4-in-10 Thai Shoppers Toss Clothes After 1 Wear: Survey

A pedestrian walks through stalls specializing in apparel and fashion items in Bangkok’s Pratunam area. Photo: Jef1947 / Flickr

BANGKOK — Hot off the rack – and ready for the landfill?

A significant number of Thai consumers are prone to trashing their clothes, with millennials given to dumping things they’ve worn only once, a survey released Tuesday found.

YouGov found eight-in-10 people admit to having discarded an item of clothing in the past year. Of those, half say they threw away more than 10 items or something they wore only one time.

“Sometimes, clothes that look good on the rack don’t really suit me when I actually try them on at home. People I’m shopping with encourage me to buy the item,” Phimploy Sangsuwan, 23, said in an interview about her own closet management.

Forty-four percent of millennials (born between 1978 and 1998) say they bought half of their current wardrobes during the past year. In contrast, baby boomers bought less than 10 percent of their clothes in 2017.

Phimploy said she’s thrown away almost 10 items this year alone.

“The clothes I threw away are ones I bought in bulk, like this time where I bought five pants,” she said.

Some items she’s never even worn.

“Mostly these are winter clothes, long-sleeved shirts or crop tops that need a special occasion or weather for me to wear them,” said the recent graduate in French from Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Arts.

For both baby boomers and millennials, the most popular reasons for throwing clothes away are because they no longer fit or because of damages. However, a third of millenials, contrasted with 11 percent of baby boomers, throw away clothes because they are “bored of wearing it” or because “it’s more than a few seasons old.”

According to the YouGov poll, most of the 1,137 respondents – 82 percent of boomers and 62 percent of millennials – said they donate unwanted clothes to charity. A quarter of them admitted to tossing three items they’d only worn once.

YouGov, a UK-based market research company, conducted the survey between Oct. 20 and Oct. 30.

Fast fashion, or designs that move quickly from design to the rack, can be found in abundance in Thailand, whether from retail chains such as H&M and Forever 21, or inexpensive items mass-produced in China and sold in street markets.

“Fashion is short-lived, but style is long,” Phimploy said. “It’s better to find your own style and stick to it rather than just going along with the trend. Even if an item is more expensive than usual but you’re confident you can use it everyday, then it’s an investment.”

Graphic: YouGov
Graphic: YouGov