Column: Fashion going green should cost a little less green


Ryan Hardison

Finding affordable, sustainable options is difficult when competing with brands like Forever 21.

by Destiny Esparza, Contributor

As more people realize the dangers of fast fashion, people are in search of clothing brands that are more sustainable.

To some, that may sound easy, but finding accessible and affordable sustainable brands can be a challenge.

If you are looking for a sustainable clothing store in any shopping area, you won’t have much luck finding one unless you go to a thrift store and even that can be limiting because of high demand. People often turn to online shopping as the primary option for finding sustainable clothing brands. 

Shopping online might not seem like a big deal, but the average consumer typically searches online for well known brands and those are the fast fashion ones such as Zara, H&M, Shein and Forever 21 to name a few. 

It can be quite overwhelming when searching for sustainable clothing because shoppers don’t know where to start or what brands to choose. This can be time consuming and people are not looking to spend an extensive amount of time searching for the right brand.

Even after finding a sustainable clothing brand, shoppers quickly ‌discover the prices on clothes range from $35 to $90. That might not seem expensive to some, but compared to fast fashion brands that sell clothes from an average of $4 to $35, it makes fast fashion brands seem even more tempting and convenient.

In all fairness, sustainable clothing brands are more expensive because of the cost of ethical and eco-friendly materials, cost of labor such as ethical working conditions and sustainable brands still being in a niche market.

Whereas fast fashion brands can market their products at low prices because they don’t have high costs of materials and labor and shoppers are already familiar with their brand.

In order for sustainable clothing to be easily accessible to consumers, sustainable brands need to fix the lack of affordability of their products. If not, consumers will continue shopping from fast fashion brands. 

One may think how this issue can be fixed and, although there isn’t a straightforward answer, sustainable brands can start by going directly to consumers instead of retail stores and making products that ‌last. 

Most clothing brands that sell their products at large retail stores have to mark up their prices by two to three times the actual cost of the product. Instead of sustainable brands going to retail stores they should go to consumers. This can reduce sustainable brands’ costs and make them more affordable for shoppers. 

Sustainable brands should also make products that last. 

A lot of clothing brands make clothes that fit the season or trend and this can be wasteful. Instead, sustainable brands should design products that can be reused for the next season or trend and try to create products that can be worn year round. This can make their products more affordable, since they are not wasting their money on production. 

If more sustainable brands started going directly to consumers and making products that last, they can get a wider audience to buy their products. This makes it easier for people to resist the temptation of fast fashion prices and turn to sustainable brands to make a more sustainable lifestyle.