Is it worth investing in clothes, and which clothes to invest in?
Which clothes should you buy? Should you approach clothes as an investment, or as a cost? What clothes are worth investing in?
To sum it up, we are suggesting to start investing in your clothes, and to invest in clothes that are specifically meeting these three criteria:
- Made to last (durable)
- Evergreen (forever stylish).
Let's elaborate on this by answering two questions:
- Why should you invest in clothes?
- Which clothes should you invest in?
Why is it worth investing in clothes?
We are very close to the end of consumer society. This society allowed us to treat the majority of our clothes as a cost. The rise of sharing economy and eco-friendly society is bringing a more sustainable approach to buying clothes and many people will start treating clothes as an investment, not an expense.
Let's first explain the difference between investing in clothes and treating it as a cost.
When you invest in clothes, that means that you expect a return on your investment and that there is a probability that you will get that return.
On the other hand, treating clothes as a cost means that money went out of your pocket, never to return. In addition, throughout its lifetime, these clothes are draining your resources as they require the maintenance (to wash it, dry clean it, iron it, dry it) and can cause additional costs of poor quality and all sorts of externalities (external costs like environmental impact).
If you evaluate the content of our closet, you might find some pieces that you think of as an investment. For example, if your new Ethicuette dress boosts your self-confidence, that "return on investment" is not easily measurable in monetary terms, but it is still a return. If your new Ethicuette suite tailor-made in Italy will get your colleagues to accept you, the "return" that you are getting might be bigger than any monetary return you could expect.
If you continue with the evaluation of your closet, you might find some other pieces that are pure cost: like that underwear you bought last Black Friday, or cheap T-shirt that these days you only wear in the garden.
Today you might be ok with the fact that your clothes don't yield any monetary return. This is normal behavior for anyone who is part of a consumer society. The million-dollar question is: how long will consumer society last, and when should you start preparing for the next social norms. At this point, you can change nothing, but it would be wiser to start preparing for the future. Longer you don't change, harder it will be to change later.
Without any changes in society, the total amount and the average prices of new clothes worth investment should stay the same. As a result, everyone has an equal opportunity to start investing in new clothes. However, the changes in society might disrupt this.
We will explore two scenarios in which, as time passes, it will cost you more to switch from having clothes as a cost to having it as an investment. In both scenarios, we will observe two groups: group A is a group that invests in clothes while group B spends on clothes.
Scenario 1: The total amount of new clothes that are worth investing in is going down, demand is higher than supply and prices of such clothes are going up.
Result: Individuals from group B have a harder time to start investing in new clothes. They rely on individuals from group A to rent them the clothes they need. Individuals from group A are getting a return on their investment.
Scenario 2: The total amount of new clothes that are worth investing in is going up, making supply higher than demand. In a free market, prices should go down. But in our scenario, the government introduces environmental laws that penalize any new usage of resources. This drives prices up and the demand down.
Result: Individuals from group B have a harder time investing new clothes, instead they are borrowing it from group A and paying the rental cost. Individuals from group A are getting a return on their investment.
If you have any additional arguments in favor of or against starting to invest in your clothes, feel free to share them in the comments section below this post. We would love to hear your opinion on the topic!
Which clothes are worth investing in?
As we established that investing in clothes is a future-safe approach compared to having clothes as a cost, the next question is clear: which clothes are worth investing in? Is it something expensive, unique, tailor-made, unisex, comfortable or multipurpose and functional?
To answer this question, we should take a look at the trends both in and outside of the fashion industry.
The first trend is the rise in thrift and second-hand shops. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, millions of people are deciding not to buy any new clothes, and as a result, second-hand markets are becoming more and more popular. It is estimated that the market for secondhand clothing will be larger than that of fast fashion by 2028.
To yield a return on a second-hand market, you should invest in timeless clothes - evergreen pieces that never go out of fashion.
The second is a trend to stop (or slow down) plastic pollution. Clothes made of polyester, elastane, acrylic and similar are basically single-use plastics. As it happened with plastic-straws and as it is happening with plastic bottles, a few years from now it will become unethical to sell, buy, and especially to wash plastic clothes.
To be future-proof, clothes you invest in should be plastic-free. Ideally 100% plastic-free, such as Ethicuette clothes.
The third is the trend of renting clothes. Peer-to-peer renting platforms make people feel good about their fashion choices, as they are reducing their footprint and contributing to the circular economy. The rented fashion sector has been steadily growing in the last ten years, and today the most famous platforms are Rent the Runaway from the US, Hurr from the UK, YCloset from China. You can earn a substantial profit on them if you have the right clothes to rent out.
To make a profit by renting out your clothes, you should invest in clothes that lasts, that are durable.
To conclude, it is worth investing in clothes, and clothes worth investing in are:
- Plastic-free clothes,
- Made to last (durable), and
- Forever stylish (clothes with a timeless design).
By buying plastic-free, durable and timeless clothes, you are not spending, but investing in your clothes, and one day you can expect to profit from your investment. Even if you like your clothes too much to give it away or rent it out, and you don't receive a monetary return on your investment, you will be rewarded by feeling good for keeping up with your sustainable ethos.
At the end of the day, clothes is our second skin and, as such, it should make us feel good and look great. If you follow the above principles when buying your clothes, you will feel and look great without compromising your health, or the health of the living beings around you.