Combining her love for fashion and sustainability, fashion expert and passionate health crusader, Michelle Kramer is the Founder and CEO of Ohganix®; a lifestyle company for men and women focused on creating health conscious organic apparel.

This topic can be a pretty broad subject to talk about as there can be many differences between cheap/inexpensive garments as opposed to handmade garments made with natural fibers. We will choose a few of these differences to discuss.

Quality

How a garment is made is one of the most important factors of a garment. Whether the garment is made with synthetic fibers such as polyester or nylon or made from natural fibers such as organic cotton or hemp, clothing is only as good as it’s construction. If the garment is poorly made, it will not last very long in your wardrobe. Additionally, many garments are made in a large production facility by the thousands. These garments are passed through many hands in a large assembly line, each step made by a different person. This fast-paced and mass-produced manufacturing does not insure the quality care which you will find in garments that are made on short-run productions with more of a handmade process.

Where the garments are made

Where a garment is made can also be a key factor to the quality and price of a garment. The cost of manufacturing overseas can be much less expensive than manufacturing in the United States; especially in areas such as Bangladesh and China. Unfortunately, manufacturing in these areas comes with a price. The lower production costs usually come with very low wages and harsh manufacturing environments. In 2013 there were several garment factory fires in Bangladesh due to deadly working conditions; caused by poor factory construction and disregard for safety regulations. In just one of those fires, the death toll was over 1,000 people. Therefore, the safety and quality of the work environment for the workers who make our clothing should be a conscious thought when searching for a garment. There are a few great short video references that all should watch concerning how our clothing is made and the true costs of wearing garments made in inhumane working conditions. Here is a link to one of those inspiring short videos (just 1 minute long).

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Who made your clothes? from Emma Allen on Vimeo.

What garments are made with and the process in which they are made

The quality of materials a garment is made with is well worth the extra price to pay for a natural, organic alternative than a garment made with synthetic fibers. Synthetic fabrics might be less expensive, however the cost to one’s health may not be worth the price you pay in the long run. Synthetic materials are chemically derived from petrochemicals. Beyond this, toxic solvents, heavy metals, and dyes are then added to the fabric as well. This can have a direct impact on our health and can be the true cost of buying a cheap polyester t-shirt over an organic cotton tee. It is well worth paying a little more for a natural fiber alternative that was created without the addition of chemically laden solvents, dyes with heavy metals, and toxic finishes such as wrinkle free, fire-proof, stain-proof, etc.

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In closing, all these factors will contribute to the price and quality of a garment. Clothing that is mass-produced gets higher yields for less cost, which is then usually offered at a less expensive price to the consumer. (Although this does not always hold true, as many name brands tend to mark-up their cost of goods sold because of their notable name.) Additionally, clothing made in America with higher wages and better quality control regulations, may also be higher priced than garments produced overseas. The more we support “Made in America” products and natural fibered, consciously made garments, the more affordable they will become down the road. If we support the brands who make clothing with organic and natural materials we help to support their business and the materials in which they use to create their products with. This in-turn will lower the material cost and grow their business to be able to provide a more affordable end-product to the consumer.

References: Bangladesh Factory Collapse