What's the Value of Your Clothes?




In a recent interview, Paul Dillinger - Levi’s vice president of Global Product Innovation, said something rather thought provoking: “Our closets are stuffed full of value that we’ve been trained to ignore”.

This made me think. What is ‘value’ when it comes to clothes? Is it how much we perceive something is worth versus how much we actually paid for it? Is it the amount of wears we get out of something and does this outweigh the amount of money we have spent on it? Is it what our clothes are made out of?

Perhaps your wardrobe consists of luxury materials such as pure silk or organic fabrics? Or do your second-hand clothes remind you that you have contributed to charitable causes and have saved clothes from going to landfill? At least for now? And can you put a price on this?


What if we took the monetary estimates of how much clothes are worth out of the equation?

What would ‘value’ represent? Could it be replaced by the phrase ‘abundance of opportunity’? What on earth am I talking about? Let me explain. Years ago – not long after I met my partner, I found that he had some white canvasses, but they did not strike me as brand new. See, my partner is a Fine Artist by training and by heart and he has a very particular idea of what art is. This is of course very subjective but it enabled him to assess artwork he would find in charity shops. He would then buy the artwork he considered amateur and slap white paint on it, which meant he could recycle the canvas used by applying his own artwork on top, instead of buying brand new canvass.


In a similar way we can look at what is in our wardrobes and assess what is precious in an obvious sense. Some pieces hold sentimental value while others may be indeed very beautifully made. I am however certain that in most cases a large percentage of our wardrobes is filled with cheap clothes, not made to last but made to tempt, meant only for that Instagram picture. But what if we looked at these items as pieces of amateur artwork we can use as a blank canvas and re-invent with our own imagination? Wouldn’t this give us the value of excitement, the value of our own creative exploration, an abundance of opportunity? And what if we would repeat this process again and again? This could mean very simple adjustments – pockets, patches, embellishments. It can also result in full transformations and complete re-inventions.


We have explored the term ‘value’ in various ways and I am sure there are many yet to be explored. But going back to Mr. Dillinger’s very insightful quote – What do you think is the value of the clothes in your closet? This is simply something we can no longer ignore.