How expensive should fashion be? The true cost of our clothes isn’t decided at the till

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many of us will know the feeling. You’ve spotted some gorgeous garment on your Instagram feed and clicked through in a Pavlovian fervour to find out more. It’s ethical, sustainable, small-batch, free-range – all the good stuff! Then you look at the price. And you want to weep.

How to reconcile sustainable fashion with the its higher price tag is probably the most complex question I face, as someone who spends a lot of time trying to persuade people to kick their fast fashion habit. A recent Cosmopolitan poll found that two thirds of respondents don’t buy from sustainable fashion brands – and of those who don’t, 80 per cent said it was because they’re “too expensive”.

True, they’re usually spendier than the rock-bottom price tags we’ve grown used to. But they need to be.

Because while the word ‘expensive’ is subjective, the cost of fabric, thread, pattern-making,

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Clothes shopping after lockdown: all your questions answered

The Government’s official 50-page guideline released this week for getting Britain back to work, says that “non-essential” stores, such as fashion retailers, may be able to reopen from June 1st, provided that social distancing measures and the correct level of sanitation have been put in place. What does that really mean? When will they be ready? And how will it feel to venture into your favourite retail haunts when their look and mood has dramatically changed?

The socially undistanced queues outside some French branches of Zara last week suggest that some shoppers strongly disagree with their government’s definition of non-essential. You have to wonder what they can get in store that they haven’t been able to buy from the brand’s website, which has been functioning throughout lockdown – other than the visceral instant gratification of trying something on and taking it home.

In the UK, management consulting firm BCG

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This is what clothes shopping could look like post-lockdown

Normally, spring is the time of year when fashion fans head to the shops to update their wardrobes with the latest warm weather styles.

However, in recent weeks typical shopping habits have been thrown out the window due to the coronavirus lockdown, which has seen people stuck at home and all shops deemed to be non-essential forced to close.

Drapers reported in-store sales have dropped 84 per cent compared to 2019, and – despite online grocery sales surging – for the rest of the retail landscape things look bleak.

On Sunday, Boris Johnson announced that restrictions as part of England’s lockdown will begin to ease in the coming weeks with updated guidelines on travelling to work, exercise and meeting family and friends.

But what do the new rules mean when it comes to shopping?

The Independent has spoken to a number of retailers including Arcadia – which

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