Why should I pay more for eco chic fashion?

Fair trade. Socially green. Ethical ethos. It’s eco chic fashion these days even with lingerie, like the rather new Ecochic label under Triumph, a new range of underwear with fabric made from bamboo fibres.  It supposedly absorbs sweat better and has anti-bacterial properties.   A pair of briefs is reported to cost $17.90 while a bra cost $59.90.

I featured about eco fashion a long time back but as I look at how the term has evolved, it seems more of a commercial hype these days.  If I’m not wrong, materials for eco green fashion are supposed to minimize harmful environmental effects – so you have organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and soy in fabric form.  In addition, these clothes are supposedly sewn and handled by employees who earn a fair wage and work in safe conditions.  

However, the irony to me is that all these eco chic fashion pieces all cost more, and some very unrealistically so!   I used to think that perhaps the prices justify the material and the green values, etc but I’ve since have second thoughts especially with big companies jumping on the eco chic bandwagon.  Sure I like the idea of going green, but why do I need to pay a lot more to go green?  Shouldn’t I just go for recyled clothes?  Perhaps the materials justify the cost but do the higher prices really translate to higher wages for the employees?  Or is it just to feed the bottomline of the companies?

Okay, perhaps I’m missing something and not getting the whole eco green fashion idea right?  And yes, some people may also ask – why is the whole business of natural organic cosmetics any different?

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  1. stiffedneck says:

    It’s definitely ridiculous that they think that normal people can afford to be green by paying so much money on a piece of cloth. I agree with all points that you brought up. For example, the line of cloth from Stella McCartney…there’s no shape so it looks like a sack of potato, while the price for a piece equals someone’s pay for a month in the US. I was watching this hilarious clip the other day about how Julia Stiles was poking fun of these “eco friendly designers”…you should check it out.

  2. Joey Lam says:

    I totally agree. I wouldn’t want to pay more than I should for going green, and with companies rushing to get into going green biz, simply cos its the big hype, the bottomline is to simply earn big bucks while the hype lasts…

    If you think about it, if companies makes going green affordable, wouldn’t it encourage more people to go green, simply because its affordable, and yet at the same time do something good for the environment by living a more sustainable greener lifestyle?

    I would love to try an eco-chic bra, but $59.90?? Not really. I won’t pay more than $35 for a bra, and to be honest all my ex-expensive Triumph bras end up a the bottom of the drawer, simply because it is not comfortable at all, and the pinch of paying more than $50 for them, and not using them is giving me cringes still.

    Even though I’m in organic skincare business, I can honestly reveal that there are a lot of skincare brands out there that’s not worth paying the price for it, simply cos the advertising fees are added on to consumers spending fees, and most of the mark up prices are more than 70-80%, which many will still pay for unknowingly.

    I’m glad that I am now more savvy in buying skincare out there now that I’m in the biz, and allow me to save more personally, otherwise my usual expenditure on monthly toiletries is at least $200/mth. Now I wonder why I ever did that…

  3. Soos says:

    Don’t know abut the clothing, but a friend who bought the bamboo sheets said that after awhile, they are not as soft as when they were new. That’s the opposite of most linens, which soften with use over time.

    We should all choose carefully…

  4. pf1123 says:

    I, too, don’t see the point why I should pay more for these eco fashion. If the companies really want to go green, they should take in whatever extra expenses as part of their operating costs and not pass on to consumers. They should think about how to make eco fashion more price competitive, isn’t it?

    If I want to help people to engage in fair trade or people from 3rd world countries to live better, I rather donate to NGO such as World Vision.

  5. Blovet Beauty says:

    u know I get where u are coming from. everything that is supposedly good for the environment is more expensive. Organic makeup, organic food stuff, fair trade items, blah blah blah… i think people need a more cost friendly way of helping the environment and communities. I’m not trying to be a stingy here but no one is going to be motivated to go green is there is this constant linkage btw being eco friendly and forking out alot more $$

  6. Nat says:

    Buying organic should make us feel good because we are somehow helping Earth but no matter what, purchasing something is “bad” for Earth too right? Because so much energy is used to produce the product. ?

    Oh I love organic products and majority of them are more expensive than non-organic items of that kind.

  7. sesame says:

    A sack of potato? Haha…that’s funny!

  8. sesame says:

    I don’t mind paying for organic skin care if they’re within my budget. A lot of the commercial brands that are non-organic are equally expensive. But I cannot bring myself to pay for expensive eco fashion.

  9. sesame says:

    Oh that’s a shame! I read that the lingerie made from bamboo are soft but I found the designs rather limited. Plus expensive for me.

  10. sesame says:

    The whole green concept is too commercialized. Just look at the “I’m not a plastic bag” hype some time back…very ridiculous.

    Actually, I don’t understand what exactly do they mean by fair trade. Fair to who?

  11. sesame says:

    I think we can go green in our own little ways…rather than having to pay lots of money to go green. It’s quite an irony. Going green doesn’t require spending more really…

  12. sesame says:

    Ya, I guess resources do get depleted somewhere…perhaps that’s why some say handmade is better?

  13. stella says:

    fair trade: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_trade

    i don’t mind paying more if the quality of the eco-whatever stuff is good. but if they’re no different than the next item, or even worse on my skin then why should i?!

  14. Miss Vinny says:

    I think the problem is that many “less than ethical” companies and designers are seeing this as a move for cashing in on money. Plus, given that times are pretty bad for some now, I think… flea markets and recycling your older clothing is better environmentally and more ethical than persuading consumers to part with their hard-earned cash for some “labels”.

    And I’m sure for some of these “eco labels”, lots of “energy”(oil usage/electricity/etc.) has likely directly/indirectly been used in the various stages: sourcing of raw materials, production, marketing/advertising. And then, there’re few modes of transportation/factories that run off “green/clean” fuel and for big brands, don’t expect much in terms of pollution conservation.

    To me, maybe getting something that was hand-produced in Thailand or some country in Asia is better than something that was flown round the globe, just for the “eco” tag. And if not, maybe finding an Asian label that is more supporting of environmentalism and decent wages in this region.

    Oh and say, anyone here knows any affordable hair styling products for super sensitive scalp? Err… like hair wax, I mean.

  15. Lily says:

    Wow, $59.90 for an… um… organic bra? I would never pay that much for a bra! Anyway, if it is of the same high quality as other sixty-buck-bras out there, then that’s great and I guess it’s a “fair” price. But if it’s a regular garment, of quality comparable to a bra of half its price, then I can’t see why the whole eco-friendly thing would rise so much its price.

    Another way I could understand a slight discrepancy from its actual price and the lower price of similar garments is if the company that makes them actually donates some of the profit to organizations that dedicate to take care of the environment or something like that. Then it wouldn’t only be you paying for the piece but also like donating to protect the environment.

    I really hope this isn’t about inflating the price of eco-friendly stuff to make more money taking advantage of the fact that it’s “in” to be green nowadays.

  16. Jyoan says:

    Yeah. I always wonder why organic must be more expensive. I think it’s a matter of time before everybody in US uses it, and prices dip.

    And recycled paper/notebooks are so much more expensive too. If it is this way, who would want to buy recycled paper?

    It’s really not that we don’t want to do our part for the environment. But there has to be a balance somewhere… … Just too difficult shift fully to a “green life” right now.

  17. sesame says:

    Thanks for the link on fair trade. I’m still a bit cynical about it…if it’s all just lip service?

  18. Joey Lam says:

    Hey Ms. Vinny,

    I replied to your qns on my blog already, do check it out if you haven’t yet. ?

    And you mentioned hand-produced products… Ola Hawaii range of products with organically & sustainably grown ingredients are all hand made in Hawaii, and for that some products may differ in texture from each bottles, and they support organic farming in Hawai’i by using their ingredients for their products… but of course, I’m guilty of flying it round to Sg, should probably find greener means to bring them over…

    Then again, we all contribute to environmental pollution whenever we buy an air ticket to travel somewhere, so… its really kinda tough to avoid it, just as long as we’re conscious of our own actions in our daily life, I guess we played our part.

    Will look out for affordable organic hair wax to bring in for ya.

    Btw, do help introduce my brands to your friends if you’ve enjoyed using it, cos I didn’t have any budget for advertising, and of cos didn’t add in any additional unnecessary fees into the prices of my products, so word of mouth will really help. So, if you think its good for them, do spread the word of going affordable organic around, thanks!

  19. Miss Vinny says:

    Hi Joey, interesting about the Ola range, didn’t know that. ?

    Hmmm… might give it a shot with my friends. ? Geez, no budget for advertising, huh? You might also want to put up a Testimonial page or include testimonials on your product pages. Also, on your front page, the Skin Blossom and Ola links(from your flash about that range) go to broken links.

    You know, I’ve been surfing around and I just wondered about the ratings of those organic products from, say, Philippines like “Human Nature”. http://www.humanheartnature.com/ Some of their products seem kinda interesting though they didn’t fully list their ingredients. Anyone interested in finding out more about them? Their hair cream seems interesting as well as other products like their anti-bacteria hand soap.

    Come to think of it, anyone knows any other organic labels from South-East Asia? It seems interesting to try out brands from other parts of Asia, leh. Even if they may only be partially organic, it’s still good, right?

    Well, Joey, you’re shipping by the batch on a plane that will always carry cargo, right? Don’t see how that’s too polluting as opposed to those celebrities/models who insist only on private cars/planes/jets and bringing 30 to 50 to 200 people along with them.

  20. Miss Vinny says:

    Oh and also, Joey, you might wanna try creating an RSS feed. I think there are free services like Page 2 RSS that create feeds, if you’re worried about the costs ‘cos RSS can suck up a lot of bandwidth.


  21. stella says:

    maybe it’s R&D driving up the cost. after all, organic/eco products are ‘new’ and need to be developed and tested. if so, then their cost will drop in the long run

  22. sesame says:

    Perhaps you’re right…it may also be the lack of volume that’s keeping some of the prices up.

  23. Joey Lam says:

    Thanks Ms. Vinny for the tips! Will check out the RSS feeds & more brands from SEA. ?

    And yes, I use cargo planes, along with all other shippers… no budget for private jet leh! hehe…

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