If you follow me on Instagram, you may already know this, but I decided that in 2019 I would focus in on affordable and accessible ethical fashion.
I have written a few posts on the topic of affordable ethical fashion, like 32 Affordable Ethical and Sustainable Fashion Brands and 5 Tips to Finding Affordable Ethical Clothing, but I want to dive much deeper. (Which is the reason for this survey I took!)
Why focus on affordability?
Because in my three years of being involved with ethical fashion and running this blog, the most common barrier I hear is that ethical fashion is too expensive or out of budget. (There are many layers to this of course. First, we have all gotten used to getting clothing cheap because of fast fashion brands will have to shift to a mindset of fewer, better things. But also, sometimes the price point of ethical fashion is simply too high for most to buy completely ethical all the time.)
In addition to affordability, I want to touch on other aspects of accessibility, such as location!
While engaging with some of my international audience on Instagram, it came to my attention that people living in countries outside of the U.S. sometimes struggle to find brands that ship to them at a decent price—or at all.
So to help out all of my internationally-based friends, I’m starting a series called “Ethical Brands From Around the World” in 2019, where I’ll curate brands from various countries and regions. (Look for more on this soon!)
Okay, now to the survey results!
Q. How much do you spend on clothing and accessories per year?
Average answer: $325 (USD)
I took that average number with a bit of a grain of salt, though, because of the response to the follow-up question…
Q. Do you set a specific monthly or annual budget for your fashion-related purchases?
Yes = 17% | Not Really = 83%
Even though not many respondents had specific budgets, they still tend to think through a purchase before making a decision.
How long is it between when you see a piece and you decide to buy it?
Average answer = Between a couple of weeks and one month
So what kinds of questions are respondents asking themselves during this time of consideration? Let’s find out…
Q. What questions do you ask yourself before making a purchase?
- Do I really need this / will I really wear it? – 12
- Is this piece cohesive with the rest of my closet/ what other items do I already have that I can wear it with? – 6
- Is it ethically made? – 6
- What is the quality of the piece / will it last? – 5
- Is it versatile / does it have multiple uses or ways to wear it? – 4
- Can I afford this? – 3
- Do I like the fabric/material? – 3
- Is this a good value / what is the cost-per-wear? – 2
- Do I like the fit? – 2
- Do I really love it / does it spark joy? – 2
And it seems like whether an item is on sale or not is also a consideration for respondents.
Q. Do you shop sales more or less than half of the time?
Less than 50% of the time = 40% | More than 50% of the time = 60%
With all of these questions, it makes sense that respondents either had purchased or were willing to purchase investment pieces.
How long do you usually wear your clothes for?
Average answer = 6 – 7 years
Q. Do you generally buy seasonal or transitional clothing?
Seasonal = 22% | Transitional = 78%
What types of pieces do respondents invest in (or are willing to invest in)? There were quite a few common answers in this one.
Q. What kind of pieces do you normally invest in? (Note: I only included responses with three mentions or more.)
- Shoes – 37
- Coats/outerwear – 14
- Handbags – 13
- Jeans – 8
- Dresses – 5
- Undergarments, specifically bras and lingerie – 4
- Jewelry – 4
- Sweaters/knitwear – 4
- Work clothes – 3
- Nice tops – 3
And naturally, it would be helpful to know the opposite. What pieces were respondents less willing to invest in?
Q. What types of pieces do you try to save on? (Note: I only included responses with more than three mentions.)
- T-shirts and tanks – 15
- Socks – 11
- Basics – 6
- Party / going out wear – 4
- Underwear – 5
- Tops / blouses – 5 (One respondent added that she buys a lot of secondhand tops, and that “there is a lot” to choose from!)
- Shoes – 4 (this was interesting to me since shoes were the #1 response for the question about investment pieces, but I guess it depends on the type of shoe. Flip flops and boots, for example would come at very different price points.)
One of the best ways to buy sustainable clothing at a good price point is to shop secondhand. So, I asked a few questions on the topic:
Q. Have you bought secondhand clothing?
Yes = 88% | No = 12%
Since so many respondents had experience with thrifting, I asked…
Q. Do you find thrifting to be easy or difficult?
Easy = 47% | Difficult = 53%
And because I know thrifting isn’t the only way to access used clothing, I asked…
Q. Have you ever done a clothing swap?
Yes = 44% | No = 56%