Have you ever thought, what exactly you pay for buying a cotton t-shirt? Such a simple piece of clothing has become a foundation of men’s and women’s style all over the world. It is a uniform, casual accent, and an integral part of a basic wardrobe for many decades. Fashion has been changing, evaluating cotton t-shirt from an undergarment to a bold style statement. Nowadays it is more than just a piece of clothing, it is a symbol of two main socio-economic trends in the modern world – Minimalism and Conscious Consumption. But many people still get confused and even dismayed with prices for such a simple-looking basic garment as a cotton T-shirt. Why some retailers sell them couple bucks per pack, while others may charge few tens for a plain white top? To answer this question, we should take a look at the fashion market in general, its history and peculiarities.
Have you ever asked yourself why 50-60 years ago clothes would last for decades, while nowadays a top may turn into a rag after several laundries? Yes, people treated their clothes differently. Our grandparents still remembered times when garments were tailored and custom made and passed through generations. But there was one more reason for it. The fashion industry was moving at a different pace. Generally, people had other important issues – wars, revolutions, epidemics and social unrest. Fashion followed those tendencies dutifully and adjusted on the way. Women’s trousers, military style, and even your favorite pair of blue jeans are all results of this tradition. But in the middle of the XX century, post-WWII globalization and the introduction of synthetic materials have entirely revolutionized the way people looked at clothes. Being tired of military and working uniforms, they started to look for new colors and materials. At the same time, world economies have learned to establish new relationships, exchange experience, and technologies. As a result, we have ended up in the world of erratic production and consumption. The fashion industry has responded with «Fast Fashion». The idea was simple – fashion trends change so fast that there is no point in spending a lot of money on a top that will be outdated in a couple of months. People did not care where, how, and who has made their clothes. The quantity was more important than quality. The fashion industry became one of the most important players on the market. Budgets of clothing retail networks became comparable to those of industrial and military corporations.
If at the beginning of XX century fashion was following social tendencies, now it was causing them. Decades of erratic production and consumption had dramatic consequences – environmental pollution, cutthroat business strategies, and even human trafficking and child labor. After taking several wrong turns, humanity had to go back on the track. Ironically cheapness became an unaffordable luxury.
So, we have a general understanding of the social aspect of conscious fashion. Let’s make an overview of its foundation – organic materials – and try to understand its pricing policy.
Organic cotton is expensive to grow.
Mass production uses cotton grown from GMO seeds. Such companies also apply aggressive toxic chemicals that protect harvest from parasites and stimulate its growth. As a result, they get more cotton in a shorter period. Organic cotton companies deliberately refuse using GMO seeds, machinery, and toxic chemicals for the sake of environmental protection. As a result, growing and harvesting organic cotton is more vulnerable and requires more resources.
Responsible European manufactures.
Imagine an underground sweatshop, in a country where $5 per week is a decent salary and labor law is tainted in corruption. Such factories use slavery workforce and sometimes even child labor. If you think that those manufacturers sell their goods on cheap markets and dubious online stores, you are mistaking. Unfortunately many famous and respected fashion brands are sometimes noticed in connections with this kind of outsourcing. Buying their products means approving cut-throat labor policy and business strategy. It fosters social inequality and eliminates healthy competition from the market. European-based fashion brand works according to the highest standards of labor law. Organic Cotton companies don’t vacillate on their principles for the sake of fast profit. It is costly and timely, but it is responsible and fair.
Even though humanity is paying more attention to conscious consumption, the marketing of Organic Cotton goods is quite a challenging process. Global networks use their enormous infrastructure, the army of marketers, and aggressive companies with multimillion contracts for celebrities and media. Organic Cotton companies prefer to optimize their resources. Instead of massive marketing strategies, they use their assets for the improvement of product quality and working conditions. Marketing of an organic cotton company is a complicated process based on informative decisions, not an impulse, and aggressive impose.
It is only logical that a t-shirt made in an underground sweatshop will be cheaper than the one produced at a European factory. After all, it is the consumer’s decision whether to shop in a global retail network or an independent brand. But fashion nowadays is not only about looks and self-expression. A plain while cotton t-shirt can be a bold statement of social justice and fair competitive economy for all.