How To Know Your Clothes Are Made With High-Quality Garment Construction

Woman understands high quality garment construction wears a long-lasting Zadig & Voltaire blazer.

From the intricate details of material selection to the hidden gems within luxury clothing and the pitfalls of fast fashion shortcuts, this guide is your compass for building a wardrobe that not only stands the test of time but also reflects a commitment to well-made garment construction.

7 Signs to Identify High-Quality Garment Construction

So, you’re out shopping and want to make sure the clothes you’re eyeing are not just a passing trend but will stand the test of time. Here’s your go-to checklist for spotting high quality garment construction that will keep your wardrobe looking sharp for years to come.

Material Matters

Start by checking your clothing tag for fabric composition. High quality garment construction uses cotton, linen, silk, cashmere, or wool instead of synthetic ones (made with petroleum – yikes!). Bonus points if the fabric is ethically and sustainably made, using recycled materials, or made with organic certifications. You’d be surprised at the number of clothing that are made with eco-friendly textiles!

Watch out for unintentional sheerness. Fast fashion often uses super-thin, see-through fabric. Do the Hand Test: if you can see your hand through the fabric, especially in the light, it’s too sheer.

Stitching Secrets

Inspect the stitching. Well-made clothes should be tighter, straight, and even. Don’t forget to check the underside; fast fashion tends to hide stitching flaws on the inside. A clean underside indicates quality clothing.

Seamless Seams

Look at the seams. Are they straight, or do you see bunching and bubbles? High-quality garment construction won’t have twisting or stretching on one side; cohesive sewing prevents irregular stitching whereas if it was sewn in different directions, you’ll notice asymmetrical stretching.

Edges That Last

Examine whether the edges of the fabric were finished properly. Whether it’s a lining, serging, French seams, or flat-felled seams (used on the inseams of your jeans), it helps prevent fraying and ensures a polished look. And if you already spot signs of unraveling in-store, put it back.

Pattern Matching

For patterned clothing like stripes or plaids, check the seams; well-made clothing construction considers pattern matching during cutting and sewing. Poorly constructed ones won’t align seamlessly.

Lock Stitching and Bartacks

Ensure high-tension seams are reinforced. Look for neat, clean stitching in specific areas like pockets, belt loops, and the ends of the J-stitch on jeans. This reinforcement indicates well-made clothes and will withstand many wears.

No Pilling, Pulls, Wrinkles, or Loose Threads

Watch out for signs of wear before you even buy it. Pilling, pulls, wrinkles and loose threads are indicators of low-quality materials or rushed craftsmanship. If you spot these in the store, it’s probably best to put it back.

How to Identify Luxurious Garment Construction

So you’ve set your sights on luxury fashion, and you want to know how to spot the real deal. Here are some telltale signs of superior, luxurious garment construction that often indicate high quality clothing and attention to detail.

More Woven Fabrics

Luxury brands tend to favor more luxurious fabrics over stretchy fabrics. Not that knit fabrics are a no-go for them, but fast fashion tends to lean towards knits due to their easier sewing processing and stretch that accommodates a broader range of body sizes. Woven fabrics, especially in fitted garments, demand precise sizing design and proper finishing to prevent unraveling – a mark of a more meticulous production process.

Fuller Skirts with Gather and Pleats

Ever notice those dresses or skirts with voluminous gathers or pleats? That’s a sign of luxurious garment construction. Creating ultra-full skirts requires more fabric, time, and effort. Fast fashion usually opts for smaller, simpler styles to cut costs, steering clear of the extra fabric needed for these elaborate designs.

Pleats for Movement

For clothes that let you move freely, check for pleats. Adding pleats to the back of jackets or kick pleats at the bottom of skirts ensures extra room for comfortable movement. Without these details, your clothing might restrict your natural body movements.

Tacked Shut Pockets and Back Pleats

When pockets and back pleats are hand-tacked shut, it’s a sign of craftsmanship. This step helps maintain the garment’s form, preventing it from losing its shape before it even reaches your wardrobe.

Top Stitching

While top stitching can be visually appealing, it also serves a functional purpose– reinforcing seams to prevent them from losing their shape over time. It’s an additional step that adds durability to the garment.

Bound Pockets and Button Holes

Details like bound pockets and buttonholes require extra materials and skills. Fast fashion brands, focused on quantity and cost-cutting, often skip these finer, more time-consuming touches.

Inside the Garment Details

Take a peek inside your clothes for special linings, piping, and well-crafted buttons. Luxury brands care about every detail, even those hidden from plain sight. These internal features add to the overall quality of the garment construction

Hidden Button Plackets

A hidden button placket is a sophisticated detail that demands extra skill and materials. You won’t find this level of craftsmanship in most poor-quality garments.

Branded Buttons

Quality extended to the smallest details, like buttons. Branded buttons are an extra step that sets high quality clothing apart, often made from superior metals rather than plastic.

Mitered Corners

In higher-end coats, look for mitered corners –edges meeting at a precise 45-degree angle, creating a flawless 90-degree corner. This special skill, often skilled by fast fashion for cheaper alternatives, is a hallmark of luxurious garment construction.

Woman wears a yellow Zadig & Volture blazer understands high quality garment construction.
Woman wears a Zadig & Voltaire yellow  blazer and understands high-quality garment construction

Understanding the Signs of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion brands thrive on swift clothing production at minimal costs. It’s important to understand the shortcuts they take in production which result in the creation of low-quality garments. Please note that while these fast fashion signs may not definitively indicate poor-quality clothing, they serve as warnings for the shortcuts frequently adopted by fast fashion brands. Here, we explore how to know if a brand is fast fashion:

Plastic Fabric

Beware of garments made from synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and acrylic. While these materials are cost-effective, they’re essentially a byproduct of petroleum and crude oil– which is basically like wearing clothing made of plastic bottles. The environmental toll and microplastic pollution associated with their production suggest a focus on quantity over mindfulness and craftsmanship.

One Size Fits Many

Fast fashion often relies on stretchy fabrics, adjustable features, and “oversized” designs to create a one-size-fits-many illusion. This enables quick production without the need for meticulous fitting. Keep in mind that high quality clothing can utilize these techniques, but crafting pieces without stretch for various sizes requires a more skilled approach.

Simple Designs with Flashy Embellishments

Basic designs with added embellishments are a common fast fashion tactic. While simple designs aid in speedy production, brands compensate with cheap embellishments like feather trims or rhinestone chains.

And watch out for glued-on details–they’re prone to fall off after just a few wears. Opt for hand-sewn embellishments, which indicate a more durable and thoughtful construction.

Use of Busy Patterns

Bright, busy patterns allow fast fashion to create visually interesting clothes without the hassle of pattern matching. This tactic introduces trendy elements to otherwise plain garments without the added time and cost.

Using Fabrics That Don’t Need Hemming

Incorporating fabrics like faux leather or leaving jeans with raw edges is a cost-effective choice for fast fashion brands. These fabrics often don’t require hemming or finishing, saving time, money, and materials. However, these types of materials like faux leather are made from polyurethane which is known to fall apart over time.

Copycats and Dupes

Unlike renowned fashion houses with visionary directors, fast fashion brands often resort to copying fashion trends from the runway at an alarming pace. This lack of originality not only stifles creativity and innovation but also undermines the hard work of designers who deserve proper recognition and compensation for their creations.

By staying informed about these fast fashion tactics, you can make more mindful choices that align with your values and contribute to a more long-lasting closet.

How to Know High-Quality Garment Construction from the Store

You can often gauge a store’s commitment to craftsmanship by simply walking in and observing its physical space. While each sign alone may not definitively indicate the quality of the clothing, collectively, these elements can provide insights into the craftsmanship behind well made garment construction:

Thoughtful Store Design

Consider the overall design of the store. Fast fashion giants like Zara or Forever 21 often embrace a modern and minimalistic aesthetic, but it tends to look stark and sterile. If the emphasis is to produce as many clothes as possible, then retail merchandising is an afterthought. On the contrary, brands offering high quality clothing invest in thoughtful displays that elevate the shopping experience and create a connection between customers and the brand they are purchasing.

Limited Clothing Selection

Take note of the range of clothing offered. Fast fashion stores can feel overwhelming, with a seemingly endless array of styles. It’s never a good sign when there’s an escalator and multiple levels to the store. In contrast, brands focused on high quality clothing tend to curate a smaller, more cohesive selection. The emphasis is on quality rather than quantity.

Neat and Organized

The organization of the store is a key indicator. Fast fashion spaces may be characterized by chaotic, unfolded clothing piles or items falling off hangers. Dressing rooms may be messy or unattended. On the other hand, stores offering high quality clothing maintain a sense of order and cleanliness, reflecting a commitment to presenting their products in the best light.

Properly Displayed Clothing

Consider how the clothing is presented. High quality clothing brands pay attention to the presentation of their clothes. They carefully select displays and hangers to avoid stretching or leaving clip marks on the pieces. The focus is on showcasing the clothing in the best possible way, reflecting an understanding of the importance of presentation to convey quality.

By slow shopping and paying attention to these physical cues in a store, you can gain valuable insights into the level of craftsmanship and care that goes into the creation and presentation of the clothing.

When navigating the intricate world of fashion choices, being mindful of the subtle indicators discussed can empower you as a consumer. From the material composition of garments to the intricate details of their garment construction, and even the ambiance of the retail space, these considerations allow you to make informed decisions about the quality and craftsmanship of your clothing.

While no single factor may serve as an absolute measure of quality, collectively, these signs provide a compass for distinguishing between the offerings of fast fashion and those brands that prioritize durability, sustainability, and thoughtful design. By aligning your choices with brands that invest in high quality clothing, you not only elevate your wardrobe but also stopping fast fashion to contribute to a more conscientious fashion landscape.

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