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January 10, 2024

Higher-priced clothes don't always last longer.

Our clothes are getting more expensive, but are lasting shorter periods of wear

In fashion, both name and price determine quality. A Calvin Klein. or Nike white-tee must not be like other white-tees. It must outperform all other tees for the higher price, right? Can the price value really guarantee longevity?

Research Study

At the University of Leeds in England, PhD researcher Kate Morris tested the durability of high fashion street brands across several price points. In her research, Morris assessed the factors that influence the lifespan of a garment, or durability, to better facilitate circular fashion. Durability is evaluated by function and utility over time with little attention, if any, to the maintenance of the garment. [1]

Denim jeans, hoodies and T-shirts were selected from across UK brands, retailing from as low as 5 euros to as high as 150 euros. The performance of these items were tested under six variant conditions with repeated washing to observe its visual appearance, seam strength, and shrinkage.

The study concluded that price and durability do not have a direct relationship. The clothing items of lesser price points outperformed their counterparts at higher price points. Women’s t-shirts priced under 10 euros endured the lab tests better than those priced at approximately 40 euros. The second most durable item tested was a men’s t-shirt costing under 5 euros, outperforming one at 50 euros.

Market Research

Along with the research study, a market research study was conducted of over 3,000 UK adults to gauge attitudes towards clothing care and cost. The survey found that 67% of the people expect higher-priced clothing to last longer than those of lower price points. In fact, people are more likely to take care of their clothes differently based on how much they paid: 64% of people are more likely to hang up expensive clothing after wearing, 62% of people take the time to remove spills and stains, and 54% are willing to carry out repairs on more expensive items. [2]

Although durability of an item is not solely determined by price value, the price we pay has an impact on how we take care of our items. Some low priced items may last 10 years and some high priced items may last 10 days depending on care. Factors other than price that influence durability are clothing material, making process, wear, and wash.

Conclusion

The sustainability of fashion turns out to be, at least in part, our attitudes of care toward our belongings. To extend the life of our everyday clothing, we might offer more effort in upkeep like repairs, stains, or spills. It must be a collective ambition, both for the industry and consumer public, to refashion the mindful habits we keep with our clothes and for our environment.

References

[1] https://phys.org/news/2023-07-price.amp

[2] https://www.leeds.ac.uk/news-working-business/news/article/5346/why-price-does-not-indicate-how-long-clothes-will-last