The longer we use a garment, the better for the environment. But no matter how well you treat an item, if they are not of good quality, they won’t last long.
Quality will always costs more than a fast fashion item, so if the price is too good to be true, it probably is. This is not to say the price is an immediate indicator of quality, because oftentimes it is not. There are very few brands and designers that are not mass-producing in big factories today, so the best way of being sure you are buying quality is to learn how to recognise what to look for!
Many think of the material when they think of quality, but there are many more factors to take into account when looking at the quality of a garment. So how do you know what to look for?
What to look for
The first thing to look at is the material. And I don’t only mean to check the label for what type of fiber it is made of. Though I like to always start with this as I tend to prefer natural or regenerated fabrics. I try to stay away from synthetic fabrics as they make me feel sweaty and cling to my body.
How is the hand of the fabric? When you touch it, how does it feel? Does it feel itchy or coarse to the skin or is it smooth and comfortable?
How does the fabric look? Is it opaque and sturdy or rather see-through? A thinner fabric risks breaking more easily. Is there any pilling or threads pulled? If I find that already at the store I don’t even bother, as it is only a sign of what’s to come.
How is the fabric made? Is it nicely woven or knitted? A sweater that is loosely knit might be pretty and in style, but there is a bigger risk of getting stuck in things an pulling threads. This is worth thinking about.
How is the construction of the garment? Are there seems and threads unraveling or loose? Have the edges been left raw (this is a quite normal way to save money)? Has the hem been finished by hand (by invisible seem) or has it been done by machine (which will make it visible on the outside)? How does the inside of the garment look? Does it look like something you made in middle school or is the finish rather refined and clean?
The construction will together with the material determine how long the item can last. Poor construction will lead to the garment breaking sooner or later and you having to mend it or leave it to a seamstress. If you want to save the time and money that requires, do you check before buying. Look at the seems, pull them slightly to see if they hold up well. For a jersey or knit you will want there to be a bit of elasticity to it. Otherwise it will break.
Is the zipper of good quality or do you struggle to zip it? Are the buttons sewn on properly or are they already falling off? Are there any prints on the garment? Do they risk bleeding or tearing off when washing?
These might seem like small things and they are, but they also tell you something about the overall quality of the garment. You don’t want to get stuck in your dress the first time you use it just because the they’ve used a cheap zipper. And sewing on buttons are not that hard, but a good quality item will have them sewn on properly from the beginning. Cheap details are often a tell tale sign of lesser overall quality.
Questions to ask yourself before a purchase
So when you are at the store examining a garment, ask yourself this:
- How does it feel?
- How does it look?
- Does it hold up when I pull it slightly?
- Are the buttons loose?
- Is the zipper running smoothly?