Over the last few years I have been tracking clothing consumption. At the end of 2014 I did a wardrobe inventory. I had 45 items of clothing counting all my pairs of sock separately but all knickers as one item. Every else was counted individually.
Why the counting?In 2015 I pledged to use no more than my fair global share of fibres and they have to be sustainably sourced. I wanted to see what I already had and what I would consequently need to purchase, make or craft out of foraged balckberries.
Whats a global share? 11.74 kg per person of which 3.8 kg is natural fibres. You can check my figures here.
Whats Sustainable Clothing? You can read my clothing manifesto here
In 2015 I bought 3.15 kg of natural fibre products and 3.2 kg of synthetic fibres. (Not all clothing).
Activities I realise that clothes are dependant on lifestyle so I have included a history for each year outlining what we did.
Got home in May. Parked the van ( after living in it for a year) and planned our next trip. To see Mongolia. We left the U.K. in May and travelled from Kazakhstan to Indonesia. Mostly overland only flying when there was no alternative to places where the ferries no longer run – sigh.My clothes had to see me through monsoon, snow and blazing tropical heat. I attended a couple of reasonably smart parties. As I worked online I didn’t need a office clothes.I made most of my backpacking wardrobe before I left. N.B. being on the road doesnt mean I can’t sew. I made my headscarf and backpackers bloomers while traveling.
Gifted & Bought
- Cashmere cardigan gifted (got lucky!)
- Blue teeshirt cotton gifted
- Boho Tunic – cotton & silk home made from scraps.
- Loon Pants – cotton homemade,
- Tunic – Fair trade organic cotton striped shirt Natural Fibres, Homemade
- MuMu of Modesty fair trade organic cotton Natural Fibres, Homemade
- Baggy Trousers Natural Fibres, Homemade
- Bloomers Natural Fibres, Homemade
- headscarf Natural Fibres, Homemade
- Team Mongolia scarf /hat. Natural Fibres, Homemade
- Teeshirt from Thailand – cotton
1 sheet and 1 pillow case.
Ridiculous coat and a new raincoat to replace it.
I had to buy a new raincoat to replace the stupid, non-weatherproof rubbish I got from T.K.Max.
By gifted I mean something that people have passed on to me because they no longer want it. Second hand but not purchased.
When I say cotton/ natural fibres to describe shop bought, that doesn’t include buttons and other such stuff which will almost certainly be synthetic. As might be the thread used to sew the fabric. Clothes may even contain 5% synthetic fibres to maintain shape.
Sorry if that seems evasive but this is a broad brush introduction. Over the next few months I hope to refine the information but you will have probably lost interest by then!
Unless you are talking about my own homemade clothes where I can tell you exactly what plastic has been used.
One of the interesting points made about fast fashion is the reduction in the quality of clothes. The market is highly competitive and profit margins are squeezed to the limit. Using cheaper fabric is an easy way a making a few more pennies. But why don’t consumers complain when their crappy teeshirt bags out after a few washes? Because most consumers it seems don’t even keep their clothes that long! The turnover of clothes is so fast in the developed countries that outfits are changed not just yearly but seasonally. Clothes don’t need to last because nobody keeps them anymore.
Well not me skippy!I buy very few clothes and I expect them to last a reasonable amount of time. Most of my wardrobe is years old. You can check it out here.
Moreover this year I am trying to buy only 3.8 kg of new, (natural), fibres a year. See why here. It is essential my trousers last longer than a summer.
So I was very disappointed when my cargo pants started to disintegrate before my eyes.Here’s what happened. Last year on the 14th May 2014 I bought a pair of Shore Women’s Cargo Trousers from Mountain Warehouse, Padstow. Lots of pockets, light-weight cotton, ideal for traveling I thought. And in the mean time would be good for van life. I wore them fairly often but not excessively. I mostly wear shorts in Summer and jeans in when it is cooler. As I have been in the U.K. jeans have been the norm.
And yet, less than 9 months old and the fabric on the thighs started fraying. It was not torn, just coming apart. So I patched them. But they continued to fall apart. It soon became apparent that patching wasn’t going to solve the issue.Bear in mind that these clothes are “quality outdoor clothing and equipment at the lowest prices since 1997. From hiking clothing and camping equipment to ski wear and running gear we stock everything you need for your outdoor activities.”
These are not silk lounging pajamas but pants designed for rugged, outdoor wear. “Well”, (you might say), “buy cheap, buy twice” but at 49.99 they are not even cheap.Perhaps then it is a case of extreme thigh rubbing? While you may think my thighs are generous and rather rubby, I have other pairs of trousers that remain unfrayed and undamaged even though it is the same thighs and the same amount of wear. That includes my Marks & Sparks corduroy trousers for half the price!
And please bear in mind, I travel a lot and have bought a lot of cotton cargo pants from a variety of shops. I have never had a pair wear out so quickly!
What They Say….
So I contacted Mountain warehouse and asked them what they thought about it. Not for a refund but an explanation. It was Joachim Blum Customer Service Adviser who advised me…
All of our products come with a one year guarantee to protect against manufacturers fault. Providing fault is established, you should have no trouble obtaining an exchange or refund. After a lot of chit chat I was finally advised that “The one year guarantee on our products covers only manufacturers fault. From your correspondence and the information provided so far, we consider the to be as a result of wear and tear. So I am on the look out for some new travel pants! I will not be looking in Mountain Warehouse.
You can see the rest of our wardrobe posts here.