This week on social media I asked the question about clothes. How do you know if you are buying good quality clothing?
We can take an overview on brand, price, fabric, manufacture. But are there ways we can guarantee what we are buying is good quality clothing?
Sadly, there’s no quick tick list to determine if a garment is good quality. But there are a number of things you can look for when you are shopping. However, like most things in life it’s not black and white! In this blog I look at the myths about good quality clothing and some specific things to check before during and after purchase.
The Myths About Good Quality Clothing
Natural Fabrics Are Better Quality Than Synthetics
This may have been true years ago but sadly it’s not necessarily the case. Not all cotton is equal, this extends to other natural textiles.
Our insatiable desire for fast fashion has meant that textile quality has suffered as the demand for production has increased.
Just as buying natural is not a guarantee of good quality clothing, we should not be so quick to dismiss synthetic textiles. Tencel™ or Lyocell is made from cellulose (wood pulp) but it requires processing to turn it into fabric. Lyocell is great to touch, made in an environmentally way and is good quality fabric.
You Will Pay More For Good Quality Clothing.
Is there is a linear relationship between price and quality? Yes and No!
In simple terms you will pay more for good quality clothing. High quality fabrics will be more expensive; manufacturing costs higher and standards of finishing a garment will be greater. There may also be more wastage in the cutting process to match patterns so this also adds to the cost.
A quality item will take longer to produce. This all results in a higher price.
But price is not a guarantee of quality. A brand that produces expensive clothes may suffer from quality issues when it tries to keep prices under control.
Always Buy By Brand
Buying a particular brand is not always a guarantee of good quality clothing.
The fashion supply chain is often murky and opaque, with suppliers sub-contracting manufacture. If strict controls and checks are not in place regarding quality then this may lead to a drop in standards.
A brand may be under pressure in terms of its competitors and sacrifices quality to maintain market share. An example being M&S towards the millennium.
This is not to say that all brands are sacrificing quality to reduce the pressure on costs. For many a key value is quality and they will not compromise.
There is a big movement for greater transparency within the fashion industry. This applies to all ends of the fashion spectrum. The Transparency Index established and updated by Fashion Revolution is one tool to consider
The belief is that greater transparency will lead to better labour practises. But it is also aimed at generally ensuring consumers have more information to help their buying decisions.
What You Can Do If You Want To Buy Good Quality Clothing?
Before You Purchase
- Do your research – check out the brand if it’s not one known to you. Look at their website and if you’re considering buying online look at how much information is available. Generally the more the better. How much are they telling you about
- Check out reviews – on an independent website such as Trust Pilot or Feefo. See what is being said about them
When You Purchase
- If you are buying in store then look at the fabric. If it’s pure cotton then it should be soft and nice to touch. The weave should be even with no irregular gaps or pockets.
- Look at the seams – have the seams been overlocked or finished in a way that they will not fray.
- Does it come with spares! – good quality garments will have spare buttons or in the case of some woven fabrics a tiny sample of thread
- What are the zips made from – generally metal zips will last longer than plastic, but the other test is to check how easily the zip moves.
- How transparent is it – even fine fabrics should not be transparent when held up to the light, as the weave should be tight.
- For patterned fabrics – does the pattern match at the seams? This may not always be possible on large patterns or garments with a lot of seams. But the general rule of thumb is that the pattern should match.
- Is the care label clear in terms of the fabric, manufacture and how to take care of the clothing?
- Do the scrunch test – take a handful of fabric and squeeze it. Do the wrinkles last or quickly start to disappear? There are exceptions to this such as linen, but it’s a good rule of thumb!
- Pull the seams – do they hold fast or do they look as though they might pull apart?
When you wash a garment (following the given instructions) it should retain its shape.
Garments that quickly lose colour or shape when they are washed are a sure sign of not being good quality clothing.
Items that start piling or looking knobbly are also a sign of poor quality.
I hope that’s been useful. If you have any questions please pop them in the comments below. Equally if you have any tips for buying good quality clothing that I’ve not covered I’d love to hear them.