There is a lot more to clothing than meets the eye. Asking yourself what makes quality clothing is to look deeper than style. There are numerous factors in a quality garment, but let’s take a look at the main components: fabrics, trims, zippers. In most quality items, it lies in attention to detail, especially when it comes to garment construction. This is a science and an art, which are both required for durability, comfort and function.
First, notice the fabric and always read the content label or “details” while shopping online. Natural fibers such as cotton, wool, linen, and silk are naturally longer lasting and breathable. Man-made fabrics Rayon and Acrylic age poorly, pill after a few washes or simply look cheaply-made. Polyester can have a bad reputation, however look for poly to be combined with natural fibers for a longer lasting, comfortable and wrinkle-resistant material. (Unless it’s active-wear which is another story!)
Touch and feel test
If shopping in-store, when you find a garment you like, first touch and feel the fabric. If online, check the content for the above! Soon, you will familiarize yourself with what you prefer. Ask yourself if the fabric feels rough, scratchy or thin; does it feel soft, smooth, and durable? If you don’t like the feel, don’t waste your time.
Are the hardware and trims in good shape?
Look for a metal zipper with a hook-and-eye clasp, snap, or button at the top - these will keep it in place. The zipper should have a placket and should run up and down smoothly. A considerate designer would also give you a zipper guard; this tucks in your zipper pull for your personal comfort (usually found on outerwear.) For other types of hardware (i.e.metal buttons and design features,) give them a quick texture test. Plastic trims will not last as long, and enamel or paint will chip off in the washing machine.
When it comes to seams, there is a lot riding on this one little thread, so let’s take a closer look. Turn the item inside-out and gently pull at one of its side-seams. If you can see daylight between the stitches, it’s a sign the garment might not stand the test of time.
High-quality garments have tighter seams and a high number of stitches per inch. This makes it harder for holes to develop and threads to snag. Seam-stitching should be consistent. There is even an ideal ratio of stitches per inch (for a well- made woven garment, expect to see 12-to-14). It is harder to do this when a factory is focused on speed, and not necessarily the details.
For example, a fast-fashion brand is focused on speed to get the garment to market and make a profit. Product Development teams typically have less time and money to focus on durability and quality.
The cut and shape
We all have different body shapes, and clothing should be made to accommodate our individual features. Each brand has its own aesthetic fit. What to do? Look for something that is relatively well-cut to flatter to your personal taste and style. Considered details, like an extra hem allowance, goes a long way if you’re taller.
The movement test
Next time you find yourself in a dressing room, try testing your range of motion in the clothing.
When we fit and wear-test our clothing at See Rose Go, we ask women to do crazy moves: pretend you’re sitting on the subway, working at your desk, squat, bend down, go for a walk, reach for something and sit crossing your legs.
You know what you want and, more importantly, need: items which allow movement, comfort and not leaving you exposed. If a garment survives, you have found a keeper.
Now that you know the basics, apply these tips to different brands to expand your quality know-how. There is in-depth knowledge which goes into considered design decisions. Let us know which of the topics above you’d like to see explored more!