The item that drives me nuts with disposability at the moment is sneakers. I walk & work out a lot and I'm finding a lot of the running/training type shoes wear out in 3-4 months, the sole is shot but the uppers are totally fine. I'm trying to find more durable shoes to wear for casual wear & walking that actually last.
Stuff that I can get 10 years out of makes me happy. I've successfully done that with stuff like boots & winter coats/mountaineering jackets. Gore Tex has a lot of competitors these days, Gore Tex stuff is really expensive cause of the standards they apply to licensees.. Most of the competing products are cheaper because they don't put as many requirements on the clothing designer. But almost anything I have bought that is a Gore Tex outerwear garment will easily go 10 years which makes it a huge bargain over other stuff.
They are counting all textile waste in the country. Not just fashion related, not just clothing, and not restricted to consumer goods.
NYT is using their typical corporatist-absolving-tone which blames consumers for the environmental evils of industry. Textile waste is not something that consumers can make truly significant impact in because the majority of what NYT is blaming on them is outside of their control. The entire premise of this article that reducing textile waste should fall to the responsibility of consumers is unfounded.
Consumer guilt can do a little bit, but they are a relatively small proportion of the problem. Reminds me of 1990s recycling propaganda. Suggesting that poor people buying cheap clothing is the cause is disingenuous at best.
I can believe that consumer clothing wouldn't make up a majority, but I really want a breakdown of that textile waste now, instead of the NYT or cwkoss's ready-to-eat opinions.
Edit: here is the EPA's study
The main source of textiles in municipal solid waste (MSW) is discarded clothing, although other smaller sources include furniture, carpets, tires, footwear, and other nondurable goods such as sheets and towels.
EPA estimates that the generation of clothing and footwear was 11.9 million tons in 2015 (4.5 percent of total MSW)
If 4.5% in the majority, they have too many categories.
The first is that clothing is the majority of textile waste.
The second is that textiles are 4.5% of all MSW.
Which means that clothing is >2.25% of all MSW.
Industry exists to sell to consumers. You can't decouple them.
“But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness”
I think the best practice is to only use your running shoes when you run. Wearing them around town as you do errands just adds the amount of time you are compressing the foam in the soles. That said, the old running shoes still work fine for walking around after the 500 mile mark. They just don't provide much cushion to absorb impact.
300 feels low, but when you get into a new pair of basically the same trainer after running around in a 300-350 mile old pair, the new ones feels amazing in comparison so I feel like there is some accuracy in that.
-- I've pretty much always dressed the same -- it is more difficult to find quality clothes these days, even from mail-order places that used to be reliable in that regard.
What I look for is :
- durable + comfortable fabric
- quality fittings e.g., zippers / snaps
- solid workmanship
- thrifty price for value
- where it's a reasonable option, I go for stuff made in the USA
Since certain makes of clothing are already under discussion here, I'll add a few of my go-tos -- n.b. I have zero affiliation with these or any clothing companies:
~ Flannel shirts : Codet / Big Bill
~Rugby shirts and similar : Columbiaknit
~T-shirts, turtlenecks, sweatshirts : Union Shirt Supply
~Jeans : Roundhouse, Texas Jeans
~Khakis : Bill's
~Polyester "dress jeans" [? right] : Wrangler 'wrancher'
[made in Mexico, last forever]
~Cycling bibs : TheBlackBibs [great, made overseas]
~Mountain bike shorts : Zoic [reasonably OK, made overseas]
~Dress shirts : WhiteDressShirts [when absolutely necessary]
~Belts : Bison Designs
Socks and underwear - there used to be good options in this category, but getting verrrrrry hard to find, so I've regrettably started treating them as one-or-two-season-then-toss
- When I can find the time [rarely], I also look for stuff at thrift stores, mainly for the environmental benefit [though the low price doesn't hurt!] -- mostly oxford shirts for everyday wear
I have a hard time focusing if I'm not comfortable, so for me, clothing like the above is a worthwhile investment
*I used to get this much wear and more out of shoes [buy quality boots and shoes, get resoled as needed], but since I've moved to sneakers [due to leg and foot injury], generally I only get a season out of sneaks even with a multi-pair rotation.
You'll also have a lot of luck with clothes meant for serious outdoors use. The prices can be seriously inflated but are often found 30-60% off on season end clearance. There are too many brands to list but I'm very happy with my Salomon, La Sportiva, and Inov-8 shoes.
Inov-8 has recently pioneered the use of graphene rubber in the outsoles of their running shoes doubling or even tripling their longevity.
Also keep an eye out for Vibram rubber outsoles. They're an Italian rubber brand known for being more durable. They're a bit more common to find.
It has been years since I've skated, but I've always liked the simple style of some skate shoes. After experiencing the same wear-out with running/walking/training shoes I went back to skate shoes. The last pair I bought five years ago and the soles are just now wearing out.
It occurred to me that most are designed to be durable against constant contact with sandpaper. While they aren't _as_ comfortable as running shoes, I found a pair that I really like. Being both simple in look, lightweight, and comfortable.
I work for a niche company that manufacturers high quality running shoes as well as healthy everyday footwear and depending on the particular model and its sole design we offer a resole service, which many customers take advantage of.
Granted, you're not likely to save much _money_ this way, a cobbler will charge about as much as a new pair of sneakers cost, but you'll throw a lot less stuff away.
I was walking to and from work (~7 miles round trip) for a couple years, and made the switch to these hiking boots  for the same reason. I also hiked a lot (local 10+ miles hikes, Kilimanjaro, etc.) and these have just gotten more comfortable with time and use.
A small quibble I have is the laces wear out regularly. I have to replace them every ~8 months.
This isn't about price but weight. Because of new materials tech, we've gotten used to super light shoes (and they definitely help in terms of performance) but the cost of that is durability. Typically in materials science weight and durability have an inverse relationship. There are exceptions, but you're not finding those in department store sneakers.
Maybe I need to wear a full-time bib.
Just have to remember to put it on before washing. Ha!
Modern detergents are amazing. I once spilled cooking oil directly onto some cotton shorts and they came out fine.
Not for running, but for almost everything else, Vans and Chucks will last a lot longer. They are great for squatting as well! (100% contact with the ground)
I put a lot of miles on each pair of Vans, they last me ~2 years before the sole gives out, the fabric starts to rip at about the same time.
Anything from Ecco will probably last. I've also never seen any of my Keen stuff fail. Both brands are rather expensive.
Switched to Vans because they are a little bit wider.
Sad if the cheapened out on the soles. I used to wear the leather down before I wore the soles out.
(Obviously garbage leather if it got worn out...)
I've been pretty happy with my New Balance 990 shoes. Has lasted me years longer than any other shoes I bought. These are made in the US so I don't know if the quality is better than their other models or even other brands. I've never bought expensive shoes until I bought these but now I'm sold.
Then again, maybe I'm wearing them longer than I should. I often go years without buying any new clothes and still wear clothes from when I was in college 20 years ago.
I don't buy anywhere near that much clothing. Assuming there are perhaps 20% similar people to me who buy very few items of clothing each year and pretty much throw away a handful of pairs of worn-out shoes and torn socks per year, then the rest of the US has to be averaging 91 pounds per year.
That feels very high.
That figure is not limited to consumer clothing. This article is NYT recasting the repercussions of bad industrial practices as something that customers should feel guilty about, when they are actually responsible for only a small proportion.
As an ultra runner I used to buy more durable shoes focused on the idea of I wanted to get more miles per dollar out of them. As I'm aging, I now realize the value in the shoes taking more beating than my legs is worth the extra value in rotating my shoes more frequently.
Growing up in poverty doesn't make this an easy life change for me to adopt, but I consider spending more for something that provides better long term fitness/health a valid reason for increased costs.
In terms of longevity in outerwear, one of things I look for is nylon fabric. A lot of brands (including Patagonia) are using polyester more for jackets, bathing suits, etc. There are some advantages, like it holds DWR treatments better, and can be made with recycled plastic. But in terms of durability there is no comparison; nylon is just tougher gram for gram.
For socks, wool hiking-style socks seem to last well for me. By hiking-style, I mean the socks have different "zones" of thickness, usually thicker on the sole and heel, thinner across the top and ankle. I have Wigwam hiking socks and Smartwool dress socks have lasted well; in fact I'm having trouble remembering if any of them have actually worn out. Mostly they just get slightly thinner over time. I have tried a bunch of cotton socks, and Gold Toe seemed the most durable, but I still like the wool padded style better.
> [...] Our criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability. Among the most direct ways we can limit ecological impacts is with goods that last for generations or can be recycled so the materials in them remain in use. Making the best product matters for saving the planet [...]
They also do more than simply make longer lasting clothes:
Ifixit style repair: https://www.patagonia.com/worn-wear-repairs/
Re-used / recycled: https://wornwear.patagonia.com/
I mean, regardless of where you stand on this particular pet issue... it's not what I came to their site for! I came there to look at their clothing... instead I got a face-full of politics. Why do that???
Some of you will support this particular cause - but what if it were something you don't support? Right to life, build a wall, etc... Would that change your impression?
Keep the politics out of your business - in particular - keep it off your home page!
Like I said - if it was some issue that wasn't your kind of politics, it would be a turnoff to see this when you're just trying to do some shopping.
It's a turnoff even if it is your kind of politics - I was interested in their clothing. Now I'll shop someplace else.
Except "Extinction" is pretty radical, extreme, and alarmist. Even for someone that supports doing something about global warming.
 Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard; the founder of Patagonia
There's a growing sense among business leaders that companies benefit from participating more broadly in society than just making a profit. You can see this discussed in tons of business articles, and in the recent statement from Business Roundtable on the purpose of corporations.
Patagonia is not an inexpensive clothing brand, but it's also far from the most expensive clothing brand.
In one case, I purchased a new, custom tailored double-breasted linen suit for ten cents. It was far too small for me, but I gave it a young high-school student: he had never owned a suit.
Another fun hobby of mine was to dress up in these wool suits, go and walk dogs or pick up trash in our local park.
Turns out, wool could handle the heat. I overheat easily, but I was fine. The clothes usually did not need laundering. Just hang them up with enough air.
At the time, these clothes cost a fraction of new jeans and t-shirts or active wear. And they held up fine. Some of the silk shirts are starting to shred, but as they cost me a quarter each is no problem.
The wool suits will last longer than I will. Some of them more than 50 years old.
Front loading machines seem to be quite gentle on clothes. Perhaps because they don't use an agitator? My mostly 100% cotton clothing lasts for years and years. My family is tired of seeing me in the same clothes.
But maybe another big difference is between men's and women's clothing. The women's stuff feels very lightweight, very delicate. I'm not surprised that it doesn't hold up as well as men's.
And then there's fashion. My girls buy jeans that start out with holes in them. How long can that last? In contrast, by the time my jeans have holes in them they are definitely worn out.
Prior to having a dryer I hadn't thrown out a t shirt due to collars and stuff wearing out, after getting the dryer they just fall to bits after a few years.
Our new apartment has a front loaded. My wife's clothes were in awful condition after a couple of months. I refuse to use it.
I know these kinds of things are not common in the UK, but when my wife and I lived in England for 2 years, that's what we did and it works very well.
The Haier has no central agitator, and I'm sure that helps, but, of the two, I'm guessing the bigger impact comes from line drying. The contents of the average lint trap would seem to suggest that tumble dryers really do a number on clothes.
Or for me, after every shirt I try on feels uncomfortable against my neck, I lose hope and just quit shopping for clothes. It solves the waste problem, but I wish I could find a way to solve the problem of fabric distracting me as it weighs or rubs against my skin throughout the day. Maybe nudist camps are the real answer here.
Aside from fast (tranlation: fall-apart) fashion, my major gripe over the past decade has been a transition to slim styles which offer very little latitude for different body shapes, and frankly feel tremendously uncomfortable in a full day's wear. You'll pay a slight premium, but generally less than mainstream brands.
A few classic items can offer many years of excellent wear without appearing dated.
The changes to mainstream clothing have lost my patronage at any number of stores. And the practices described in this NYT piece strike me as both alien and revolting.
I can't fit into the majority of popular jeans brands for the lowly crime of playing hockey as a youth, and now having larger than average legs and glutes.
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20503194 — "How to assess the quality of garments (2014)"
It was started by this precocious production engineer from Montana who found themselves working their way through Nike and then leaving to make clothes by hand that are the most over built clothes I’ve ever found. All of the seems are done with heavy duty upholstery threads and the fabrics are the heaviest weights that still are comfortable. I’ve never encountered anything like it. Also hand made in America if that maters to ya.
I don't know the answer because honestly, I do like buying new clothes. I do like changing how I look. I do like looking good. And I'm far from alone in this regard. Maybe instead of blaming the consumer, there should be some regulation on manufacturing clothing? Or some sort of carbon/pollution tax? A cynical take on this is that fast fashion companies are attempting to foist the blame onto the consumer, when really they're preying off a universal desire to look pretty and polluting the environment in the process. We should of course educate people on the impact of their choices. But telling people to stop buying stuff to make them look pretty is going against a very basic, very fundamental desire.
I like eating cheesecake until I'm stuffed with it, but I don't because it's not good for me. Liking something isn't sufficient justification for doing it. Maturity means knowing when to heed your impulses and when not to.
I understand that it's hard to scale that philosophy and solve a systemic problem, but I don't think we should just blindly accept that people are gonna do what they feel all the time.
That desire to change how you look partially comes from a cultural value. You're surrounded by people doing that and showing you them doing it, and talking about how great it is. Change that culture, and I bet that desire would evaporate.
To take your example of cheesecake, it's perfectly fine to have a personal policy of self control. But if you extend that to the general population, you miss a few things. For one, perhaps there's a reason people are eating so poorly, such as food deserts^ or simply lack of time or money. Second, perhaps the fast food companies are acting in particular ways that can be deemed unethical. Personally I find the ways in which fast food companies market to children and feed on what's essentially a sugar and fat addiction pretty despicable and an underhanded tactic. But that's just me.
Indeed blaming the consumer is a pretty common tactic. Keep America Beautiful is a famous example. The entire campaign was an attempt to foist the blame onto people littering instead of, y'know, the corporations producing millions of disposable items^. And yes, stopping littering was a good goal. But it also distracts from the underlying problem: why are we allowing these disposable goods to be produced?
With clothing we should be asking a similar question. Why are we allowing such terrible industrial practices, from the pollution to the child labor?
It's a big shame that they went to the dogs, as I've been unable to find any other t-shirts since which match the following criteria:
1. Heaviness of fabric
2. Generous, stylish cut (i.e. not skinny as fuck)
4. Retains colour even after five years
5. 100% cotton: retains shape even after five years
If anyone can make a recommendation that is available in the E.U., I would greatly appreciate it. In before Hanes Beefy-T. They do not match up.
I've solved the socks and shoes part of the equation. Sadly, I have yet to solve the trousers part of the equation. I recently had to resort to getting vintage Levi's jeans from the 80s. It was impossible to find anything with a pure enough fabric, generous enough fit and which was heavy enough for a reasonable price.
Socks: I buy from the Falke Family series. 94% cotton, quality fabric, comfortable and long-lasting. Not made from sweaty, 50% synthetic crap.
Trainers/Sneakers: USA-made New Balance 990. Comfortable. I managed to get nearly a year of near-daily use out of them. Expensive compared to most other trainers, but well worth it given how quickly similar shoes disintegrate.
Last year we bought all of our summer clothes used. I got myself 3 pairs of Levis as good as new for 10€. I really don't get why clothes have to be bought new.
Modern shoes are designed to quick obsolescence, for example the sole wears and cannot be replaced or the shoe is so cheaply made that it is not worth fixing.
If you want to build a solid, long lasting wardrobe, you can't go wrong with the following:
Boots: Redwing Iron Rangers
Jeans: Levi 501stf or anything unsanfordized that's heavier than about 11oz
Shirts: Anything 2ply 100% cotton
They've gotten crazy expensive again - it's a good thing that mine are going on eight years with little signs of needing to be replaced.
https://medium.com/humanizing-the-singularity/how-post-indus... this blog post digs into the model in a lot more detail, and takes you through our prototype.
Steve Jobs and black turtlenecks.
I want audiences to recognize me and connect me from viewing to viewing.
Also it would cost you less money to buy better quality clothes in the long run.
And yes, I've noticed that you do save money buying better made clothes that don't disintegrate in one season of wear.
Fashion can be timeless, even if its only a subset.
If you're a designer, you cant keep sending the same clothes down the catwalk year after year, if you design for a client, you cant really design the same stuff as last time.
Everybody does it, even the software industry, the clothing industry just does it at a higher tempo.
Ultimately, you don't have to play the game if you don't want to. The most stylish people I know don't really follow what's fashionable, and then there's me with jeans, t shirt, and a nearing on 20 year old jumper (that's vintage right?). If anything 'fashion' just seems to be a keeping up with the Joneses thing, rather than about looking good.
But jeans you can't wash >5 times? What kind of jeans can't hold up to that? Of all my clothes, jeans are my most durable by a long shot.