Now more than ever, fashion is seen as disposable. The rise of ultra-cheap outlet stores has allowed people to fill their wardrobes with knock-offs of designer lines at a fraction of the price, allowing people to keep a collection for every season and occasion on a micro-budget. While there’s an argument to be made for a kind of democratization of fashion that these suppliers have brought in, are we losing sight of the value of high-quality clothing? We only need to touch, much less wear, these garments to get the overriding impression of cheap materials, poor fits, and bargain-basement tailoring. Compare that to a truly quality garment, and the difference in fit and feel is night and day.
You probably have a piece in your wardrobe that maybe you spent a little extra on, and it shows: you feel the quality and comfort, the precision of the tailoring, and extra weight to the material. It’s probably still in a very wearable condition, even after years of faithful service. Compare this to the latest budget purchase you made: the stitching’s starting to come undone around the cuffs, the pockets are beginning to fray, and the color has faded after only a couple of wash cycles. So why settle for less?
What do We Mean by “Quality”?
We’re living in the era of fashion as fast food: for a small price, we can get a cheap approximation of the outfits worn by influencers and celebrities on social media. And if that look has died out in six months, so what? We just go out and buy another outfit for cheap.
The term “quality” is something thrown around by anyone with a product to sell. Every vendor seems to be adamant about the guaranteed high quality of their wares, so much so that you’d think low-quality items didn’t exist anywhere! Perhaps, then, we need to re-examine the ways we think about quality. First things first, we shouldn’t equate quality with price. We can go out right now and drop $250 on the latest pair of Jordans, only to find the tread disappearing after a few months of regular wear.
You don’t need to be dropping bundles on Maison Martin Margiela and Balenciaga to assure yourself that you’re wearing quality clothing. The quality of a piece of clothing is really decided by two core factors that will never change, regardless of the whims of the fashion industry, and these are materials and tailoring. If the fabric is of good quality and the garment is well constructed, what you will always get is a quality piece of clothing.
The Three Hallmarks of High-Quality Clothing
To expand on our previous point, we’re going to look in detail at the three factors that you will always find in a truly high-quality piece of clothing.
1. Natural Materials
Unless you need a specific piece of outerwear where purpose-built materials will prove useful in protecting you from the elements, natural fabrics always outperform synthetics. They’re more durable than polymer alternatives. They allow clothes to breathe, and, of course, they feel more comfortable against the skin. Happily, they’re also easier to wash. There are exceptions, of course: you’re not going to want to be wearing a 100% cashmere sweater to your local gym, for instance.
Once you’ve established that a garment’s made from quality fabrics, the next thing to assess is the quality of the workmanship. This is where many poor-quality pieces of clothing give themselves away. Aside from the details of stitching styles, there’s a simple litmus test you can carry out to see how well a garment’s been made. Just hold the piece up to the light and stretch the garment close to one of the seams. If there’s just a little light coming through, then you have a high-quality piece of clothing on your hands. Conversely, loose stitching lets more light through, and this shows that the garment lacks quality construction. You can also turn the garment inside out, and if you see a lot of dangling threads and loose stitching, then you can also see that you’re holding a low-grade garment. In order not to worry about this, it is better to work with proven manufacturers, for example like Stephen F, who is famous for its high-quality fabrics, or any other tailor you are sure of.
3. Country of Origin
We want to make clear that this test isn’t discriminatory: every country in the world has its traditions of tailoring and will contain producers of quality garments. However, the reality is that many companies keep their manufacturing bases in parts of the world where they can take advantage of cheap, sweatshop labor bases and a lack of labor regulation. So if a garment is made in, say, the US, Italy, or even Romania, it probably is of a superior quality to something produced in a sweatshop in China.
Why Buy High-Quality Clothing?
High-quality clothing isn’t just for showing off. Here’s why high-quality clothing will always triumph over cheap imitations.
They Look Better
Good quality clothes always look better when we wear them. The tailoring often has a better fit than cheap, mass-made garments, and thick, quality material is more resistant to creasing. Plus, they’re more resistant to wear and tear, so they will still be in great condition a year or more from now.
They Feel Better
Heavy cotton will feel better on your skin than scratch nylons and polyesters. They’ll also breath better, allowing you to feel warm without sweating at more extreme temperatures. You’re also less likely to find a scratchy seam digging into your skin in an uncomfortable position. Simply put, when you wear high-quality clothes, you can tell the difference with your eyes shut.
They Perform Better
Clothes made from quality fabric with top-notch stitching do more than provide aesthetic and sensory pleasure – they also tend to perform better as garments. You might not think that wool could be a waterproof fabric, but when properly woven tight, it can keep out wind and rain to a surprising degree. Quality shoes will always be more waterproof and well made than cheap trainers cobbled together from plastics and synthetics and offer you much more value for sustained use.
Fashion is always in a perpetual state of flux, but much like true style, quality clothing lasts the test of time. Having a minimal wardrobe full of quality clothes beats having suitcases full of poor-quality garments stuffed on top of cupboards and under beds, and you’ll be able to see and feel the difference when you wear them every day. So, stop selling yourself short, and embrace the high-quality clothes you deserve.
Featured Image from Free-Photos on Pixabay