They say that shopping is a Brit’s favourite past time. If a Saturday afternoon in London is anything to go by, they aren’t wrong. But, how many clothes do we actually purchase each year and is there anything we can do to change our habit?
Research by the European Clothing Action Plan analysed each countries spending habits and found that your average Briton purchases an entire suitcase worth of new clothes every single year. This works out at a staggering 26.7Kg of clothing and an embarrassing 10Kg more than any other nationality. Only Germans came close, buying 16.7Kg each year.
More worrying, this report was compiled based on an EU-funded environmental audit and how many of these clothes simply end up in landfill, rather than being recycled. Briton’s are so quick to ditch and turnover their old clothing, probably to justify a new purchase, they simply throw them in the trash rather than taking to a local charity shop or recycling.
It doesn’t need to be this way. Your average Italian will only purchase 14.5Kg of clothing each year and are classed as one of the best-dressed nationalities.
So, how does your average Italian limit their wardrobe? The luxury clothing designer, Brunello Cucinelli, argues that you can be more wise picking the content of your wardrobe. He thinks that our obsession with having the very latest products means we end up with a limited budget, spreading the spend across lots of poor quality items that do not wear well, do not wash well and need to be replaced more often. Therefore the long-term nature of this purchasing leads to more expediture to renew these items.
Cucinelli’s theory is you can pick 3 or 4 key pieces in your wardrobe and mix up your style. For example, start with a quality blazer which is will stop you looking like an “unambitious couch surfer”. Next, find the perfect crew neck cashmere wool sweater. And keep it maintained, clean and in a bag during the summers months and away from moths. Pick a quality crisp white shirt and a pair of chinos. Go for a pair which you can mix up with other items – a navy chino looks as good with a white shirt as it does with a t-shirt. On a cool summer’s evening, you can simply wear your crew neck sweater under your blazer, for an alternative style.
Mary Creagh who acted as chairwomen for the European Clothing Action Plan report, stated “there are lessons there for the British consumer about buying less, buying better and keeping clothing for longer. Clothes have become cheaper but there is an environmental price through production of raw materials and a social price through people not getting a decent wage or child labour”.
Is it time for you to look at the clothes you buy, where you purchase them from the environmental impact of discarding your wardrobe and how much time you’re spending shopping each week?