Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Another Reason To Buy Vintage

This article was posted by a fellow VFG member friend of mine, Circa Vintage Clothing, and I found it very interesting to read about the substandard quality of current designers wear.

Although they don't mention vintage, it's known that vintage garments have a much higher quality of materials and workmanship. Plus, the styles to choose from are endless!

Fashion - Entertainment - theage.com.au

There are plenty of reasons why being a slave to designer labels is a bad idea.

Some cite ethical and moral issues, and a recent series of tests on labels for sale in Shanghai found that wearing designer clothes may even be bad for your health.

Garments from 40 labels including Armani, Burberry and Polo Ralph Lauren were declared substandard after quality control tests by China's Bureau of Commerce and Industry.

Of the 59 items tested, 25 had high levels of the chemical formaldehyde, acid (pH) and poor dyes which can lead to skin rashes, eye irritations, respiratory problems, allergies and cancer.

But these aren't the only reasons to say no to designer clothes.

The trend leaders are ubiquitous and easy to spot - Armani, Gucci, Dolce and Gabbana, Versace, Prada are household names for the fashion conscious.

But while these fashion houses may lead in the trend-setting stakes, they lag behind in quality.

Basically, their products are comparatively shoddy. Their high prices reflect not quality, but the need to pay for massive advertising campaigns in magazines and on billboards, as well as catwalk shows where those weird and wonderful creations with absolutely no connection to reality are wheeled out.

All this is necessary to create an image - whether it is Ralph Lauren's bucolic, stylised snapshot of English country life or Prada's androgynous models parading a row of identical skin-tight black suits with thin lapels and skinny black ties.

For many, the pursuit of the label has supplanted the pursuit of quality.

But makers who have always indulged in producing an agelessly stylish silhouette remain a mystery to most.

How about Corneliani, Canali, Isaia, Luciana Barbera, Borrelli, Raffaele Caruso or Pal Zileri, for example?

They may not have a high profile but these names are worth knowing if you want your wardrobe to look permanently relevant and transcend the whims of fashion.

You won't find any of them in department stores and if you go to a high-end city store you will pay full retail in the order of $3,000 or more. Search the internet and you'll find new examples on offer for a third of this.

Big name designer labels can't really afford to be well made.

That would be contrary to the manufacturer's raison d'etre - to make money by regularly changing trends and declaring this or that to be in or out.

The fashion writer Dana Thomas' book, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster, exposes the myth of couture houses.

Their original ideals, prized by family-owned businesses who prided themselves on handwork, were long ago lost. These businesses are now cogs in huge multinational corporations whose focus is international brand awareness and profit.

Garments are churned out by underpaid workers in Chinese sweatshops and returned to Europe, where some small part can be added so the respected Made in Italy label can be attached.

Sometimes not even this is necessary.

Italian companies have now caught on to the idea of importing thousands of lowly-paid Chinese into the country to produce clothes and leather goods in conditions marginally better than those in their home country. The maker can then legally add Made in Italy to the product.

So instead of following the flock and striving to aspire to a contrived image, try Googling some of the true artisans.


1 comment:

Bethany said...

Justine... this is a great article. And I agree that vintage pieces are much higher quality than most all modern clothing. It does not even have to be one of the big names like they are speaking of... I have paid serious coin in the past for things off of sites like Anthropologie only to wear them once or twice and they are literally falling apart. So disappointing. But I have vintage favorites that I have worn for years. Plus the fabrics, buttons etc. are usually so much more interesting! Also...Thanks for linking to my YSL set! It's one of my best finds ever!