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Thread: Quality vs. Aesthetic. Is there a disconnect?

  1. #1

    Default Quality vs. Aesthetic. Is there a disconnect?

    I've had what I feel are 'quality' issues with some garments lately and it has me thinking about the price vs. design aesthetic vs. quality. And about the pricing factor on some higher end brands ties into the whole situation.

    Not all garments are created equally. Clearly much of what I'm buying wouldn't be considered 'active wear' but still, the average piece of clothing gets a fair amount of wear and tear in every day use that it should endure.

    My disappointment comes when I have 'generic' clothing where the actual quality surpasses that of very high end items. Generally, it occurs with the details...seams, buttons, clasps, snaps, pockets, etc. but in my opinion, these are where higher end brands should really shine.

    Rick shoes are probably one of the more discussed items in terms of lack of quality (at least in conjunction with price)..the staples on the back, the soles that simply self-destruct after just a bit of use.

    So what I'm wondering is if people feel that designers sometimes get away with subpar quality because of the quality of the aesthetic design with the cost in mind.
    My biggest gripe lately has been with Viridi Anne...two pairs of pants that the buttons have popped off despite the fact that they're not too tight and they haven't been worn much. Seams pulling apart around pockets and the waistband. Fabrics that pill up after very little wear.

    This topic also works with ideas of the deconstruction and 'decay' of worn clothes some designers seem to champion.

    Have you found that the quality of garments you buy reflects the price you've paid? Is it a concern for you? Do you really get what you pay for in terms of garment construction?
    I just know that I have jeans that cost me $40.00 that were made in China that I've worn for 3 years that are still holding up while some pants I've had for less that 5 months that were made in Japan are literally falling apart.
    What are some of the more solidly constructed brands in your opinion where the quality matches the price?

    I'd rather hear stories where people focus on brands that actually do hold up in terms of quality, whether it's footwear, outerwear, jeans, pants or tops.
    Quote Originally Posted by mizzar View Post
    Sorry for being kind of a dick to you.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by beardown View Post
    My biggest gripe lately has been with Viridi Anne...two pairs of pants that the buttons have popped off despite the fact that they're not too tight and they haven't been worn much. Seams pulling apart around pockets and the waistband. Fabrics that pill up after very little wear.
    Funny you should mention this. I recently purchased a pair of VA pants. Quite expensive. I've worn them 3 times and have already reattached 3 of the buttons and completely lost the hook clasp. I'm hoping it ends there and doesn't transcend to the stitching holding them together.

    On the flip side; MA+ products always meet or exceed my quality expectations.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eternal View Post
    I see where you are coming from, and Ill share my experiences.

    First I want to talk about fabrics. I clearly understand that when buying sheer and really thin fabrics, they will rip, but its a part of the appeal for me. The same goes for silk fabrics, and rayon/silk blends for example. Rayon for example pills, and that happens really fast to for example rick long-sleeves. Of course I expect for example denim and leather to last for a long time, and it has done with me.

    Then it is seams, buttons and what you could call the construction. At for example outwear and pieces made for everyday wear I expect pieces to be rigid. But when you but a pair of pants with invisible seams, tight fit or seams that clearly shows your skin then I think its kind of expected that pieces will not stand everyday wear. These pieces are conceptual pieces.

    The same goes for treatments of the garment. If something is ripped, washed, waxed or anything else I usually expect that this piece is more fragile than something else.

    When it comes to footwear, or details at all I try to buy pieces now and then that is hand-made. this is because stitching done by hand in almost every case is better than something made by machine. Take the rick "shoe issue". Its made at a factory and in large quantities. As for rick leathers, you pay for as much for the design these days, and possibly more than before. But if you add soles etc the shoes will last you longer, as you have to when you first purchase ( or after some wear) with hand made shoes like Guidi and Augusta.

    And there is one other aspect. When you but something that is experimental in any kind of way, youll have to understand that there might not have been time to have done any research about how different fabric/ treatments or design will be with some wear. Obviously a silk blazer with open seams almost busting with a skintight fit will not be your everyday jacket if you plan for it to keep in the shape it was when you bought it. Some might argue that the beauty of the piece truly shows when it looks worn though, and in some cases I really agree. I love creases, and some ripped hems on my rick tanks for example.

    And for me there is one more thing Ill like to add. I pay the price so I know that the workers from the brands I buy have great conditions to work under compared to most other places in the business. As well when it comes to buy artisanal clothes, you pay the price it costs to get educated people to construct something for you.
    true. ann's delicates always come with a pouch of extra thread and a note that basically says you're going to need it.

  4. #4

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    Yeah I've had problems with V-A buttons too, same with Ann, there is really no excuse for poorly threaded buttons, just laziness. Another recent problem I've had is with Individual Sentiments and I think this falls into the CCP category of untested experimentation. The closure on my coat is pretty ingenious with the button hooking under a piece of leather thread creating an invisible closure without the bulkiness of a double placket. However the leather thread is poorly sewn so the pressure of the button under it caused the thread to break off after a couple of wears. Not too fun when you're on vacation in a cold climate and your coat can no longer close.

    In terms of good quality I've had C Diem garments for years, heavily worn, and have never experienced a single problem.

  5. #5

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    I also agree with you, Eternal. I expect my rick t's to get trashed. I'll often favor one, once it has a hole or two.

    Footwear, with the exception of soles wearing down, should be quite durable. I'd be irate if the Rick sneakers I just bought fell apart. Even though they're factory made, they should withstand everyday walking. Just like most other mall brands.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by beardown View Post
    My biggest gripe lately has been with Viridi Anne...two pairs of pants that the buttons have popped off despite the fact that they're not too tight and they haven't been worn much. Seams pulling apart around pockets and the waistband. Fabrics that pill up after very little wear.
    I've had the same issue with a pair of Viridi Anne trousers.. The metal clasp snapped right off after about 4 wears. I just wear them now without clasping the top..

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eternal View Post
    And for me there is one more thing Ill like to add. I pay the price so I know that the workers from the brands I buy have great conditions to work under compared to most other places in the business. As well when it comes to buy artisanal clothes, you pay the price it costs to get educated people to construct something for you.
    I couldn't agree more. Sometimes this only justifies the price difference between two items of similar quality. Even though it is easier, I think, to achieve greater quality under good work conditions (better environment, better machines, better physical conditions), some companies still manage to produce clothing of decent quality in factories where people work under really bad conditions. For example I bought a hooded rain jacket at H&M 6 or maybe 7 years ago, wore it a lot at some point, and it's still mint. I am talking about decent quality, not great quality.

    I think it depends on how you look at the act of purchasing a garment and what you consider to be its value. Is it worth what is has been, the amount of work done on it, both technical and creative; or is it worth what it will be, how many times you can wear it, what it can go through without being unintentionally altered.

    I tend to think of a material justification of the price based on fabric and 'finish', I don't know the word in English, I mean seams, stitches. Quality of raw materials and of the work. A fabric can be utterly fragile, and will rip, but maybe not on the stitches. I also take into consideration the level of skill and the time required to achieve a specific cut or dye or assembly task. It can be a technical prowess but still be fragile and not stand the test of time, but I still think it is a mark of quality.
    Of course this is only part of it. The creative process and the innovation behind it are a crucial part of quality in my opinion. Quality is not only physically measurable, I believe you can speak of quality of the design. Unfortunately this is a very subjective notion and people of different cultural backgrounds and with different references may not agree on what is an item of conceptual quality. Is the amount of innovation the key? Its aesthetic power to produce an emotion?

    Now, I will probably not buy a garment that is a gem in terms of concept but exceptionnally fragile, because I tend to think rationally when it comes to money and will try and conciliate the two aspects. I think I will even choose technical quality over fragile concept, the latter being a luxury I can't quite afford. Deconstructed garments that will alter after a few wear because they have been designed this way require a lot of what I think of as quality nonetheless.

  8. #8

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    Agreed about VA trousers. Mine are still holding up quite well but the buttons are very loose, feels like they would pop off easily. My pair is actually quite tight in the thigh but I have not seen anything popping off yet...

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by tomatous View Post
    I've had the same issue with a pair of Viridi Anne trousers.. The metal clasp snapped right off after about 4 wears. I just wear them now without clasping the top..
    The metal clasp of my VA pants was off a week ago as well. But I bought them like two years ago from Komakino, and wore them very often. So in my opinion, I don't mind the clasp issue after 2 years of wearing. Nothing lasts forever.

    By the way, it is very easy to fix. I just took my pants to a random dry clean shop. They fixed it for me for free.

    tomatous, were your VA pants brand new or second hand though?

  10. #10

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    They were brand new.. I plan to have the clasp re-attached as you did.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by merz View Post
    thread's name is funny. since when is quality anathema to aesthetic?
    I do believe, that the main discourse object here is not putting quality vs aesthetic as two ends of single scale, but rather a delicate attempt to say, that sometimes we pay a lot of money for a piece that will die after two or three wears. The reason for such short and tragic fate that is inevitable destiny of (by common opinion) VA pieces is the disappointing quality. While certain designers can get aesthetic really well, they sadly completely lack the ability to make sure that the piece is duly made and that quality is on par with the design itself.

    While some clothes are certainly made to be worn once or twice, others are meant for more or less several uses. So from what I read main object of discourse here is, does aesthetic sophistication pay off wearing bad quality clothes.

    Personally I try to buy things I find interesting, and suitable. However, my love for Ann D shirts transcends common sense, and the buttons fall off before I even put them on (!). This is disappointing, I cannot remember any brand beside L.G.B. where the buttons fall off just as quickly. I must say that quality of Boris Bidjan Saberi always been good and those fancy leather buttons don't fall off.

    Rick is well... worth it.

    Julius quality is a bit over the rick.

    All in all, I believe Ann D quality has serious issues compared to beauty of her designs, reasons for this may be numerous, but I believe the Made in Marrocco accounts for most of it.

    All in all, a luxury, expensive item, should be top notch. I believe when designer fails to achieve quality and aesthetic merged together - he is an embarrassment to creation. While fleeting beauty might be perfect in all senses of life, in terms of design, one can pardon lack of comfort and sacrifice it for the aesthetic reasons, but bad quality is never something that could enhance the item aesthetically or otherwise.
    Quote Originally Posted by interest1 View Post
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  12. #12

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    there is absolutely no excuse for buttons coming off or soles coming off in a few wears. if the underlying notion is about deconstruction or decay, how am i supposed to achieve that if i cant even put my pants/shoes on?

    on a side note, with a needle and thread, i can do up a button within minutes, which lasts me longer than what some garments originally do.

    but then again, we all fall victim to the aesthetic part. there are some parts of my wardrobe that are bought to be worn (and thrashed), while others are bought to be looked at

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by merz View Post
    thread's name is funny. since when is quality anathema to aesthetic?
    Come on. People clearly understood exactly the point of the discussion.
    Quote Originally Posted by mizzar View Post
    Sorry for being kind of a dick to you.

  14. #14
    Senior Member jcotteri's Avatar
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    Just @Viridi discussion. I also had the same problem with mine, where the first time I wore the pants the clasp came off and it was lost. I'm sure you can imagine I was quite disappointed. I actually went along to the Viridi Anne flagstore and asked for a replacement. The guy there gave me one straight away. I also reinforced all of the buttons and haven't had much of a problem since. I have never experienced any lack of quality and hardly think some buttons coming undone suggests anything but a different method of fastening. I was under the impression that many designers here loose buttons very easily and one should reinforce them before wearing just to be on the safe side.

    What other brands here seem to suffer this problem? I have heard some horror stories about BBS and Damir Doma.. Anyone care to share? Have those quality issues been completely ironed out?
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  15. #15

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    about the VA quality, i have the funnel neck coat from 07/08aw and the quality is very good. very sturdy. i guess only the pants that have problem? well...honestly i think its not just ann and va that have buttons issue..i think all factory produced items would have that kinda problem..but for the price they charge, i think they ought to reinforce every buttons and such before they are distributed. But then, one or two wears and the buttons/clasps fall off is kind of ridiculous...

  16. #16

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    want to chime in on this discussion but really busy.
    But re the buttons falling off issue................
    this is dependent on the type of machine they use to sew the buttons on.
    Companies like LUC and CCP who do most of their garment production either by hand or with a lot of hand finishing, sew buttons on without machines, so you wont have this problem.
    there are two types of button tacking machines...........Lock stitch and Chain stitch machines.
    If the factory uses a lock stitch machine, then the buttons are strong and sturdy............. if they use a chain stitch machine there is a greater risk of the buttons falling off, personally i think these kind of chainstitch machines should be made obsolete, but unfortunately they still exist...............was getting one for dirt cheap the other day and decided to pass...............I actually hate sewing on buttons by machines at all but understand that big factories with large scale production runs need to do this in order to maintain/ increase efficiency.........
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    kitsch killer Faust's Avatar
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    Will chime in later - Paris is not conducive to long posts. Thanks for starting the thread, beardown.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member Mail-Moth's Avatar
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    I am quite satisfied with the quality of the designers garments I own - so far.

    My Ann D shirts didn't lose any button yet and are not likely to do so in a near future. I had to consolidate some of them on the first jacked I got from her, but that was the only time.
    Had to do the same with Frank Leder shirt and trousers, though - even had to redo a small stitch on a sleeve. Somewhat dissappointing for garments made in Germany - where is the famous german quality ?

    As for fabrics, I was a little upset by the one used for the Ann D "Rimbaud" coat, which pills quite easily. I don't mind so much, since it helps giving the piece a worn out look that I affectionate. But it may not be the case of every buyer, and for that price it would probably not have been impossible to find something more robust, as that wool/linen blend used for some jackets from previous season - which is holding perfectly.
    I don't think that it was a calculated choice for Ann D to use such a fragile material for that coat, since I don't see anything in her aesthetics related to that dimension.
    So what is it ? Mere negligence ? Indifference to the question of durability ?
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcotteri View Post
    What other brands here seem to suffer this problem? I have heard some horror stories about BBS and Damir Doma.. Anyone care to share? Have those quality issues been completely ironed out?
    Can't say anything about Doma, but BBS wise - I never experienced any problems with quality - all the buttons were sturdy, the materials do not peel, and the footwear is quite reminiscent of lets say Augusta in quality (I have a suspicion they are made in same place).
    Quote Originally Posted by interest1 View Post
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  20. #20

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    i think its an interesting and important topic. i can only speak for myself, but i'm sure many here are of the same mind. i'm drawn to many of our favorite designers because of their artistic vision and skilled designs, not their reputation for quality. in a similar way that i think most of us are drawn to art in general. it appears most sz'ers are educated in varied forms of art, music, interior design, film, literature and even wine it seems

    in other words, if all i cared about was the quality of a garment in terms of durability, i'd be all decked out in workwear like 21 oz iron heart or samurai denim, red moon leather, carhartt overalls and stuff like that. (or something similar. you get the idea)

    but, since we are talking about clothing, it can't just be all about the art either. an important component of the artistic creation needs to be its functionality / quality. i mean when you spend a lot of $$ on an item, regardless of its brilliant design, it needs to last. otherwise, the more rational side of your personality gets pissed and will overrule the artistic side.

    there are a handful of designers that are masters at their craft with respect to art and quality. and that maintain control of production so that they may continue to produce to that standard. and i think they get plenty of recognition here.

    i guess its trial and error to learn your lessons. and production methods change for many designers as they grow, so you never really know from season to season. there are very few that keep it all in house and even they have the occasional fail.

    for me the items i expect the most from, and will spend the most on, are footwear and outerwear. the cdiem, guidi, augusta, ma+ footwear lineup is typically a perfect marriage of art + quality for me.

    in my very limited experience i can say i've been impressed with ma+ outerwear, ccp leathers (only tried on and hearsay), julius leather, most rick leathers, and cdiem outerwear of which i actually own none but want badly.

    rick tee's etc are supposed to fall apart so can't complain about that. i've had no problems with any other rick/drkshdw pieces i own. my sneakers have held up quite well with a protective sole. in fact, other than the sole they are really well made imo. great materials.

    i'm afraid to mention that beyond the design (fabric, dye, cut), i'm not sure LUC knits are actually going to last any longer than many other knits that are available at a fraction of the price. but i still love LUC. would wear him all the time if i had the $$$

    speaking of....back to work.
    dying and coming back gives you considerable perspective

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