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Levels of quality...

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
First off, just want to say thanks to everyone on the board. nyc this weekend was lotsa fun. Definitely learned lots and now have another question. (Im going back next weekend.) so...Walking around I couldn't help but notice all the Emporio Armani, Prada, and Gucci store bags (read: clothing was bought there). I inclusive walked into these very stores and saw them at Barney's and was somewhat surprised at how pricey the clothing is. (I understand though it's all relevant to one's ability to pay. Im sure others don't find it so pricey). At any rate, I couldn't help but ask...do the prices necessarily dictate the quality in said brands? Is it more of just a label? Are some companies (and which ones) getting away with sales by simply placing a label on it? Perhaps I am using this topic as an eye-opener, but where does one distinguish price (hype) from quality (durability)? From what I have read on the forum, I've slowly gathered that at some point the price is not rationalized by the quality of the garment. (Prada rings a bell.) I would expect an Emporio Armani wool longsleeve shirt ($200) to to last me a good while, as I would a pair of $160 Helmut Lang/Seven/Paper or Dolce/Marc Jacobs jeans and a $265 Paul Smith candy-striped shirt. Also, Costume and RL's Purple Label was very impressive (as were their prices), but I opted for the more economical Penguin shirts instead (which felt really comfy and have a very different cut than Polo). Where do all these names stand in terms of quality? Also, where do A|X, Polo RL, Ben Sherman (I like their candy shirts also) and normal Boss (not black label) stand. (I know I'm all over the place in labels here, but my style tends to be one of if-I-like-it-I'll-wear-it type, as Im not quote loyal to a certain brand or 2.) I guess Im just wondering where do the aforementioned street-wear? brands stand in terms of quality for price? Similar to the topic on Suit Quality, I was wondering how these street-brands rated. Also...what do you look at when judging quality - stitching, cut, pattern-matching, buttons, material? Sites, tips, etc would be helpful. (Would definitely like to hear what LaGuy, GQ, Foxx, mr.magoo, Thracozaag, and Bengal to name a few have to say, as they seem pretty on-top of the casual street-wear scene.) If I forgot some labels and you can throw them in that would be cool too...as I only put down the ones I remember seeing/liking. Just trying to learn a thing or 2. Thanks all... =]
post #2 of 13
Thanks for the compliment. Certainly, you are always paying a premium for a brand name, whether that brand name is Chester Barrie, Kiton, or Marc Jacobs. That being said, there are some items and brands for which it is more difficult to justify the price of. Even this is highly subjective because there is no generally agreed upon standard. For example, is originality (Margiela) more valuable than workmanship (Kiton)? I think that it is a common misperception that quality = durability. For example, the deliberate abrasions on many examples of high quality denim may in fact impact negatively on their durability. And a handsewn Borrelli shirt made of very soft cotton is considerably less durable than a rough canvas shirt from the army surplus store which has reinforced stitching. There are, however, more choices in cuts and finishes and styles at the high end. That being said: Denim is my passion, I'll leave the other subjects for another time or for other posters. I think that Paper Denim & Cloth uses the best denim in the business, and also has some of the best finishes, although I've been moving towards darker, simpler finishes (like the 1-year GTO slim bootcut) in the last 6 months or so. PDC jeans are cut pretty generously. I also like the dark color (sort of blue/black) of some Von Dutch styles, although only the Slidder model really fits me well. Seven's are becoming ubiquitous. I don't find anything particularly interesting about their finishes, but their cuts are pretty good, and the denim is high quality. To plug another California brand, True Religion have some amazing stitching details (I love the back flap pocket model). Frankie B. jeans are great if you want a super, super-slim cut jean, but the denim doesn't look really durable. Chip and Pepper jeans are pretty interesting, but a little too distressed for my current tastes. Blue Cult jeans are a good alternative if you are looking for a good wide, straight legged style without wanting to go the hip-hop route. I really like a coveted wash Austin and Skinner jeans from the Levi's Premium line, but mine disintegrated after about a year of wear, albeit heavy wear (I think they got washed about 50 times.) Earl Jean - don't really see why they are so special. They are okay, but to me, are often indistinguishable from $50 pairs of GAP or Levi's jeans. Same goes for Marc Jacobs line. I'm biased toward American brands, but for durability, I think that Diesel jeans still take the cake, although their popularity has waned, probably because a lot of their washes are just unwearable. I thought that they peaked with the "flattened" denim back in 1999 (great wash), that they went over the line the next year, and have never quite recovered since. A lot of people still swear by Evisu. I've never seen their appeal, personally. Most overrated jeans brand, hands down: Energie. Some interesting details (I do like their model with the corduroy pockets), but the cuts and finishes are hohum. There are numerous other jeans companies out there, but I think that I've covered the big players and the up-and-coming brands, for now. Check out www.goclothing.com for examples of some of these denim brands.
post #3 of 13
Since you flatter me with a compliment, I'll try to give a fair (though lengthy) reply... Let's start with my opinion about what it is to be well- dressed.  As a general rule, it's dressing appropriately for your setting (one can be well dressed in a bar with a bunch of ranchers and at the opera, wearing very different clothing for a very different setting).  So the first question to ask yourself either explicitly or implicitly, which is how most people do it, is: "for what setting am I dressing?"  Since only you know in what settings you'll find yourself, you have to make educated guesses about what is appropriate.  Only then can you try to show your own style and wit and panache within that setting.  Otherwise, you might end up wearing dinner dress to the Dollar Saloon or Wranglers to the opera, which would be wrong in both cases as you'd make others around you uncomfortable. That being said, I think people (myself included) on this forum are under the belief that when comparing, say, Borrelli and Prada, you find a remarkable difference in the quality with a tiny difference in price.  For yet more "constructed" items (say, a suit jacket), that chasm becomes pretty critical.  If you're paying $2000+ for a suit, you may want it to be very high quality and last a long time.  (Ironically though, my first Prada loafers are now about 8 years old and in good shape and a brand new Cifonelli shirt from BG is having a sleeve seam come apart after the first wash, so rules are meant to be broken it seems.) However, when you're buying Gucci or Prada, you aren't necessarily buying for the quality of the garment.  You are paying for (a) their sense of contemporary style, and (b) the label itself, that conveys you are a person of style.  Whether that's worth it to you depends on your setting.  If you worked in, say, fashion, it might be important to say "Look at me, I know what is in style right now as embodied by this shirt."  Paying the same for Oxxford may be a way of saying the exact opposite.  In the case of "fashion", the quality may be somewhat irrelevant because you are concerned with the cutting edge, not longevity.   So the long and short of it is, durability is not a hallmark of these labels for good reason.  They're meant to wear out, just as they're meant to go out of style.  With "street" clothes, that may be a good thing.  You may be communicating that you're a person of contemporary ideas and feelings.  Therefore, the look may be more important than the quality. Blah, blah, blah.  The real nut of your post is what's higher quality.  In my experience, the Armani brands (Emporio and A/X) have not aged well at all.  I really don't look at anything put out by Armani.  My Marc Jacobs has done decently, but not fantastically.  Paul Smith has done rather well, but I find some of his shirts to age more quickly than I would have thought and his PS label to be shoddy at times.  Helmut Lang has done alright, but not commensurate with the high prices.   (HL jeans will likely not last longer than Levis, but that's not really the point; the point is they're not Levis.)   Actually I find Agnes B. to age pretty well and last a long time, but that may be more my look than yours.  Because this is casual wear, I tend to focus on fit and fabric quality.  But again, my experience is pretty anecdotal.  Others will have a better explanation no doubt.
post #4 of 13
I realized that I forgot to mention some notables in the denim category: Rogan jeans (NYC) are very popular at the moment, and I like their movement away from the bootcut that has become the industry standard to a very full legged jean.  The finishes are imppeccable.  Of course, they will set you back a cool $200+, which I can't really justify. Tsubi (Australia) also has very interesting cuts.  But in the States, these jeans fetch a premium as well. AG (Adriano Goldschmied - I never spell that correctly) jeans, for some odd reason, are very popular.  I find the cuts pedestrian and the finished generally atrocious.  I guess that AG's personal credentials must be afforded a degree of respect. Parasuco (Canadian) jeans often have interesting designs and cuts, but I find the denim to be not particularly durable, and is often distressingly light.  I like my jeans with a bit more heft.  They do make pretty cool shirts, though, and the their logo is great. Mavi jeans have a following among high school and college students, and for good reason.  They have cuts and finishes usually reserved for higher end jeans.  That being said, I have never bought a pair.  For jeans in the more reasonable pricepoint, I prefer Silver. At  the low end of the high pricepoint jeans, APC has some great rigid dark denim. Of course, the grand-daddy of distressed denim is Helmut Lang.  Great finishes.  The cuts are rather, well, German, tending toward the tapered - even the bootcut is only barely so - the better to wear with checked shirts, chunky black shoes, a boxy sports jacket, and a querulous expression in the German style, perhaps?  If you are going for the tapered look, which designer houses tend to like (do they know something we don't) SBU (from Italy, Rome, I think) have some good finishes. D&G jeans = overrated and overpriced, but not nearly so much as Versace jeans.  Armani jeans are a little better, but still not worth the premium, IMO.  Yamamoto and Gucci have both had jeans in recent collections, but neither nearly worth the $300+ they fetch.  Other designers also do jeans, but this depends from season to season.  Honestly, though, nothing screams "fashion" victim so much as true designer denim.  Except maybe designer sneakers.  Full disclosure = I bought a pair of John Varvatos Converse, albeit at deep discount, and I am seriously thinking about some of the Puma-Mihara shoes.
post #5 of 13
LA Guy - don't forget JP Da'mage (www.jpdamage.com).  I just got my hands on a pair and they may replace Diesel as my new staple jeans.  Any other thoughts on this new brand? However, back to the original topic of discussion, I have always found it better to spend you money or quality/durable suits/ties/shirts/pants/etc. that will not go out of style or that you will get a lot of wear out of (read: work clothes). When it comes to "street" or "club" clothes, the trendier they are, the more likely they are to go out of style soon (read: don't spend too much on them). Now, this does not apply to jeans (as a good pair of jeans will always be around). However, I have found that if you shop for your street/club clothes at places like Zara, H&M, Sissily, and some other boutique-type places, you won't feel so bad giving these clothes to the homeless in about a month or so when next month's fashion magazine states that last month's purchase is no longer "in."
post #6 of 13
I've haven't actually gotten my grubby little hands on a pair of those yet, and would be interested in knowing what you like about them. I also forgot to mention G-Star jeans - interesting raw and processed denim in a variety of cuts. Better bootcuts are found elsewhere, but if you are going for the European club kid look, try their low A-crotch, baggy fit with twisted seams jeans. Buffalo jeans? Eh...
post #7 of 13
As a Canadian, I always lumped Parasuco in with Buffalo, Guess, etc. Cunningly unoriginal (taking bits and pieces from other lines and putting them together), middling quality. I also see lots of Parasuco stuff at discount stores like Winners (Canadian version of TJ Maxx) which doesn't do much for their street cred. To get back to the original question, you have to make a very, very clear distinction between DESIGNER and TAILORED clothing. Tailored clothing (Kiton, Borrelli, etc.) is almost always high quality by anyone's standard (i.e. show me a Kiton shirt that is not impeccably sewn) but may not be on the cutting edge of style. Designer clothing, depending on the line, is usually on the cutting edge (very stylish) but may/may not be of any particular quality. Most of the time, it doesn't really matter since (a) the piece will be out of style by the time it wears out, (b) the market it's targeted to is more concerned with style and can afford the latest and greatest. Designer clothing is just that, designed and marketed, and often high prices are nothing more than lame "exclusivity" barriers. Those are two extremes, it's nice to find a middle ground that works with your price range and lifestyle, and occasionally stray to either side. If all you were concerned about was durability, you'd have all your clothes made to measure and washed by hand all the time, which would be very expensive... conversely, if all you were concerned about was style, you'd camp yourself out in Europe (if you're not there already), buy stuff before it hits the boutiques, which would also be very expensive. Style, durability, quality, cost... these things have a weird relationship - they're not at all linear. Learn to trust your instincts and your senses. If a shoe feels flimsy, it probably is. I remember a discussion around the whole style/quality topic a few months ago, perhaps a search through the archives (keywords "style", "quality" and "durability") might be in order.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
As a Canadian, I always lumped Parasuco in with Buffalo, Guess, etc.  Cunningly unoriginal (taking bits and pieces from other lines and putting them together), middling quality.  I also see lots of Parasuco stuff at discount stores like Winners (Canadian version of TJ Maxx) which doesn't do much for their street cred.
This is hilarious.  I'm a Canadian too, but in the States, Parasuco is relatively expensive as well as pretty hard to come by.  And in Europe, Parasuco is very expensive.  It's yet another reminder that perceptions of brands vary widely from place to place.  In most of the world, for example, Levi's 501's are regarded as the gold standard in denim, but here in the States, they don't count for much in the fashion world.  In Italy, Zegna is seen as an old-man brand, while here, it is generally seen as high quality and elegant.  Energie jeans, which fetch a premium here and in Britain, is sort of the Italian equivalent to Blue Anchor in its homeland.  Diesel is seen in Argentina as sort of a ghetto brand.   For my money, the best denim is American, and these days, Californian (Seven, True Religion, Frankie B, Chip and Pepper, and many others) although New York (Paper Denim, Rogan) has its contenders as well.
post #9 of 13
i must agree with LAGuy about helmut lang jeans great construction, great finishes and for me at least, they fit my body well - one of my pairs is the raw denim that still perturbs me that you have to dry clean them and not wash them as a fellow canadian as well, i have to agree with the parasuco, i too would lump it in with buffalo, guess and the like another brand that i have found to fit me well and which wears well, although not the most exciting from a fashion point of view, is the victorinox swiss army jeans, great for day to day around the house wearings
post #10 of 13
Since this has turned into somewhat of a jeans thread, I just wanted to pop in with a few quick questions (sorry if I'm hijacking): how are Evisu jeans cut and what kind of feel does the denim have (soft like PDC or heavier like a pair of Levi's)? I've been looking for a some jeans with a more "over-the-top" styling, and a few pairs I've seen on eBay have caught my eye. I'm also looking at a few pairs of Helmut Lang jeans on Yoox for another basic pair of jeans... how are the prices on those? Finally, what brands offer a wide range of different colors in denim. For example, I noticed Levi's makes Skinners in such colors as dark purple, dark green, orange, and others; are there any other quality denim makers that do this? I'm just trying to spice up my jeans collection, if you will.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
D&G jeans = overrated and overpriced, but not nearly so much as Versace jeans.  Armani jeans are a little better, but still not worth the premium, IMO.  Yamamoto and Gucci have both had jeans in recent collections, but neither nearly worth the $300+ they fetch.  Other designers also do jeans, but this depends from season to season.  Honestly, though, nothing screams "fashion" victim so much as true designer denim.  Except maybe designer sneakers.
I just had to laugh and register to respond. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and I respct that however i beg to differ.I have never found Versace jeans to be either overpriced and overrated (who rated them positively previously for you to make this assumption?). Firstly, the situation is definitely different in Australia where Versace jeans sell for A$300.  Plain Armani's are A$400. Plain Gucci are A$700. Even Tsubis and PDS are A$400+ (and the Tsubis are ripped all over.). Helmut Lang and D&G are $350+. Dior Homme are $750. Zegna Sport at A$450. Even other Aussie cult brands like Roy are A$400+.  Gaultier A$450. Brioni at $900. Overpriced? I think not. Overpriced relative to quality then? Definitely not in my opinion. I have over the last 22 years owned well over 30 brands of jeans and can honestly say that my several pairs of Versace jeans have irrefutably been the best quality of all and certainly far superior to Zegna, Armani (the worst of all.) and Gucci, Levis, Lee, tsubi and Gaultiers I have owned.  The original Medusa medallion patch series from the 80s are superb quality and my two pairs are still going strong after 15 years (worn 30-40x per year) with little fading, no seam loosening, and minimal shape retraction. Furthermore, the braod range and styles, tied in with what I beleive to be the softest and finest cotton denims make Versace jeans - in my opinion - amongst the best on the market. The new range with pencil thin cotton are superb for steamy Sydney summers. And for $300 that is over-priced when Gucci and Levis sell the real rough denim stuff for $700 and $200 respectively? I would be interested to hear your thoughts on why "Armani jeans are a little better" given my experience with them and the dumbing down of the entire brand through diffusion lines. I would also like to hear your experinces with Versace jeans too if possible to endeavour to find out why you think they are what they are. As to your 2nd comment re "fashion victim", i find this naive, insulting and far less honest than I would expect on a board of this nature. Who cares if people wear labels? Who cares if people wear designer jeans? One shouldn't assume automatically that all people who wear this stuff are "fashion" victims. WE all live in the shadows of designer logos and designer and some poeple to like to wear some brands becaus ethey do like them rather than for ostentatious and garish reasons. To assume designer logo = fashion victim is just plain simplistic, offensive and plain silly.  A little less judgement would be more beneficial. Oh, and what is wrong with "designer sneakers".   What sneakers are NOT "designer sneakers"? If people want to wear Gucci GG monogrammed sneakers then good luck to them. I may not. You may not. So where's the problem.  The only thing worse than "fashion victims" are "fashion preachers" who think there is a right and wrong way to dress and who abide by some unwritten "rules". Different cultures, different geographies, different expectations, different utiliterianism philosophies, different age groups, different sexes, different demographics are all relevant to one's ever evolving changes in fashion and clothing. What is good for one is not necessarily good for every one else.  But the impression I get from the tone of boards like this one is that (only ocassionally) the self-proclaimed High Priests of Fashion would like others to blindly follow their dictatorial mantras (not saying this is LA Guy BTW).  Please, let's not take fashion too seriously and judge others when you have no idea of their circumstances or lives or decisions for choossing to wear what they want. A little less elitism (dressed up as throwaway lines like the above) would garner far more credibility. Thank you.
post #12 of 13
Well said BabyChickPea. While there is a plethora of valuable fashion/style information here, some tend to have an attitude regarding designer labels. Many, and you see it often....not just here, belittle the labels as poor quality and buying into a brand image and reflect negatively on that. These same people however are quick to buy the Brioni, Kiton, John Lobb image as well. Again, there is nothing wrong with it, but you will often find that those who criticize the mass appeal designers do so in attempting to differentiate themselves from the sorry masses who fall victim to Prada and like (of which the quality can very well be suspect). It will be very hard to find objective viewpoints on the issue as many pride themselves on the fact that they purchase a more exclusive brand...which is very odd, considering that those who purchase Prada, Gucci, think and do the very same thing??? Regardless, any debate on the idea is folly as we all have our own preferences and styles. The very people who denounce those who are fashion victims to labels are often the same ones who feel validated by wearing more "exclusive ones."
post #13 of 13
Perhaps he's simply saying that those jeans fetch prices that they aren't worth, when compared to other jeans by other makers. He shouldn't feel sorry for bruised egos. Not that there are any, of course.
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