Cheap clothes last as long as designer outfits
Scientists find ‘fast fashion’ brands can be as durable as top of the range wear – and sometimes more so
CHEAP clothes can last as long as designer items, with many reasonably priced garments offering better quality than pricier ones, a study has found.
Textile scientists at the University of Leeds carried out rigorous durability tests on outfits from all price ranges, from items costing a few pounds through to designer labels.
The results showed T-shirts and jeans from cheaper shops performed as well – and often better – than similar samples from expensive stores.
Dr Mark Sumner and his team tested four samples of each shirt and seven samples of each pair of jeans for abrasion – how easy it is to wear a hole in the fabric – and strength: the length of time it takes to rip an item. The eightweek project also involved testing seam strength and colourfastness. “Some of the garments performed very well across a wide range of tests – more often than not, the best products were ‘fast fashion’ products,” Dr Sumner told The Sunday Telegraph.
“A number of fast fashion products demonstrate significantly better value for money than other brands – especially when compared to ‘designer’ brands. Jeans from one fashion brand lasted twice as long as designer-label jeans, but cost just a tenth of the price.
“For the T-shirt work the designer label product was the worst performing product across all the tests we did – with an online fast fashion brand out performing all other products.”
It comes after MPs on the Commons environmental audit select committee condemned retailers for selling outfits at low prices, saying it was leading to a throwaway “fast fashion” culture.
Dr Sumner argued that clothes were not thrown away because they were poor quality, and most consumers did not wear clothes until they wore out.
He explained: “We know that some clothing will be thrown away because it does actually wear out, but there’s no correlation to say that price will give you an indication to say which product will wear out. What we know from talking to some charity organisations, an awful lot of the clothing has nothing wrong with it. It has no holes in it, it’s still functional. We suspect the consumer is offloading garments because they no longer like them or want them.”
Dr Sumner suggested hanging clothes in the sunlight to reduce smells and refresh them in order to do fewer washes. “This will extend the life of the garment, save water and energy use, save money and help to reduce microfibre release,” he added. He recom- mended checking the brands’ websites to ensure they had signed up to the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan or the Ethical Trading Initiative.
More than £47billion a year is spent on clothing in Britain, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme, with about 1million tons cleared out of wardrobes every year. Two thirds of clothing in the UK is made from synthetic plastic materials with up to 2,900tons of microplastics passing into rivers and estuaries when clothes are washed, according a Friends of the Earth.