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The History of Cheap Dress

An essay at Etsy explains more about the way clothing used to be. In 1900, a new dress could cost a couple month’s wages. Thanks to overseas labor, modern machinery, and synthetic fabrics, it only takes abut an hour to earn the price of a discount store dress.

As clothes have become cheaper, our clothing consumption has gone through the roof. In 1930, the average American woman owned an average of nine outfits. Today, we each buy more than 60 pieces of new clothing on average per year. Our closets are larger and more stuffed than ever, as we’ve traded quality and style for low prices and trend-chasing. In the face of these irresistible deals, our total spending on clothing has actually increased, from $7.82 billion spent on apparel in 1950 to $375 billion today. And the discounters are reaping the rewards.

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