A guide to identifying good quality clothing

Being able to identify the quality of clothes used to be a common thing amongst buyers decades ago. You can even ask the older generation today, and they will tell you what to look for when buying new clothes. A few checks while you are shopping can help you find a clothing item that will last while also saving you money in the long run.

So, how can you evaluate a clothing item that you like, but want to check if it is indeed good quality?

Let’s start with fabric and construction

It’s the quality of fibres, which affects the quality of clothing. Some clothes use better fabrics, while others are made of cheaper fabrics. This is often the case with many fast fashion companies, but it is very easy to identify poor quality. It can simply be judged through a touch test.

How do I use the touch test to identify good quality clothing?

How a piece of cloth feels is a strong indicator of its quality. Clothing that is heavy, substantial and made of natural fibres would have a certain feel to it. Even if the clothing is light in weight, the quality of the fabric stands out. You will note that many fast fashion or cheap clothes tend to have a more refined finish than other fast fashion companies because they want to match the style of fast fashion companies. 

Just by touching the fabric of the clothing item you can get an idea if it’s good or poor quality. A few things you should look out for:

  • The clothing item shouldn’t feel fragile to touch.
  • Pull the fabric to see if it retains its shape, if it doesn’t it isn’t a good sign.
  • You can scrunch up a section of the clothing item and if it wrinkles easily, it won’t last long.
  • For cotton based clothing, you should stick your hand in it to see if you can see your hand; if you can, it is poor quality cotton.

In terms of the construction of the clothing item, here are a few things to look out for

  • Check the clothing item for snagging, pilling, and pulled threads; if it’s already falling apart in the store, it won’t last long at home.
  • Patterns should line up correctly at seams.
  • Buttonholes should be stitched properly and the buttons themselves should be firmly sewn on, fitting perfectly into the buttonhole without being forced.
  • The linings should be full and well constructed; this is especially useful for blazers, coats and dresses.
  • Turn the clothing item inside out and check the seams, which should be clean and finished.
  • Often, good quality clothing have deep hems and good seam allowance.

Poor quality clothes would feel thin. Expensive clothes are smooth, soft and substantial. Thin clothes tend to fall apart after a little wear and tear.

The seams on a clothing item will give you a good idea of the quality of the clothes. Stitches on any cloth should be even, closely spaced, and lying flat on the fabric. Seams are done through machines, but the quality assurance process would help filter out clothes that are not well seamed.

Fabric composition and country of origin 

Checking the fabric composition

  • The fabric composition tags provide an outline of the fabrics used to manufacture the clothing item.
  • If the fabrics are a mixture of natural and man-made fibres, and they feel poor when using the touch test, the clothing will be poor.

Where were the clothes made?

  • Clothing items made in a first world country like US, UK, France, Portugal, Spain,Italy and Germany are often of higher level of quality, but the above checks still need to be done because low quality suppliers exist in all countries
  • Made in Pakistan/Vietnam/Bangladesh is seen often on many cheaper clothing and is an indicator of poor quality, generally speaking.
  • Made in China does not necessarily mean poor quality, as China has been manufacturing clothing for decades now and some factories are quite advanced. Many high end and luxury brands have their clothes made in China now. Maybe it’s not super high quality, but it doesn’t mean the clothes will fall apart after a few wearings.

Clothing quality can be easy to identify if you conduct the right checks and have a little knowledge about clothing. If you follow the steps above, you will be able to get a good indication of quality of clothing. Remember, good quality is worth paying for and coupled with good practices of the manufacturer, you have a brand you want to buy more from.

Coming soon

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