Okay, we've all heard the word roll off of someone else's tongue, heck even some of the most hardcore menswear guys are guilty of spitting it from time to time... Yes, I’m talking about a word that’s the bane of our existence, blocking us from our dream world of opening up drawers full of $1500 Loro Piana knits, having a hard time picking one of them to wear, then hopping into our G65 to pick up Cressida Bonas for a fresh blue fin dinner, choppered in from a pacific trawler to our Whistler home......EXPENSIVE.
But there’s a more logical approach to justifying the added cost to buying quality over quantity - cost per use (CPU).
How many times do you wear articles of clothing before they're worn out, shrunk, or put aside in the closet for some of the nicer items you've splurged on in the past? It's often the case for most people, clothing builds up piece by piece on the left side of the closet and is only used a few times before it’s retired and set aside to accumulate with the rest of the leftover past purchases. Snagged cardigans, shrunken polos and flimsy cotton outerwear are common culprits. The question is – how much are you actually paying for that product?
Breaking down the purchases you make in your life to a CPU basis, you’ll find that it’s actually worth investing in certain things that you use daily, especially clothing. Having 10 well made cotton dress shirts in your closet will go much further, and they’ll look far better than the 30 polyester blends that you paid $89 a piece for.
Before I got into the business, I was guilty of this myself - buying shirts at generic big box stores in a frivolous manner. I’d wear them for the occasion they were purchased for, maybe five or six more times following, wash them a few times, and that was it. They would sit in my closet fitting awkwardly from the washes, only for me to go out and repeat the same mistake again in a month’s time. The true price of these shirts was adding up stupid fast. Even if you stretched the use of each to 10 times per shirt (which is generous) they were still costing me upwards of $7 - $8 per use.
The cost of my habits weren’t obvious to me until I’d spent a year working in menswear. My old shirts were still sitting in my closet and I was rolling with a 6-shirt rotation of quality Scandinavian made dress shirts. I’d just purchased my house and didn’t have a penny to spare on anything that I didn’t need. I watched these shirts hit the wash twice a week for a full year. I wore them everywhere - work, dinners, drinks with friends etc. I dawned on me after a full year of wearing them, I was getting far more use from these six shirts than I ever did out of the pile of excess that had accumulated in my closet over the previous 3-4 years.
It was probably a year and a half before they started to see significant wear, and at 1 wash and wear a week they'd been worn at least 60-70 times each. From time to time I’ve been chirped pretty bad from friends and family about the prices of the items that I wear. But the truth is, I’m still wearing the stuff daily, and have been for years with no issues. Even at $250 a shirt I was still coming out on top - only spending approximately $3 - $4 per use on each was a bargain! A 50% off bargain if one was to break down the CPU and compare it to the $89 mall specials that were adding up over the years.
As time progressed I started to buy all of my clothing with this mind set. The initial purchase cost was a little harder to swallow, but the benefits from owning the quality items now hanging in my closet far outweighs the fast fashion habits of my past. I always advise guys to ‘invest’ in items that they’ll have for an extended period of time. Don’t waste your money on items that have a short shelf life, even if the initial cost is more palatable.