Why are sustainable brands more expensive?

In a world where we are so familiar with flash sales, continuous discounts and accessible clothing purchased through a few clicks, it is often strange and unfamiliar to pay full price for products. We are surrounded constantly by big neon SALE signs, % OFF emails and HURRY! Limited time only messages that have resulted in a world, where fast fashion is very much the norm and buying on trend items frequently is acceptable because A) It’s fashionable right now and B) It’s cheap so you don’t need to feel guilty about it, right?…Wrong.

The ugly truth is that this level of consumption is having a drastically negative effect to our environment and fast fashion according to Eco Watch is the second dirtiest industry in the world. The reality is that trends live fast and die quickly leaving huge and unmanageable amounts of waste in their wake with an estimated £140 million worth of clothing ending up in landfills every single year.

The core reason fast fashion attracts so many, comes down to affordability and speed. Ordering something that you have seen across your social media or online and having it in your hands the next day at a minimum cost to your bank balance is very tempting. So the question is as more and more people are starting to investigate where their clothes come from and are becoming more consciously driven with their spending, what is it that makes sustainable brands so much more expensive and why should your money be spent here and not in the fast fashion industry?

We want to help answer this question and break down why sustainability comes with a high price tag.

1. Sustainability and sustainable brands are still pretty niche

Like with most things the bigger the demand for something the more affordable and accessible it will become . Livia Frith the founder of Eco-Age says to think of sustainable fashion like organic food, "At the beginning it was so expensive, but the more people bought into it, the more the prices went down and then it became widespread," This will become more true with sustainable brands and affordability. At SOS for example we feel the hit with the high costs of sustainable fabrics, every meter purchased is more than triple the amount of your standard common harmful fabrics which is even more of a problem as a small brand who is unable to commit to bulk orders. The more demand increases for sustainable alternatives the more affordable this will be for the brands and as a result the garments will become more affordable to the consumer. Create this demand and you will see the prices fall in time.

2. Cost of Labour

To be a sustainable brand especially for us here at SOS it goes way beyond just using sustainable fabrics that help reduce the amount of plastics in our ocean. To be sustainable for us means to be both sustainable and ethical throughout our whole production process. We ensure we pay fair wages to those behind the making of SOS which in return pushes up the cost of our end products. Fast Fashion brands are known for unfair wages, unethical and sometimes even dangerous working conditions which allows us to buy clothes that are cheap and to be frank… we’d rather not.

3. Sustainable Packaging

Wrapping clothes in plastic for delivery is a cheap option and means fast fashion brands don’t have to take the hit when ensuring your orders get to you in one piece. Sustainable alternatives that include ethically and sustainably sourced materials and recycled and recyclable packaging that limits the negative impact on the environment comes with a price tag because again the demand isn’t big enough to drive down these costs and the process involved in creating these sustainable alternatives are higher. The cost of sustainable fulfillment is also part of what a customer pays for when shopping with a sustainable brands and in doing so ultimately reduces the amount of trees cut down and plastic ending up in our oceans or landfills.

4. Sustainable means it’s made to last

Buying cheap clothes comes at a price in its own right. Fast fashion brands use cheap materials and low quality materials that will wear out after only a few uses. Whether it’s frayed ends, ripped buttons, discoloring or even miss shaping you will ultimately only get brief satisfaction from these buys and will have to seek alternatives or re purchase over and over again which can amount overall to a lot of money. Buying sustainable garments and products means you are buying something that will last you for a really long time. Sustainable brands seek out the highest quality materials and highest quality manufacturers to make their products reliable, durable and ultimately last you a long long time to avoid more waste ending up in landfills! To invest in these fabrics and high quality manufacturers costs a lot of money which again impacts the final cost of goods sold.

We are very proud to partner with ECONYL® regenerated Nylon who are on a mission to not only reduce the amount of plastic in our oceans and from ending up in landfill by transforming them into their original purity but who are also working towards an infinite regeneration process where once the products that contain ECONYL® are finished with they can be regenerated and used infinitely ensuring no waste.

October 09, 2020 — Bronte Simm