since ordering them a few weeks ago, and I’m pleased with my new staples. I hope to add more quality pieces that I love like these to my wardrobe as other items wear out. I’m still shooting for Made in the USA.
If you are interested in trying Betabrand.com, they have a referral program that offers $15 off your first purchase of $75 or more. Click here to use my referral code. They also have a BETABUCKS25 code good for $25 off an order of $125 right now until Dec 12, 2016. One thing I did notice is that their regular length pants are too long for my average 5’4″ height and will need hemming. I also used their sizing guide and ordered a size larger than I normally wear. Also, I had problems using a discount coupon and a referral code together on my first order, but their customer service was really awesome and credited my account for the error. Customer service is everything when buying clothing online. Trust me.