You see this sweater?
It was part of our Halloween road rally. (We won 1st place in the costume contest. :))
(After being forced to clean out his closet) Mike throws this sweater and says, “Do we have a Goodwill bag started?” No. “Well, I’d like to give this to someone who can use it.”
This is what we all think when we drop off clothes to our nearest Salvation Army/Goodwill. It’s what I thought too, until I read Overdressed. Geez.
The first part of the book explains things we all know: cheap clothing is mass produced in Asia and doesn’t last very long.
The author then went deeper to explain that because the price of clothing is at an all time low, there’s NO value in the [cheap] pieces we buy. Thrift stores used to be filled with clothes from quality materials that were quality made…the wearer just no longer wanted them. Now, these stores are filled with inexpensive pieces that don’t sell for much less used as they do fresh off the rack.
People aren’t buying enough of these donated items and so, they are being shipped elsewhere—to fabric recycling mills and so on. Much of it is so low grade material that they can’t resell it to be manufactured into something else. The part that REALLY struck me was that the unsold used garments are cubed up and dropped off to countries in Africa. Apparently, the cube is cut open and out spill our donated tanks and pants. Fashion preferences in these African regions have become heightened, and therefore much of these garments are turned away. (That sort of shocked me. I feel embarassingly like an elitist clothes horse, but even the underprivelige peoples we picture wearing our Old Navy sweaters…don’t even want them!)
I started to feel super depressed while reading this book. Damnit. This is terrible. The world is going to melt and we’ll be floating in a sea of Forever 21 dresses! Give me some course of action to stop this, author!
Elizabeth L. Cline’s suggested plan is to stop buying cheap clothes. What an idea. Or maybe just stop buying so much of it.
Was I going to spend a lot on a white sweater needed for a Fred Halloween costume? No. But what about a woman’s pair of black pants? Or a man’s winter coat? These are things that you’ll have for a long time. So whatever your budget allows, seek the best. This means natural fabrics (not man made), think: wool instead of acetate.
* Here’s a list the author has compiled of designers who produce their lines in the U.S.