How to check for ‘quality’ when shopping for clothes?

Market research studies show that fashion shoppers in Southeast Asia prioritize quality and durability of fabric over price and even sustainability . Given the long queues outside fast fashion stores and the growing online business of fast fashion brands, this study got us thinking how consumers were assessing quality of apparels when shopping. It was time for a post about how to check for quality when shopping for clothes.

The most important part of garment construction are the seams that bring the garment together. Placed on the inside and outside of the garment, they ensure quality and durability of a product. Seams need to be to checked, just as equally as the fabric, to ensure you are paying for the quality that is being promised.

3 things you should look out for when checking seams:

Choosing natural fabrics like cotton, silk, linen provide a comfortable wear and are more qualitative than synthetic fibers like polyester. Seams should match the weight of the fabric and also take into account the functionality of the garment. French seams, most seamstress’ favorite, denote high quality and are suitable for light weight fabrics like chiffon or organza. Flat-felled seams are stronger and suited for fabrics like denim to hold the bulk of the fabric together and offer durability for prolonged usage.

Check the finish of the seams

Seams that are neatly bound, taped or sewn to hide rough edges, showcase the workmanship and the quality standards of the brand. There are several different ways to finish the raw edge of the fabrics -for e.g.: by using pinking shears to make a zig-zag cut on the fabric edge which will stop it from fraying, serging the edges, or enclosing the edges by binding them together with a fabric tape.

Here is a good resource if you are keen to have in-depth information on seams.

Avoid seams like these

For a qualitative garment construction, the inside of the fabric is just as beautifully finished as the outside. Exposed raw edges, loose threads, broken lines of stitching are an indication of poor quality and does nothing to ensure longevity of the item. The seams will come loose with movement or even after a couple of laundry cycles. Another indicator of poor quality is the tightness and closeness of the stitches. Stitches in a seam that are far from each other will fall apart quickly – you will often see this on skirt or dress hems.

In the end, higher quality finish of the garment will be reflected in the overall fit, finish and comfort. If the inside of the garment has just as pleasing an aesthetic as the outside you are investing in a qualitative wardrobe that gives you value for your money.