New research from American Express and Nectar reveals that Brits invest £1,093 a year on new clothes — and it’s men who are spending more. The average guy spends £115 every month on clothes, compared to women who spend £81. Now, that might sound like good news for retailers, but it’s not good news for the environment.

Consider the fact that Britons sent 235m items of clothing to landfill last spring, and the scope of the problem becomes clear. Interestingly, men are more likely to contribute to this, with 82% saying they would bin items compared with 69% of women.

So how can we – a clothing retailer – help? We suggest a two-pronged approach. One: buy better. Two: Look after your stuff.

“When you’ve bought the right clothes in the first place, you feel better about yourself,” says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. “It makes packing easier, it makes getting ready for an event easier. Everything just works.”

Buy the best, cry once

Buying the best doesn’t have to mean splurging on designer goods at every given opportunity. It simply means that you are making purchases based on quality and not on affordability. So, set a realistic price range and then do your research.

“If your price point is at the upper end, then ‘buying the best’ might mean a 100% wool coat,” says Luke. “But for someone else, that could be a really nice wool-blend. Really, buying the best that you can means that you’ll get the longest wear out of it.”

After all, they say you get what you pay for, and nowhere is that more apparent than in menswear. Good quality materials that last are, by their very nature, more expensive. There’s also something to be said about the tendency for people to take better care of things they spent a decent amount of money on.

Aim for versatility

“If you buy one item that really stands out, ask yourself if it works with everything else in your wardrobe,” says Luke. As anyone who’s familiar with the cost-per-wear formula knows, you won’t get much value out of an item if you can only wear it in one look.

A good rule of thumb is to match your new potential purchase with at least three different outfits that you regularly wear. Then, see if you would wear it in the next week. Because if it doesn’t fit into your life at the moment, chances are you’re unlikely to wear it in a few month’s time. The exception, of course, is if you’re buying for a special occasion.

Show some care

You can buy all the shoe polishing equipment you need for under £20,” says Luke. “Polish your leather footwear once a month or every couple of months, and they will look brand new.”

On the topic of shoes, invest in some cedar shoe trees for leather shoes. “Plastic or metal ones don’t absorb liquid like rain or sweat which is what causes them to go misshapen,” says Luke. “And cedar is naturally antiseptic.”

As for knitwear, we’ve said it before but never, ever hang them. Instead, you should fold them so they don’t become stretched. And avoid the washing machine – handwash your jumpers and then dry them flat on a towel.

When it comes to coats, use a wooden or moulded plastic hanger that can support the weight of the coat. Try not to dry clean it too often as that can give the fabric a sheen and it will break down quicker in the long run.

Make do and mend

Does anyone even darn socks anymore? We suspect not. The sad truth is, when items are available in packs of six for under a tenner, it’s easy to discard rather than mend. While we’re not suggesting that you start getting your fraying underwear sewn up by a tailor, there are plenty of pieces that can be fixed. Nudie Jeans, for instance, offer free repairs for life so you can get the most out of your jeans.

For DIY fixes, even something simple like learning how to sew on a button or remove tough stains can give your beloved garment a new lease of life.

Easy alterations

“You’d be amazed what a difference simple alternations can make,” says Luke. “Your local dry cleaners can probably do it for you and you can be confident that it’s within their capabilities. I’d say you’re looking at £10-15 max.”

Bear in mind that the easy areas to adjust are the arms, hems, and waist. If you’ve never had anything altered before and you’re not sure what to expect, talk it through with the staff there. They’ll often have somewhere you can change so you can show them exactly what needs altering. Finally, always looks for reviews or word of mouth recommendations as quality can vary greatly.


Words: Theresa Harold
Photography: Chris Howlett
Styling: Freddie Kemp