We’re often told that the most sustainable approach to shopping is to buy expensive pieces that last.
Living in Scandinavia, where the capsule wardrobe has an almost idolized status, cost-per-wear is the ultimate metric. And while financially and environmentally, it’s widely accepted that investing in long-lasting pieces makes more sense than to gorge on fast fashion, still something’s not clicking with Gen Z about this minimalist approach to consumption. An incessant trend cycle fuelling our already-crippling attention spans doesn’t leave much room for the patience, or the salary, that this kind of minimalism demands.
Is this approach to sustainability reserved for a very niche group of the population; those that can afford it? Whether or not it makes sense to splurge on a handful of expensive pieces every year in the long run, in reality, the cash-flow of an average twenty-something year old typically doesn’t permit such luxury (in both senses of the word).
As a non-type A personality, living a sometimes chaotic lifestyle, is it realistic that I can, or will put aside a small portion of my salary each month in preparation for a big wardrobe investment? Even the concept of ‘investing’ in clothing like this is worth questioning. There’s nothing that irks my dad more than when he hears people talk about investing in a piece of clothing. I have inherited the same cantankerous attitude. Often, I find myself pushing down the temptation to recite the definition of an ‘investment’, as being something you make money from, not something that lasts a long time.
When I put on my cynical (baker-boy) hat, I wonder whether this well-established rule is yet another clever marketing ploy, one created by big luxury companies to convince you that high-end is the smarter, more ‘sustainable’ choice.
It’s at least comforting to know that we have an alternative in the abundance of high-quality vintage, that we can opt instead for beautiful secondhand pieces that have existed in the ecosystem for years instead of giving in to the ‘luxury equals sustainability’ mantra that demands so much of our patience and cash.
Unfortunately, fellow lovers of luxury, perhaps ‘sustainability’ isn’t much of a splurge justification after all.