Disclaimer : I do not have the empirical proof for most things I will say in this post. I may have tried out one or two pieces from each brand. This makes it rather bad data science to come to conclusions. Its more qualitative than quantitative analysis. Like any engineer, I made a chart and plotted all of my findings on it. I have tried out a few designers in the last decade who make goods that meet my requirements. I am a 30 year old with reasonable expectations of quality. Before I understood the meaning of the word quality, I shopped exclusively at Zara and Free People. I have always hated F21 and H&M. Even during the days when I made 400$ a month and shared a room with two other girls. The garments feel like crap and I dont want to wear them. Here is my review.
I am sure the brands listed above sell some fragile delicate ones too. I avoid such pieces of art. I size up so that the seams at the shoulders don’t get too much stress when I wear a backpack or when I have my hands stretched when I bike. I used to pick the smallest size I could fit into and it affected the stitching on the seams with wear. Now, I always size up for a more relaxed fit and durability.
Everlane and Equipment take care of my shirting needs. You can find Equipment shirts in plenty on the second hand market which is where I get mine. Their boyfriend fit is my perfect oversized shirt. Everlane is nice but I wish they upped their technique on how they stitch their seams and buttons. But given the price, fit and transparency, I won’t complain.
I am not qualified to give anyone advice about denim. I own a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans which are of excellent quality. I purchased a pair of R13’s Japanese raw denim last black friday. I am still breaking them in. When I bike, it feels like I am rubbing sand paper on myself when I wear raw denim.
I wore out so many shoes during my grad school days that I developed a paranoia. When I see something designed for active people, is high quality and affordable, I buy it. This partly explains my 16 pair shoe collection. Its also partly lack of discipline. The rest is greed. I have a shoe problem. NDC Made by Hand is the best quality I found so far for the price point. I look for a thick sole, high vamp, good leather and great craftsmanship. But who doesn’t ? I don’t own any heels. I wear ballerinas, loafers, oxfords and boots.
In India, I used to carry a cotton tote bag. My first real bag after I moved was from Lauren Bush’s Feed organization – their jute bag. In return, they fed two children school lunch for an entire year and pay living wages the to women who make the bag. Later on, I discovered Campomaggi. They are very durable and make the most beautiful brown leather. I purchased the Proenza Schouler PS1 in 2014 which started stretching and sagging after a month. I sold it before it got worse to recover the money. Luxury handbags scare me since. I am happy with the mid range ones that are functional.
These charts are rather oversimplified, but they capture the general gist of my conclusions. I am trying to show why I shop second hand. There is acceptable quality, there is good quality and then there is luxury. I refuse to pay the money for luxury. The law of diminishing returns states that beyond a certain point, the benefits gained are not in relation to the effort spent. Lets leave haute couture clothing out of these charts. I set my own cut-off point as to how much quality I expect and the price I am willing to spend for it. I draw the line at Cuyana. It has never disappointed me so far and is my favourite brand. Anything above my tipping point, I shop second hand.
Can the brands send me a cease and desist letter for this post on account of defamation with no evidence ? The purpose of this post is not to preach my version of good and bad. But to encourage everyone to find their own comfort zone for price point and quality. I am sure everyone has their own tipping point. Would you please share yours ?