The Price of Fashion

Today is Blog Action Day and Passion Lilie has joined the 100+ bloggers throughout the world to promote and support human friendly fashion. Today I am posting an artilce on my blog about how the price of fashion has changed throughout the years at the expense of the livelihood of other human beings. Please read on...

One day, as I was visiting my dad’s house, I found a Sears catalog from 1978. I borrowed it looking for inspiration form my next line. On the first page was an open weave, knit sweater and a blazer made from polyester and cotton. I looked over at the price and I was surprised to see the sweater was $20 and the blazer was $45. That just didn’t make sense to me.

And now, 35 years later, Sears has close to the same prices – in many cases these garments are even cheaper.  The question now is, how does Sears (along with all the other mega-manufacturers) keep prices so low?

                                     Then: Images from Sears Catalog 1978

                                       Today: Images from Sears Online Website 2013

Consider this -that 1978 blazer was made in the United States and those workers were most likely making a living wage. The United States didn’t have many “Made in China” apparel items in 1978. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, textile, apparel and manufacturing jobs in the US have declined from 2.4 million in 1973 to 650,000 in 2005 due to import competition and technology improvements.

Today it is very difficult to go to a large retailer and find a product that is made in a way that we would call ethical or human friendly.  Global outsourcing has made it much easier for companies big and small to find the cheapest manufacturers possible, with no regard to the long-term effect those decisions have on the economy or the workers who are being exploited. This is what has made American mass-market fashion so cheap. Just think, most people would rather throw out a stained t-shirt rather than try to clean it.

My 92- year-old grandmother, said when she was young she got two dresses a season for less than $10 a piece and she made about $1 per hour. Well, if you do the math, a person would have to work about 10 hours for one dress. Let’s say a young person today works 10 hours at $15, that is $150, which would allow a person to buy two ethically made dresses at Passion Lilie.

Fashion has now become too cheap, at the expense of people’s lives – in China, in Bangladesh, and even in the US. Do we need or even wear all the garments in our closet? I personally believe in having a small collection of ethically- made, versatile fashions that provide living wages for those who are in most need. There is nothing better than telling someone a unique story of where your outfit came from. We should not be ashamed of our clothing. We have the power to decide what we buy, so let’s support those working toward a better world!


  • dk

    Great article! keep it up! d

  • Karen Ellis

    Informative article. Have shared with fb group @ Bowerbirds Journal where members are keen on sustainability and upcycling. Thank you.

  • Ceri

    Yes I agree fashion may be cheap but someone somewhere is likely to be paying the price for clothes that often get worn once or twice than end up in landfill. I am with you on having a small collection of ethically made versatile clothes.

  • Agy

    This is a very interesting post, and interesting how your dad has a catalog from many years back :-) The other sad thing about falling garment prices is that where I live it takes away clientele from charity shops.

  • Deborah Campbell

    Totally spot on with your observations. the answer is clothes are far too cheap and totally not sustainable. I wrote a piece for blog action day with a similar angle. Price perception is all wrong. Until we change our perception the retailers will continue to keep supplying us with cheap product and consumers will keep buying. Check out my blog Thanks a great article

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