At Outland Denim we are under no illusion that a significant portion of the population is on a budget - mortgages, HECS fees, rent…it all adds up. And $229 jeans, such as we sell, are simply not within the budget.
Or are they?
"On average each week in 2016 Aussie consumers spent $240.32 on retail goods and activities like food, clothing and spending at cafes and restaurants," reported CommSec in February 2017.
So, in terms of actual goods purchased (volume), Aussie consumers elected to buy more clothes in 2016, with real (inflation-adjusted) spending up 7.5 per cent. But over the year the price of clothing fell by 0.6 per cent.
In short: earning more + spending more + lower prices = MORE STUFF for your bucks!
The crucial thing is: do you spend more on the fewer, finer things, or give in to the lure of fast fashion?
Australians are the largest consumers of fashion on a per capita basis, accounting for over $5 BILLION in annual apparel industry revenue. We spent $2.4 billion buying men's and women's clothing online in 2015 alone. To put that in perspective, we only spend $5.7 billion on foreign affairs and economic aid (Federal Budget 2017/18).
We are complete suckers for high-volume, low-cost, get-it-now fast fashion which is commanding an ever larger amount of our spending dollar with American Express reporting high growth in the fast fashion category,
"Australia’s love affair with affordable fashion-forward clothing has driven strong industry growth over the past five years through 2015-16, with revenue rising by an annualised 11.7% to $1.4 billion."
And fast fashion is expected to get bigger in Australia growing to $1.8 billion thanks to "social media... exposing consumers to the latest designer fashion from runway shows, fuelling their desire for new styles and trends on demand."
But this comes at a cost that can't be offset with that I-just-scored-a-bargain high that lasts five minutes.
As identified by the ABC's recent War on Waste series, we send 1/2 million tonnes of textiles into landfill each year. At one Smith Family facility, 13 million kilos of clothing are processed each year (AT JUST ONE FACILITY!) costing this one charity facility $1 million to sort, re-sell or dispose of the donated clothes (and too many are of a quality that cannot be resold).
Sustainability consultant Jane Milburn told the ABC, "Fast fashion produced from global supply chains is driving excessive purchasing of affordable new clothing often discarded after a few wears." Often made from unnatural fibres, she says, "There is a huge environmental consequence of our clothes that we are only just starting to come to grips with."
Like the modern-day adage "if you can afford coffee/smashed avocado on toast then you can afford to save" argument for millennials' inability to buy into the housing market, buying quality jeans that last should be seen as an investment option.
Good quality jeans (such as, ahem, Outland Denims) not only ensure your wardrobe's longevity, but also the future of the planet, and, thus, your children's children (cue warm and fuzzies).
With sustainable basics that you can depend upon, you can just about justify spending a bit more knowing that on a cost-per-wear basis, you will come out winning.
And, what's more, unlike new cars that depreciate in value the second you step a muddied foot inside of them, your jeans appreciate in value over time - why? Because they mould to your body. They look better with age. They become the sort of faithfuls that you can depend upon time and time again.
So here are some ways around the $229 jean conundrum:
- Budget. Work out where your budget and values around ethical/sustainable shopping can reasonably lie. Can't afford organic cotton? Premium denim? Fancy eco-friendly threads? Sure you can! Putting a little money away for a bigger ($) purchase less often is a deeply satisfying pursuit.
- Choose Afterpay. We have Afterpay as an option for buying our jeans, which breaks down your purchasing value into smaller, neat instalments rather than ransacking your bank account all at once.
- Swap or Story. Host a little clothes swapping shindig in defiance of fast fashion and charge a small fee for attendance, which might include a food treat or two, sell your clothes at a market, or organise a time to sell your clothes via an Instagram Stories series, like one of our canny staff members recently did, and pocket the cash via PayPal. Instant (or insta!) funds for new quality jeans!
We are not scary zealots when it comes to the necessity of choosing quality over cheap and nasty, but we do fancy ourselves somewhat as denim connoisseurs. Our denim is lovely. It feels good. It helps people to achieve a standard of living that they never could have dreamed of.
And, yes, we think you can have your coffee, smashed avo and Outland Denim, too. The investment decision is entirely up to you!
You might also like to read: If Your Jeans Are Cheaper Than This, You've Got a
Problem at Refinery 29
Catch up with the ABC War on Waste series here: http://www.abc.net.au/ourfocus/waronwaste/
Ibis World. Fast Fashion in Australia: Market Research Report, April 2016, cited by https://www.americanexpress.com/au/content/merchant/pdf/business-insights/industry-trend-report-australian-fashion-retail.pdf