The devaluation of our clothes

summer dress with flowers

In a world, where fashion shapes people, clothes have lost their value.

Sustainability is gaining bigger influence in our everyday life – also when we shop clothes. The media is making a big effort in providing knowledge on the dark sides of the production of clothes. Of course that’s a good thing, since there are still many people who need to gain more knowledge in order to shop sensible and eco-friendly. However, the only solution is not simply to buy clothes made from modal, tencel or dead stock.

"I want to talk about the value of our clothes.
Meaning, the value our clothes have because it’s
been part of creating memories…

The solution is also to buy less and to buy better. I want to talk about the value of our clothes. Meaning, the value our clothes have because it’s been part of creating memories… Because we’ve used for a lot of different occasions during periods in life - fun parties, cozy moments and romantic dates. Or because you’ve made the clothes yourself.

Garn, strik og hygge

In my childhood, I loved going through my grandmother’s closet in her attic. It was filled with homemade dresses. Filled with memories. The dress she wore for her and my grandfather’s Silver Jubilee, her 60th birthday, for all the events in her life. A life of dresses. 

"When you take part in the production, 
your clothes will be more valuable to you, 
so you won't just trow them out but use them again and again."

And there weren’t even that many, because she used the ones she had for many different parties. Obviously because they didn’t have a lot of money, but also because she was from a generation, where clothes were valuable.

When you participate in making your own clothes, they gain value – you don’t just throw them out and you reuse them over and over again. Maybe they will even become heirlooms, something that’s passed down through generations.

I sowed the dress that I wore for my sister’s wedding. It’s hanging on my clothes rack and it is one of the first things I see, when I wake up in the morning and then I think about that beautiful summer day, where I walked through the forest with my sister on the way for the wedding. It’s a dress I could never throw out or give away. It means a lot to me. It took me a long time to make it and I spent a lot of time picking the right fabric and pattern. I still wear it quite often, but only at special occasions. 

Mettes beautiful hand-made dress with flowers

Back in the days on Amager, a lot of Dutch people lived there and brought along their embroidery traditions. That turned into the most beautiful shawls, which became part of their cultural attire and which is now stored at the National Museum. It was their everyday clothes. I doubt that our everyday clothes will be stored at the National Museum in 100 years. Basically because we buy and throw away – because it isn’t valuable to us.

"When I’ve knitted a sweater, I have it for years
to come. I have it until it’s worn out and
until I can’t fix it anymore.

When I’ve knitted a sweater, I have it for years to come. I have it until it’s worn out and until I can’t fix it anymore. All because I’ve invested a lot in it, the yarn was expensive and I’ve spent many hours making it. Also, because I can remember where I knitted it, or where I bought the yarn or the buttons. Value that makes me use it over and over again.

Where do I wanna go with all this? The solution is not necessarily that we all sow our own clothes. Yet, the solution could entail that it becomes modern to reuse your clothes, to not make clothes a benchmark for wealth and money, but that it gains value because it’s being used, remembered and appreciated.

It would be so much fun if you could buy unfinished products. If you, when you bought a black dress, got a small embroidery kit on the side to embellish your own clothes. So you, like my grandmother, was invested in your own clothes.

It takes a lot of resources to change the way we buy, to change the fashion world and thereby secure that our planet isn’t harmed by us wearing clothes. One way of participating to change is through buying less and buying better. It is through giving our clothes value again.

Mette Lundstad, design- and knitfreak at Önling.