There’s some kind of irony in the fact we can buy things looking vintage from the moment we take them off the store’s shelf, but of quality which would never let them achieve this state naturally.
Buying high-quality clothes is nice not only because they help us get rid of this heavy burden of extra cash taking up all the space in the wallet; these things just last longer than their cheaper counterparts.
But let’s be serious here: a simple calculation of money we spent won’t always turn out in favour of the more expensive clothes. A €100 pair of jeans won’t necessarily last us five times longer than a €20 pair. A €700 pair of shoes may never pay itself off by remaining in our wardrobe longer than many cheaper ones would. Especially considering the fact that if someone buys shoes this expensive, they rarely stop at just one pair.
It’s not really honest to say that clothes are an investment – something I’m guilty of saying on more than one occasion myself. They don’t gain value over time, and in some cases – again, shoes, which will cost you money for resoling or quality cosmetics, and time for taking care of them – buying them is only the beginning of spending.
So let’s stop pretending buying fancy and expensive things makes some kind of economical sense. That’s not the reason they’re worth buying.
And I’m not saying: go for the top-shelf stuff. It’s not a matter of going from Zara oxfords straight to Crockett&Jones, or switching from H&M jeans to bespoke Japanese raw denim. It’s a matter of buying a little fewer, a little better things, according to your ability.
It’s a challenge when fast fashion brands try to lure us in with 70-80% discounts, when for the money spent on one decent pair of trousers we could leave the shopping centre with a bag full of things. Things which, with few exceptions, we’d have to throw out after one season, and which would end up in a landfill.
But this one pair of trousers in most cases will last longer. And all the wear and tear will look good on it. Will add to its unique character. It’s often said about shoes and leather goods that over time they develop a beautiful patina, but other clothes can do this as well. Even some damage or fraying on things like that will only bring their formality down, while still leaving them wearable. These will be things to comfortably wear over the weekend, and not throw away.
It stems partly from the fact that this wear and tear actually does look better than artificial ageing done on poorer-quality stuff. Partly – because we get attached more to things we spent more money on, so we just like these clothes. And I do like my worn jeans – also because the fade on them is uniquely mine, and reflects the way I wore them. And because nobody got silicosis getting them to look like that.
This psychological aspect also changes the way we look on our clothes. This famous sprezzatura, this feeling at ease in one’s own clothes – it’s most easily achievable by wearing clothes we’ve already gotten used to. That we’ve worn so many times we no longer think about them when we do. Cheap fast fashion clothes just can’t give us that.