The responsibility to be aware of what is high quality is being moved more and more to the customer herself. As a part of being a conscious consumer, it is important to know how to recognize quality products among the very fast selection of products that surrounds us nowadays. In this journal we want to share seven points which we believe are good to check before buying an item of clothing.
Entering to the store, observe (1) what is the overall message of that place. For some of us, the endless amount of clothing laying on the shelves can ring a bell: “How much effort has been used for one piece?”.
There can’t be a hundred pieces of clothing if the time required to make one piece is that which is necessary to make a product that lasts. Fast fashion’s message is capitalistic in nature, is roughly says: “No matter what the quality is, buy to put your money toward something”, while slow fashion’s message could be: “Buying is a value decision. It’s an investment to something that lasts”. Most of the time investing in a slow fashion product consequently delivers on quality also.
(2) Consider the price critically. A high price tag may be a sign of a high-quality product simply because producing quality costs more. However, there is still a difference between high quality and high brand. Unfortunately, high brand doesn’t mean that quality is guaranteed, let alone the ethicality of the brand. Brand can hide valuable information behind it’s famous trademark. As a customer you’re allowed to ask from the seller: “Where does the overall cost of the product come from?”. There are brands that are transparent by showing where the money goes. At Store of Hope we think it’s important for the customer to know that the pricing is based on fair salary in Nepal where our clothes are produced, and natural raw materials that we use in our products.
Moving to more practical guide lines, when you have a piece of clothing in your hand (3) grab the fabric between your fingers, test how the material reacts to friction against itself. If the result of your grip left pilling in the material, it won’t last many washes. The responsibility of maintaining the condition of the clothing is also partly on the end users side. Following the right instructions of washing, ex. use of an iron or any special care instructions like with cashmere, using a comb every now and then to avoid the product getting pilled.
Before buying, it’s good to consider what the clothing requires to keep it in a good shape and if you are ready to put in the effort. If yes, then it’s a good decision.
(4) Hold the fabric against light. Make sure that there can’t be seen much through it. When the fabric is thick and tightly woven it most likely will last long in use. Of course, there are clothes that are made to be more transparent, and that is a different case. Summer fabrics are judged with another criteria. (5) Pull the seams. If there are no big gaps between the seams and the seam holds itself together, it’s also a sign of a longer lasting product.
(6) Take a good look of the label. Most of the time, products that are fully produced of natural fabrics are high quality and also easy to recycle. On the other hand, synthetic materials can be added to make the fabric more elastic to prevent the fabric of getting fluffy. The dark side of mixed materials is that they make the recycling process more complicated. Overall, it is good to have a basic knowledge of how different materials work by themselves or combined. That helps a lot when trying to find quality pieces from the abundance of choice.
(7) Finally, double check the details. The seam allowances should be at least 2 cm wide, but this is nowadays hard to find. Sufficient seam allowances ensures the ability to adjust the clothing to fit perfectly for all different kind of body shapes. Spare space in the seams also tells that the the makers have had a passion for quality and did not try to save every possible penny. The seams should also match. One good example where it’s very easy to recognize if the seams don’t match, is the center back seam of a jacket.
Check buttons, button holes and zippers. When buying a new product, the first try-on should feel slightly tight. Also, the button hole shouldn’t look messy. If there are spare buttons it’s a bonus! And if there’s a zipper, metallic one should last longer than a plastic one.
Being critical while shopping makes it easier to be more satisfied towards the products that have bought. If you really love an item that you have bought, of course you want to be sure that you can use it as many times as possible. For this reason, the quality needs to be guaranteed. We encourage you to think that shopping is an investment in high-quality clothing and toward a more sustainable future.