The True Cost of Fast Fashion

Did you know that fashion manufacturing is the 2nd most polluting industry on the planet after the oil industry? Did you know that fashion manufacturing is the only industry where the demands and expectations are that the product gets cheaper and cheaper every year even when inflation goes up and manufacturing processes stay the same? Do you ever wonder how it’s even possible that you can buy a shirt for $10…especially if you know what goes into making clothing?
Pattern making alone is engineering. It takes many years of schooling and practicing to be a true industry pattern maker. Sewing takes a lot of skill as well and requires mechanic skills as well as finesse. If I were to make you even a simple garment, it would take hours of pattern making and hours or even days of sewing. So, in order for me to make a living, I’d need to charge you for my time at a living wage, right? Well then how can you buy a shirt for $10 at the mall?
The manufacturers of fast fashion make hundreds of thousands or even millions of one style so the costs of pattern making can be split into many units instead of just one and the thousands of pieces can be cut at once and sewn in an assembly line. This is called fast fashion and its’ meant to be disposable. But even in large scale manufacturing, the time it takes to sew a shirt still involves sewing the side seams, sewing the shoulders, setting in the sleeve, hemming the bottom, hemming the sleeves, setting in the collar, moving from one machine to another for different seam types, etc… How can all this be done and still have a profit if the shirt is only $10? Well, it can’t…. unless you are paying people $2 a month in 3rd world countries and not regulating their working conditions.
Consumerism, capitalism, the advertising industry and the fashion industry all have you believing that owning more pieces of clothing makes your life better and makes you feel richer. Instead, we should focus on owning fewer pieces that are made in the USA and are classic so that they can be worn multiple times. Each piece will be more expensive, but if you do the math and figure out how many wears you can get out of it, it will equal just cents per wear. And it doesn’t mean you can’t throw a few fast fashion pieces in the mix, but if everyone bought just a few less fast fashion pieces, our world would be in much better shape. Or mix in thrifted/vintage items to add some style.
If you are concerned at all about other human beings or about our planet, I urge you to watch the movie True Cost so you can get a better understanding of just what damage fast fashion is doing to our world and people. You’ll be shocked and I hope it makes you think just a little differently next time you go shopping.
Buy local. Spend a little more to buy classic or unique items that no one else will have. Want to find a local designer? Click here:
Don’t be afraid to wear the same thing multiple times and keep it longer.
Upcycle your clothing:
Donate your clothing so someone else can use them too:


Sell old clothing to consignment shops like and
Recycle your clothes. Even the clothing donated to the thrift stores ends up in landfills and synthetic fibers can take hundreds of years to break down. Americans throw out 70 lbs of clothing and household textiles a year which equals 13 million tons of textile waste a year. Every city has information about textile recycling on their government website. Like Tempe's site.
There are even places like that can take textile waste and recycle it into things like insulation and prison mattresses.
If everyone just made a small change in the way they shopped it can start to make a big impact on our world.