The clothing market is somewhat limited in New Zealand, in part due to a population of only about 4.5 million people, compared with higher populations and more choices in clothing styles available elsewhere. The quality of clothing has also undergone deterioration for the same reasons it has worsened in other parts of the world. Today's clothing trends toward lesser quality workmanship in construction and using more polyester and synthetic fabrics has found its way to New Zealand as well.
It can be a struggle to find high quality clothing in New Zealand, but good clothing can be found with some searching and persistence. Great deals in high quality clothing can be found in some of New Zealand's vintage shops. Although, many items found there have no labels since a lot of the well-tailored, best quality clothing items are hand-made. Since much of today's clothing is now being manufactured in eastern countries, the same issue of lower quality clothing is found in New Zealand, just like in many other places.
Modern Society Focuses On Disposable Items
As retailers and clothing manufacturers try to find ways to increase profits, and since consumer demand for cheap clothing has increased, the trend today is towards clothing that is not well made. Clothing is made of cheaper materials that don't last as long, and current fashion trends are towards clothing that can simply be disposed of once it's been worn for a year or less. Manufacturing of clothing used to be done in the United States and Europe, but since the 1970s manufacturing has been outsourced to eastern countries.
Trends tend to change, making some manufacturers believe that it's better to make clothing that only lasts the length of time a trend lasts. The fashion ideal today seems to favor clothing that is made for a mass market, instead of unique pieces of high quality clothing items. The belief is that this has affected most people's sense of good design, and has lowered the standards for what is acceptable in clothing making.
Mass Marketed Clothing Today Can Shrink, Fade Or Tear
Sometimes consumers today find that clothing shrinks or fades on the first washing, due to fabrics not being pre-washed. It has also been found that buttons are not sewn on as well and that seams are not as sturdy as in the past. Some consumers experience the disappointment of a brand new piece of clothing being destroyed in the wash. There are more errors made in garment fit due to rushing to produce clothing items instead of paying attention to details.
Clothing in the past was made sturdier and made to last longer. Many people can remember times when clothing seemed as if it lasted forever. Favorite fashion items would be held onto for years, with some items passed down in families. Even though clothing then was pricier, consumers felt the extra cost was worthwhile if the clothing item was going to last a long time.
Are Profit Margins A Reason For Lower Quality?
Sometimes it's easy to look at lower quality clothing today and to simply put the blame on manufacturers and retailers who are hoping to increase profit margins. The truth is, there is a lot more to it than that. Costs of materials have increased over the years, along with special environmental requirements of the materials used.
In the past, toxic chemicals like formaldehyde were used on material. Today, producing clothing free of these chemicals has become an expense that is, more often than not, passed on to consumers. Some chemicals are still used today, but to a lesser degree than in the past. Clothing made from organic cotton and other organic materials tends to be more expensive, but some consumers feel the extra cost is worth it for the extra degree of safety they feel they're getting through buying organic.
There Is A Big Difference Between Men's And Women's Clothing
Besides the obvious differences between men's and women's clothing, there is at least one other large difference. Men tend to be more loyal to name brands of clothing. If they find a shirt they like in a style they like, they usually try to get the same brand and style the next time. They have more loyalty to brands and styles than women do. Men's clothing tends to have more classic styling, and to be sturdier and more stable in its styling, instead of trendy like women's clothing.
Women's clothing, on the other hand, is more trend-conscious and is considered to be disposable. Fashions change as quickly as every six months to a year, so women's clothes are made accordingly. Since much of women's clothing is also made for the mass market, items tend to be crafted from cheaper materials without as much attention paid to high quality craftsmanship.
Higher Prices Do Not Always Mean Higher Quality
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the more money paid for a clothing item, the better quality it must be. This is true in some cases, but less true in others. The best thing consumers can do is to carefully inspect clothing items before buying them.
Look over seams to be sure they are well constructed. Things like french darts add extra value to a piece of clothing. Hems that are well constructed without any gaps or areas with loose hanging threads are an indication that it is a better constructed piece of clothing. Linings should be included in jackets and vests, and should be well constructed, with no obvious puckering or areas that have not been sewn right.
Consumers Can Learn What To Look For
Consumers can learn exactly what to look for in a well constructed garment made from high quality fabric. Carefully read labels to find out what type of fabric was used. Check to be sure buttons are properly sewn on, seams are solid and that the piece of clothing you're considering looks like it's been well made. This is a skill that can be developed over time.
About the author:
Bill Stevens is a freelance fashion writer who has been contributing to the Swann Dri team for a number of years. His wealth of experience within the men's fashion industry makes him the ideal candidate to offer an insight into the reasons why clothing in New Zealand isn't what it used to be.