It’s time to talk about quality. I hope I always talk about quality; I try to anyway – but now, let’s get down and dirty. I don’t think I have unreasonable expectations that the things I buy should last some time before they become un-wearable. I do also understand that a higher price does not automatically equal higher quality, BUT when I do pay more for something, I expect it to last longer. Am I wrong to believe that? I don’t think so.
A $5 cotton t-shirt is not the same as a $50 cotton t-shirt. Sure, cotton is cotton (generally, and unless it’s organic), but there are different ways of treating it to make it softer, etc. that is reflected in the price. Also, the $5 t-shirt will be just a basic v-neck tee with no shape at all, whereas my $50 casual t-shirt from James Perse is the perfect shape and style for my body. I have never been able to find another t-shirt that fits me as nicely as the casual t-shirt, and that I like wearing as much, and believe me, I’ve tried. I wish I could wear my casual t-shirts all the time, but I can’t. Because they get holes in them. I have a zillion men’s hanes v-neck tees that I wear around the house, and not one of them has a hole. But within a few wears of getting my latest white casual t-shirt from James Perse it had a hole in the front.
It’s not only my James Perse tees, most of my LnA tees have holes in them (the white ones anyway – I think it has something to do with the color? bleach?), my newest Splendid tee (the light jersey style, NOT the 1×1, which is far superior) has a hole in it, both of my Joie linen tops (so sad, because I really love them) have holes in them, my L’Agence tee has a hole in it, my Rick Owens Lilies tunic has LOTS AND LOTS of holes in it (I wore it twice)…I think that covers it. I did happen to see the Splendid top immediately before and after “the hole” and determined that it was a direct result of leaning up against the bathroom counter and the shirt getting “rubbed” against the waistband of my jeans, you know, where the button is and the placket sticks out a bit? That I can kind of understand, but seriously, it’s THAT delicate that such light friction causes a hole immediately? Incidentally, I have an orange version of that same tee (Splendid light jersey) and I don’t have any holes in it. Maybe because I never wore it with jeans?
So, what’s a girl to do? Not wear tees with jeans? Have different tees to wear with jeans – tees that are “heavier” and not so delicate? Stick to cheap tees? I don’t have the answer, but I am going to try some cheaper tees, like Everlane and see how they hold up (I’m very intrigued by Everlane, the tees are $15 or so, and they’re made in the US. I’ll take that over Gap any day – actually, I just bought two white tees, will report back as soon as I get them!). I do have one T by Alexander Wang long sleeve tee that doesn’t have any holes in it, but if you accidentally dry it, you’re in trouble. It shrunk A LOT.
Other than tees, I haven’t had a lot of issues with many other pieces. Lately, I noticed the stitching at the waistband coming out of my HELMUT leggings (I had it fixed for $7, but it still shouldn’t have happened), and the back hem of my Ann Taylor loft striped top came out completely after 1 wear – it also shrunk a lot. I’ve been toying with getting a new one, but I shouldn’t have to do that. I could also take it back and try to exchange it. I used to do that whenever I had a problem with an item of clothing – to great success. Because I don’t shop offline much anymore, maybe I don’t think I CAN do it, but it’s worth a try.
Several years ago, I took a top back to Anthropologie that shrunk in the dryer after I followed the washing instructions, and they took it back, no problem. I also took back a DarylK for Co-Op jacket I LOVED after the boning in the shoulder started sticking through; the store manager took it to their tailor to see if it could be fixed, but since it couldn’t, he refunded me the full-price of the jacket, even though I’d had and worn it already for many months. I’ve also taken shoes back to Neiman Marcus & Max Mara for them to send away and be fixed. And I’ve always had good results. Maybe that’s what we should be doing more of – taking things back and asking that the stores that sell them repair them, or replace them for them. I’ve never actually been refused. And if we DON’T do that, how will they actually know there are quality issues? It’s up to us to complain about things that don’t meet our expectations, but we don’t.
Lest you think all I’m doing is complaining…most of my pieces have held up extremely well over the years. I’m deliriously happy with how well all of my James Perse items have stood the test of time – except the casual t – many of them still look as good as the day I bought them, which in some cases was 7-8 years ago. I’ve had wonderful luck with Goldsign jeans – they last forever, my oldest pair is 7 years old. Now, I’m wearing AG and I’m pleased with the quality so far, by I’ve only had them for a few months. My Inhabit cotton & cashmere has served me incredibly well over the years – my “beeswax” cotton cardigan gets the most wear of any of my pieces, and it still looks the same as when I got it 5 or so years ago.
Here are some of my favorites:
I’m mostly happy with the quality of the pieces I buy; it just seems that as tees get thinner and thinner and slouchier and slouchier, they tend to not last as long as they should. I don’t expect things to last “forever” but as I mentioned above, I do have many James Perse pieces & jeans that will be 10 years old soon, and they still look and feel great, so why shouldn’t I expect things to last for 10-15 years?
I don’t know the answer, but I think it starts with us – the consumer – starting to hold designers & retailers accountable for the pieces we aren’t happy with. For ANY reason. If a t-shirt gets a hole in the front, it’s unwearable. If a top shrinks so much that it’s basically no longer the same top, it’s unwearable. We should take them back and ask for help getting the issue resolved somehow. I do NOT think that’s unreasonable.
What do you think? Have you had success taking something back to a retailer that didn’t meet your expectations? Have you had a negative experience? What are your highest quality pieces?
**edited to add later: look what I found!!
Maybe we should be embracing our hole-y tees instead of complaining about them LOL. She probably paid a lot of money for that hole on her tee…