A great way to embrace slow fashion is to buy less and of better quality. So how can we do this I hear you ask? Ok readers, so here is the low down on how to assess garment quality.
The first thing to do would be to feel the fabric, does it feel good? How thick is it? Does it wrinkle easily? Does any stretch return to normal properly? Then look at the fabric composition on the wash care label. Natural fibres such as cotton, linen, wool and silk will last longer and wear better on the whole than synthetics which tend to pill and fade. Even fabric with a high percentage of natural fibres such as 60% or more will ensure the garment lasts longer and better.
When trying the garment on does it fit well and not feel like there has been any scrimping on fabric which affects the fit? Do the seams sit smooth and straight and does the fabric hang well? If the garment has been well cut it should sit nicely on the body without it pulling anywhere. The grain of the fabric should be straight unless it’s cut on the bias- meaning that it shouldn’t look wonky or wrinkled in the wrong areas. Also if the print matches at the seams, then more care has been taken over the garment. For children’s clothes also look for more length in the body, arms and legs to allow for growth spurts.
The quicker garments can be made the less they will cost so cutting corners on construction is a common in fast fashion production. Most are not meant to last more than a few washes to encourage us to go out and buy more.
So next, turn the garment inside out and have a good look. Pull lightly at a seam on both sides and check for strong stitching and that there are no wonky lines, snags, puckering, gaps or loose threads. Even and generous seam allowance is another good indicator, as is a good hem allowance of at least 1 ½ inches to allow for letting down. Make sure there are no raw edges and look at how the seams are finished. They should at the very least be overlocked which is where there are thread loops around the raw edges of the fabric. High quality items however would have French, flat felled or bound seams. Here either the seams are turned in on themselves so you cannot see the cut edge of the fabric or covered (bound) with another fabric making them stronger and more attractive.
Look at the stitching to see if there are any broken stitches or clumping, this is an indication that the sewing machine tension was wrong so the garment will not be as durable. The more stitches there are and closer together the better especially for finer fabrics. Are there reinforcements such as bar tacking or top stitching where needed for extra strength? The finer details of a garment such as whether it has lining or not and how well the corners and points are finished are another giveaway. Collar points and cuff corners for example should have had the seam allowance trimmed so there are no lumps and bumps.
Metal zips will always last longer than plastic ones and are less likely to misalign. Are the buttons good quality and sewn on well? Do the buttonholes have tight stitching and a neat slot? Lastly is a spare button or thread provided? This is a great clue that the garment is meant to be looked after and loved.
A final suggestion is to go and look at some high end designer clothing. Of course we can’t all afford to buy such luxury goods but try some on and you will be able to feel the difference. It will then be easier to spot good quality. Great bargains on designer pieces can always be nabbed on online auctions & in second hand shops if you are willing to have a good hunt around.
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