Are Expensive Clothes Always Better Quality?
June 11, 2019
For quite a while I was exclusively buying cheap clothing as a way to save money. However, in the last year or so, I decided to invest in better quality clothes. I am paying more per item, but I’m buying way less stuff than I was before. But do expensive clothes worth it?
Are expensive clothes better quality? While a cheap price is usually the sign of bad quality, it doesn’t work the other way around. Most times more expensive clothes are better quality but you often have to pay extra for the label, especially in the case of luxury items.
There’s a healthy amount we should pay for our garments if we want high-quality and durability. And it takes some experimenting and research to find the brands that give you the best quality for the money you’re willing to invest.
How Does Quality Improve with a Higher Price?
There are a couple of different factors that could affect the quality and as a result, the price of a piece of clothing. Some are more obvious, but there are a couple that isn’t as straight forward.
The material is probably the most important, and most visible aspect of an item. Better materials are more durable, and they keep looking great for a longer time. They are also more comfortable for our skin.
In comparison, a cheap, synthetic material, like polyester usually looks bad and unflattering even when it’s brand new.
Natural materials like organic cotton, linen, and new, innovative materials like Tencel might be more expensive, but it makes so much difference in comfort and in aesthetics.
Cheap brands make their clothes in sweatshops where garment workers have to work at an insane pace. Since they have to produce so fast, they don’t have the time to do a quality job. The stitching of fast fashion clothing is always very loose, and I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed, but this is where your clothes start to fall apart, sometimes only after a couple of weeks.
There are, of course, more expensive brands that use sweatshops as well, their quality won’t be any better than the quality of fast fashion pieces.
Try to find companies who pay their workers fairly! The stitching of their clothes will be denser and the clothes itself will usually have better tailoring. Their higher prices will be the sign of better quality! And hey, it’ll also make you feel better if you stop supporting sweatshops!
Buying Less = Buying Better
Now let’s talk about the psychological effects of buying more expensive clothes vs. buying cheap fast fashion!
If you’ve ever bought a car or a house, you must know that we tend to be more careful with bigger purposes.
Things that cost less than $10 have basically zero effect on our brain, we don’t even think about them. That’s why we buy cheap clothes, and that’s why we buy so much of it. Much more than we actually need.
What happens when you start to buy more expensive clothes is that you will buy less, and you will make each purchase count. The clothes you buy will be better quality because you will make sure, they are of better quality. You will do your research and think about every item you buy.
Taking care of expensive vs. cheap clothes
When you buy something cheap you don’t care too much about making it last for long. They are replaceable way too easily.
On the other hand, expensive clothes are something you treasure. And you also want to prove to yourself (or maybe to your spouse) that they worth it. So you’re making sure you wash them according to the label and store them properly.
As a result, more expensive clothes will last longer even if they’re not necessarily better quality!
Expensive Clothes Aren’t That Expensive
If you buy high-quality clothes, often they aren’t actually expensive in the long run. If you want to keep your current budget, you have to buy a smaller amount of items. And having fewer clothes actually costs less.
First of all, good quality clothes last longer which means you’re going to be able to wear them more than cheaper clothes. Consequently, the cost per wear(CPW) of a more expensive item might be lower than a cheap one.
For example, if you wear a $5 T-shirt 20 times before it gets ruined, its cost per wear is $5 / 20 = $0.25
But if you have a $20 T-shirt that you’ve worn 100 times already, the CPW is $20 / 100 = $0.20 which means it was less expensive than the cheap one!
Secondly, there’s a hidden cost of having too many clothes that is extremely high: storage space! Apartment prices are so high these days, it is crucial to think about how do you want to use your space! Storing cheap clothes you never wear?
The third hidden cost of cheap clothing is your time! If you buy cheap clothes, low-quality clothes, you have to repurchase them more often. It means going to the mall on scrolling through online stores, either way, that time could be better spent otherwise. Not to mention the stress of crowded stores or lost packages…
The last hidden cost of cheap clothing is that they aren’t really cheap! That difference in the cost has been paid by somebody else. By the factory worker who didn’t get a decent salary or future generations who has to deal with the environmental problems of fast fashion.
How Much Should You Pay for Your Clothes?
Unfortunately, the price of an item doesn’t always represent its actual value. It rather depends on how much money are people willing to pay for it. This is why the two extremes dominate the prices of fashion.
On the one hand, fast fashion companies are pushing lower and lower their prices to fight competition. On the other hand, luxury brands are selling designer items for ridiculous figures.
What does this say about us, the consumers? We are cheap AF but we would pay anything to look rich?
I think a middle ground would be a healthier solution!
Shopping cheap clothes that you have to throw out in less than a year so wasteful, paying an extreme amount of money for a logo is just unnecessary.
Buying quality clothes that last long for a fair price is the way to go!
It is difficult to say what’s the fair price, it highly depends on your budget. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t spend more than 5% of your income on clothes and shouldn’t buy more than 20 items per year!
Here’s how much I think is a reasonable price for different items:
- Top: $50
- Sweater: $80
- Bottom: $80
- Dress: $100
- Shoes: $150
- Bag: $120
- Jacket/coat: $200
- Accessories: $50
Good Quality Isn’t Always Guaranteed
Be cautious about buying more expensive clothes! Even though a higher price means higher quality until a certain level, there might be some exceptions. Always check out the materials and whether or not the company produces in sweatshops!
It is best to stick with sustainable or slow fashion brands whose purpose is to create long-lasting pieces.
If you need recommendations, check out my list of favorite sustainable fashion brands! I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll like!
Is designer clothing worth the money? When buying designer clothing, you’re usually paying for the logo. The price increases a lot compared to mid-range clothing while the quality stays more or less the same. Designer clothing doesn’t worth your money unless you’re certain you’ll wear it for a very long time.
Why are luxury bags so expensive? Luxury bags are expensive in order to be exclusive. The fact that most people can’t afford them makes it so appealing to the consumers. It isn’t the bag itself, but the status symbol that costs so much money.
Written by Csilla Herbszt, a sustainably stylish fashion blogger living her vegan life in Switzerland. You should follow her on Instagram!