If you’ve been shelling out for designer clothing in the hopes that it will be more durable than cheaper options, you might want to reconsider.
A new study from The University of Leeds suggests that low-cost clothing might actually outlast pricier pieces.
The study was led by Dr. Mark Sumner, a lecturer in fashion and sustainability. Using samples of T-shirts and jeans from a variety of brands and price points, researchers measured factors such as seam strength, colorfastness, and how long it took for the fabric of each piece to develop rips or tears.
Despite the popular notion that designer clothes are more sturdily constructed than off-the-rack items, the study found that fast-fashion shirts and jeans usually out-performed their luxury counterparts.
off-the-rack[‘ɔfðə’ræk]: adj. 現成的
“Some of the garments performed very well across a wide range of tests — more often than not, the best products were ‘fast-fashion’ products,” Dr. Sumner told The Telegraph.
“Jeans from one fashion brand lasted twice as long as a designer label jeans, but cost one-tenth of the price of the designer jeans,” he said.
According to Dr. Sumner’s interview with The Telegraph, designer label T-shirts were “the worst performing” in all of the tests. Surprisingly, T-shirts from an online fast-fashion brand held up the best.
Of course, price isn’t the only thing to consider when shopping for new threads. The fashion industry is a huge source of environmental pollution, with low-cost clothing contributing heavily to landfill waste and carbon gas emissions.
According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year. With trends appearing and vanishing in the blink of an eye, the average number of times a garment is worn before it is disposed of has decreased 36% over the past 15 years, according to a 2017 report.
Although some clothing items are estimated to be trashed after just seven wears, less than 1% of clothing is recycled to create new clothing. Plus, fast-fashion can come with ethical concerns depending on the company.
But it’s not just fast-fashion brands that are guilty of wasteful practices. Earlier this year, high-end design label Burberry acknowledged burning almost $40 million of unsold clothes, accessories, and perfume. According to the BBC, the company opted to destroy the items rather than sell them more cheaply in order to protect the brand’s value.
All in all, there’s a lot to consider when purchasing new clothing. But, keeping those bargain jeans in your wardrobe rotation could be good for your budget and the environment — and chances are they can last just as long as the designer pair you’ve been eyeing.