Last month, the Daily Mail published a piece by Lucy Siegle, author of To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? In it, she argues that due to a combination of celebrity worship, fast-fashion retailers and the explosion of the Internet, "our wardrobes are stuffed full of micro trends of dubious quality and with hulking environmental and social footprints."
Siegle bases her claims on the statistical findings on the average British female (but we're guessing it's comparable stateside), of whom the following can be said:
- She invests in 62 lbs. of clothing each year.
- She has upwards of 20 garments hanging in her wardrobe that she has never worn.
- She owns four times the amount today than she did in 1980.
- She is expected to spend £133,640 (217,232) in a lifetime on fashion.
She also writes that in 2007, three pairs of jeans were sold each second, and between 2001 and 2005, while spending on womenswear rose by 21 percent, the price of individual items dropped by 14 percent.
Siegle's arguments have been debated by various media outlets, landing in Tuesday's Independent. Susannah Frankel makes some interesting points about consumers' aversion to pricey pieces, like:
The Independent regularly receives letters from readers decrying the price of clothing on the fashion pages, complaining, for example, that a dress might cost as much as £200. This is a dangerous mindset and, at the risk of attracting more disapproval, even a decade ago anyone working within the industry would have replied that £200, or indeed far more than that, is a fair price for a garment if it came from a great creator heading up a French or Italian fashion house and was made the country of origin by highly trained craftspeople all of whom were thereby respectably and respectfully employed.
Contrary to popular mythology, shopping in the modern world has little to do with budget. It is not the less well off who have caused the boom in cheap fashion but the middle classes in search of a sartorial bargain. Neither are the super rich responsible for the proliferation of exorbitantly priced product. Instead, and as always, supply reflects demand. We choose to buy more low-priced fashion -- and just more fashion -- now than we used to. And that is more suspect.
What do you think?