Wish List 2 & Are Cheap Clothes Worth It

• More from my wish-list: A Nau herringbone twill wallet made from recycled poly, a colorful Osborn shoe with a recycled tire sole, a pair of Novacas x Brave GentleMan Mahogany boots in supple, Italian microfiber, and an organic cotton sweater cardigan with sporty elbow pads from Howies.



• If you wouldn’t pay a young woman a meager $1.70 per day to make all of your clothing, why are you hiring someone else to do it? People often ask me why vegan, sustainable and labor-certified clothing costs more money,”Why should I pay $50 for an item I can get for $10 at Walmart, H&M or Sears?”, one might ask. We have been trained to think that access to a huge, cheap wardrobe is some sort of consumer right. But there is a very dark side to cheap clothes.  The Wild Magazine recently wrote about the ongoing and life-threatening problems for garment workers in areas like Bangladesh, where poorly-managed, unregulated and unsafe conditions in sweatshops kill hundreds of people a year, often due to fires. Most of the workers are young women making as little as $45 per month producing clothes for “Walmart, Gap, H&M, Sears, Tommy Hilfiger, and many more”. Read the full article by clicking the image below:

dhaka fire, garment industry, the wild mag

“The latest of these terrible blazes occurred at Tazreen Fashions Ltd. on November 25th in Ashulia, a town outside Dhaka. This was reported as one of the worst industrial tragedies that Bangladesh, and the world, has ever experienced. The fire killed 112 people, 53 of which could not be identified, and left many severely injured.” – TheWildMagazine.com


Written by joshuakatcher

Joshua Katcher is an adjunct professor of fashion at Parsons The New School. His research focuses on sustainability and ethics in fashion production. He started The Discerning Brute in 2008 as a resource for men who want to make intelligent decisions concerning their lifestyles. With a focus on “fashion, food & etiquette for the ethically handsome man”, The Discerning Brute produces expert, essential content and boldly takes a stand. Brave GentleMan, the integrated, eCommerce brother-site of The Discerning Brute was launched in 2011 and features “principled attire” and “smart supplies” handpicked for informed indulgence.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002473820985 Strigiform Mellori

    I think class is one thing to note, which others have. I currently have a job that allows me to buy from vegetarian shoes when I need a new pair of boots. But when I made 8000 a year about a year ago, I could not. THat doesn’t make sweatshops ok. It just calls attention to the fact that there are two class issues at work here, and one person able to afford 300 dollar boots regularly telling people who can’t they are wrong for not doing so.

    The second issue is that MOST expensive clothing and footwear and stuff is STILL made in sweatshops where people make 45 bucks a month. So most of the time, buying expensive clothing does not help the worker any more. It helps the company

    • http://www.thediscerningbrute.com Joshua Katcher

      The purpose isn’t to tell people to buy anything at all. The purpose is to shed light on a really screwed up production system that we have come to rationalize and see as “normal” if not deserved. Read: http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/the-issues/fast-fashion-cheap-fashion
      The fact that one can get a shirt for $5 or $10 points to a very deep problem in our economic system, and I find it difficult to rationalize sweatshops by claiming the only other option is $300 boots. Not so. There are plenty of less expensive, fair labor clothes of you take some time to research. FashioningChange.com is a great place to start. One person’s desire for fast-fashion is thus supported by the oppression of many workers. I’m not talking about people in poverty who can barely afford food – I’m talking about the masses of people that spend thousands of dollars a year at huge fast-fashion chain stores. No one is obligated to shop at H&M or Gap. In fact, no one is obligated to purchase any “fashion”, and there are plenty of vintage and thrift stores that carry non-leather shoes (like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads). Almost my entire wardrobe is from vintage and thrift stores.

      Most research shows that many people who buy cheap fashion have a higher frequency of purchases end up spending the same if not more than saving up for something that is built to last longer or made ethically. The TRUE COST of producing ethical fashion, where workers are paid fairly, sustainable textiles are developed and used, and animal are not harmed requires money.

  • James

    I think those Boots are lovely yet have absolutely no idea what to wear them with or how to wear them at all. It would be nice in the future to have some ideas on how to wear some of the clothes/shoes so that those of us that aren’t even fashion adjacent could put together something nice.

  • René

    But you can’t fault someone who doesn’t want to wear leather but doesn’t have the resources to spend $300 on those boots, so they go to Payless instead. That’s not to knock the boots or their price point. It’s just that in this economy, not everyone can afford to pay top or even mid dollar for clothes. I get that the argument is to save for your clothes and consider them as investments, but in cities like New York, after rent, utilities, and food, very little may be left over.
    If you want to look good and perhaps go on a job interview in hopes of being able to afford some of these clothes, your only current option may be to get that poly suit from H&M and those non-leather shoes from Payless.

    It’s great to encourage people to spend more and consider what their money is supporting, but it’s also important to recognize that for many working class people, these aren’t fiscally responsible options. Also, you can say shop at thrift stores all you want, but if you go home with a second-hand wool suit or leather shoes, you’re going to upset many vegans for sending the wrong message to others.

  • ben

    The Nau Billfold is great. I’ve been using mine for the past couple of years. Not only is it light, but the fold-down panels make it so much easier to access your bills and keep them straight. I have their Fluent Doc as well, which has saved me numerous headaches during my airport excursions. Then again, I tend to get messy and disorganized unless I have some well-designed assistance : ) If you’re patient, they’ll eventually have an accessory sale where both will be 50% off. It usually happens at least once or twice a year.

  • SanityAssasin

    Agreed. How the bleeding hell is constant access to cheap clothing (and other consumer products) our given birthright? If anything, we need to consume less.

    Secondly: OMG those boots! Bloody beautiful.