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The Cost of Clothing, from a Naturist.


The Cost of Clothing, from a Naturist.

Written for ANW by RnR.

ANW would like to share ANW member's RnR's personal thoughts and research on the fashion industry as part of its ongoing project of articles to encourage those new to naturism to understand and appreciate the many positives of spending time free of clothes. 

Have you ever stood in the sea, feeling the crystal clear blue water cool your legs, as the sun beats down from a blue sky, radiating warmth across your entire naked body? I have, and it is glorious and wonderful, and yet, mainstream media, social media, and people who adamantly state we all to be dressed at all times, would shame me, and say what I am doing is immoral. It does actually make me laugh, because I see it in reverse, being naked is far more ethical than being dressed these days. Let me explain to just exactly why I think that.

As a person who has been fascinated by people all my life, and especially their behaviour, and as someone who has skin irritated by certain fabrics, I am without doubt, a very willing clothes free person. I will admit, I hate buying clothes, and do everything I can to make the ones I own last as long as possible, most of my clothing arrives in my drawer as a gift. My children and wife are aware that I avoid clothes shopping, and I suppose, when I reach that level of faded and frayed that is beyond repair, they act under the guise of a birthday or Christmas.

One of the things that I have heard many times, or read on blogs and social media about naturism are the comments, “Oh I could never do that, I love my clothes.” Or “That is not for me, I intend to stay covered up.” I always smile to myself, especially when talking to the typical jeans and thick jumper wearing young environmentalists, who love their trade mark clothing to match their usually dyed brightly coloured hair, who express their horror at the idea of being naked in nature. I find amusing that modern environmentalists go out of their way to live a sustainable life, and yet they cannot see the human form as natural, and one of the most important parts of nature on this planet.

Today, our younger generations are obsessed with clothing, I see it in my children and their friends, but it is not just the teenage generation, a great many of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s in recent times have become preoccupied more and more with clothing, and I have started to question why this was happening. I suppose because I hate clothing, and I see more and more embracing and loving clothing and fashion more than normal, I was curious, and so a little while back, I started to look into the fashion industry, and do a little research to quell my curiosity, and I was quite surprised at what I discovered.

Before I reveal what I discovered, I will add, that I am a life time lover of the planet, and I support protecting the environment, and restoring the wilds. It is something I did as a young teenager, and it has been a mark of the person I have been all my life, and with that in mind, and knowing I am also a naturist, this is what I found out.

Each year, the fashion industry sells 56 million tonnes of clothing, in recent times, in Europe alone, sales of clothing have doubled, and the revenue earned by the fashion industry each year, is around 3 trillion dollars. It is predicted that by 2030, that will rise substantially, and by 2050, the industry would have grown by at least another 60%. It is a mind-blowing set of figures, and I have to ask, considering the population of the earth has fallen slightly in previous years, who exactly buys all these clothes, and why?

The answer is, “Fast Fashion.”

I have never heard the term before, so let me explain. Fast fashion is basically cheap reproductions of a low-quality garment based on a designer's very expensive and high-quality garment. An expensive piece of clothing is copied, but with at least seven minor changes to avoid copyright violations, these are garments that are produced at high speed in large quantities, and have a very low price, and the thing that concerns me, as I have found out, they are a disaster for the environment.

The principle of fast fashion, which is being adopted by most fashion chains today, is to encourage the customer to make a purchase at a good price, wear it a couple of times, and then throw it away, and buy something new. One of the fastest growing names in this area of fashion is the label Zara, they have over two thousand stores in one hundred countries, and are considered to be the go-to place for cheaper designer fashion. Each year, they launch 65 thousand new products, which is on average ten times more than any other fashion label.

Whereas most fashion labels take up to four months to design and create a new item, Zara, which is linked to a much larger brand, owns the design, and manufacturing process, and takes a garment from the drawing board to the shop in a space of just four weeks. It is mind blowing when you see how they operate, and of course, all of it is made abroad (Usually India) with the cheapest labour available, to keep costs down. The stores are run very differently from other stores, most traditional fashion outlets release four collections a year, but Zara produce seventeen, and so are constantly changing their displays. It is this simple factor that keeps customers returning, but as a naturist I cannot deny, I do not understand this, and had to ask why?

American psychologist Alexander Genevsky has studied this for many years, and his studies are quite revealing. He is a leading expert in what he terms as the “Neuro Economics.” Okay so I understood this, but let me explain in layman’s terms. In the centre of the cortex of the brain is a receptor known as the Ventral Striatum, which is the part of the brain that is connected with the reward process, or positive emotions when stimulated. Clothing manufacturers have tapped into this knowledge, and have designed their systems to activate this positive reward stimulus, by making offers that are highly attractive, (Cheap price) and promoting the idea of cheaper than the big brands. (Saving money). It is simple, find a highly sought-after designer garment, copy it with lower quality material,
and make a few subtle changes. It looks like the top of the range garment, it just isn’t as good. It is a little like the fake Rolex watches you can buy abroad, they look impressive, but they always break.

The way it works is a customer sees something they want, it is much cheaper than they realised, and so because they expected to pay more,  they are more likely to buy another item of clothing, because they think they are saving money. “Big savings, equals very happy person.” Go in into a shop to buy one item, and leave with three or four, which in reality, you do not need, but you are happy you now have.

The labels also exploit this, by changing their lines on a regular basis, and offering limited editions, lower prices, frequent sales, and new inspiring collections. It creates the illusion of high demand, if a customer thinks they may sell out, they will rush to buy it before it does, it feels like a sense of achievement, as they beat all the others, and so triggers happiness. Through this, they activate the positive feelings within the customer, and because the lines change often, they literally train their customers to return on a regular basis, and they never leave without purchasing something. As a result, customers leave feeling happy, and have items in their bag they may never actually wear, or only wear once, and all because, for want of better words, it is a very well-orchestrated sales trap on behalf of the store, and it works like a charm.

They reinforce this stimulus that has been activated within the customer by avoiding traditional advertising, because they have found a much more cohesive and suitable medium to continue their seduction long after the customer leaves the stores. Their weapon of choice is Social Media. Tik Tok and Instagram host the best weapon for sales on earth, “Influencers.”

Influencers are hooked on their image, to be honest I watched a few and they are quite vain, and I feel very self-obsessed with their looks. I have no issue with that, but it concerns me that these people are teaching others to be like them. Influencers have become the new growing phenomenon of the internet guru’s, especially with the under forties. Young attractive models, do endless fashion shoots and videos, where they show products and dress up in them, singing the products praises to their thousands of followers. Young people especially who are influenced by these people and aspire to be like them, will buy the clothing lines for no other reason than their favourite influencers told them to. These products, are very carefully placed by the fashion chains into the hands of the influencer, who provides all the direct links to the products in the description to buy them. An influencer has no idea at all of the damage they are doing to these young minds with their mantra of, “clothing means everything.” They can earn anything up to five thousand pounds in commission for each product they show. There are influencers now selling to 20’s, 30’s and 40 year, olds, and they are making a fortune, and everything they feature, is conveniently delivered straight to your door within days, it is a booming industry for the fast fashion companies. Shops and malls are closing, but the internet of easy to purchase everything, is exploding. Fast fashion and the joy it brings within the pleasure receptors of the brain, creates a high the same as narcotics, and people are
becoming more and more addicted to image and wearing the right clothing.

In many ways, it is a sad reality of today’s modern society, which is driven by image and money. It appears to me these influencers are so sold into themselves, they cannot see the damage they are doing or that even they are being taken advantage of and used by the fashion industry, which as I uncovered, has no care at all for the welfare of people or the planet. All they care about is making more and more profits selling the cheapest products they can move. It feels somewhat cold and heartless, and from a therapist point of view, it is very abusive and psychologically damaging to our young. It is destroying their sense of self, and removing their true identity, and replacing it with a shallow mindset of I must appear the same or better than everyone else, and wear all the right fashions to be accepted.

One of the biggest of these internet fast fashion chains is BooHoo, a UK based company, which produces its own clothing locally in Leicestershire. It has grown into a huge business, and leads all other UK fashion by employing the services of third-party manufacturers with low paid workers, in factories not unsimilar to those in India. It has grown to become a leader in cheap affordable fashion, grossing one billion pounds a year. For someone like myself who is not that into clothing, I find all of this puzzling, and yet I understand how the industry is manipulating people into to thinking they must have clothes, they must wear more and more, and appear to be cool and trendy, I see this again with my children and their friends, but I cannot help but ask, what is the cost of all this?

It is a fact, that the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter of the planet, next to oil. Few people know that in order to produce one tonne of clothing, two hundred tonnes of water get polluted, which is a mind blowing thought. The environmental cost of clothing is more destructive than the logging industry, or your car, or meat farming. The scary thing is, they intend to boost this industry by at least 60% by 2050, and one has to wonder, how much damage and impact will that have on the planet?

There is a need for change, personally I think everyone should go naked, it has to be better for the planet, and it certainly promotes self esteem, but I have a little more I wish to share before I get to that. Bad publicity has started to see changes made, and in the fashion industry currently, new lines are popping up with added labels that read, “Eco – Organic – Sustainable, and Recyclable. These appear to be good things, and as a naturist, if I really had to buy clothing, I would want those labels in the things that I wear... Or would I?

The new wonder product is “Viscose” you will see it on the label of most things. It is made from wood, which is pulped, and then the fibres are extracted and spun into yarn. Okay, I can live with that, I support sustainable forestry, and I love nature, so both my naturist and environmentalist boxes are ticked, this is good... It is good, isn’t it?

I continued to dig deeper because as I found out, it is in everything we now wear. I discovered, there are only three companies that make Viscose, the biggest being Birla in India, and Birla will tell you in all its advertising, “Viscose is a blessing.” I know, I have watched quite a few of their adverts, but is it really?

(Viscose production plant in India)

In order to create the fibres, you have to mix a lot of chemicals into the wood pulp, one of which is a chemical I had never heard of, “Carbon Disulphide,” also known as “CS2”. Once added to the pulp, it is then soaked in a bath of Sulphuric Acid, and now I am becoming less keen. The blending of these two chemicals reacts with the pulp and breaks it into the fibres, which also give off a highly toxic gas, which when breathed in or comes into contact with the human body causes, Eye infections – Infertility and Vascular problems. People are paid to work for very low wages in this plant to create these so called environmentally friendly fibres. I have to admit, I am not in rush to have any clothing containing Viscose remotely near me.

There are a lot of reported cases of all sorts of health problems caused by this toxic mixture that is washed down the drain and is ending up in wells and rivers, which are used in India as essential water supplies for families and food production. I had to dig deep to find any of this information, and I could write pages of information on the damage and harm this is doing to people, plants and river life, I just don’t have the space here. I will add, it is not good for the environment, and is a hazard to all life. Clothing may appear cool to the young, but knowing what I know, I feel this clothing is actually, very uncool.

I have come to the conclusion that Fast Fashion is a con, and people need to steer clear of it, and as for their environmental clothing lines, it is a recorded fact that this new wonder fabric made from Viscose fibres produces clothing of the lowest standard. It tears when stretched, tends to grow baggy with wear, and usually rips at the seams, and can snag and fray quickly. Fashion conscious people may wear it once and throw it away, the problem is, it is not fit to be handed to second hand shops, because after a couple of wears, it is ruined. These clothes are literally designed to be worn and discarded, and there is little chance of repurposing or recycling them. I guess you get what you pay for, and garbage is exactly that.

Every day huge ships arrive on the coast of Africa, they are filled with second hand clothing that the charity shops reject, and they are sold in markets and distributed all over the African continent, but the sad reality is, most of them are too damaged or soiled to wear. They end up landfills that are form huge mountains of used clothes, and ultimately, they get burned to get rid of them. Africa has become the garbage bin of Europe for all of these discarded clothes that were bought as bargains in the sales by people looking to fix their clothes buying highs. Synthetic textiles, can take hundreds of years to decompose, and burning them releases toxic fumes into the atmosphere, with plumes of smokes towering into the sky. The moral clothes wearing public, has destroyed massive areas of Ghana, which really has become our dustbin for used low quality clothes. It is a sobering thought, and in my opinion, far more shameful than being naked.

Most big name brands, factor in an over production figure of 40%, which means they are happy to just discard that amount of clothing to scrap, as a normal part of doing business. Apart from the massive impact of the damage to the earth, and the fact that millions of gallons of water are polluted every year, combined with the very real fact that only 1% of modern clothing is actually recyclable, we are now in a position where every year four million tonnes of clothing are thrown away in just Europe alone, which with all the chemically treated fibres, is then buried in landfill to decay and poison the earth further. Most of that happens out of sight in Africa.

I am now even less of a supporter of clothing, but I have to ask, to everyone out there who buys more clothes than they need, why is this being allowed to happen? I love to be naked, it is great for my self esteem, my body confidence, and it connects me to my environment, and provides me with a deep sense of belonging to this wonderful and beautiful planet. Psychologically, naturism enhances people health wise, mentally, and in their lifestyle, and yet knowing all this, people are still hooked on clothing, even the environmentalists I know.

There is only one Planet Earth, currently there is no alternate planet, and yet again, we can see how social media coupled with the fashion industry has manipulated people to make money, and it has to stop. Even as a naturist, I have to accept that due to the puritanical side of society, there are times I will have to wear clothing, shopping for instance, although I would love to be able to shop naked. Winter and bad weather, are problems, so like all other naturists, I dress occasionally, but to those who feel nudity is wrong, and we must be dressed at all times, I will say this.

This is your planet too, and as a collective, you full time dressed people, are encouraging the second largest polluter on the planet to get away with destroying it. You are part of the problem, and you need to wake up, how about you buy clothing that lasts longer? Break that cycle, and really start to consider your choices in the items you purchase, good value is not always the cheapest item on the rack. It could be that item that is a few pounds more, but will not stretch or tear, or go baggy in time. People who are obsessed with clothing have no idea of the harm they are doing, and in my opinion, no idea of the joy they are missing. That high you get when you buy cheap clothes is not the only way to achieve it, caring about yourself, and your body, and accepting it, can also give you the same positive emotions. When you are at home and it is warm, pull down the blinds and stay naked for a while? You know, if you walk around your home naked and catch glimpses of yourself in reflections, you will find in time, you will love the skin you are in, and want to be naked more often. I know, I was a counsellor for twenty five years, and I recommended it to a good few clients, and it really helped with their positive mental health.
In many ways, I see the irony of all this, I am a naturist who has never once sat in judgement of a clothed person for being dressed, and yet many clothed people have stood in judgement of naturists... Why? I am not the one supporting one of the most toxic industries on the planet, and just for your information, this is also mine and every other person’s planet, even the naturists. I know a good few dressed environmentalists, who champion the earth whilst wearing clothing made from Viscose, I cannot deny, I feel their hypocrisy a little here. I have done everything possible to help protect the environment, I recycle and repurpose, I have planted over five thousand trees in my life, and hey, some of those probably made some of your clothing.

The way I see it, even as a naturist, we all need to work together, we need to open our minds learn the facts, and do what is right for the Earth. Social media is filled with messages that are wrong, they hide the truth because it is bad for business, so let me correct their narrative. Being naked is not sexual, naturists are not all swingers, nudity is not wrong, and you should never be ashamed of the skin you were born in, and influencers are paid to win your loyalties, so they can manipulate you to buy more. Naturist already know all of those things, which is why we are happy and confident, but it bothers us, that those who point the finger and shame us the most, are actually the ones contributing to a massively damaging aspect of the planet we love. We feel connected to the earth,
we embrace it, can you all honestly say that wearing cheap branded clothing, that you do too?

The clothing industry is taking all of you for a ride whilst they get rich at your expense, and whilst you look in the mirror at those new items you just bought, just think of the damaged lives and rivers it helped to create. We naturists are not part of that problem, we shun clothing, and even though you refuse to admit it, you are, and you need to change in order to help protect more of this planet, and one aspect of that, is naturism can play a huge part in that... Try cutting back on clothes, try living clothes free, you will be surprised how much money you save, and how great you feel, after all, you will then be a part of the cure, and that has to make everyone feel better inside?

I have highlighted just a few of the problems created by the clothing industry for this planet, and it is becoming worse with each passing hour. You may not understand the joys of being naked, but you can no longer take the moral high ground, because most naturists really do care about the environments we live in. Our wardrobes are less cluttered, and in this particular case, that is a good thing. So, from this naturist, to everyone who believes we should all remain clothed in this modern world, I will pose one last question to you all.

Do you really know the true cost of those cheap clothes you just purchased, because I do, even if you don’t?

© 2022 RnR and All Rights Reserved -

ANW would like to thank RnR for this thought provoking piece that we hope inspires readers to consider their environment, the way they purchase clothing and the many positives of spending some time clothes free. 

RnR run a Naked Gardening Group on ANW and are regular contributers the two Blog libraries. 

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