“That’s it! I’m going to invest in a good pair of boots!” I exclaimed in frustration, my bargain basement shoes pinching at my legs.
The heavily reduced price had lured me in to purchasing boots that were neither my style or size and I found myself utterly dissatisfied and disappointed at my poor judgement.
My declaration to invest in a good pair of boots had me daydreaming of a wardrobe full of beautiful, carefully curated items that brought much joy. I was dragged back to reality when my husband asked “What does that mean? Investing in clothes?”
For him, talk of investment meant something entirely different. He was imagining property and cryptocurrency and stocks, which is surely not nearly as fun as the daydream wardrobe existing in my mind.
Are Wardrobe Investments Only For Our Personal Benefit?
But his question got me thinking, what do we really mean when we talk about investing in our wardrobes?
Do we mean that we are aiming to slowly build a collection of expensive pieces?
Are we referring to the items that will serve us for many years to come?
Do we mean that we want a closet full of clothing that fills us with joy and excitement?
I’ve read many articles that outline the must-have investment pieces I simply can’t live without. Sometimes these editorials are emphasising the need to build a wardrobe of timeless, classic staples that avoid trends, often the items have a hefty price-tag attached.
From what I’ve read and the conversations I’ve had, it seems our desire to acquire investment pieces rarely has anything to do with the brands who will be receiving our dollar, and everything to do with how that item will serve us.
Not once, not ever, have I come across an article urging us to “invest” in the business behind the item.
Maybe We Should Think Beyond Ourselves?
In learning more about the fashion industry and the devastating effects it has on both people and the planet, I have sought to be slow and considered in what I add to my wardrobe.
I don’t always get it right, not by a long shot, but my intention is to be intentional, and I think that means that what I invest in should benefit not only me as the owner, but the maker too.
We are so often reminded in this current climate, to vote with our dollar. It could be said that, whether conscious or not, how we spend our money says a lot about what we value.
If we value the lives of people working in the garment industry, how could we seek to invest in clothing that ensures their flourishing?
If we value nurturing the environment and stewarding resources well, how could we seek to invest in clothing that prioritises sustainability and considered practices?
I’ve come to believe that every item of clothing bought is, in fact, an investment.
How We Use Our Money Can Truly Change the World
We either invest in businesses seeking to do good to people and our planet, or we invest in businesses exploiting the vulnerable and damaging the planet. Sometimes it’s not so clear cut, there is often a need for greater transparency.
But if our dollar is a vote for the kind of clothing industry we hope for, then our investment pieces become far more valuable – not only do they serve us, but they serve as a symbol of what we believe in and back.
It’s true that the most environmentally sustainable thing you could do is to cease shopping altogether, don’t consume at all. But what a shame to miss the opportunity to create positive change.
As long as people continue to wear clothes (and golly, I hope they do), a chance exists for each of us to do our part in forming an industry that allows for passion, innovation and growing positive economy.
Fashion has the capacity to be a great force for good. It’s a chance for people to use their creativity and craftsmanship, it’s a chance to have meaningful, important work. It can be a force for human flourishing.
Next time you consider investing in that handbag or pair of jeans, consider what you’re truly buying into. Consider the longevity and the joy the item will bring you, but think beyond that too.
Consider if your purchase truly reflects what you value, does your money spent align with the ethics you hold?
Be gracious to yourself, we all get it wrong sometimes. Be willing to learn and to ask the hard questions – if a brand doesn’t give a clear answer, dig deeper.
What would our wardrobes, and the fashion industry look like, if we truly invested in our clothing?