How important is the clothing label when you shop? I was thinking about this yesterday as I was sorting clothes at the Thrift Shop, where I volunteer. The managers have a true love for Tommy Hilfiger, Lauren Ralph Lauren, GAP and other modern labels. Those pieces always get a little boost in price.
Not intending to sound like a fashion intelligentsia (lie), I am trying gently to point out that labels do sell, but quality sells too. And one does not equal the other, in all cases. A label is a clue about quality but not a guarantee. Some formerly prestigious brands have sold or licensed their label to mass-production manufacturing. See Halston, Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein. These are decent clothes, but the designer has/had no connection to the current creative process.
Here are some of the ways I sort through labels, for my own purchases. I would love to hear yours in the comments.
1. A vintage label always attracts me. When I was selling vintage clothing on eBay for a (small) living, I joined the Vintage Fashion Guild, to share vintage history with other aficionados. And there are some real scholars in that group, who put my scraps of knowledge to shame. One fab feature they offer is the Label Resource, and they make it free to everyone. It’s priceless, really – every designer from Edward Abbott to Ben Zuckerman is represented. If you shop or especially sell, vintage clothes and accessories, bookmark this page.
2. For modern clothes, I look for made in the USA, Canada or Europe. Again, this is no guarantee of a great piece of clothing. But the working conditions in these countries are far more fair than in many other places. This book is an eye-opener about the true cost of cheap clothing.
3. A hand crafted label is always a treat. “Made by Helen” or “An Original By Mary Lou” always draws me in. I used to sew my clothes as a teen, and still have a fondness for hand-crafted pieces.
4. Ignore the label and learn to judge the feel of the fabric, examine the seams and finishing, look for fewer bells and whistles, get familiar with quality – whatever the label may say. Debbie at Recovering Shopaholic has a good read about recognizing quality clothing here.
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