The economics of dressing

A woman dressed casually for a weekend. Shoppers should come up with a purchasing calendar to avoid impulsive buying. PHOTO /Joseph Kiggundu

What you need to know:

Shoppers should come up with a purchasing calendar to avoid impulsive buying. That starts with taking a look at what one already has to ably notice the gaps within their collection

It began as a tale of a directive issued requiring all truck drivers to undergo Covid testing at the Malaba and Busia entry points which caused a build-up of trucks. At that point, fuel prices went as high as Shs12,000 while some fuel stations ran dry. When the build-up of trucks was cleared, it was hoped that the fuel prices would return to normal. Instead, they have kept on rising.  The new normal for a litre is Shs6,590.

This escalation in prices has affected almost everything in the country and the clothing industry is no exception. But how can you maintain a presentable wardrobe without breaking the bank?

Some suggest that a stroll downtown will get one a big bunch of clothes while others dismiss this saying that oftentimes, they have bought clothes from second vendors only to find them damaged.

Taking the conversation to the streets, it is evident that clothing may not be at the top of many people’s agenda.

Anatoli Kirigwajjo of Yunga Technologies said currently, clothes are the last thing on his mind.

“What I have should take me through until prices drop. At the moment, I want to get better ways to sell my community policing devices,” he laughed.

On the other hand, Ambrose Kibuuka, an insurer is unfazed by rising prices.

“I am not affected by the issues of fuel prices. If I want to buy clothes from my usual boutique, I will do so. That said, I have not had need to buy any new clothes,” he shared.

Searching for responses, the journey to get more out this conversation took me to Anthony Natif, a pharmacist who said with the current trend of affairs, cost-cutting is a no-brainer.

“Considering what to spend on clothes may not be the only thing to consider, with the rising prices. I intend to cut out as many expenses as possible, only going for what is necessary. In regards to clothing, thrift shopping is the best option because with it, you can get better quality stuff than from the uptown shops. I have been at it for a while and have learned that there will be good and bad. You only hope that you will come out on the better side,” he shares.

Mercy Galabuzi, a banker says going down town is indeed ideal. The only downfall is that there is no return policy so one must make do with all they got. It is thus important to take your time as you make your pick. No one will stop you from checking the cloth you desire to buy, so take your time when picking your buy,” she says.

Sarah Aporo, an administrator also says that at the moment, buying a cloth is not at the forefront of her needs. However, should the need arise, she would turn to the woman that usually supplies her clothes which already cuts down on the transport costs incurred trying to reach down town. That said, between brand new cloth stores and second hand stores, Aporo favours the latter because there are shops with nice clothes despite them being second hand.

“The clothes are also of low cost yet unique,” she shares. There are times we buy clothes and never wear them so Aporo says now is the time to dig out all the clothes in her wardrobe that she has never worn.

On the other hand, Beatrice Nakibukka, a journalist says in these unprecedented times, she is better off buying high end clothes because they tend to stay longer. “A skirt could be between 30,000 and 50,000, so if I could get five skirts and five dresses, then interchange, marching the skirts with various blouses, my wardrobe is sorted,” she says. Many have been scarred by the loss that second hand buys sometimes bring as well as those that cannot go beyond one use. Nakibuuka is one of these. “Some may stretch out of shape while others wear out so fast, the fabric develops holes.  Conversely, high end clothes continue looking neat after a long time,” she shares.

Priscilla Lamwaka, an assistant lecturer says with the increasing prices of fuel and commodities, she is very sceptical on what she spends her money on. That is why her first option is to look through her wardrobe on how best to match and mix what she has. “There are some clothes; pants and skirts that can work with several tops so it is these I will capitalise on to ensure my wardrobe works well for me. That said, all that is without denting my executive presence,” she says. Lamwaka adds that this would also call for reorganising her wardrobe to look for clothes that have not been worn in a long while or those she does not wear often. “I will also opt for more African pieces for Sundays and parties because I do not often wear them during the week,” she shares.

Apart from clothes, for women, accessories are an important part of the look and one of these is bags. However, it seems many women are not in a rush to buy bags unless necessity calls. Mariam Nalukenge, a bags vendor says ever since the rise of fuel prices, she has had to adjust prices by adding between Shs5,000 and Shs10,000 to the original price.

“This increase, coupled with the need to survive has affected the number of sales as they have dropped from 100 to 50 bags daily. Additionally, while I previously sold throughout the day, at times, sales only pick up between 1pm and 6pm,” she says.

Nalukenge adds that taxes have also increased and so has the exchange rate with the dollar rate increasing from Shs3750 to Shs3800 which is an indication of increase in the cost of products from their suppliers in China.

Ezra Kalibala, a designer at Safi Na Zuri Fashion House, advises against going with what is trending. “These clothes are not only sometimes poorly sewn but also of a somewhat low quality. That means they will not see you through several uses before they get torn. The cheap fabric makes them a waste of resources if you are looking at saving with your purchase,” he shares.

Kalibala also advises that shoppers come up with a purchasing calendar because it will help avoid impulsive buying. That starts with taking a look at what one already has, to ably notice the gaps within their collection.

“You will look for the items that you constantly use to assess which ones need replenishing as well as know the changes that need to be made,” he says.

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