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How to actually know if you’re buying quality clothes

If you find yourself spending too long in the front of the mirror, rubbing the clothes on your neck or examining anything you consider a flaw when shopping, there are better ways to judge the quality of your clothes.

Whether you’re a so-called “fashionista,” or living under a rock, clothes are essential in our lives. Every day, we either spend time considering what we’ll wear or simply put it on without thinking. Either way, it’s a daily ritual shared by many. Like, just about everyone.

Since the mid-90s, the quality of our clothes has been in a steady decline. This only happened when fast fashion caused production and consumption to rise and prices to plummet. Despite this, you can still find quality clothing without breaking your wallet. Here are some tips!

quality clothes
Credit: Eric Vega

Initial inspection

The first thing to think of is exactly the first thing you’ll do: an initial inspection. One of the best ways to inspect a garment’s quality is by looking on the inside. Examine the hem and seams: are they sewn down correctly and firm? If not, they’ll eventually drag on a finger or toe. The same goes for stitching: look for small ones, not long ones. Long stitching means they’ve rushed the piece which won’t last long.

While you’re there, make a note of tags. Reading the tags on any clothes won’t just inform you of the material but the maintenance. If it’s something for everyday use, it’s best to avoid pieces that require hand washing or dry cleaning.

Material

The material composition is a great indicator of what we’re in for with a garment. Wool and cashmere, being of high quality, keep us warm when needed but not suffocated when we get hot as it breathes, which is hard to beat. However, cotton or linen allows us to remain warm but won’t breathe as easily, causing us to feel the heat when we don’t want to at times. Polyester and nylon are slightly harder, they don’t breathe at all – which means they can also trap in body odour. As gross as that sounds, these materials actually come in handy, with athletic wear.

Origin

Next is where the clothes are made. Twenty years ago, clothes from Italy immediately gave us an overwhelming sense of calm due to an expectation of quality and workmanship. However, it’s no longer that simple. While factories seem like something to avoid, these days, places like China are producing quality products, despite what Instagram would have us believe. Technology has helped us a lot!

Seams

After all the inspections and second looks are done, seams are the fundamentals and most important. Pay attention to any bubbling and make sure the seam is dead straight. If it’s a patterned fabric, make sure the pattern lines perfectly straight along the seams.

When looking at the finish of a seam, it’ll tell more about how the piece was put together. In short, there should be no raw edges. One way of covering raw edges is to overlock the seam. Better quality garments will have bound seams so that the raw edge of the fabric is covered or sometimes, flat-felled seams which is when the fabric has been folded twice and stitched along both sides.

These are merely pointers and tips to make sure you’re purchasing something you’ll enjoy for years to come. As fast fashion runs rampant throughout the industry, we think it’s important to do what we can to ensure your clothes are a little more sustainable. Plus, call it vain or narcissistic, we all want to look like we have our lives sorted and it can all come down to a stitch so you may as well make sure it’s correctly sewn.