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Everything is always on sale. I imagine you can think of more than a couple stores where buying something full price is basically cheating yourself because you can always get it for 30% or 40% off. Loft, Gap, Old Navy, Macy’s, Kohl’s…can you list more? JC Pennys attempted to do away with the constant sales and simply sell at lower prices. Instead of a $24 top, always marked down 50%, they would just sell it for $12. It did not work. Sales continue to drop, so the company returned to its former pricing strategy.

In order to comply with Federal Trade Commission guidelines, stores must offer these items full price for a certain period of time, which is a boon to them because of those of us who finally made it all the way to the store and do not want to wait for a sale or pay for shipping when it is on sale again. This happens for me at Michael’s and Hobby Lobby when I get there on the off weeks. Their merchandise seems to alternate sale weeks, so each item is 40% off…50% of the time.

These practices strike me as dishonest and manipulative, though it is sensible marketing. Americans love a deal, even if we know in the back of our mind that this is no deal. It is hard to deny the lure of that discounted price tag. As a bonus, brands that never go on sale have an elite quality the bargain bin of Walmart cannot compete with.

Through regularly reading Verily magazine, I have learned about the impact of the fashion industry on our environment. Earlier this year, the magazine posted three TED talks on the subject. I was convicted.

Already, through their reviews of ethical companies, I purchased a backpack from Everlane. At the time, my youngest son was on continuous g-tube feeds and a 20-hr TPN cycle. To carry him around, I must always wear a backpack with his pumps and bags. In order to maintain the caliber of my Easter outfit, I wanted a better-looking backpack.

Everlane Backpack

I was amazed at the quality. Incredibly sturdy, strong stitching, metal zippers, great shape, and leather straps. What an improvement! I looked forward to when I could use it just for myself, rather than with baby Peter. And I have.

When in San Francisco with Peter, I use a tote in the morning as I walk from Family House to the hospital. It fits my laptop and whatever else I need for the day. I thought about buying one from Everlane, but didn’t want to spend so much. I shopped around. I found a couple I liked at Target. One was too small; the other looked good. I compared it to the Everlane bag. Only $20 more and I knew the quality difference would be considerable. And so it was. I love the bag.

Everlane tote

My husband’s band wears black when they play. It was time to buy him additional black dress shirts. I ordered two from Macy’s and one from Everlane. Both purchases were about $50 (so Macy’s, on sale, was half the price). At Macy’s the selection was somewhat overwhelming. The fits of the fitted Alfani shirts varied widely. For one, I missed the presence of 40% polyester when I ordered it. My husband needs to stay cool when he plays in the club. Polyester will not do. He procrastinated trying on the shirts because of the immense amount of packaging and pins. He procrastinated folding them back up for the same reason.  When it was all said and done, we returned both.

The Everlane package came. An oversized cardboard envelope with one strip of paper tape. Inside, two shirts. There were no plastic bags, no pins. Only one piece of cardboard under the collar of the dress shirt. Both shirts feel lightweight yet substantial. The fit and look are great (there is something to be said for buying from a company that targets to your age demographic). I learned about cotton in researching how to buy good sheets. Long staple cotton is more durable than a shorter fiber. His Gap t-shirts always seem to develop mysterious holes. I suspect shorter fibers in those soft cotton shirts. The man could wax poetic about these Everlane shirts: their Cotton Pocket and The Air Oxford Shirt – Black.

Everlane shirt

Everlane breaks down their pricing strategy so you can see the cost of materials and labor. They are honest about their markup. Other sellers want to appear as though they make little to no profit. Everlane is a for-profit company that is not out to earn it at all costs.

I am not ready to purchase all our goods from companies like this, but I will follow the advice from the TED talks.

Buy second hand

Donate or sell used clothing

Buy quality so it does not end up in the landfill

Find companies that will recycle unusable clothes (almost all are recyclable)

Look for companies who share not only photos of their factories but name and location

Do not get caught up in sale prices, they often do not reflect true discounts. At what costs do these discounts come?

Quality costs, but quality lasts…consider cost per wear rather than initial cost upfront.

 

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