How to tell if you are buying good quality clothing
Have you ever thought about checking the quality of your clothing, but you don't know how too?
The fact is that the quality of clothing has been rapidly declining since the 90's thanks to fast fashion, more consumption and the price becoming so affordable! But don't get dissuade by what you are seeing, as there are still plenty of brands and clothing that produce well-made clothes
and if you're not sure how to tell if a garment is well made then here are a few tips that could help you become a skilled quality checker.
The initial inspection
We all do it.. the initial look is about style, colour and whether it's going to 'suit you' but once you are over this, don't just buy it. This is where you need to start to think about quality and how long it might last for? So you've tried it on - it looks great, fits perfectly, you love the colour! Now look inside the garment, check the construction: are the hems and seams thoroughly sewn down? What about the stitch length of the seams? Are they long or short? If they are short that's the giveaway of it being made better - the shorter the stitch the longer lasting the garment, less opportunity to break, pull or be damaged. Give it a bit of a pull - check if you can see through the seams - if you can, put it back. Can you see any threads? If there's loose threads it means that it hasn't been finished properly and the seams are more likely to unravel and get damaged easily.
Check the labels
Look at where the garment was made, what the fabric composition is and how you need to launder the garment.
The fabric composition tells you how the garment will wear. For instance a natural fabric like wool, will keep you warm, but will also allow your skin to breath and because of the natural oils in the fibres, it won't need washing so frequently, also potentially less creasing will occur - so less ironing for you - this is defiantly a plus in my eye's!
All natural fibre based garments are also great for frequent washing and will naturally retain it's shape better than man-made fibres. But when you buy natural fabrics, check to see if they have been pre-washed or that the brand has clearly stated that shrinkage percentage has been added to the garment, so you won't need to worry about that initial shrinkage on the first wash.
Synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon aren't so great, they don't allow your skin to breath and trap body odour, which can also cause you to sweat and smell more, causing skin irritations. If you're not so aware of the types of fabric available to you then the best way to check the quality of fabric is by the touch and feel. Test it by holding I, feel the weight, stretch and softness of the garment. Is it light, rough, brittle or thin? If it is, it's more likely a low quality fabric. If you are going to buy a blended fibre based garment, then make sure you buy 80/20, which means the bare minimum, 80% of your garment is made from natural fibres and the rest from synthetics.
Where the garment has been manufactured
Yes we've all heard of 'made in Italy' and we expect that to mean good quality, but just because its not made in Italy doesn't mean it’s not a high quality product. You can still get good quality clothing from Asia and other parts of the world, but you need to be aware of the environmental and labour laws of these countries. Good quality doesn't always mean the end product! It's about the cost of the product, human rights, environmental issues and child labour. So if the garment is made well, but seems extremely cheap for the quality you are buying then this is a red flag! It could mean that at some point during the manufacturing stage there have been employment or environmental violations to name a few.
Good fit or poor fit
You might be thinking that every time you try on a garment and it doesn't fit well it's probably because of those extra biscuits you ate yesterday, but don't think like that! Poor quality garments are actually the main culprit, fast fashion has a habit of trying to fit as many piece of a garment onto the fabric before cutting - optimising their fabric consumption, but in the end you have pieces cut in all direction of the fabric, which is why you end up with twisted seams, uncomfortable area's on the garment, generally a really badly fitted garment, so put it back on the rail!
You're probably thinking you don't have time to do all of this, and I totally understand time is precious, but actually quality over quantity saves you time. You will have longer lasting clothes, you'll start to see a difference in the fit, fabric and wearability. It will just become part of the ritual when you buy clothes, just an extra 5 minutes in the changing rooms and you'll never look back.
- Good fit / Poor fit - if it doesn't drape well over the body, or certain area's seem a little uncomfortable - it's probably because of the cut of the garment and not you!
- The pull test - If you don't see gaps when you pull at the seam it means smaller stitching is being used - so better quality
- The hems are 'finished' and there's no loose threads - ready to be unraveled during your wear.
- The labels - they should tell you everything you need to know about this garment - washing, fabric composition, made from….
- Clothes keep their shape after one wear - no lumps, bumps or bulges can be seen.
- Your clothes come with extra button's and threads
- The cost reflects the workmanship that has gone into the manufacturing of the product.