The Price of a $10 Shirt


Fast fashion has become the hundred-billion dollar industry it is today on a very simple premise: consumers will likely pick the cheaper $10 shirt over the similarly styled, more expensive option.  As consumers, at face value, we will always chose the similarly styled $10 T-shirt. We'd be stupid not to if that were the whole story. But that simple premise, not that H&M, Zara and others have so expertly milked, doesn't tell the whole story. It's unfortunately not that cut and dry.

If that $10 shirt had a label saying it would only last three or four washes compared to the $25 shirt that would last a year plus, would that savings still be as appealing? Probably less so since you’d need to buy another dozen shirts to last you the year. Then what if you learned that that $10 T-shirt used dozens of more cancer causing pesticides than its $25 counterpart? Uh oh… Finally on top of it all, a sign above the rack read: “Your $10 shirt was made by garment workers toiling in slave-like conditions so you can pocket those ‘savings.’” Yikes.

You’ll never find a $10 T-shirt on Modavanti. You’ll find a lot of cool brands with incredible stories, but if you are looking for a $10 tee or even a $20 shirt, we’re not for you. And that’s something we’re damn proud of. This modern era of fast fashion supports the race to the bottom. We don't, so we’re never going to compete on that price level, and we don’t want to, because that $10 tee you’re looking for was made by seamstresses working in slave labor conditions. That $10 tee was made mostly by women and girls as young as 12 with no rights or voice at all — women and girls who make $38 a month so that we can save a few dollars on a T-shirt.

That’s the horrible reality about most of the clothing we wear. In 1950, more than 90 percent of the clothes Americans wore were produced here at home. Today only 2 percent of all textile manufacturing worldwide is done in the U.S. Yet as consumers we hardly notice — until something tragic happens. Like what happened almost two years ago, when 1,133 people were killed and over 2,500 were injured when the Rana Plaza factory complex collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh.