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Why Sustainable Fashion Costs More and Why It’s Worth It

Many people attribute the higher costs to product quality, but that’s not the only reason, and sometimes, it’s not even the reason at all.

Let’s start with an easy one: they pay their workers a living wage.

Cost of Materials

Another major factor is the cost of materials. Sustainable fashion brands strive to use natural materials that eventually decompose. Our health also has a price. Take organic cotton versus regular cotton. In the production of certified organic cotton, you won’t find pesticides, chlorine, insecticides, fungicides, heavy metals, and more — all of which are present in conventional cotton.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: organic cotton production today makes up only 1% of global cotton production.

This leads to another point: few sustainable suppliers are available for green brands. The supply is low and cannot meet the rising demand, which means — higher prices.

Purchasing Power

Another very significant factor is purchasing power. The sustainable fashion market is estimated at about $8 billion, with around $3 billion going to the major brands in the industry. The rest is divided among small to medium-sized brands. These brands don’t produce large volumes, and often, the raw materials they need do not meet the minimum order quantity that factories demand. This complicates finding suitable suppliers and results in higher costs per unit, especially when dealing with sustainable materials, which are more expensive by nature.

Transparency and Certification

As consumers, we all expect a green fashion brand to be transparent, present its supply chain, and present third-party certifications that verify its claims. Traceability is hard to achieve, and the certification itself costs money. There are one-time costs and often annual renewal fees. This requires a lot of time and money, which small — to medium-sized sustainable fashion brands often lack.

Brand Recognition

One last point: you haven’t heard of them.

After all this investment, reaching your screens is expensive, especially for lesser-known brands.

Ultimately, a brand must be profitable to survive and continue selling us things we love and are proud of. The brand has no choice but to include all these costs in the unit pricing. Some brands manage to find small loopholes that allow them to slightly lower the price, but this is usually only possible for some.

I hope this sheds some light on why sustainable fashion requires us to spend a bit more.

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