An Issue of Quality: Does it matter where a garment is made if the quality is good?

Discussion in 'Fashion... In Depth' started by irresistable_loz, Dec 28, 2009.

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  1. irresistable_loz

    irresistable_loz New Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I'm curious to get some opinions on this, as it seems to be a bit of a sore point sometimes, and as a fledgling designer, it is one issue that can't seem to be ignored.

    When it comes to an outfit, particularly in the 'designer' category where things do tend to be marked up, if not by the designer then by the stores, does it really matter where something is made, if the quality is GOOD?

    People seem to get annoyed at designers charging what they see is excessive amounts because it was made in a particular country. But if the quality is just as good or better than an item made in france or italy, or the US, should it matter?

    All thoughts welcome ^_^
     
  2. hopelessly

    hopelessly New Member

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    This is a very contentious subject. And for me its less about the quality, or the particular country, and more about human rights.

    The problem with clothes or products that are made offshore, is that their policies are very hard to monitor. In terms of the way they treat workers, what conditions people work under, and what your money is being used for (the designer paying for the manufacture of goods.)

    If you live near a factory that manufactures clothes - you can go and see in person - what the conditions are like. I personally prefer to buy clothes that are made in Australia, by small designers, to support my local industry and neighbours.

    I don't like to buy from chain stores that outsource production to poorer countries because it is doubtful that those workers are being treated fairly. And also factories in such countries have 'show' factories where they take designers or quality assurance staff to see all is in order, but in reality the goods are being made at another factory down the road where workers sew in the dark bc it is too expensive to turn lights on, work 16 hour shifts, no breaks etc, all to meet your deadlines.

    This is most definitely a double edges sword though, as the reality is hundreds and thousands of people rely on the western fashion industry to make a living. So if US, UK, Aus etc stops sourcing these factories to produce our clothes, then how else are they meant to survive?

    I am really passionate about this topic, and I know it is a not necessarily exactly the point you were making, but I do feel it is important.
     
  3. Marciano Olsz

    Marciano Olsz New Member

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    I don't really mind where it is made or by who. If I can get a product that looks the same as the original with better or of equal quality, just 10x less, hell I'll buy it! Who can tell? Nobody can. I replicate some designer clothing too, metal logos etc. Probably why I only buy designer stuff when I hunt it down on mega sales (eg, Holt Renfrew had a blowout sale at their retailer, found some crazy cheap stuff. Up to 80% off!).
     
    #3 Marciano Olsz, Dec 28, 2009
    Last edited by moderator vickycompany06: Dec 28, 2009
  4. papa_levante

    papa_levante oh! darling

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    There's really no competition. I would rather pay a little bit extra for something made of better quality. Especially at the mall where crappy material is in abundance, you might even pay the same price for a lesser quality shirt. For basics, quality matters because after all, they are basics, and I will be wearing them with frequency.

    Of course, sometimes I will get lesser quality items. Especially when it comes to shoes -flats in particular- quality doesn't matter too much. But lesser quality heels are awful for my feet.
     
  5. Salvatore

    Salvatore Wanderlust

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    I'm the exact opposite. I believe high quality is definitely needed in the shoe department since wearing bad shoes can cause foot problems and later cause troubles with knees, the hips, and back. It really does matter where the shoes are made because I believe the craft and skill is better and your bones (in most cases with shoes for men) were thought of. When it comes to garments, I think as long as it is quality, it will do. I purchased something simple of Ralph Lauren some years ago and it was made in Pakistan. It is still alive! However, as Hopelessly mentioned, to get cheap prices on some of this fast fashion, some companies cut corners and make the working conditions and that I do not support.

    Anyways, I think the problem most people have with buying pieces from anything outside of Italy, France, and others is that it is perceived to not carry air of buying into something 'foreign' if that makes sense. I suppose when you buy a piece from somewhere, you're buying a piece of that culture and many people fall for that. People are more likely to make over something coming from Paris than Bangladesh (no offense meant) because it's Paris. In whatever you purchased, it's like you got a little piece of the Tour Eiffel, Champs-Élysées, the cuisine, and even a French girl and/or boy. Technically it shouldn't matter, but it does to a lot of people. -_-
     
  6. irresistable_loz

    irresistable_loz New Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    It is a hard issue to deal with, and as I'm looking at launching my label in the next year, where I'm going to produce my clothing is an obvious issue I need to consider. Unfortunately I've been hard pressed finding general factories in Sydney... the ones here seemed to be owned by multi-brand multinationals.. I don't think they will be sharing.

    But I guess another problem is that, regardless of whether a factory does have ethical practice and treats its workers well, if its from a nation that has a reputation for 'sweat shops' and the like, many consumers will automatically make that assumption of the brand... and therefore issues like quality are second to a greater ethical issue.

    Too much for this little head to think about... sigh.
     
  7. hopelessly

    hopelessly New Member

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    It is a much harder path to get things made locally, but I believe its worth the fight.

    There are factories around, and plenty of poeple that can sew, you just have to find them. It also means that your things will be more expensive, but at least you can sleep easy knowing for certain you are paying people a fair wage and not contributing to inhumane conditions and the slave trade
     
  8. irresistable_loz

    irresistable_loz New Member

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    Don't suppose you have any names of factories down melbourne way? If you do, please feel free to pm me... I didn't have much luck last time I searched, although that was a year and a half ago.
     
  9. MarionasMuse

    MarionasMuse New Member

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    Yes,of course.
     
  10. hopelessly

    hopelessly New Member

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    I am sorry I dont know of any! I do all my sewing myself and employ a couple of helpers, but they work from home.

    I do know of a couple of other small melbourne brands that get their things made locally but I am not sure of what the factories are called sorry!
     
  11. BerlinRocks

    BerlinRocks New Member

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    of course, it matters.
    at least, to me.

    it's just a question of moral !!!!!!!

    and about this, a friend of mine recently told me that sometimes (we were @ COS :innocent:) the tag don't indicate where it was made because they don't want their customers to know where exactly it was made ...


    same here ...
    and also because shoes is really important in a wardrobe man ...
    since several years, I only buy shoes made in England, Italy or France. ie none of my current shoes are less than 250-300€ ... but it's worth it !
    (the only shoes I got from outside Europe is a pair of Stan Smith, I think)

    even the old Converse I had were part of an old stock "Made in USA" (it was like almost 10yrs ago in Tokyote, a parisian shop that doesn't exist anymore) ... I never found some, ever again !
     
  12. hopelessly

    hopelessly New Member

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    Some brands will get the majority of a garment made in one country where there is cheap labour, then ship the semi-made garments to their own country and do the final finishing things - eg the hem or attaching a collar - and they can then say it is "Made in ..." - the country they live in - with no mention of where the majority of the garment is made.
     
  13. irresistable_loz

    irresistable_loz New Member

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    Its a bit of a catch-22 here in Australia. Unless your one of the brands owned by the conglomerates, you can't access their factories, as they are owned by the conglomerate. A factory here in Sydney was raided because of the conditions, and was found to have sweat-shop conditions, right in our backyard!

    Unless you have the money to have a studio and employ people, its a hard country to manufacture in and make sure the working conditions are okay. Unfortunately I don't have the money to do that...

    BTW, love love LOVE all your things on etsy hopelessly :flower:
    Will definitely be putting in an order when I've got some money not going into the business.... sigh.
     
  14. irresistable_loz

    irresistable_loz New Member

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    But just to put things in perspective, I don't and will never condone poor working conditions. If I was unable to find organised labour that did have excellent conditions, I would wait to produce.

    Luckily I have found such a place through work connections, but if I were to go overseas it would be with the view to be made-in-australia as soon as is possible.
     
  15. hopelessly

    hopelessly New Member

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    Thanks so much loz :)

    It is a really tough battle, but I believe its the right thing to do.

    At the moment I sew everything myself, which means it is hard to grow the business, my fingers might drop off soon from so much sewing haha, but I could never compromise my vision and get things made elsewhere.

    And thats true what you say about it happening in our backyard. It is really very very sad.

    At least I can proudly stand and say that my pieces are truly made with love.
     
  16. BerlinRocks

    BerlinRocks New Member

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    yeah I heard that about American Apparel (for certain items, not all), for instance ...
    :innocent:
     
  17. skot4mc

    skot4mc Active Member

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    Good topic irresistable_loz!

    In my opinion, there is far too much marketing associated with the country of origin label on consumer goods. People have preconceived ideas as to what something made in Italy, or France etc will be like in terms of quality as opposed to something made in China, or India etc. Perhaps at the beginning of the developing world this was relevant, but I think nowadays it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Particularly given the influence of technology, which is bringing much more equality in manufacturing processes.

    I think it is easy to forget that China has had a huge manufacturing industry for some time; longer than most other countries. They have incredible infrastructure that allows them to produce consumer goods efficiently and effectively. Sure, they do have a sector of there manufacturing industry that specialises in inexpensive products. But I'm also convinced that they have manufacturers capable of producing exceptionally high quality products, including garments.

    There is a huge amount of influence that goes on in-between the manufactured product and the consumer. Like a designers reputation, price points, retail environment, workers rights etc, which are always going to sway a person to either buy a product or not, regardless of quality. And that is where I think there is a real problem.

    People will overlook poor quality in terms of construction or fabrication and finishing techniques for example, and purchase an item for the simple fact that it was "Made in Italy" and associated with a prestigious brand. And alternatively people will dismiss good quality because of a "Made in China" label.

    With the exception of a few brands, who have established persistent quality control of their goods, and are known for high quality products it will always be a blurry line.

    It is entirely up to the consumer to be able to judge whether something is good quality or not, and to pay accordingly.

    What makes this all the more interesting is that clearly consumer behaviour has changed dramatically over the last half century, particularly in relation to clothing. Quality used to be paramount, as longevity in garments was of the utmost importance. People valued hand finishing techniques for example, that ensured a better fit, and higher durability in the long run. Today fashion is a much faster moving entity that actively promotes change on a scheduled basis. A considerable amount of people now buy clothing with the idea that it will soon become obsolete, therefore quality takes a backseat to affordability and brand association.

    I find that frightening for a number of reasons, but namely the environmental impact.

    It has been talked about, but the global recession may have in a small way changed the way consumers spend. With quality being an important factor again as to whether you buy something or not. I'm sceptical, only because I have a feeling the marketing industry and the media are far too influential, and consumers will quickly be swayed by excess and materialism that is offered to them via means of credit. But if we really did change our thinking, designers, manufacturers and retailers would be forced to reconsider the fundamentals of a good business. Which is providing quality services or goods at a fair price. In my opinion, it is no coincidence that Uniqlo (as one example) has recorded increased earnings over the last year; as from my experience, they provide high quality, well designed garments at fair prices. From what I have bought, there is an acceptable balance between longevity in the construction quality and the design, to that of the price. Consumers do recognise this (even if it's on a subconscious level) and do return for more.

    I for one am thankful that I have enough of a background in design, garment construction, and textiles to know whether something is good or poor quality, well I hope I do anyway.

    It is up to the consumer to be educated independently on what it is they are buying regardless of what the label says. It sounds cliche, but it is true that the consumer does in-fact have all the power. It's just a shame most don't realise, and are relatively uneducated or simply uninterested when it comes to quality in garments.
     
  18. Ghostboy

    Ghostboy New Member

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    To me, it doesn't matter if my garment was made in China or Italy because I know that if the piece I bought was a designer one that it's a decent piece of good quality. There are exceptions though: if I were to buy an Hermès bag, I would find it important that it was made in France. But that only goes for the highest end in designer goods.
     
  19. hopelessly

    hopelessly New Member

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    You make many many good points - but this I think is a really good one.

    However the truth is that not that many people notice the sort of things that those with a garment construction background do.
     
  20. AlexN

    AlexN New Member

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    A good quality product is a good quality product, regardless of where or by whom it was made.
     

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