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Should we keep clothes until they fall apart - literally?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 June 2017

What's the oldest item of clothing in your wardrobe? Sheena Grant's 16-year-old cropped jeans have finally worn out.
Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

What's the oldest item of clothing in your wardrobe? Sheena Grant's 16-year-old cropped jeans have finally worn out. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto


It’s not long since I wrote about how mums and dads-to-be are often easy prey for those trying to convince us to spend a fortune on all manner of useless paraphernalia when we welcome a new baby into the world, writes Sheena Grant.

So I was interested to read this week about an initiative in Denmark where parents rent used baby clothes instead of buying loads of things that either don’t get used at all, or only for a short amount of time.

Vigga Svensson worked in ethical children’s fashion for 10 years, thinking she was helping the planet by producing sustainable clothing but finding that actually, her customers were buying far more than their children actually ever wore.

“Our products were very green but the way people used them wasn’t,” she says. “We recognised we had to change the way people consumed clothes and offer them a viable alternative.”

So she hit on the idea of renting out baby clothes. Customers pay £34 a month for a 16-item bundle that they return in exchange for bigger sizes as their baby grows.

I like this idea a lot. After all, around the world only around 20% of clothes are reused or recycled. It’s a huge waste of money and the planet’s resources.

The only trouble is, I’m not sure it would stack up financially for most people. Vigga contends the system allows clothes to be used up to 150 times and 3,000 members have joined since 2014. Whether it’s a middle class indulgence or a genuine gamechanger, there is a real debate to be had about where our clothes comes from and how we use them.

Attempting to live more thriftily means I don’t buy many clothes these days, so some items in my wardrobe are now wearing out - rapidly. This resulted in an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction this week, when a 16-year-old pair of much-loved cropped jeans split, all the from the back pocket downwards, exposing areas that don’t often see sunlight, for very good reason.

Luckily, my out-sized shoulder bag covered my modesty until I was able to get home and change. I’m still mourning the loss of those jeans but I think Vigga would be proud of me. After all, I doubt she’s got any clothes in her collection as old as my jeans...

Share your tips via email or Tweet her using #ThriftyLiving.

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