"Basic clothes don't matter how they're made or how high-quality they are. You can always get new ones."
It seems crazy that even in 2019 there are actually people who think like this. It's really absurd that at the same time when people should make more responsible purchasing decisions, the media reports how an international sales record has been set in a new shopping center - in nothing but fast fashion. And this thing is even cheered for? The clothing industry is a significant factor when it comes to climate change, as its carbon footprint is calculated to be larger than global air and shipping combined. In other words, we are not talking about any small amounts in this case, but about a real problem that cannot be denied.
And the team is aware of this. But why doesn't anything happen? A while ago, it was reported that the fast fashion chain Forever 21 went bankrupt. At first it occurred to me that hey, it means that fast fashion isn't doing so well anymore. But the truth behind this is actually that the competition is so fierce these days that the new even faster responsive and cheaper "fast fashion chains" have taken the win. Pretty crazy hustle.
Even in Finns' speeches, you often hear that you should support domestic companies and choose more sustainable alternatives. But still, the cheap price and easy availability are too tempting when making a purchase decision. It's quite a pity. But we can't blame others, when only a few years ago we started to think more about our own purchases. Before that, it was pretty easy to order a little of this and that online and sell them at an even cheaper flea market after a couple of months, when the clothes weren't meant for everyday use.
People often reason that they cannot afford to buy anything other than the cheapest options. This may sometimes be true, but I dare say it is rarely so. Let's think.
People often justify their clothing purchases with money. This may be true for many, but by investing in a high-quality product, you won't necessarily end up broke. Let's count.
For example, a white t-shirt. Let's buy it from a fast fashion store, where you can get white t-shirts for less than 10 euros. Minimum time and inexpensive thread have been used to sew the T-shirt. The fabric is probably produced as inexpensively as possible. It is likely that the t-shirt stretches, pinches, its seam has started to unravel or twist - say after about three months of active use. For active use, I would consider a shirt worn about three times a week, which is what a t-shirt should tolerate. In this case, a person has to buy the same white t-shirt four times a year, which means spending 40 euros a year on fast fashion.
Another option is to buy a 35-euro white t-shirt made according to the principles of sustainable development. Paying for organic cotton and also high-quality craftsmanship. The shirt can withstand active use and even weekly washes. The purpose is not to brag about our own products, but yes, our thick organic cotton t-shirt can easily last a year when washed properly. Compared to the first example, the costs can be caught up within a year and they only decrease year by year.
At the same time, the person making the purchase in question has supported a domestic company that pays the state a pretty decent amount of taxes on the money it makes. The shirt also supports the work done within Europe, which is always a nice thing from the point of view of the EU. It feels particularly nice that the shirt was not sewn by a child, a subjugated or threatened person, but by a person who works of his own volition, and who is still quite talented in his own work. Pretty cool, right?
The quality extends from t-shirts to other items of clothing as well. I'm currently cursing the winter jacket I bought a year ago, from an unnamed cheaper store, where I've already had to repair the zipper twice; over the weekend I noticed that the pocket has already torn. Well, you just have to sew up the holes, but you could have bought a high-quality one at once a year ago. We're still learning how to identify high-quality clothes, it's really not an easy task, especially researching outerwear.
When we produce one batch of a product, there will be approx. 150-300 pieces at a time, depending on the product. That's a pretty small lot compared to - well, almost anything. Still, that seems like a pretty wild number to us, when that number has tripled compared to the first year as entrepreneurs a few years ago. For production reasons, we cannot make smaller batches, so we always order at least 150 products at a time. We design our clothes to last, so that they can be sold all year round and for many different situations. With this, we also aim to ensure our customers' satisfaction and that no one would have to throw any of our clothes into the landfill.
When we reformed the production of the products, we were left with approx. 20 shirts from all the old print products after emptying the warehouse. That felt pretty bad too, and I couldn't have imagined throwing them in the trash like that. They ended up in a charity organization, hopefully the shirts found a use there. At the moment, there is no loss, because the goal is either to keep the product in stock continuously or to sell out one batch at a time.
But yeah. Sometimes I feel like pouring out my thoughts. In fact, you should do it more often. I hope someone caught this and maybe even made someone think about it. Reducing consumption is not rocket science and there is always room for improvement. Perhaps the fact that you really only buy when you need it sums up the direction you should go. And even if you only buy the things you really need from responsible companies, society will thank you.
In the end, I still have to say that we are not really perfectly living saints when it comes to this, but we are constantly trying to improve our own actions. Buy more from Finnish companies, buy second hand, spend less and simplify, for example, cosmetic routines. Let's try to remember to reduce consumption in other areas of life as well. For example, it would be wonderful to buy dog toys, but since our SpongeBob is going to destroy new toys in about ten minutes, buying plastic doesn't make much sense.
If anyone managed to read this far, a big hand to you! Then you have already thought about it and maybe you have even thought about it. Maybe you have some tips on how to make good spending decisions easier - the comment box is open! If your values and buying behavior are in the same direction as ours, then a very big thumbs up to you. And if you do the complete opposite, then at least think about whether this fall might be the time to make some changes. Or at least consider it. :)
Eeva, Riku, Seppo and Paavo
The RIVA Clothing team