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06-06-2006
  196
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizzume
Anyone who spends more than $500 on part of an outfit or accessories, like a skirt, or a shirt/blouse, or a handbag, or whatever, that is made of cheap materials, cares soley about looking like he or she is rich. With very rare exceptions, the materials used to make an outfit or accessories doesn't cost jack. In my opinion, anyone willing to spend $1000 for a bag quite frankly has something wrong with them, but I feel the same way about diamonds--what a frickin' waste of money! What's wrong with cubic zirconia? "Oh my, it's fake, it doesn't have flaws in it! It wasn't mined! Oh my goodness, how terrible!"

It's getting to the point where virtually all large corporations in the U.S. have become corrupt, and the companies that don't follow suit usually die off. CEO's can make over 500 times the pay rate of the employees below them, and just so they (ceo's) don't have to take a cut in pay, they turn around and fire thousands of people so they can outsource jobs to countries with cheap labor. Corporations in the U.S. have more rights than individuals (unless they're very rich individuals).

Yes, it would be great if people could primarily buy clothing and accessories from small businesses and individuals, but for the huge percentage of people making only minimum wage, spending $100 for a halter is out of the question.

The only way that we can help this problem is by promoting change in the laws dealing with corporations. Telling people to only buy from small businesses is basically telling people to boycott large corporations, which, because they've become so big and make so many types of products, is virtually impossible.

Doing the "ethical consumer" thing is a nice idea, but it quite frankly doesn't do any good. It's as useful as the phrase "why can't we all just get along?" If everyone did it, yes, it would make a difference, a huge difference, but you're not going to convince the minimum-wage making people to spend 10 times the amount they're paying now for everyday things, and the gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger every day.

Now, even what I'm suggesting is sort-of a catch-22. Politicians generally are there -not- for the individuals, but for business, commerce, and for their own gain. The idea that politicians would actually do something that would reduce the amount of campaign contributions and personal checks they receive from ceo's and major stockholders of corporations is unrealistic.

Basically, I'm saying that I really don't know what the answer to this problem is.
Two points ... I can tell you haven't spent much time here by your very first sentence. I have spent more than $500 on portions of an outfit, and at no point was my motivation to look rich.

I am not rich; I am middle class. I completely understand that there are people who feel they must shop at that hellhole called Wal-mart because price sensitivity is their #1 motivation. I am fortunate that I do have disposable income, and while I am not the perfect ethical consumer, virtually all the choices I make are mindful. You don't have to be in the top 1% to have and make ethical purchasing choices. There's a much broader group of us who have that power, and I hope we all use it for good.

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06-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fashionista-ta
Two points ... I can tell you haven't spent much time here by your very first sentence. I have spent more than $500 on portions of an outfit, and at no point was my motivation to look rich.

I am not rich; I am middle class. I completely understand that there are people who feel they must shop at that hellhole called Wal-mart because price sensitivity is their #1 motivation. I am fortunate that I do have disposable income, and while I am not the perfect ethical consumer, virtually all the choices I make are mindful. You don't have to be in the top 1% to have and make ethical purchasing choices. There's a much broader group of us who have that power, and I hope we all use it for good.
My question for you then is: WHY? Why would you spend $500 on portions of an outfit if it's not to look rich? What possible motivation could someone have for spending that much on an outfit other than wanting to look rich? Just saying the word "mindful" does not tell me much. EDIT: What's wrong with looking around more and more until you can find something that comes close but costs less?

Why do people spend so much on diamonds when cubic zarconia looks just as good unless one is using a jewlers' magnifying glass? It really doesn't make any sense to me. Please enlighten me.

EDIT: I also needed to add, again, that it can't be about poor people making more money, because an individual selling a whole outfit for thousands is making a KILLING on that sale--material doesn't cost jack, and it's not going to take an experienced clothes-maker very much time at all to make an outfit, so it's not the time it takes to make the outfit. Clothing doesn't cost jack to make, no matter who makes it.

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Last edited by Kizzume; 06-06-2006 at 06:15 PM.
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06-06-2006
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Something else I needed to add--If it starts becoming accepable to spend rediculous amounts on clothing, then the price of ALL clothing will start to go up, and that's not something that most people living in this country can afford. If a corporation thinks they can get away with it, they will try.

T-shirts should never be above $40. Dress shirts should never be above $100. Blouses should never be above $100. Jeans or slacks should never be above $100. Dresses should never be above $350. Skirts should never be above $200. Shoes should never be above $200 and boots should never be above $350. Socks (single pair) should never be above $30 (unless they have a bunch of things sewn into them, and then they should never be above $50). Jewlery should never be above $400.

I never spend more than $20 for a t-shirt, or more than $40 for a dress shirt, or more than $50 for jeans or slacks (with rare exceptions). I never spend more than $100 for shoes, or $200 for boots. I never spend more than $10 for a single pair of socks. I never spend more than $50 for jewlery. I don't shop at walmart, and I try to buy as many clothes that are not made at sweat shops as I can, but sometimes it's impossible to avoid. When I'm really in financial trouble, I shop at thrift stores.

EDIT: I remember when low-rise jeans for men first came out. I was exited--but I wasn't about to spend the price they wanted to charge for them, so I waited a year until they became within a reasonable range. I splurged and went above the limit I usually spend on jeans, and paid $65. I understand that there are some outfits that one just wants right now, but spending over $500 for just a small part of an outfit is taking that to extremes--if looking like the latest craze is that important to someone that they'd spend that much money, the end result is that they want to look rich. If I would have bought the low-rise jeans when they first came out, I would have been spending $600--which, even if I had that much money to just throw away, I'm not into looking like I'm rich--that's how people get mugged.

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Last edited by Kizzume; 06-06-2006 at 06:44 PM.
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06-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizzume
My question for you then is: WHY? Why would you spend $500 on portions of an outfit if it's not to look rich? What possible motivation could someone have for spending that much on an outfit other than wanting to look rich? Just saying the word "mindful" does not tell me much. EDIT: What's wrong with looking around more and more until you can find something that comes close but costs less?

Why do people spend so much on diamonds when cubic zarconia looks just as good unless one is using a jewlers' magnifying glass? It really doesn't make any sense to me. Please enlighten me.

EDIT: I also needed to add, again, that it can't be about poor people making more money, because an individual selling a whole outfit for thousands is making a KILLING on that sale--material doesn't cost jack, and it's not going to take an experienced clothes-maker very much time at all to make an outfit, so it's not the time it takes to make the outfit. Clothing doesn't cost jack to make, no matter who makes it.
Ohh, where to begin. First of all you can’t look down you nose at someone for dropping serious skrilla on apparel. If you have ever spent (or would spend) tons o’ cash on a painting, sculpture, guitar, car, Warhammer, house or anything else other than charity, then you are a hypocrite, really. Apparel design is an art, and anyone who disagrees with that is simply wrong. Granted not all apparel is art, but if you have ever been lucky enough to experience a (older) McQueen, Galliano, or Viktor & Rolf show, then you cannot deny the creative genius behind both the apparel and production.

Trying to find a cheaper version of a designer piece doesn’t really help anything.

I totally agree with you about the diamonds, but that is a separate issue. Yes, there are people who buy certain apparel and accessories to “look rich” but those are the very people who I think have the power to change things. It’s not the impoverished Walmart shoppers who I would like to see spending their money differently; it’s the shoppers who actually have a $1000 (or $1000 of credit) to spend on a Balenciaga handbag.

Now in regards to you comments about retail commissions, you have obviously never worked in retail. Go to your local mall and ask the associates there how much they make. Most make wages far below the poverty line and no commission at all. Higher end shops do pay commission, but 5% of $1000 is only $50. A living wage is not a killing, and those who are driving around in Hummers hocking Louis Vitton to orange skinned puffy faced women are very few and far between.

Your point about clothing costing nothing to make is a strong contributor to the issue of worker exploitation. A human life does have value and if that life is spent in front of a sewing machine, then there is your cost. Not to mention the time it takes to design, choosing the materials, making the pattern, grading the pattern, constructing the toile, altering the pattern, constructing, marketing…..and so on. Skills have value, you wouldn’t ask an architect to spit off a building for pennies because he has designed a thousand before that. Generally the more experience one has, the higher their wage not the lesser.

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07-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizzume
I also needed to add, again, that it can't be about poor people making more money, because an individual selling a whole outfit for thousands is making a KILLING on that sale--material doesn't cost jack, and it's not going to take an experienced clothes-maker very much time at all to make an outfit, so it's not the time it takes to make the outfit. Clothing doesn't cost jack to make, no matter who makes it.
This is just ignorant and practically offensive. You don't get something for nothing.

The fabric itself costs money, it might be very cheap or very expensive depending on what kind it is. Interfacing, lining, buttons, zippers and so on costs money; more or less depending on quality.

The production methods are also more or less costly; carefully made clothes take longer to make and require more skill. More or less can be done by hand. The workers need to be paid, more or less depending on skill and location.

Obviously it won't cost a lot to produce clothes of inferior materials in Bangladesh or some other low-wage country, and these are the kind of clothes a lot of people buy at H/M, Gap and similar places. I believe that these clothes, with their low quality (most of the time) and low prices, has set a new low standard and has become the norm. Unfortunately.

Edit: Just wanted to add that I do realise that anything "designer" usually has a substantial mark-up, but the quality is also higher most of the time. If you want true quality and craftsmanship at a fair price, you should probably go to an old-school tailor or something...

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Last edited by tott; 07-06-2006 at 01:37 AM.
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07-06-2006
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i just don't think that how much people want to spend on designer clothes is that valuable a debate really. its the sustainability of the supply chain for one thing, in terms of environmental costs, labour conditions etc. and also why and how we consume clothes.
(for e.g. the highest env. impact of a garment happens during the washing-drying part of its life-cycle)


i personally don't drop serious cash on clothes but i don't question others decision to do so. i am more interested in why we need so much stuff in the first place.

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07-06-2006
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You're absolutely right...! It's easy to stray from the topic at hand. :p

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07-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fash ho'
i just don't think that how much people want to spend on designer clothes is that valuable a debate really. its the sustainability of the supply chain for one thing, in terms of environmental costs, labour conditions etc. and also why and how we consume clothes.
(for e.g. the highest env. impact of a garment happens during the washing-drying part of its life-cycle)


i personally don't drop serious cash on clothes but i don't question others decision to do so. i am more interested in why we need so much stuff in the first place.
I do think that it is a valid debate though. I agree with you totally that people consume way too much sh*t, and that the fashion industry is definitely a leader in that sin. The biggest criminals in this regard are the media who make people feel like failures if they don’t have access to all of these products.

If people were actually paid fair wages in the apparel industry, then yes, ultimately some people in the global apparel industry would loose their jobs. However, the people that kept their jobs would be making more money, in turn that would create a demand for other jobs in their community. If a family who’s mom and pop make jeans for a living were actually making a living wage and ultimately able to buy food, shelter, clothing and an education for their own families, then that creates jobs in that family’s community for carpenters, electricians, plumbers, chefs, grocers, retail workers, teachers, etc. The skills in a community will diversify and the sustainability of that community will increase for that reason. The world will not collapse if people support artisans over mass production.

If fashion consumers focused more on design and quality as opposed to brands, then people would buy less. Closets wouldn’t have revolving doors on them anymore because clothes they would buy would have more value (not just $ value) We DON’T need massive amounts of stuff in the first place, I agree, but we do need clothes for our backs, bags to carry our daily necessities in and shoes on our feet. There is nothing wrong with any of those things being beautiful, beauty nurtures the human spirit.


Last edited by scandababian; 07-06-2006 at 08:31 AM.
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07-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizzume
It's getting to the point where virtually all large corporations in the U.S. have become corrupt, and the companies that don't follow suit usually die off. CEO's can make over 500 times the pay rate of the employees below them, and just so they (ceo's) don't have to take a cut in pay, they turn around and fire thousands of people so they can outsource jobs to countries with cheap labor. Corporations in the U.S. have more rights than individuals (unless they're very rich individuals).
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kizzume

Yes, it would be great if people could primarily buy clothing and accessories from small businesses and individuals, but for the huge percentage of people making only minimum wage, spending $100 for a halter is out of the question.

The only way that we can help this problem is by promoting change in the laws dealing with corporations. Telling people to only buy from small businesses is basically telling people to boycott large corporations, which, because they've become so big and make so many types of products, is virtually impossible.

Doing the "ethical consumer" thing is a nice idea, but it quite frankly doesn't do any good. It's as useful as the phrase "why can't we all just get along?" If everyone did it, yes, it would make a difference, a huge difference, but you're not going to convince the minimum-wage making people to spend 10 times the amount they're paying now for everyday things, and the gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger every day.

Now, even what I'm suggesting is sort-of a catch-22. Politicians generally are there -not- for the individuals, but for business, commerce, and for their own gain. The idea that politicians would actually do something that would reduce the amount of campaign contributions and personal checks they receive from ceo's and major stockholders of corporations is unrealistic.

Basically, I'm saying that I really don't know what the answer to this problem is.



I think you have some good points and what the answer to this and any other issue is that there is not just one answer. There are a variety of events/things that lead up to a problem so it wouldn't make sense for just one thing to cure that problem. How about raising the minimum wage so people can afford things, educating people and getting them out to vote for candidates who are really running for office to represent the people...

Doing the 'ethical consumer' thing is a wonderful tactic, but not the only. It is a very grassroots movement way of saying that we won't put up with big corporation's greed and manufactures who rely on the sweat and low paid workers to make their products.

Grassroots movements are small and can be slow moving. People don't change automatically so we can't expect social issues to change so quickly either. Look at MADD (mothers aganist drunk driving) It was a small grassroots movement that has become very large with time. If you are truly dedicated and feel passionately about a cause it is important to stick to it and keep the faith.


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07-06-2006
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Is it, in any way, ethical to spend thousands of dollars on a designer item of clothing? It seems rather indulgant and unneccesary to me. I'm not trying to preach here, I realize that we have alot of designer namedroppers on this site, but doesn't it pain some of you to drop such obscene amounts of money on an item of clothing when the money could be used for so much more productive and beneficial things?

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^ We could look at the problem from two points of view...if I spend $1000 on a classic bag that I could use for years, for example, it might be better than continually spending a few hundred dollars on trendy bags every year, and throwing them away after that. I think we harp too much upon the monetary face value of things sometimes.

Of course, this argument is bound to be flawed since some labels really do overcharge, I feel, and consumerism now is such that we don't blink at continually buying, buying, and buying just to keep up with the trends. I have seen friends buy things that don't fit properly, or aren't flattering, just to stay 'in style'. They wind up throwing those clothes away after the trend has faded, and I would think that those are instances when it would not be worth dropping so much money on designer labels.

There are two sides to every coin. But in the end it all comes back to moderation, which a lot of us lack.

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07-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by astatine
But in the end it all comes back to moderation, which a lot of us lack.
Exactly. It's been said before, but it doesn't make it any less true!

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07-06-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tott
This is just ignorant and practically offensive. You don't get something for nothing.

The fabric itself costs money, it might be very cheap or very expensive depending on what kind it is. Interfacing, lining, buttons, zippers and so on costs money; more or less depending on quality.

The production methods are also more or less costly; carefully made clothes take longer to make and require more skill. More or less can be done by hand. The workers need to be paid, more or less depending on skill and location.

Obviously it won't cost a lot to produce clothes of inferior materials in Bangladesh or some other low-wage country, and these are the kind of clothes a lot of people buy at H/M, Gap and similar places. I believe that these clothes, with their low quality (most of the time) and low prices, has set a new low standard and has become the norm. Unfortunately.

Edit: Just wanted to add that I do realise that anything "designer" usually has a substantial mark-up, but the quality is also higher most of the time. If you want true quality and craftsmanship at a fair price, you should probably go to an old-school tailor or something...
Thank you everyone for your explainations. I'm sorry for wording things so poorly before.

My point was that so often there is a serious mark-up. I shouldn't have said "doesn't cost jack", I should have said that it usually costs a substantial amount less to make than what they're sold for. There are tons of things that there are rediculous mark-ups on, and clothing is definately one of those things. The music industry is good at that. Adobe is -really- good at that. The cosmetics industry--man, I don't even want to talk about that, they're one of the most unethical industries out there between their markups and the crap they put into their products and try to sell as being "healthy".

I definately agree with woodenhouse's comments. Spending thousands on something like a piece of clothing, no matter how much more it may -somehow- pay people working in a retail environment, really has -nothing- to do with being more ethical. Buying clothing not made in sweat shops is more ethical--it doesn't mean it has to cost more, and if it does, the people who made it are generally not the ones making more money from it, the top execs--and sometimes the designers themselves are the ones making the moola. I've worked in clothing retail (from thrift stores to stores like Macy's to more high-end stores), I know all about it. Something to take note of--the stores that charge a lot for their clothing generally make their employees wear things that cost as much as what they're selling--they have to keep up an image. I've tried working in those environments and have quit because of that whole high-end image crap (and the fact that I couldn't afford those things). When I said "making a killing on", I was referring to individual stands where the person who made the item is selling it themselves, and for thousands--they're making a killing on it. There -are- the individual stands where people are selling the products without rediculous markups, and those are the places that are gems to find and usually have products that are well made. I love finding those places!

No matter how much more something costs, it doesn't mean that the quality will be any better--that whole concept of higher price=higher quality is a MYTH. One has to research the clothing they buy to see whether it's actually made better. Just take designer jeans for instance--compare a pair of well made carharrt jeans to some $300 deisel jeans with built-in holes: which do you think will last longer? The entire clothing industry, and really any industry is the same way--you have to research what you buy. If you want clothing that isn't made at sweat shops, and if you want it to be well made, you have to do research, and then if you also want it to not be rediculously marked up, you have to do even more research. If one does all of those things, THAT is being more ethical.

BTW: I'll have you know, Scandababian, that I would never spend thousands on a piece of art, or $10,000 for a piece of furniture, or $40,000 on a car. I wouldn't spend $500,000 on a house either. I am not a hypocrite in this area. Wasteful spending is wasteful spending. Well-designed clothes may be art, but even art can be rediculously marked up. There are plenty of great artists who charge reasonable prices for their artwork, and many that charge WAY too little for their art. I'm a musician, and I wouldn't even think of charging $100 for a CD or $500 for concert tickets. Nobody is that frickin' important. Barbara Steisand with her $2000 concert tickets come to mind. I WILL judge people who spend exhorbanent amounts of money on everything they wear, everything they drive, everything they do--yes, I WILL judge people that do that--those same people generally look at those that are poor, especially homeless people, as being below them and they usually expect people to give them extra respect because of their income. Just ask anyone who is willing to spend $1000 on a bag about how they feel about homeless people--comments like "lazy" or "drug addict" or the such will usually be the first thing that comes from their mouths, even though they have no idea what the person has been through. Again, sorry for my wording, but this is a very touchy subject for me.

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kizzume, you made your point clearer with that post. Thank you

But I would have to respectfully disagree with a little of what you said. Research is all good and wonderful, but how many of us have time for that research? It is easy to say, "make time." Then again, it would be just as easy to just label all homeless people 'lazy' and 'drug addicts'.

Additionally, how many of us actually have access to information that would help us in our research, and even if we manage to find these "individual stands where people are selling the products without rediculous markups" (sic), would we find what we need?

It is an uneasy balance between ethics and consumerism, I feel. If we pay decent wages, and the standard of living in countries with sweatshop labour increases, economic theory states that demand in that country would thus rise. And we know that since the global economy is largely based on capitalism, prices would rise as merchants take advantage of that increased demand, and we would be back to square one.

However, if we continue today's practices, obviously the gap between the rich and poor will never close, and the problems might get worse. So yes, like you said, there is no solution to this problem. More knowledge passed down to the consumer would be the closest we could possibly get. I would like to hear your thoughts on how this might be achieved

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The internet is a great resource for finding out about products. --But, it does take time to do the research, no matter what resource one uses: There's no getting around it taking time. That's why I said I try to buy things that aren't made at sweatshops, but sometimes it's just not possible without spending at least a few days if not weeks researching every purchase, and I don't usually have the time to do that.

I'd love it if there was a website that focused on this sort of thing that made it easier for people to find out this information on making ethical clothing purchases. There might actually be a website out there already that does this. If anyone knows about a site like this, I'd love to get the url. I've found "made in the USA" sites, but the listings for clothing is SO tiny that they're not helpful at all.

So, again, there's no getting around it: The key thing for making ethical purchases is making the effort and spending the time, and that's not a commodity most people have. My whole rant was basically saying that spending more money on something, no matter what store it comes from (unless it's at some stand selling homemade items at some farmer's market or something like that), doesn't make it -any- more ethical, and in some cases, makes it even less ethical when it's a company that gouges the prices and still uses slave labor to make their products.

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