Something I don't understand about people in relation to clothing


I love my clothes. Sometimes a little too much. I have a pullover that is completely worn out, with damaged sleeves and a few stains here and there. When I got it it was already worn a tiny bit because it was worn by someone else before. I should probably say goodbye to it, but so far I didn't do it, because I liked it so much.

This seems to be in stark contrast with the average consumer in the Netherlands. For the Netherlands, I only have a crap source, but it should give you an idea. Clothing production worldwide has quadrupled since 1999[2](worldwide: 60%[1]). Did we suddenly need more clothes than in 1999? My guess is no. Worldwide, a clothing item is kept half as long(2000-2014)[1]

Every year there is 235 kton textile thrown away in the Netherlands.[2] That's ~14 kg per citizen. I measured my entire wardrobe(just clothes, no shoes(I have 3 pair, one nearly worn out), no coat(1 coat, ~1kg), no bed-sheets): ~22 kg. Give or take 10%, my weight scale is not that good, and I might have forgotten something. I'll admit, it's more than I thought. While you inevitably have to discard textile, I can't imagine throwing the equivalent of 2/3 of my entire wardrobe away every year.

The Dutch consumer buys on average 46 new clothing pieces a year, and has 173 clothing pieces in the wardrobe, of which 50 remain practically untouched, and 40 clothing pieces are disposed.[3] How the crap do they manage that? What the crap? These figures are lower than many surrounding countries. So far, I bought a whopping 8 clothing pieces this year. 8! Last year, I bought 9 underpants, 3 t-shirts, and 3 shirts. A lot more, but still no where close to 46. Another study, shows that 71% of garments in dutch closets remain untouched in 12 months.[5]

While I had in the past some garments that were a mistake, and I understand this, never more than one or two at the time.

How is this even possible? I can't put myself in the shoes of someone who likes to go shopping clothes. They must like some part of it, I suppose. I have no idea why.

I love my clothes I love my clothes. I wear almost all clothes I have in my closet. I don't like to go shopping for clothes, because (ironically) my favorite clothing store closed down and now it's getting more difficult. Thankfully I have found a new one, it's quite a distance away and their collection is tiny, but all these clothes are so nice and feel so soft(have you felt tencel?!). Comfort is priority number one, aesthetic secondary.

I don't care about whether it's in fashion or not. Moreover, it's cheaper when it's in an old collection, which is a plus for me. I understand that some people fear of exclusion, hence they follow the fashion everyone is using. For a short (miserable) time I followed fashion, for these reasons I think. However after that, I have never gotten a complaint, but I did get a compliment now and then. Perhaps the people I like to be around don't give a crap either.

Honestly, all of this makes me feel shocked. I can't wrap my head around it. How do they even manage such a large figure? What do these people feel? Why do they buy so many clothes? Why do they spend so much money on it? Are they not satisfied with what they have? Why?

To make matters worse, clothing is often made in sweatshops under unbearable conditions. I don't need to tell you. You already know. 10% of the global CO2 emissions and 20% of global water waste comes from the fashion industry, among lots of other woes.[1] My point is not to judge people who buy these amounts of clothes, but I wanted to emphasize that this is an issue with broad effects.

My mother has a cotton bed-sheet that is at least 70 years old. It's a little rough, but it's still good. It used to be the case that you got bed-sheets when you married. This is unthinkable today. In the US in 2014, 822% more clothes were thrown away compared to 1960.[4]

Some tips from me(idk if they're good) if you buy a little too much clothes

On a plus side, you'll probably save some cash as well. There's a problem is with these tips however: because I have a difficult time imagining why people buy so many clothes, I probably miss the entire point or these goals seem far-fetched. Keep goals realistic; if you buy a lot of clothes, don't expect from yourself to suddenly buy little amount of clothes. Most important thing is that the clothes you buy are actually the clothes you want to wear, and you are going to wear.


I don't understand why people buy so many clothes. What are their inner motivation mechanisms? But I do want to find out why. Let me know if you have an idea!


  1. UNECE
  2. Triodos (Dutch)