Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. A lot of people don’t realize this and this applies to pretty much everything in life and not just clothing. The expression “you get out what you put in” is more of a truism than a mere expression.

With fast fashion brands like H&M and Zara, the quality isn’t even close to what you would get with better brands. With that being said a lot of people will pretend like clothes from fast-fashion retailers will literally disintegrate from being looked at the wrong way but this is simply not the case.

I’m speaking more along the lines of the aesthetic quality of the clothing. You will get some extra durability out of the nicer clothes but not an exceptional amount (except for shoes and outerwear. You will get WAY more durability {and comfort in the case of shoes} the more you spend there.)

Nicer clothing just looks better on you and makes your life a lot easier. By buying from better brands you directly leapfrog over issues like scratchiness from clothing, clothing being see-through, clothing fitting weird, and clothing stretching and shrinking oddly. Most importantly you leapfrog over your clothing looking cheap.

This is especially true for leather and outerwear. I’ve said this about a million times but it’s worth repeating because of how important it is: cheap leather not only looks worse in general but when cheap leather creases it looks absolutely disgusting. I don’t even know if creasing would be the right word because of how cheap leather more-so folds than creases. It just becomes cracked around the “crease” and eventually gets so bad you have to throw it away.

Nicer leather ages MUCH more gracefully, especially Cordovan leather. It develops a patina over time and the creases form in such a way that they add character instead of just looking ugly.

Given the choice between three $30 pants from Old Navy (for example) or one $90 pair of pants from a nicer brand, it is almost ALWAYS the better option to get the single $90 pair.

Quality control is another big reason. You’ll find that with some cheaper brands if you buy multiples of the same garment in the same size and cut they may all fit completely differently. Hell Levi isn’t even considered a cheap brand by most people but they REALLY struggle with this.

Better brands usually have better quality control and this starts to become a non-issue when you spend more.

Another interesting thing is that even within the same brand you can get screwed for cheapening out. A few months ago I did a video on how there are different tiers of Stan Smiths. Adidas does not label their Stan Smiths by leather quality, they just put the much uglier ones on sale instead of the nicer ones and sell them with a lower MSRP.

It is worth mentioning that you don’t ALWAYS get what you pay for. Some brands are just bad value propositions. This is usually the case with luxury brands.

A good example of this are sneakers from Common Projects. They cost nearly twice the price of Koio sneakers (Common Projects retail for about $425 and Koio retails for about $260) but are of extremely similar quality. The only real difference is that Common Projects have a slightly slimmer looking toe box silhouette. You are pretty much paying $160~ for the ugly gold letter branding on Common Projects.

Sometimes with luxury clothing you even get worse quality for what you pay for. This is usually the case with luxury wallets. It is very likely if you spend $400 on a Louis Vuitton wallet the leather and stitching is going to be worse than something from Anson Calder (where I got my wallet) for example. A lot of the time they’ll even use synthetics for the parts that remain unseen to the eye.

I typically avoid (true) luxury items all together and I recommend you do the same. High fashion may have its time and place for a hobbyist but even most hobbyists are moving to archival clothing because modern high fashion is generally trash stylistically (with some exceptions like Rick Owens.)

In fact, a good way to tell if you’re paying for branding instead of paying for quality is by looking at how conspicuously the branding is on the clothing. Generally speaking, if a retailer is charging a pretty penny for clothing while typically leaving their clothing free of branding and they still haven’t gone out of business it’s for good reason.

Another good way to tell if you’re paying for quality is by looking at the product page and seeing if they list things like the mill the fabric is from and show detailed garments measurements (pit-to-pit, back length, etc.)

I’m a huge fan of microbrands like Kent Wang and Spier & Mackay. Microbrands, especially when it comes to watches, tend to present excellent value propositions.

The biggest takeaway from this article is to be more mindful of your purchases. Don’t buy things just to buy them. Be diligent and purposeful with your purchases. This applies to everything, not just style or clothing. Do your research and try your best to be an informed consumer. This will save you a lot of heartache, and over the long run, a lot of money.

Thank you for reading.

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