We all love a bargain, but cheaper isn’t always better. No doubt by now everyone is aware of the phrase ‘fast fashion’, but why is it such a hot topic in the fashion industry right now?

Well, it turns out that a £5 dress costs a lot more than £5 in the long run. The savings you make on that cheaper dress are paid back thrice over by the environment and ironically, your wallet. With the price rather than style, quality, or comfort being the reason behind many fast fashion purchases, many of these cost-cutting items end up in the bin after being worn once or twice. According to a survey of 2,000 British shoppers by Method Home, almost a fifth said they threw clothes in the bin.

After throwing the cheap item in the bin, many people simply replace them with another cheap item. This causes a long chain of rapid replacement that ends up costing you more in the long run. For example — you buy a £10 pair of nice grey ankle boots, but they wear out after six months at most. So you spend another £10 replacing them. After three years, you’ve spent £60 on those boots. It would have made more sense to spend that £60 at the beginning on a pair of comfortable, quality pewter ankle boots that will last for years!

The price of fast fashion

Fashion trends come and go so fast these days, and there’s pressure on consumers to swap out their wardrobe choices faster as a result. But, with our money only stretching so far, many of us are turning to cheaper outlets for our clothing.

The truth is that for cut-cost fashion to sell those items so cheaply to you, savings have to be found along the production line. You can’t sell a £5 dress without using cheaper materials and such. This often leads to garments made quickly with non-organic fabrics. Plus, as the Independent reported, the process of dying these clothes is the second largest contributor to water pollution.

As highlighted, fast fashion can also hit your wallet over time. While the short-term purchase may be cheaper, the cost to keep replacing the item over the years will add up. If a more expensive version will last a number of years, it could end up being comparatively cheaper.

Let’s look at the durability of fast fashion. By its very nature, it is expected that the garment you have purchased will not be kept long, nor will it be expected to last for years. On the flip side, fashion with an emphasis on quality and durability will see you through. This manifests particularly in the threads lost during washing. Cheap clothes tend to shed tiny microfibres when washed, which end up polluting our oceans.

Paying for quality

Many people correlate expensive clothing with quality clothing. But, a Life Hacker rightly states, a high price doesn’t always mean high quality.

There are a few ways you can spot high quality fashion:

  1. Ignore the price tag — as mentioned before, this isn’t always an indicator or quality. People can, and will, charge good money for a poor product. Take a look at the item itself.
  2. Scrunch it up take some of the material in your hand and ball it up for a few seconds, then let go. A good quality material will survive and the wrinkles will fall out. Cheap material will stay wrinkled and creased.
  3. ‘Seamless’ patterns — it’s the little things that are the biggest giveaway! Check to see if the pattern matches up when it reaches the seam. If it doesn’t, it’s a big giveaway of low quality production.
  4. Inspect the stitching — an item that will last will have no gaps between stiches on the seam, and also have more stiches per inch. Take a good look at those stitches!
  5. A replacement button — this is like a calling card from the designer. If the item comes with spare buttons, then the item is expected to last enough for it to require a button mend at some point!

A true ‘bargain’ is how much an item costs compared to how many times you’ll wear it. It’s always recommended to invest a little in timeless staples that can be mixed and matched for a variety of outfits. For example, for many women court shoes are versatile and can be used for range of occasions, so make sure to buy a quality pair to withstand all those wears! Divide its cost by the amount of times you think you’ll wear it and that will give you the cost per wear. If it’s something you’ll wear every day, definitely check the quality of the item!