November 19, 2021 3 min read



My mum is a collector. She likes to keep stuff. So when, a few years ago, she hopped on a plane to visit me in Hong Kong where I live with  my family she asked me “what can I bring you from Germany”. 

Knowing that she loves to keep everything I told her “just bring me a few of your towels, I need some dish towels in the kitchen”. 

I was joking. Well, she didn’t get it. And she brought me a stack of - yes, you guessed it, kitchen towels. 

So we started using them and after a while (and many washing cycles) I was surprised about the quality. They were just indestructible. 

My curiosity awakened, I FaceTimed my mother and inquired where she bought these high-quality garments. I almost fell of the chair when she replied. 
Turns out that those towels were made in Western Germany in the 1960s. Her mother bought those as a future dowry for when her daughter (my mum) would get married. But my mum treasured them so much she never wanted to use them until she passed them on to me. 

But why is it that towels made more than 50 years ago (with fabric fibres 50 years old) last longer compared to towels that I can purchase in the shop today

The answer? Fast Fashion.

Clothes and textiles are getting cheaper and cheaper. If you’re born in the 80s (or earlier), think about what a pair of jeans cost you back then and how much it is now. Factor in inflation and you realise that we probably never paid less for our garments before. 

Globalisation is to thank (or to blame) for that. And our change in habits. 
The fashion industry, by some estimates, produces 80 billion garments a year. That is around 10 garments for every person on earth. That is four times as many as it produced 20 years ago. 

And what is worth, a lot of garments are only worn around 10 times before they get thrown away and end up on a landfill or incinerated. 

“Landfill?” You might ask yourself. “I am donating my clothes!” Well, about that… even if you place your old clothes in a clothes recycling bin, chances are, depending where you live, that they are not going to charity but end up in a landfill or get incinerated simply because there are so many old clothes being collected that even charities don’t have the manpower to sort them. 

And if you live in Europe, your old clothes often find their ways to Africa where they get sold on local markets at a price that prevents a local garment industry from developing. Hard to compete against something that is given away free of charge… 

So what is the solution? 

It’s quite simple. Going back to my story about the 50 year old towel: Demand quality! 

Demand a trouser, shirt and T-Shirt that lasts not just 10 wash cycles but 100. That doesn’t get torn or looses it colour after a day out at the beach. And buy less but better. Instead of buying five T-Shirts at 4 dollar each, buy one at 20 dollar at use it more often. Buy clothing that is versatile, that can be used in more than one setting and occasion. A Polo T-Shirt that you can wear in the office and for sports. A pair of trousers that are durable and work in summer and winter, for leisure and sports. 

Ps. I bet that by now you want to see how these towels look like, so here they go.
The towels

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