Are expensive clothes worth the money?

Some cotton T-shirts are worth 100 times more than others. Oui, oui, oui, you read it correctly.

A Primark basic T-shirt is sold 5 euros when the Dior ” we should all be feminists” model is tagged 620 euros. Which is even more than 100 times if you do the math properly.

But except a letter print (that, I checked, is NOT made of diamond powder), what justifies such a difference? And is there a correct price for garments nowadays?

I strongly believe it and will explain why.

I/ Low price: low quality

Bam! That’s said.

But it’s both cotton T-shirts you may say. How can the quality be different?

All kinds of cotton are not grown equal, all kinds of jerseys are not created equal, all T-shirts are not sewn equal.

To produce quality cotton, you need to use fewer pesticides to preserve the fibers. It has a price.

Then the yarning process has to be slowly done with quality engineering and chemicals. It has a price.

Then the T-shirt has to be sewn properly by skilled workers who have enough time and a secure working environment. It has a price.

Last but not least, the design has to be carefully thought to prevent ill-fits. It has a price too.

Therefore, a T-shirt under 30 euros will necessarily be of poor quality.

Simple math.

It won’t fit you impeccably and won’t last you long.

It will harm both the environment and the workers. And your style ma chérie.

II/ Middle prices: heterogeneous quality.

In this category, you find everything and nothing.

From trendy brands who put all the effort into the look and very few in the quality to conscious brands who put all the effort into the quality and forget the cool.

Luckily, there are also brands who combine great designs, quality fabrics and sewing and cool attitude.

  • Overpriced middle-range brands

You will recognize them by their extensive use of synthetics, their poor sewings and their opaque communication about sustainability.

  • Well-priced middle-range brands

Those are where I take my clients shopping.

You can recognize them by their use of natural fabrics, quality sewings, and designs.

Often they have expertise. Some in tailoring, other in knit, other in leather.

And they mention where their products are manufactured and how on their website.

III/ High prices: high quality and dream tax

Luxury garments are almost always prime quality.

Major brands cannot afford to have their reputation harmed.

However, the quality on its own doesn’t explain the sky-high prices. That’s due to what I would call the “dream tax”.

  • Price is linked to unique “know-how”

Hermès, for instance, has been manufacturing leather since 1837. Quite a time to develop unique expertise.

There is no denying that their products are the finest quality in the world.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean the dream margin is not included.

Problem is, nowadays, if you want top-knotch quality, you have to pay the dream margin too.

  • Plus “dream tax”

The Kelly bracelet, made of leather and gold plated brass costs 455 euros. Is this the real cost? I doubt so. But that’s the necessary price to maintain Hermès unattainable for most consumers.

This “dream tax” makes some classic pieces a good investment as they will maintain their worth on the second-hand market.

As a conclusion, I think a garment is worth its price… up to a certain level. 

And you? Do you think it’s worth paying more to get quality clothes? 

Cover collage: Me, thinking about the lasting of things in a second-hand knit and me, fiercely posing with my mom’s 30 years old beige sweater. You can follow me on Instagram <3

Comments
14 Responses to “Are expensive clothes worth the money?”
  1. Gabrielle says:

    Bonjour Alois,

    A propos du Made In Italy, qui m’a interpellée au sujet de Dior au début de l’article, je recommande toujours la lecture de cet article: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/16/the-chinese-workers-who-assemble-designer-bags-in-tuscany . Mon mari est de Prato et sa famille vit au coeur du quartier chinois de la ville – depuis que je l’ai rencontré, je ne peux m’empêcher de sourire – amèrement- dès que je vois une mention Made in Italy sur un vêtement ou accessoire.

    Ces considérations manufacturières mises à part, votre blog est très agréable, à lire et à regarder 🙂

    Belle journée,
    Marine

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Bonjour Gabrielle,

      Merci pour le lien, j’ai lu tout l’article (qui était très complet).
      J’en retiens que, si il y a des sweatshops chinois en Italie qui produisent des vêtements pour la “Pronto moda” (fast fashion) ensuite labellisés “made in Italy” alors qu’il s’agit de vêtements de piètre qualité, les articles de luxe, même si souvent fabriqués par des artisans chinois, dont la famille habite souvent en Italie depuis une ou deux générations, ne dérogent pas à leurs standards de qualité (ce qui est une bonne nouvelle). Au début de l’article, un artisan italien dit des chinois qu’ils ont tout appris des locaux.
      Voici, à la fin de l’article le passage qui décrit le type d’atelier chinois qui produit pour Prada:

      “All the proprietors I met with spoke adequate Italian, but Luigi’s was truly fluent. He said that his operation had filled orders from Chloé, Burberry, Fendi, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Chanel. “On the level of craftsmanship, Chanel is the top,” he said, using the English word. “They’re the fussiest about the quality.” Working for a company like Fendi wasn’t easy for a Chinese person, he went on. You had to “acquire an Italian mentality” and “conceive of the bag as an Italian would.” He explained, “A Chinese person thinks only that he has to get so many bags done, but behind every bag there’s a precise study of what it’s about. I think the Italians are the greatest artisans in the world.”

      Arturo’s factory was clean and organized. When the workers used sprays to dye leather, they put on masks. Representatives from the fashion brands, I was told, came to inspect the first round of bags; the rest of the order was then made to their specifications. Gucci is known for giving extensive instructions, with precise demands about the number and the length of stitches. Hiring highly skilled workers was therefore essential.”

      Bref, clairement, il y des dérives du made in Italy, clairement il y a des problèmes au niveau des impôts mais apparrement les marques de luxe ne transigent pas sur la qualité et en achetant (à prix d’or) du Chanel on en a encore pour son argent “they are very fussy” comme cité dans l’article.

      Merci encore pour le partage c’était passionnant!

      Et sinon je suis ravie que vous aimiez le blog 🙂

      Aloïs

  2. Esther says:

    This is a bit of a funny question, but … how to style/wear bras?! I hate the feel of bras, and even after professional bra fittings, the bra outline often shows through delicate clothes or the straps peek out of boat neck tops, which I love. I see claims women now don’t wear bras, but I have a small frame and 32D breasts and braless, my bosom looks jiggly/nipply . Is it ever OK to have a bra strap show especially if it’s a pretty bra? Is it ever OK not to wear a bra in Paris?

  3. eveange33 says:

    Oui il existe encore des marques de “moyenne gamme ” qui offrent , encore, de bons basiques.
    Certes, le style reste plutôt “classique” mais tant qu’elles existent, il faut les faire vivre.
    Je pense à Caroll qui peut receler des trésors, Burton ou Bruce Field, de bonne qualité, Agnes B, Paul & Joe …. et d’autres encore.
    Pour les tee shirts, les rayons home/garçons proposent souvent de la meilleure qualité aussi.
    Bien sur, il y a aussi Armor Lux et Saint James.
    Pour le reste, il faut bien chercher. Mais il n’est pas, toujours, nécessaire de ne jurer que par le luxe pour trouver de beaux articles. D’ailleurs, un certain luxe n’est il pas largement galvaudé ?
    Que pensez, par exemple, d’Un Zadig et Voltaire gamme luxe, ou bien de tee shirt ou haut en polyester made in China mis à prix à des prix stratosphériques ? Pour une belle signature ??!!

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Ca c’est sûr qu’Armor Lux et Saint James c’est pour la vie!
      On peut s’offrir de bons basiques et les styler de manière fun 🙂

      Et je pense que le top en polyester super cher c’est n’importe quoi! On paie la marque.

  4. April says:

    Dear Alois,
    Do you have recommendations for jeans? Where I live, there are very few stores so mostly I have to shoo online. For jeans especially I find this hard to find brands that fit well and last well in classic cuts, especially with concerns about eco-friendlier denim. Buying second hand is something I do a lot but denim and cuts change so much finding a pair that works even from a brand I know is hard, and I have spent too much on jeans that don’t fit properly. C’est dûr!

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Dear April,
      I am sorry I cannot be any help because you are right: c’est vraiment dur.
      Jeans have to be tried on in my opinion.
      The only second hand jeans I would order online are the ones that I have owned before (like exactly the same ones).
      So my best advice is to shop for jeans whenever you are in a bigger city.
      There is no “one brand fits all” when it comes to jeans.
      Levis fit the hourglass women, Acne the skinny ones, etc…

  5. Jeannine520 says:

    I think yes, they are worth it. I wish that if I look hard enough I could find a mid range skirt that’s built the same as a $1400 skirt. In my experience it doesn’t exist. I can still love a mid-range skirt, jacket or other garment because of it’s versatility or some other quality I was searching for at the time but they are never the same as thing as the “good stuff”. The drape is different, the wrinkle resistance, the ease in tailoring to get the exact perfect fit can’t be matched. I never regret spending money on top quality.

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      It’s true that, for a dress, luxury has a quality standard that’s difficult to equal. Nevertheless, the “dream tax” is here and makes luxury unfortunately unaffordable for most people.
      I do know some mid-range brands that value quality and sell very-well made clothes.
      For the ones who can’t afford, there is the second hand options.
      And for the ones who can afford, yes, go for luxury!!!

  6. MABdePARIS says:

    Comme quoi, le vêtement le plus basique de notre dressing peut susciter bien des interrogations…

    Nous, les clientes, qui en fait avons le pouvoir ultime (= acheter ou pas), allons apprendre à décripter les étiquettes, à balayer les pseudo postures médiatiques/marketing (coucou, Madame Chiuri!) pour nous concentrer sur l’essentiel: un vêtement de qualité bien coupé que nous porterons longtemps.

    Est-ce que ça vaut le coût? Oui, ca vaut le coup. 🙂

    • DanielaG says:

      Dear Aloïs,

      I would like to find the right shoulder bag for everyday use. I have several nice hand-me-down bags from a friend, and I gave them a try but they just didn’t suit me, so I am packing them for donation. My style is jeans, boots and sweaters (a pullover, or a cardigan with a tee), but I love a form-fitting dress too. Do you have suggestions of good brands for bags (under US$300), or is that all in your book, which I just ordered?

      P.S. I wrote you last week under another name, about wearing gray, but I am changing today to my preferred username. Thank you!

      • Aloïs Guinut says:

        Dear Daniela,

        I quote very few brands in my books. These are more general recommendations on how to spot style and quality.
        Good quality bags under 300$ are quite difficult to find nowadays.
        I love buying luxury brands second hand.
        For french brands, APC bags are quality. The “demi-lune” (half-moon) being their iconic model.
        I also love the “Ninon” bag, by Lancel.
        You also have Lancaster (beware some designs are cool some are outdated), which really are under 300$ but the leather is lesser quality.
        For american brands I adore Mansur Gavriel.
        And the last one from The row but, oh well, that’s waaaaay above 300$

    • Aloïs Guinut says:

      Les basiques, comme les fondations d’une maison, sont essentiels à notre garde-robe, c’est pourquoi il est important de se poser les bonnes questions 🙂

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