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Make Every Thread Count

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Join Oregonians in choosing quality clothes that save money, last longer and reduce waste. Poorly made clothes wear out quickly, clutter closets and end up in landfills. Well-made clothes are available for every budget, are built to last, and can be worn often and for years to come. Quality clothes just make sense.

Know the numbers

  • Consumers are buying more clothes and wearing them less. The average consumer now buys 60 percent more clothing items a year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago.
  • Clothing producers are increasing production to meet this demand. Worldwide, clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014. By 2014, the number of garments exceeded 100 billion.
  • Many of those garments are low quality, and don’t last as long as they used to. In fact, the life of consumer products, like clothing, shortened by 50 percent from 1992 to 2002.
  • This means that many of those items end up in landfills. Americans throw away over 32 billion pounds of textiles a year!
  • Making clothing uses resources: It can take 1,500 gallons of water to manufacture just one T-shirt and pair of jeans. That’s how much water you will drink in 13 years.
  • Extending clothing life by just three months can reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by up to 10 percent.

Learn how to help - flyer

Quality doesn’t have to be code for “expensive.” Well-made clothes aren’t determined by the price tag and simple care can make those pieces last, which saves you the hassle and cost of replacing them. You can extend the life of your clothes and your investment by taking a few easy steps:

  • Fabrics: All types of fabrics, whether natural or synthetic, have advantages and disadvantages. Consider the quality of the fabric itself (thickness, softness, stretch, etc.) and how suitable the fabric is for that particular item. Will it be comfortable and durable?
  • Good quality thread and strong, even stitches: Give the fabric a gentle pull to see if the thread breaks or pops. Check for rippled, puckered or twisted hems and seams. Avoid garments that don’t appear to hang smoothly.
  • Edges and hems: Cut or “raw” edges and hems can lead to unraveling and loose, hanging threads. Be careful in choosing garments with these features as they may require special laundering.
  • Matched patterns: If the garment has stripes or plaid, the pattern should match up at the seams.
  • Linings: For suits and other lined garments, check to see if the lining hangs loosely and doesn’t cause any pulling or puckering.
  • Quality buttons and buttonholes: Buttonholes should be well stitched with no loose threads or raw fabric showing. Test the button in the buttonhole to make sure it’s easy to button up the garment.

  • Clean correctly: Follow labels when washing your clothes to keep them looking better and lasting longer.
  • Consider cold water: For most laundry, you can use cold water and less detergent than directed. This prevents exposure to excess heat or chemicals that contribute to fading or wearing out.
  • Group similar items and turn inside out: When washing, turn jeans and graphic shirts inside out to prevent fading and wear. Wash similar items together (for example, all jeans) to prevent harsher fabrics from wearing on softer ones.
  • Use the dryer sparingly: High heat fades and shrinks material, and also breaks down elastic fibers in clothes, causing breakage and stretching. When possible, line or flat dry your clothes. If you must dry your clothes, use the lowest setting.
  • Stain removal: Discover what sort of care is best for the stain. Cold water, hot water or stain treatment? Some quick online research can save that garment you love.
  • Simple fixes: Learn the simple but satisfying art of re-attaching a button, mending a tear or applying a patch.
  • Call in the experts: Locate a good dry cleaner and tailor that can help keep your clothes clean and well-fitted.

Every item in your closet has a cost-per-wear: the longer you wear that shirt or pair of jeans, the more you get out of your investment. A closet carefully stocked with several quality items will outlast a closet packed with poorly made, disposable clothes. So choose quality—you’ll look good, save money and help care for our environment.


Katie Romano
Materials Management Program