Save. Spend. Splurge.

Shop Quality Series: Quick Primer of Why Fast Fashion Sucks in a Nutshell

This is part of the Shop Quality Series.

So this is my very fast primer when I look at something that looks somewhat decent from afar.

Not bad right? Faux suede… looks like a cute-ish vegan trench coat:

But then you touch it and realize the fabric is fine, but the stitching for instance, is crap.

The stitching in fast fashion is just one long line of thread stitching. And just one. Not two or three. You can see how it is the MINIMUM amount of stitches to keep something together in a garment, versus properly making sure it is cut well, stitched well to last and not fray.

Then, you see ONE line of thread. This means that you pull this one thread, and the whole garment may just unravel in your hands.

It is cheaper, and less time-consuming for a worker to do ONE long lined stitch (badly done, loose stitching), rather than stitch it on one side, stop, tie it off, switch to another and stitch it there.

See? Minimum amount of effort possible. You can see that grey square right behind that pocket? Well that is the fabric for the item itself and they didn’t bother  to colour it because no one will see the inside.

That is another sign of fast fashion’s cheapness — just because you can’t see the lining or the inside, is where all the garbage work is done and thrown.

The pocket is barely hanging on with threads, and the lining doesn’t look well done or impeccably finished. When you take your coat off, do you want to be embarrassed at the lining? No.

Then we come to examining the stitching at the shoulder:

See how the seams don’t line up properly? They cut the fabric then sewed it together askew at the shoulder, right where most people will see the line and shape/drape of the garment on you, AND this is an eyesore. Honestly, you may not notice it on someone, but I notice it.

I also notice it when people don’t hem their pants to the correct lengths, and I see this bunched up excess fabric at the ankle that drives me bonkers.

For the record – try and hem everything at the ankle if it is skinny or straight style. It usually works with all heel heights – flat, wedges, even heels, and looks cool. This is 99% of what I own.

Only with wide-legged pants, bootcut, trouser, could you try for a longer hem because you may want the hem 1″ off the ground for wide-legged pants.

I don’t wear heels with wide-legged pants because I think it looks funny with stilettos unless the hem completely covers my entire foot save for 1″ off the ground, so all of my wide-legged pants are hemmed for me to wear them with sandals or flats.

Anyway, you can see how just the cut and the finish of the edges of this coat is why fast fashion doesn’t look as luxe. You can’t tell from afar, but up close, you can see it, and once you do, you can’t unsee it.

I always look for matching prints, patterns, seams, properly done stitching, no loose threads and care taken with a garment to determine quality, regardless of its brand name or price.

I also check the fabric — is it mostly polyester? A blend of it? Pass.




  • Dublincalling

    Good article. So many people do not understand how to determine a good quality garment. My mom was a seamstress trained in Europe so I grew up knowing all about this. Properly lined patterns, linings, double stitching , stitched inseams , good quality zippers and buttons etc. And yes a properly tailored garment will cost more but it will last longer also. I also find that even some designer brands have eased up on quality. ( but not on price!) You really need to turn the garment inside out . This is where vintage or secondhand is very useful as clothes were made better ie fully lined pants and jackets, better fabrics, more attention to detail, lined pockets etc.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      I think I need to take a course or work for a seamstress just to understand stitching and seams better. I can tell between my designer and non-designer pieces (shoddy workmanship, etc) but I’d like to know more.

      Oh my, designer brands are a HORRIBLE hit and miss. It’s truly ghastly if you aren’t able to touch it in person and have to go on guessing.

      Vintage is my go-to.

  • Anne

    I’ve been disappointed so many times after taking a closer look at dresses of fast fashion brands. They may have nice cuts and prints, but the fabric is most often polyester or low quality viscose. Sometimes the fabric is silk – but then they ruin the whole thing by using POLYESTER lining. With a SILK dress. What a waste!
    Nowadays I don’t bother browsing the clothes of those brands, but shop at sales. That way I can get better quality for lower price.

  • Catherine T

    I wasn’t able to determine that the quality was my concern, but I definitely noticed that pieces that I bought from Old Navy would often pill shortly after being worn. For instance, their sweater dresses looked simple and comparable to more expensive brands. but I found the latest ones I’ve owned pill even after the first few wears (even before being washed). Another thing, is how the garment feels – soft does the fabric feel, how does it drape, how does it breathe? Often times, polyesters blouses may look similar (to my untrained eye!), but will feel completely different when worn compared to a silk blouse.

    • Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      100% true. The fabric and even the blend in more expensive brands TEND to be worth the price versus the cheap mainstream stuff. It depends, as I have items from Zara and H&M, even Joe Fresh that have stood the test of time. It’s a hit and miss even within the same brand itself (e.g. Banana Republic, J. Crew…)

  • Anon

    I’m not good at being able to tell what’s well made, so this is very informative! I would be interested in more posts like this to help me know what to look for! But I think these things are hard to look for in online photos.

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