You might have heard this phrase passed around a lot over the last couple of years. With the Environmental Audit Committee’s Fix Fashion report being released earlier this year, and documentaries such as Stacey Dooley’s Fashion’s Dirty Secrets on BBC shedding light on the environmental impacts of the clothes we wear, there has never been so much focus on the fast fashion industry. 

Whilst buying less is always better for the environment, sometimes we do need to buy something new to replace the old or fill a gap in our wardrobe. Tired of clothes which fade, shrink or fall apart after just a few wears? The best thing we can do is buy clothes of better quality which are made to last.  

"How can I tell if an item is good quality?"

Some good news, more money doesn’t mean better quality 

If it’s more expensive, it doesn’t mean it’s actually better quality. This is because a lot of more expensive brands source the same fabrics and get their clothes made in the same factories as regular high street brands. 

So, what can you actually do to tell if an item is better quality?

1) Think about who’s selling it 

Fast fashion brands produce around 52 “micro seasons” a year which means we’re under pressure to constantly buy more. Clothes made at this speed are often made with less care because they aren’t intended to be worn more than a few times. Look out for clothes made by smaller, independent retailers and makers. They’re likely to be made more responsibly and with more care. 

2) Have a feel 

Whether you’ve ordered it online or you’re looking at it in the shop, you should always take some time to have a look and feel the item before committing it to your wardrobe. Now, we’re not suggesting you go full on detective, but it is worth giving clothes a closer inspection. Here are some of the best things to look for: 

      • Spare Buttons 

        You know those buttons that come attached to the care label? These mean that the designer intends for your item to last long enough to need a few repairs. 
      • Metal Zipper 

        This is a specific one, but metal zippers are more hard wearing that plastic ones and are less likely to break.
      • Responsibly sourced, natural fibres 

        Fabrics like organic cotton or linen are less likely to pile quickly or shrink in the wash. Check what your fabric your garment is by looking at the care label. 
      • Good stitching 

        Have a look at the stitching and the seams. If it’s already starting to fray before you’ve worn it, then that’s a sign that it’s not going to last very long.
      • Patterns 

        Getting a new striped top? If the patterns don’t match up at the seams, the maker probably hasn’t taken a lot of time to consider the quality of the item.
      • Hold it up to the light 

        Ever ordered that pair of trousers you’ve had your eye on for a while, only to realise that your underwear is a bit more visible than your bargained forYeah, us too. No matter the fabric, if you’re not going for a sheer look, then light shouldn’t be able to pass through it. Hold the fabric under a light and if you can see your hand outline through it, this means that it’ll probably be fairly see-through in most lights. No one wants to have to go looking for a special pair of VPLless, nude underwear just so they can wear one pair of trousers.

    3) Find a trusted brand

    Lastly, find those brands you trust, who haven’t let you down before, whose clothes make you feel great and last a long time.  

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