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How to assess the quality of garments (2014) (anuschkarees.com)
991 points by bookofjoe on July 22, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 287 comments

In a previous life when I wore suits to work on a frequent basis, I got interested in this topic and spent way too much time learning about it. I now have a closet full of quality clothes that I wear much less frequently, but, for whatever it's worth, they'll last me the rest of my life.

There's a lot of good info in this article, but there's also a lot more beyond it. For example, it mentions (accurately) that the fineness of cotton and wool fibers is an indicator of its quality, but the fiber length is a greater indicator of quality. Unfortunately, cotton and wool products are frequently marketed according to their fiber diameters (e.g., "800 thread count bed sheets" and "Super 100s" wools for suits), but you will never see the fiber length listed. You need to either be able to feel the fabric to assess its fiber length (something that I was never really able to do well) or rely on the recommendation of someone else who can. It's like saying that a network link has 10Gb bandwidth but failing to mention its 100ms minimum latency.

Another item that they mention that is frequently misunderstood is that there are different types of fabrics, especially wools. Just because a specific type of wool such as merino is mentioned doesn't mean that it's good quality. There is both junk merino and excellent merino. Just because it came from a merino sheep doesn't mean it's great. The same goes for cashmere, alapaca, angora, mohair, camel, etc. It's like saying that it's an SSD rather than a 7200rpm HDD. The former is almost certainly better, but there are still a wide range of SSD characteristics to be evaluated.

Yet another item is that while it is true that expensive clothes are not necessarily high quality clothes, it is almost always the case that high quality clothes are expensive. Or rather, they're expensive upfront but often turn out to be more economical over the life of the garment. In either case, they will be more pleasant to wear than a lower quality alternative.

And the Last item, since I could go on indefinitely about this, is that garment quality should be assessed on three axes -- quality of materials, quality of construction, and fit. If the first is lacking, the garment's material will pill, rip, fray, or just plain wear out too fast. If the second if lacking, it will fall apart too soon. If the last is lacking, it will be uncomfortable and look bad on you. The trick is, of course, to find garments which have all three.

> Or rather, they're expensive upfront but often turn out to be more economical over the life of the garment. In either case, they will be more pleasant to wear than a lower quality alternative.

Good ol' Vimes "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice strikes again:

> At the time of Men at Arms, Samuel Vimes earned thirty-eight dollars a month as a Captain of the Watch, plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots, the sort that would last years and years, cost fifty dollars. This was beyond his pocket and the most he could hope for was an affordable pair of boots costing ten dollars, which might with luck last a year or so before he would need to resort to makeshift cardboard insoles so as to prolong the moment of shelling out another ten dollars.

> Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.

> Without any special rancour, Vimes stretched this theory to explain why Sybil Ramkin lived twice as comfortably as he did by spending about half as much every month.

(though in a way modern society have made things worse as, as you note, "better" is usually more expensive but more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better, and it's often hard for the uninitiated to know if they're paying for quality, for brand, or for getting fleeced).

I don't really believe this anymore. Basically because of this theory my last pair of boots want the nicest I could find, high quality materials, hand made construction, almost $500, thinking it was an investment and I'd never have to go shoe shopping again. Well, I've had to repair them once already, and frankly with how cheap boots are at Walmart I don't think anymore I'll ever break even. Nice boots, though, and a pleasure to wear.

I believe the common wisdom isn't that high-quality things necessarily are any slower to wear out; but rather that when they do wear out, they do so in non-critical ways, with specially-designated easily-replaceable sacrificial parts wearing out to protect the whole.

E.g. with shoes with leather soles, you can just pry them off and tack on a new sole; with an expensive couch with good framing, you can just reupholster the thing; etc.

Likewise, clothes considered higher-quality are usually made of materials that can "absorb" re-stitching; while clothes made of "expensive" but not "high-quality" materials (e.g. modern sports fabrics) will tear and then there's nothing you can really do; any patch sewn onto them would fall back off the first time they're put through the wash.

Extremes are bad at both ends. Really cheap shoes don’t last 2 months. Some cheap clothes don’t last the first wash.

However, finding the sweet spot is rarely 100x the cheap version it’s more like 2-10x. The risk is not just normal use some times things get lost etc.

I think there's a middle ground. I bought 110€ winter shoes 11-12 years ago and they've worked fine (with one resoling) this far -- now I've worn through the inner material and will probably have to find a new pair.

Same for my 100€ winter jacket, sits and looks great still after 10 years. It's def not lovingly handcrafted but a level up from fast fashion anyway.

So in short: Vimes' "Boots" Theory of Economic Injustice is incomplete without taking the Pareto Principle into consideration as well

Many (most?) types of expensive things are thought to be "more durable" because their users take much more care of them (because they are expensive!) than of their cheap equivalent.

Do you wear them daily? Even boots from Alden or Viberg should be rotated with at least one other pair.

Yeah, any leather shoes will wear out much faster if you don't let them sit and dry out after wearing.

Shoe trees can vastly prolong the lifespan of a pair of shoes.

Are you stomping through mud puddles daily with your shoes?

Regular foot sweat should be long since evaporated away with just an overnight stay in the shoe closet unless perhaps you live in an un-airconditioned house in a swamp.

I wear the same pair of leather shoes every day and in the end it's the soles that wear out, not the leather. They aren't even fancy shoes, just run of the mill Dockers.

That's a great failure mode as you can simply get them re-soled.

Theoretically, but the couple of times I've checked it would cost pretty much the same or more to re-sole my shoes as it would be to buy a brand new pair. It's pretty hard to find anybody who even does that anymore, and their clients are people with extremely expensive imported dress shoes.

Not sure where you are but in the UK Timpsons are absolutely everywhere (although the quality and pricing of repairs seems pretty hit and miss - some stores are excellent, others less so).

And there are still plenty of independent shops kicking about. Most places offering lock smith services also offer shoe repair.

Huh. So you are saying if I have 2 pairs of identical shoes, A and B, if I wear A for T months, then B for T months, by alternating every day I should get >2T months out?

You absolutely get > 2T out. Potentially up to 4T.

This is because much of the wear on your shoes does not come from steps and hitting the ground. It comes from sweat and moisture inside the shoe, and the inside of your shoe takes a REALLY long time to dry out fully.

If you wanted to extend of life of a shoe without rotating pairs you can also buy a shoe drying rack. This is what a lot of people in construction do with extensive work boots.

I have so many pairs of shoes now that I only wear some of them a few times a year. I only ever buy ones that I’ll have forever on deep discount (picked up a couple pair of Allen Edmonds for $100 each recently).

For the price of 2 Allen Edmonds bought retail, I could have 7 pairs of their timeless shoes, rotate them regularly, and never buy shoes again.

In reality, I have 4. 2 brown and 2 black, and that’s more than enough. My Dad has the same, and is still wearing his from the 80s on a daily basis.

The top of the line Allen Edmonds dress shoes (forget the model right now) are really high quality uppers. You can re-sole them many times.

Yes, it allows the materials to dry out and prevents microscopic damage from hydrolysis or mould et al.

This is an old wive's tale.

Why not find a company with a lifetime warranty? My dailies are https://www.goruck.com/macv-1/ and they offer to lifetime-fix-or-replace anything you manage to break or wear out. This brand may be a bit too "military" for you but I'm sure there are other manufacturers out there that actually stand behind their products, no?

I think about this a lot when shopping. If I see non-perishables on sale for 20-30% off, I'll stock up on 6 months' worth and almost be able to guarantee I'll see them on sale again before I run out. Someone who doesn't have that much float wouldn't be able to do so, and so would be stuck paying 20% more than me for everything forever. So much of economics is chicken-and-egg.

If you have the storage space this is definitely the way to go. I have a good habit of stocking up on whatever Costco has on sale this week that I'll actually use and the savings definitely add up.

I think there is a flaw in that story. I’ve a few pairs of high quality shoes and yes they do last well and look good but they still need maintenance. I send them back to the manufacturer for a resole when needed, they come back refurbished but it’s cost about 1/3 the price of buying a new pair.

I also have a 30 year old Omega watch. Every five years that goes back to Omega, it’s away for about a month and costs £2-300 each time.

The story is a simplification, and that's its flaw, like most stories.

My experience is that while lifetime and cost are often correlated, they aren't always, the ratio is often a curve, and the curve is different for every product. My $10 Casio watch has outlasted some nicer watches costing more than $100. But I once made the mistake of buying a $40 pair of shoes, and they were unwearable within a few months.

Another example is that high-end suits with high thread count are supposedly less durable than less expensive suits, because the finer, more comfortable fabric is also thinner and wears more quickly.

Then on top of that there's market inefficacy. You can readily buy high quality shoes that are normally $200+ for under $100 if you don't mind them being boots and only available in black, coyote tan and sage green.

You can get iron rangers for around 180 every couple months. That’s probably the best deal around

My closet is filled with Iron Rangers, 1000 miles, AEs, and handmade Mocs. All purchased at steep discounts or second hand stores. All look better than the day I bought them years later.

My oldest pair of shoes are going on 11 years, and look even better than the rest after one re-sole.

You shouldn’t send the watch back for refinishing. Worn ones are more valuable.

-It’s not just refinishing of the case, but rather cleaning and lubing the movement; you don’t want the innards to grind themselves to pieces.

That being said, my everyday Omega (a PlanetOcean diver) has gone for 11 years without a service and still keeps excellent time; once timekeeping deteriorates, I’ll have it cleaned, lubed and adjusted at my local watchmaker’s.

Oh, and the case will be refinished over my dead body; it has more or less literally gone to war with me, got banged up a bit, lived to tell the tale and is still ticking.

What is the injustice here?

The fact that poor people spend more money on things than rich people, once you include replacing them when they wear out.

Or do you think that it's just that the poor people are held down?

(Cue stories about people working their way out of poverty and thus proving the poverty trap isn't a real thing)

I see an interesting form of this that isn't exclusive to the poor: daycare.

My wife has the luxury of not having to work so we have never used daycare. That's tens of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours driving, not getting sick all the time, not needing a second car, the list goes on not to mention the immeasurable cost of missing out on the absolute best hours of your child's life.

In the US. Over here daycare is paid by taxes, free for everyone regardless of income or employment status, and in the city you'll likely have the daycare within a couple of blocks so no extra car needed either. Yes you'll get a cold more often thanks to all the germs, but sick days don't eat to your salary or holidays (also sick time on holidays gets reimbursed!) so no monetary loss.

You'll miss out on a lot of the time with your kid, but on the other hand they get to socialize a lot more from a very young age already. Some parents also burn out at home after a while, but that of course depends on the person.

I realize this went quite offtopic, sorry about that.

Thanks for sharing and helping reduce my ignorance on the subject. I'll be honest, any social service we have in Canada, I just assume the US has it worse.

I believe we have cheap or free subsidized daycare too but it's generally terrible. There's also 12 month waiting lists where I live. My colleagues all pay tens of thousands.

Sorry if I was unclear, my report was from an European standpoint. I just assumed you're from the US, probably based on the yearly cost you mentioned.

Ohh okay. From Canada. Free if you don't make much money. I thought you were initializing with "I'm in the US".

Poor people don't pay what rich people pay for daycare because they daisy chain together some combination of under the table daycare and relatives.

There's obviously trade-offs to that approach but my point is that upper middle class patterns of behavior shouldn't be projected up and down the economic ladder.

Upper middle class people call a plumber. Poor people call a plumber that owes them a favor.. Etc, etc. and so on and so fourth. It's a whole different economy and a lot of the patterns surrounding the crap in life that saps your money are totally different.

Some basic philosophical disagreements revolve around this. One mans injustice is another's evolutionary survival of the fittest where patience, planning, and low time preference are strongly rewarded by the system. One mans injustice is lack of equality of opportunity, another's is lack of equality of outcome.

There's a quote often falsely attributed to John Wayne "Life is hard; it’s harder when you’re stupid". Some folks see that as good, some as bad. A classic argument of individualism vs collectivism. Obviously the individual is better off if individual stupidity is not punished and obviously the civilization is better off, especially in the long run, if stupidity is punished, so opinions on punishment usually simplify down to an argument about individualism vs collectivism.

The John Wayne quote is a slightly different thing. I don't think its particularly controversial to suggest that stupidity should not be rewarded as well as the absence of that stupidity (calling it punishment may turn some people off, even if it means the same thing).

The Vimes example is about the fact that being poor to start with is more expensive in its own right.

Vimes does not make a stupid decision not to buy the expensive boots, they are simply more than he can afford in any reasonable period.

There is another saying "making your first million is hard, making your second million is inevitable"

It should be noted the book called it the "theory of socioeconomic unfairness", not "injustice".

The rich get richer and the poor only get poorer. It's the principle as old as the bible, and the Vimes part simply puts it into very accessible terms that everyone can identify with.

> the poor only get poorer

This is demonstrably, dramatically false.

"The headline could be "The number of people in extreme poverty fell by 130,000 since yesterday” and they wouldn’t have this headline once, but every single day since 1990, since, on average, there were 130,000 people fewer in extreme poverty every day." https://ourworldindata.org/a-history-of-global-living-condit...

Both the quality and duration of life for "the poor" have increased dramatically over the last decades and centuries. https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy-globally

For a "real-time" visualization, see https://worldpoverty.io/index.html

We aren't doing as well as we'd like to be, but the world is making dramatic progress.

Perhaps that in theory it's more expensive to be poor?

> Therefore over a period of ten years, he might have paid out a hundred dollars on boots, twice as much as the man who could afford fifty dollars up front ten years before. And he would still have wet feet.

Poor people are forced to spend more on everything. Finance is a great example. In the USA, banks find poor people unprofitable. To remedy this, they created two institutions:

* ChexSystems, a credit reporting service for bank accounts

* Payday loans, a predatory lending system which takes 4-8% of a person's paycheck to cash it instantly instead of waiting a couple of days.

ChexSystems is designed to identify poor people and ban them from the banking system so that they have to give their round of flesh to shylocks in order to buy food and pay rent. This is one of the more egregious attacks on the poor in the USA, but there are tens of thousands of them to be honest.

Ever wonder if cheap commodity exporting countries might play this as a form of covert economic aggression?

It's an interesting thought but I think there's little basis to believe there is a concerted effort here, as the average consumer is very aware that the quality of, say, a screwdriver from China, is very different from that of a German made one.

I think it's just an unintended consequence of a race to the bottom in cheap, disposable manufacturing. Even then, I'm unsure if on an aggregate level the progress in materials engineering and overall manufacturing processes does not eventually offset this focus on cheapness, resulting on better value than the more expensive alternative.

It's not a concerted effort, but over the course of forty or more years it may seem like a trade surplus built on disposable goods is somehow a strategic move?

But times are changing, now it’s also possible to buy great screwdriver from China and inferior from Germany.

Sure, but buying a random German screwdriver gets you a better one, comparing to a random Chinese one.

Even if China produces an absolute number of good screwdrivers, tge deluge of crap ones dwarfs it.

It's possible, but the "natural" explanation (capitalism driving costs down/race to the bottom) is just as plausible and much simpler

So selling things people want = aggression now?

Why is everything viewed in term of us vs them?

Everything isn't us and them, but bear in mind we're not talking about things people want here, we're talking about things people need.

oh! man! I'm loving this thread -- there's no question that economic policy is designed as an adversarial game for leverage, especially on the world stage. Taking a step back and seeing how the world has (de)evolved in the past 30 years I'm wondering if selling people what they think they want isn't the best way to bring a society to its knees? edit: and making it just ever so much more breakable to where it's usable but definitely won't last forever..

I think a rough proxy for fabric quality is the mill a textile comes from. Speaking in very general terms mills in Italy and Japan produce some good textiles (and not so good ones), but because they are expensive countries they tend to be on the higher end. Some east coast denim mills tend to be good too.

Stitching done in Portugal is pretty good too. Of course, you can find good cheap tailors in underdeveloped countries too.

Buying quality forces you to be more conservative: that which you buy needs to look in-place (if not in-style) for many many years. You can’t buy al courant and hope it will look stylish five or ten years down the road.

Looking at the mill for a fabric can be helpful, especially for wools. Mills such as Holland & Sherry and Scabal have built a reputation for quality fabrics though they're generally not household names so they do not yet have the motivation to go down-market to increase their sales (unlike Zegna which has become semi-famous and now makes some lower quality fabrics). That said, you won't find their fabrics except on top-tier off-the-shelf clothes or custom clothes.

If by stitching you mean construction quality, you can certainly find that in many places. For suits, England and Italy are famous for it though both places do have lesser-quality vendors who will happily trade on their country's reputations and take your money. I had most of my business clothing custom-made in Hong Kong where the tailors learned from the Brits but are still much less expensive. You have to be careful there, though, because there are lots of guys who prey on the tourist who has heard that cheap custom suits can be had in HK but isn't able to assess quality.

++ on buying conservatively-styled clothes. I'm in my 40s and still wear the suits I bought in my 20s and hope I'll still fit into them in my 60s.

Since you mentioned HK, any opinion on Simpson Sin?

I don't know anything about that shop specifically, but from their website, it looks a lot like many of the tourist-focused operations with pictures of all the celebrities for which they've made suits (for free, of course -- you'll have to pay) and promises to have it ready for you in a timeframe too short for the amount of labor necessary for a top-quality suit. And they're relatively new. I haven't had a suit made there in over a decade now, but at the time, WW Chan & Sons, Gordon Yao, and H Baromon were considered quality tailors there and had been in operation for decades. The first two of those make periodic trips to Europe and the US which is nice if you want to make follow-up orders and don't travel frequently to HK.

I don't want to be too critical of the tourist-focused shops. It is certainly possible to get a serviceable suit at one of those places that will hold up to occasional wear and fit as well as an off-the-rack suit that's been tailored for you. It can't be top quality, though, when its total cost is less than the cost of the 3 yards of quality wool required for the suit. There's been something of a spike in demand for those guys in the last 10-20 years and their prices have gone up accordingly. As a rough point of reference, the last good suit I had made there cost 1500USD.

Taylor Stitch and Mission Workshop makes some of their clothing in Portugal.

I looked at MW, Outliers and Tailor Stitch. Outliers and TS currently don't have patterned shirts (stripes, checks, etc), but at least Outliers shows one piece of carelessness they don't match up the patterns on the yoke with the sleeve. (same with front pocket --things should line up).

Since most don't show a picture of the back of the shirt, also can't tell if they have split yoke. Most quality shirts will have split yoke, especially dress shirts, though it's mostly unnecessary.

One other tell of whether someone takes pride in their shirting is not using synthetic buttons.

outlier (similar to MW) does as well -- their reasoning is that the factories in Portugal are the ones which are able to do the highest quality work at their scale

Love outlier but their prices hurt

Fantastic information. To address your general point that there is some difficulty in assessing quality, it's not simply enough to spend lots of money, I'd recommend to everyone who is interested in stepping up their clothing quality game to find a reputable tailor. This is what I did, and I was lucky enough to do it while traveling in a part of the world with lower cost of living than the US. Because of this, I can order clothes that fit me perfectly and are made of extremely high quality materials for generally only a 20% markup over going to Macy's (for a dress shirt or slacks/trousers for instance), or a fully bespoke three-piece suit for about double the price of going to a Men's Wearhouse.

The most interesting thing I've found with wearing better quality clothing is that people notice, but don't realize this is what they're noticing. I get comments about my shirts from clients and when I go out in public random people will stop me to say something. Nobody says something about some technical factor of the clothing itself, but they will say things like "that's a nice shirt" or "wow, that shirt is really blue" (better quality cloth tends to have more consistent and lasting color as well).

This is one of those areas where quality isn't just expensive, it's more that quality only comes with being able to judge with expertise. Like most, I am unlikely to ever become an expert in textiles, so I found that having a reputable tailor do work for you was the best way to dress well without breaking the bank. My clothing lasts longer, looks better, and most importantly it feels better, all for a 20-30% markup over going to the mall.

Did you have your tailor make your clothing from scratch, or did you buy clothes you liked and had the tailor alter them to fit better?

Everything was made from scratch, and it was literally only 20% more than a similar off the shelf shirt at Macy's. I paid $85 at Macy's for a Michael Kors dress shirt which fit me pretty okay. My tailor charges me $110 for a shirt, and it's bespoke. $125 if I want contrast stitching on the top buttonhole and my initials monogrammed on the cuff.

Honestly if you made videos or blog posts that explain how to figure out high-quality clothes, I would immediately subscribe.

The blog post that's posted here on HN is short on images & video, which I feel like is really necessary here. A visual aid would be extremely helpful.

> I now have a closet full of quality clothes that I wear much less frequently, but, for whatever it's worth, they'll last me the rest of my life.

> Or rather, they're expensive upfront but often turn out to be more economical over the life of the garment.

Okay, but this is assuming that your body composition does not change and the clothes continue to fit you. Your body is more important to how you look than the clothes you wear, so if you are logical then you place priority on continually improving your body composition.

The most salient factor when buying clothing is how they fit you and your wardrobe. Quality is important insofar as an article of clothing does not distort after a wash (washing properly is also important), but you should expect to discard after a season or two. Buying expensive clothing doesn't make logical or economic sense.

You gotta check out 'The Suit' by Nicholas Antongiovanni -- I'm not sure your assumption holds about the body being more important, this is something you may reconsider; people struggle with all sorts of body issues and clothing is the one great democratizer in that it gives us an extrinsic way to control our appearance

Furthermore, fashion trends being what they are, cheap trendy clothing doesn't make sense either, there are many factors but it's a calculus optimization yet again, how can you get the maximum longevity (including fashion relevance) with the minimum cost?

This hardly takes into account human psychology: let's not pretend humans don't communicate through clothing -- as a species we are able to assign meaning to anything including a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Many times the clothing we choose speaks for us and it's not always saying the most complimentary things

All these things considered, for a man at least, a rotation of 8 high quality suits and related sports jackets and accessories is still the best value even if society has strayed from these mores and those who get it get it, those who don't wear crocs everywhere

Wow, small world -- I'm also a fan of "The Suit" and have an autographed copy on my bookshelf. It's a more of a philosophical, opinionated take on men's clothing than practical advice on where to buy jeans, but the author is quite knowledgeable.

You can improve body composition without altering external dimensions. That's the steady state you inevitably reach after years of training anyway.

Funny that you should mention that -- I had my first suit made nearly 20 years ago when I was in quite good shape. Being able to still wear that suit has been a significant motivation for me over the years to maintain that shape.

Fit is important, but what about comfort? For example, you can have two shirts with the exact same fit but one can be more comfortable just based on materials used.

For real life examples: some undershirts can be itch inducing but those from Banana Republic don’t have that issue; or compare similar fitting generic workout pants to Lulu Lemon ones.

Do you have any high-quality clothing stores that you recommend?

What kind of clothes are you looking for? In general, it's hard to find stores where you can walk in and be assured that anything they carry is high quality. Even the high-end department stores such as Saks Fifth Ave. and Neiman Marcus are going to carry a lot of "fashion" brands that are expensive but not necessarily good quality. Some local boutiques (e.g., Louis Boston though it too has declined in recent years) may still provide that, but you typically have to either discover those on your own or have friends who are already in the know. These days, I wear a lot more chinos than suits and I buy most of mine from Bill's Khakis (https://www.billskhakis.com -- no affiliation, of course). They are not cheap, but their fabrics and construction are significantly better than anything you'll find at a mass retailer and they have several different fits, one of which works quite well for me. Another nice thing about them is that their fits are consistent. I have, from time to time, found decent pairs at lower-end retailers such as Uniqlo, but the model that fits me well lasts only for one season and I can never find it again.

Your comments have been really informative. I have no knowledge of fabrics or clothes, but I can second Bill’s Khakis. I had a pair that lasted many years - looked and felt better than maybe any other pair of pants I’ve owned.

Based on Bill's prices I feel compelled to mention signing up for their email list yields a 30% discount code. That's a $48 discount on one pair of pants.

Any opinion on Outlier dungarees. They are expensive but the quality seems darn good.

I have the slim and strong, they are very solid and worth the investment IMO. Fills two niches for me: part of a one-bag for travel, and a comfortable pant to wear while biking.

I've had them for two years now and they've helped up well; recently I wear them less because I think denim is more fashionable and I don't need the performance most of the time.

I wonder if the slim fit would work for me, I'm in good shape (I have other "slim fit" khakis, but sometimes they're just a bit too ridiculous for someone built like me, with weird proportions).

If you bike or have a bit of a tech-ware thing, Outlier: https://outlier.nyc/


Wool garments, from a small company set up by a Danish ex Jaeger Corps who was aghast with the quality (or lack thereof) of clothes out there when he returned to civil life.

I don't even remember how I got in touch with them, but I was looking for robust, functional yet stylish clothes I could both wear everyday and do skateboarding with. I just remember buying one for the heck of it early in the company life and be instantly amazed by the fit, quality, and how the t-shirt would cater for sports, casual and professional life. I bought about 10 of those, and then their socks and underwear too. I could put up a day-long skateboarding session with lots of sweating, just hang the thing to dry and it would be fine in an hour, so I could wash them once a week when wearing daily, which is impossible with cotton and has a dramatic effect on lifespan. Very breathable, so nice in summer but also keeps you warm in winter.

The upfront cost seems high for "just a t-shirt" but boy have they endured the trial I've put them through over two years. I definitely recommend following their recommendations for washing and drying.


Thanks for this tip! I generally love my few woollen garments but without a good source where to get some everyday wear.

I'm wondering how it'd work with underwear though, as that's probably something one might to wash after each use regardless of material.

I got a box of boxers and they're quite nice. I do wash them after every use, which makes sense. Got a bunch of socks too, they're great, especially since I'm prone to sweating in that area. They do start to show some wear after two years, which is exceptional given the abuse I put them through with skateboarding.

I just looked and loow is selling tshirts for $75. My lord.

If they're of fine wool, that's a perfectly reasonable price. I wear exclusively Icebreaker wool t-shirts as undershirts and they're $80 each, and have lasted me for years. One of the incredible things about higher quality textiles (Irish linen, fine wools) is that they tend to get softer and more comfortable with washing, and reach an equilibrium point quickly where they will stay for /years/. I'm wearing an Icebreaker T right now I bought in 2016 that's still in perfect condition and is more comfortable than any T-shirt you've ever put on, I guarantee.

I'm not familiar with Loow's products, but since they're wool and people are saying they are of high quality, I don't think $75 is unreasonable.

I'm not a connoisseur of fine clothes but I have noticed that out of cheap places to buy clothes Costco seems to have a consistently high hit rate of good value for money, at least in men's clothes. They seem to curate their clothes suppliers pretty well.

That's the business model of Costco across all departments, they don't offer much selection but everything in the store has a local maxima of value for the money.

Costco gets you the best deal, Walmart and the dollar stores only sell garbage at the lowest possible cost, Amazon sells literally everything and has converted over the years from having the best deals to having the fastest logistics, and then there's whatever niche specialist suppliers are left like digikey for electronics parts etc.

As far as "cheap, durable" clothes go I have been shocked by the decent quality of certain clothes that Old Navy has been putting out. Specifically their activewear that is made from synthetic blends.

Old Navy's clothing has typically been disposable trash. And most of it still is - generally anything they make out of cotton.

But their Old Navy Active line, specifically their "Breathe ON" fabric, is pretty durable and has really kept me cool throughout this crazy hot summer. They also sell tall and extended sizes which I appreciate. Tall sizes are typically so hard to find. These are not heirloom clothing items, but they've shown little wear over several summers.

This is functional clothing, not anything particularly fashionable. And lest this seem like an viral marketing post, let me restate that most of their lineup is still trash.

Something positive _has_ happened with Old Navy's quality. I'm the parent of an active teenage boy and have been buying a lot of pants because he's either grown out of them or shredded them beyond patching (seriously, he tore the waistband off a pair climbing-- and probably falling from-- something). Old Navy has gone from disposable to middling quality while Gap and Banana Republic have declined[1]. While I'm on this, the Carhartt sold in big sporting goods stores isn't the same as what's sold in hardware stores, farm stores, and the like. Also, the random brands of pants at Tractor Supply wear harder than their price would suggest. Don't get me started on footwear.


[1] I use one of their credit cards to pay for things and the rewards mean I can buy some of this stuff for cost of shipping or less.

Also uniqlo has been a hit for me on plain t shirts. Quality has been top notch

But the fit is poor for men. They rarely stock small or 30” waist, or stock too few. They’re great for the middle aged dad look but weak otherwise.

Thousand Mile, made in the U.S., makes great clothing. They started with hiking shorts, then slowly grew their line. Their shorts last forever — I'm talking 5-10 years — and are super comfortable and look nice.https://www.thousandmile.com/

My favorites are Outlier, Taylor Stitch, Alchemy Equipment, and Mission Workshop.

Brooks Brothers

There's a lot of parameters if you will, clothing is the ultimate optimization exercise that includes quality, comfort, cost and fit of course but BB have made it into an art and their textures, colours and the flexibility of the clothes are top notch. I buy their clothes because they offer a high level of versatility and quite frankly they've helped my career in many ways too

Thank you for posting this. I’ve recently become much more interested in how to determine the quality of clothing, and your descriptions of how to think of it are very helpful!

In high school during the summers I worked as a seamstress making vastly overpriced custom curtains for an interior designer. I learned a quick & dirty method of judging the quality of just about anything made of fabric: look at the fabric grain relative to the primary vertical seams (pant legs, jacket sleeve, shirt torso).

The angle at which a piece of fabric is cut can drastically change the shape/fit of the item but "cheap" items are often made quickly and not much care is given to lining up the pattern correctly before cutting. If you've ever had a t-shirt that always seems to twist on you, it's because of the way the fabric was cut. On the other hand, if someone has taken the time to line up the pattern with the selvage, you can just about guarantee they haven't cut any major corners with the rest of the piece.

The fabric "grain" should be parallel to the seam. Take a look at Primark seams and then take a look at Brooks Brothers seams and you'll immediately see the difference/know what to look for. Expensive jeans seem to be the biggest offender in my experience.

It’s really apparent on a striped dress shirt. A quality maker will do pattern matching (lining up stripes at the seams) and another good cheat is a split yoke[1] with the same pattern matching.

[1] https://theimagecrunch.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/split-shi...

Do you have any images that do a side-by-side comparison? Or do you have to just go see for yourself?

I haven't had much luck finding a side-by-side comparison but I hope this[1] image helps me explain it better. You can see the fabric's grainline where the thread is pulled loose. If you imagine the loose thread is a seam you can (sort of) see the other threads of the fabric run either parallel or perpendicular to it.

Now instead imagine the seam is at the raw edge at the top of the photo. Do you see how the pulled thread of the grainline isn't parallel and will eventually intersect with the line of the (imaginary) seam?

[1] https://sewguide.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/grainline-of...

Edit: The inset of this[2] image might help as well. See how the lines marked "warp threads" run parallel to the selvage and the "weft threads" run into the seam at a 90 degree angle? The threads should intersect the primary vertical seam of a garment the same way.

[2] https://www.thecuttingclass.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/5...

>Take a look at Primark seams and then take a look at Brooks Brothers seams

I'm not familiar with either. Which store is supposed to have the better seams?

Primark is a very cheap store - t-shirts for £2, trousers for £8 etc. It is fast fashion so stuff changes rapidly and frequently. If there is something on the catwalk at a fashion show that causes a lot of interest or someone famous wears something particularly noteworthy in a magazine photo, Primark will have something very similar to it in their stores within a week or two. Primark is hugely popular in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. Tourists at the central London stores (which are HUGE by the way - the size of a typical department store of years past) literally flock there.

The shopping experience is often chaotic (clothes strewn all over the place) and quality is generally not thought to be great - stuff might last only a few washes ... but it varies - I have a generic blue hoodie from Primark that cost less than £10 but it has lasted literally years and has some high quality features like the ends of the draw strings are finished in metal (not plastic and not just tied) so have not frayed or come apart. I don't think their quality is any worse than other high street retailers though - often they charge 3x 4x or more prices for equivalent quality.

I will certainly be using this guide in the future to pick the finest Primark has to offer!

I always wondered about those draw strings (what they are really for?) and at some point decided to just take them out after buying a hooded vest. Given that I only rarely even put up the hood over my head, when would I ever pull the draw strings tighter? (except when doing a Kenny from Southpark impression)

Very rarely I leave them in (when they have a contrasting colour that looks nice in combination), but usually it's just two bits of wire that are dangling in the way a lot of the time :)

Same experience here, Primark clothes are always dirt cheap but the quality varies wildly. As I can't tell the difference, I have T-shirts from there that have practically self-destructed after one wash, and others that have kept good and comfy for years!

When you source from the cheapest vendors, sometimes you get lucky with a quality manufacturer that just happened to have excess capacity to make some stuff from Primark or whoever else.

I am wearing their jeans just now. Not the best Jeans I have had, but not the worst either by a long way.

The founder of Primark died just a couple of weeks ago. His life was touched by a family tragedy in recent years also


Search results revealed that Primark is a fast fashion retailer, so probably selling the low end junk.

Primark is infamous in the UK for selling very cheap products; T-shirts that cannot survive multiple washes.

Brooks Brothers sell quality shirts.

What I heard is that the cuts are laid out like a puzzle on the fabric. So some lucky t-shirts get the straight, "correct" angles vs fabric grain, while others will be wrong.

You can’t really “luck” into a long straight cut of fabric that’s well aligned much the same way a carpenter doesn’t “luck” into straight cuts. And then consider that wood is stiff while a slight movement of fabric could still result in a poor cut even when you’ve carefully measured and laid out the pattern correctly.

I assumed machines do the cutting according to CAD files or equivalent - whatever movements are there I must believe is designed and deliberate.

It's interesting how synthetics were mostly lumped together and largely undifferentiated. To be fair, that post is over 5 years old and some seemingly significant advances in fabrics for consumer garments have become widely available in the meantime.

I've personally come to feel cotton is vastly over-rated as a clothing material for anything but cost-saving goals (which certainly is an important factor.) Of course there's the old adage "Cotton Kills", referring to cold weather, but it's also miserably subpar for hot conditions for some of the same reasons: as it absorbs sweat the fibers swell and reduce the fabric's breathability, leading to increased body heat retention. You may be inclined to think a wet fabric aids in cooling but that effect is short lived once evaporation can't keep up with the addition of more perspiration and air movement slows to almost none. And that's before we even get into the resulting bacterial overgrowth, AKA body odor, for which cotton is notoriously awful at mitigating.

So, anyhow, if you have the time, means, and inclination, I highly recommend looking at newer fabric alternatives like lyocell (typically found as the branded names of Tencel, Modal, or Viscose).

And you should always consider merino wool and hemp, which are most often found combined with a synthetic or two, typically for improved elasticity and shape retention, but also for increased comfort since they are both not historically known for their softness. Wool is in many ways the holy grail of fabrics (for reasons which you can find in fantastic detail online) and the relatively new variant of merino only improves on a well-earned reputation. Whereas hemp, despite reigning as the indisputable champion of strength and durability for literally thousands of years in non-clothing applications, has recently seen a resurgence thanks to various factors, notably improvements in comfort. (That said, my personal experience with hemp clothing has shown that it still leaves something to be desired in the area of real world durability, from the perspective of the several various pieces of clothing I've owned--mostly shirts, plus a couple pants--starting in the late 1990s and purchased as recently as 2019.)

I had a similar reaction.

Polyester and nylon are underrated in my opinion; they're very durable and breathable, and the odor can be mitigated with a blend, or by careful washing and use of enzyme-based stain treatments. I get frustrated a bit by the trend toward 100% cotton t-shirts, for example; cotton-polyester blends almost always last much longer and are more breathable. I understand the concerns about production of synthetic materials but it would be nice to see recycled polyester be used more often.

My favorite fabrics are wool and linen, but polyester and nylon can be extremely useful.

As a counterpoint to things like modal, viscose, etc. they're very soft but can take forever to dry, which I don't like. They're extremely absorbent but also hold on to moisture for a long time.

On the other side, I absolutely despise polyester. I hate the way it feels to the degree that I absolutely refuse to wear anything containing it.

I do have some nylon clothes for camping, bit I wouldn’t wear them every day either. Natural fibers are just much more comfortable for me.

"I've personally come to feel cotton is vastly over-rated as a clothing material for anything but cost-saving goals (which certainly is an important factor.) Of course there's the old adage "Cotton Kills", referring to cold weather ..."

FWIW, cotton is very useful as an underlayer for firefighting.

It's very important to not have any synthetic fabrics as underlayers - especially in a wildland/forest fire situation where a flash of heat that might only result in a first degree burn of your skin melts the synthetic fabric to your skin.

That’s fair. Since you mentioned it, I think I’ve read something to that effect. Without having searched the topic myself yet, is wool an alternative in that use case? Seems it’d be far superior though certainly not as cheap nor convenient as a large multi-pack of cotton undershirts.

Wouldn't you want to use Nomex for this kind of thing? It's synthetic and extremely flame-resistant, which is why it's used for clothing for firefighters, race car drivers, and military pilots.

It is an option but it is neither particularly breathable, nor flexible, nor inexpensive.

For some PPE all you are looking for is no-melt (which would leave molten goo on your skin that would increase the damage)or provides a minimal level of protection, e.g. NFPA 70E PPE level 1 for arc flash, suitable to your expected risk exposure.

OTOH, microfiber pollution from synthetic fabrics apparently is a real thing:


For summer, don’t forget linen, which is amazing at evaporative cooling. Linen blends can be decent too if you’re concerned about wrinkles and hate ironing.

    merino wool and hemp, which are most often found combined with a synthetic or two
Wool + synthetic blend socks (SmartWool, etc) are an absolute revelation.

They are made in both summer and winter weights. If you're hiking, doing other sports, or simply spending a lot of time on your feet they may be one of the best investments you can ever make.

Agreed on both accounts. Once I had the means and inclination a couple years back, I began investing in better clothes (re: fabric, construction.)

A discovered one mistake I'd made was not starting with socks. Once I purchased my first pair of wool blend socks, I felt the same as you.

I absolutely hate wearing cotton trousers when it's hot. They instantly feel hot and sticky when any thin wool or linen wouldn't bother me the slightest.

merino + lyocel make for some awesome underwear.

I have progressively replaced all my socks and boxers with ones made from these fabrics.

Could you give recommendation on brand and/or store?

Sure !

Anything with a combination of merino + lyocel (so tencel, modal, etc, there are different branded names) should be good. It will also be way costlier than a bad quality cotton where you get five boxers for 5$, but it does not have to go to 100$ either.

I own and like :

- I have some tshirts and socks from icebreakers. The tshirts are great for working out too ! They can be great for some hard activities like trekking but you need to know that merino is not great with abrasion, so if you wear a weighty backpack your tshirt might get damaged faster than a cotton one. Still many trekkers still wear these since they are great at temperature regulation, very comfortable and don't smell.

- seagale has great boxers and socks

- ninjasox has merino invisible socks. I had to search for a very long while before finding truly invisible merino socks.

- outlier also carry some merino socks, although they might be costlier than the other brands I have mentioned. I don't think the quality of their socks is noticeably better though (their tech pants are awesome though)

This kind of melange is awesome for any garment in direct contact with your skin. it is very soft and does not keep any odor even if you sweat a lot in them.

Thanks! I’ll check them out.

How refreshing to see something like this on HN; I want to iterate that there is an inextricable link between textiles and computer technology going back to the invention of the loom

Textiles were among the very earliest technologies, were hugely significant to ancient cultures (there are numerous Greek mythological entities associated with weaving, sewing, thread, cloth, etc.), some innovations were remarkably late (knitting, about 800 CE), and of course, textiles drove the early Industrial Revolution: Kay's Flying Shuttle (1733), James Hargreaves' spinning jenny (1764), Richard Arkwright's water frame (1769), and Joseph Marie Jacquard's punched-card loom (1804).

This is a wonderfully insightful connection. You could think of fabric as an early display technology, especially when paired with something like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacquard_loom

Threads, spin locks, bytecode weaving, CUDA warps, switched fabrics ...

Indeed, looms were some of the earliest programmable machinery, and the cause of arguably the earliest concerns about automation causing unemployment.

techwear has been a trendy industry for solid 5+ years now

Can you give some trending examples that are not just phones strapped to the body?

Oh, I see. Thanks!

I get what the article is getting at, its lovely for what it is trying to do.

my take: Cloths are what people you meet look at. They create a mood in the spectator and leave an impression of who you are. First you have to figure out who you are, who you use to be and who you want to become. Who are the people you meet? they use to be what? who do you want them to be? After doing that you pick cloths that compliment the becoming part without flying to far from who you/they are.

Try wearing a kilt or a lederhose and watch the world around you change.

If you look at today's fashion its like everyone is heading to a funeral. Like they got tired of carrying their soul around then forget where they left it.

Is everyone not heading to a funeral? ;)

Not me! I’ll never go to one and have it in my will that there won’t be one when I pass.

Your Earthly remains will be disposed of, that's your funeral, the form of yours may differ to others.

May I ask why you'll "never go to one", and perhaps how old you are?

I'm 35. Just not interested.

Don't have a big family and the ones that are alive live far away. I'm not going to waste my time to travel for a funeral. Not many friends either to be honest.

And as for myself, I don't think having the crematorium dispose of my cremains counts as a funeral but whatever.

I've not suffered much in terms of death of loved ones, I'm not much older than you, but you'd probably be surprised by who will miss you: a funeral is for those left behind and in my experience (which is like I said limited) is a help to coping with grief. A funeral just needs to be a chance for people to remember, talk, share.

I don’t think I’ll be surprised at all. I’ll be dead.

The ones of people who I care about are aware of what I want. I have a chronic and incurable disease where sudden death isn’t that unlikely. I’ve come close once and I don’t remember being scared and it didn’t hurt. Just a thing that happened.

Nobody should be surprised by it at this point. Accept that it might happen and if it doesn’t something else will get me in the end.

Depends on your time frames!

> Try wearing a kilt or a lederhose and watch the world around you change.

> If you look at today's fashion its like everyone is heading to a funeral. Like they got tired of carrying their soul around then forget where they left it.

The fun thing I noticed once I moved away from purely function to wearing fun things, is the number of people who somewhat secretely wished they could also wear fun things but have felt that they would miss out on required societal approval. And yet the reality is the opposite, based on the feedback I've gotten.

"a lederhose"

Would it not still be lederhosen? Like trousers and not trouser.

Although there is a place called Lederhose, so my etymology might be wrong, but Google isnt giving any trouser based results for Lederhose.

Disclaimer, my German is nearly non existent.

„Lederhose“ is correct in German. „Lederhosen“ is just the plural.

If using the word in English texts “lederhosen” is in a sense correct, though, also when only referring to a single one. This is a case where the loan word was slightly adopted, no doubt to bring it more into line with the convention in the English language of using plural for trousers.

That convention doesn’t exist in German, except when using English loan words („Jeans“, „Shorts“, „Boxershorts“).

Ok thanks.

BTW the plural comes from each 'trouser' originally being separate and held at the waist with a belt, like chaps.

I know – I think every English teacher is obligated to mention this fact when teaching English and teaching you wardrobe-related vocabulary.

no "lederhose" is correct, "lederhosen" would mean at least two of them. German doesn't share the peculiar feature of English where you refer to a thing in plural if it is made to contain two legs.

Now for the fun part, lederhosen are mostly a Bavarian thing and AFAIK in Bavarian you'd say lederhos'n. This is still however the singular form. So it is still this lederhos'n vs. these trousers.

Disclaimer, my Bavarian is nearly non existent.

> everyone is heading to a funeral. Like they got tired of carrying their soul [...]

I did manage to move the not so nice thoughts to the end of the train. Now if I could just learn to stop writing/talking/thinking(?) before we get there the world would be a happier place.

That line was poetry, and made me smile. :-)

FWIW here in SF you're on the money: everyone used to dress in motley and calico but these days it's all greys and blacks. I was at the farmer's market behind Stonestown the other day and everyone was in grey and black.

The cars too. My mom has this habit of calling out the colors of cars and she's been pointing it out for a few years now. Cars used to be colorful and now they're drab.

Video games used to be dark or brown and gritty. Now they are pushing colour a lot. Seems out escapism is the inversion of our real life products

I doubt anybody thinks you’re really being macabre, purposely or otherwise. It’s sort of accidental poetry.

If I was I would wear a pink shirt with 10X on the front and RTFM on the back.

I thought this growing up. My favorite clothes were all chosen for function over fashion. Took me some years to accept fashion as an important function. Now I think like you.

static vs dynamic function

This is really cool! I’ve complained recently to several people near me that it’s difficult for me to know whether the clothes I’m buying will last. It doesn’t seem like there’s much correlation between price and quality, so frustrating to spend more money and have something fall apart. Now I have a nice detailed guide.

> [...] almost every garment needs a little tailoring to make it fit the contours of our shape.

Honestly never thought about tailoring the clothes I buy in the mall, I always just thought of that as something you do with expensive suits and dresses. Now I have to start tinkering with my clothes...

It seems even basic clothes tinkering takes some skill. I had a pair of jeans with a hole, so I patched on a piece of an old pair whose legs were too long. Kept eventually coming off. Maybe a sewing machine was needed.

If you don't have a sewing machine, and you're interested in repairing/tailoring your own clothes (and most importantly you have the time) it's well worth looking into historic sewing methods. Hand sewing can be just as strong if not stronger than machine sewing, it just takes the right techniques and the time and patience to sit there and do it.

I've found the two most useful stitches I've picked up are the felling stitch, which is great for hemming and finishing seams that unravel; and darning for filling in holes, because instead of adding a patch you are essentially re-weaving a small area of fabric.

Proper denim jeans are quite hard to mend though even if you know what you're doing, especially if you've worn through/blown out the inner thigh region. Wherever you've sewn will become a new point of stress on the denim and it is likely to just pull away the weave of the fabric from that point.

> Proper denim jeans are quite hard to mend though even if you know what you're doing, especially if you've worn through/blown out the inner thigh region. Wherever you've sewn will become a new point of stress on the denim and it is likely to just pull away the weave of the fabric from that point.

This happens to every pair of mine, and is always the reason I am forced to retire them. Do you think it'll help if I reinforced the inside with old denim from another pair?

Now I always wear out the knees.

Perhaps we could set up an exchange where we swap jeans for 'wear levelling'.

Should do, if it's stitched down properly. Have a look at Levi 511 "commuter" to see how it's done, basically two extra triangles of fabric.

this is known as a "gusset"

outlier pants also have this feature, makes biking or just walking around a breeze

My jeans always unravel in the groin, in the fabric just next to the seam. I was thinking it was because of bicycling, but it still happens (though at a lower rate) even though I no longer bicycle to work.

Maybe I man-spread too much? :-)

I would love some advice on how to deal with this, since I'm tired of shelling out $100+ for jeans several times a year.

Are they maybe a little too large and the denim on the thighs get in contact with the other thigh? Or do you ride bicycle and wear them against the saddle?

Check out sachiko stitching! There are many guides online.


I have some socks that probably have more darned surface area than original material, just because it amused me.

Socks have a hard life really, and cheap nasty polyester (or significant % blends) ones can last much longer than more expensive pairs. Especially because you won't want to wear them!

What kind do you like?

I agree that a polyester blend tends to last ages. My Uniqlo 100% cotton socks tend to wear out at the sole and big toe quite quickly (those were rubbish), but my military-issued $1/pair polyester socks last me months, and are comfortable enough for daily use.

Maybe I just haven't tried the really good stuff.

Having experience repairing fabrics, but not nearly an expert in it, there is something to be said for the art of it. You need to know how much of the surrounding fabric to anchor your stitches to, how often to double back to lock in the stitches, and very importantly to make sure you're making the stitches tight enough. I'm sure that there's some far better advice out there, but if you sick with it eventually you'll learn to make solid stitching by hand.

Just an FYI, the library in my neighborhood actually has a sewing machine. They have a makers space.

Disclosure: I'm coming from a blue collar background as a master diesel mechanic

Quality is build + aesthetic for me. Some brands i wear include Texas jeans, Chippewa boots, and all american clothing company. The quality from domestic apparel is in my experience massively superior to foreign brands.

Carhartt jackets for winter are incredibly warm and gave great value, but their aesthetic isn't always popular. They last nearly forever.

Another point in quality is how easy the garment is to service. My boots are resoled once a year by a local cobbler, and my leather jacket from legendary leather is also quite serviceable at a local dry cleaner. I try to avoid throwing away jackets or shoes/boots.

>but their aesthetic isn't always popular.

My Carhartt clothing is some of the best made and longest wearing I own. You're going to laugh but Carhartt is trying to go upmarket and establish themselves as a fashion brand in Europe! Imagine my surprise to trip across a Carhartt store with a wall of gimme caps / trucker hats on display in Frankfurt, Germany!

Hopefully they expand their profitability by getting their name out there rather than cutting costs on material and quality but I've already seen some Amazon reviews alleging the new stuff is sourced out of China with a drop in quality. If that's actually true and it's not just counterfeits flooding Amazon I'll be looking at Schaefer or Cinch next.

Carhartt WIP has been an European streetwear brand for years now. I wrote an introduction four years ago to this brand in /r/streetwear. https://www.reddit.com/r/streetwear/comments/2d0gi4/brand_in....

I think it's been a general trend for a while (at the very least since the dawn of hip hop, probably punk) that working-class work wear has been leaning towards fashion (Same for military wear).

Even Swedish Blåklädar (https://www.blaklader.se/) , which is AFAIK a fairly new brand, seem to have to lines ; a low quality, highly priced "fashion" line, and an affordable, high quality "work wear" line (that actually market to construction etc businesses, and often include safety wear features with appropriate certifications).

It drives me nuts that it's getting harder and harder to find decent "real" surplus military clothing and cheap work wear (maybe especially in Europe?) - while many of the "same" brands are readily available as overpriced fashion wear.

This really became apparent when I figured out that Blåklädar actually have a handful of stores deticated for b2b (vat not included in prices, generally require a business billing address to purchase) - which quite apart from the not included vat, we're cheaper and generally more "functional" than the stuff with the same brand carried by retailers...

Wow! Thanks for the education. I guess it explains why I got compliments in Europe for wearing a plain black Carhartt jacket.


For about 10 years I was a land surveyor and the Carhartt barn jacket (and Red Wing boots) are like a uniform in that profession. Mine is still going strong many years later. And it's totally broken in and has a patina, so it's super comfortable.

carhartt is already huge in streetwear/rich kids buy it for casual wear

Another Carhartt fan! I’ve got a Carhartt bunnyhug that I wear all year round. They somehow made it warm enough to be a great add-on under a lighter winter coat, and cool enough to be ok up to about +15C. It’s black and the dye faded quickly, but it has otherwise held up way better than any bunnyhug I’ve ever owned.

Plus the small bit of cognitive dissonance when people see the the sweater and then realize I’m working on some pretty technically intense projects is fun to watch.

Is bunnyhug a common term?

I guess for a Hoodie?

Although Wikipedia confidently tells me its a dance.


Sigh. Correct :)

In certain parts of the United States, it means a heavy hooded sweater, or hoodie.

I love Wrangler western cut jeans as well, for similar reasons, they just last and last and last.

Its only mentioned once or twice in the article but I don't think it can be emphasized enough

A high quality garment not only looks good, but it feels good to wear.

I have people ask me almost daily if I'd like to take my suit jacket off, and I explain to them that because my jacket fits properly and it's made of decent materials, it's quite comfortable to wear.

One of the great fashion tragedies was Jos A Banks and Men's Wearhouse making American men believe suiting is an uncomfortable sack which you should strip off at the first possible moment.

Or to borrow from Dion Sanders (American football player who was known for dressing and undressing his kit multiple times before a game until he got it just right):

"If you look good, you feel good, and if you feel good, you play good."

>. And: If there aren’t any pills on the garment when you try it on (not even on the collar, cuffs or inner thighs), the item gets a major thumbs up.

From my understanding, this is something that manufacturers have been gaming a lot by treating cheap quality wool so it is very soft and does not pill while in the store but after 2 or 3 washes you will realize that it pills like crazy. While that rougher wool (because it has longer fibers) might be itchy in the store but it will soften up and won't pill.

Same thing with selvedge denim. 10 years ago it was synonym with quality.

Nowadays it means absolutely nothing (when it isn't just a fake selvedge).

I mostly dress pretty casually: jeans and a T shirt is pretty typical. My shirts “fail” not because of stitching or things like that. Most of the time they get armpit stains from deodorant after probably 20 time I wear them or so. At that point I toss them. I don’t see how higher laity fabric would result in anything different, so I stick to cheaper basic shirts for everyday wear. I like clothes, but I like variety. I’d rather have 4 different belts I can mix and match, and replace them for $10-20 when they wear our rather than the one indestructible $100 belt. Quality clothing is good, cheap clothing has its uses too.

The most effective thing for me for deodorant stains has been getting my armpit hair (mostly) lasered off. Less hair traps far less deodorant, and it immediately stopped building up anywhere near as fast.

Plus I can now say I've absorbed the power of lasers, and am therefore technically super-powered.

I used to throw away shirts for collar sweat stains, until I learned I could soak them in oxiclean for a few hours and wash them normally and it would be so much better. I also had to hand scrub the worst stains with a little detergent, but now that I'm regularly pre-soaking it hasn't been a problem.

I used to think the stains are just the deodorant or antitranspirant, but it seems it is something of that that reacts to the detergent. One tip I was given was to rinse the garments in water before washing them (haven't tried that myself), and to soak the shirts in citric acid for 24h (same stuff you use for cleaning your coffee maker etc). I actually tried that last month and that worked. Not totally gone, but very much reduced.

If deodorant stains are the sole reason for discarding clothing, have you tried looking for deodorant that doesn't stain? Switching brands might help.

Yeah I have. I should re-evaluate. But other failure modes are sort of similarly random: bump into paint, get grease on it that stains it, lose it, rip it, or just honestly get bored of it. There definitely are items I own that are more timeless, but T shirts are something that I am hard on and get bored of easily. I am not a guy who wants to own five expensive polos, I want a bunch of different choices.

I used to have this problem—constant sweating from my armpits drove me crazy, and deodorant ruined so many shirts, despite trying multiple brands/types. Started using Dove+ antiperspirant stick this winter and the problem is gone—one application lasts for up to two days, which is incredible considering the amount I used to sweat!

In cooler weather you can wear a modal undershirt underneath and it'll protect your main shirt. Kinda comfy too.

Try the "prescription strength" antiperspirant. You will sweat much less.

It's more expensive, but you use less of it, so each container lasts longer. So it's not much more expensive in the long run by my experience. Especially if it saves you money on shirts.

For me what finally worked was counterintuitive. I stopped wearing antiperspirant altogether. The heavy duty stuff did cause me to sweat less in my armpits but I found I sweat everywhere else more. And I still had pit stains. Switched to deodorant and found that I was sweating less, and pit stains are a complete thing of the past.

I second this. I had debilitating underarm sweat and continually ruined shirts with pit stains. I switched from antiperspirant to a simple deodorant. I sweat SO much less in the arm pit area and I never sweat through my shirts anymore (unless I'm working out, of course).

Undershirts have been a good win as well - keeps the chemicals off my real shirt, and if you get high-end ones, they're light and breathable and don't make me any warmer.

I can't believe antiperspirant continues to exist as a product. Must be working for somebody.

This is like a secret that unbelievably hasn’t hit the mainstream. If you sweat heavily pretty much no antiperspirant will work as advertised. Some of the prescription brands have you applying the night before and I had some success but they tended to tear up my armpits and ultimately fail. Personally I see a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and sweating. I discovered that as an unintended consequence during a 30 day detox. If I limit my alcohol intake and use just a deodorant I find myself much better off. Worth experimenting with if you’ve tried everything else.

At least from my attempts / for me: antiperspirant is dramatically more effective, for far longer, at preventing body odor. Like 4 hours (or less) vs 24+ hours better.

I know some people sweat excessively, but, in general, isn't preventing sweating like putting a blanket on your computer to stop it blowing out hot air?

Not typically. Depends on what you're wearing.

Sweat cools the body via evaporative cooling. In order to do its job, it needs to evaporate.

That is not going to happen effectively if your armpits are buried under much typical "everyday" clothing, especially typical male office attire. You are simply going to accumulate armpit moisture at a much faster rate than it can evaporate. It will eventually get a little smelly thanks to the byproducts of normal healthy bacteria, which (depending on culture) many would rather avoid.

If you are shirtless, or wearing some sort of sleeveless shirt? Or some kind of moisture-wicking shirt? And/or sitting in front of a fan that's blowing air through your sleeved shirt? Then yes.... armpit sweat can help you stay cool, and for maximum cooling you should avoid antiperspirant. That's why i.e. athletes and such wouldn't wear it.

However, for many of life's other clothing situations your armpit sweat won't help you stay cool in any useful way. For these kinds of situations, that "clinical strength" stuff is a godsend to me.

try aluminum-free deodorant to avoid the staining. you're right that fabric quality won't make a difference here, but the deodorant quality will :)

For decades style has generally trended toward informal so I'd be interested in an article focusing on informal and sportswear.

I own formal clothes, smart casual, business casual, but as trends continue I'll probably never wear any of that stuff again, other than maybe some smart casual on dates with my wife.

Lots of people spend all their time at work and home looking like they're dressed for a picnic at the park or are on the way to the gym, so it would be interesting to see an article focusing on that kind of clothing.

I don't mind looking like I'm permanently on the way to the gym; I would like to look good doing so.

That article addresses most styles of clothing. It is about quality, not fashion. And assessing the quality of cotton fibers and stitches can be done on both T-Shirts and fancy dresses.

What may be lacking is a section on printed garments.

Sportswear is another matter. These are technical clothes, designed for performance, with characteristics that depends on the particular sport. You won't use the same clothes for mountaineering and for weightlifting at the gym.

For day to day wearing, my preferences goes to light hiking clothes. They tend to be:

- Comfortable

- Reasonably durable

- Quick drying

- Breathable and/or waterproof

- Not too flashy, acceptable in most settings

- With pockets, often with zippers

- Low maintenance, somewhat stain and dirt resistant

Personally I've always considered clothes (or "garments" if you prefer) to be a necessity and as long as they were comfortable, fit ok, and lasted a good while to be sufficient.

Style is pretty far down on my list of wants. Levi's and a good T-shirt are enough for me, but no so much for my wife. She complains on occasion about my lack of interest in style and status symbols.

The best dressed man I've ever met was the owner of Hennessy Cognac. I helped build custom cars for him and his son back in the `70s. One day I commented on how nice his suits were, and that I'd not seen him wear the same one twice.

He told "I wear a new suit everyday. I have three tailors in Italy making them for me. They send me swatches of material each week and I select those I like."

I commented "You must have a closet bigger than our house." and he told me "No, I give them all away after I wear them. I'd give you one if you were my size." He went on to say he donated them to places where they could help those who couldn't afford a nice suit and needed one to get a good job.

My girlfriend works in this industry, and I'm grateful for this article teaching me how complicated her work is!

When she first told me she works with Gerber files on a daily basis, I couldn't believe it. I thought those were just for designing PCBs! In fact, I still think that if she could transfer her skills, she could probably get a visa more easily. It's fun to walk around the sewing shops too, which have lots of little blue drawers, quite similar to the electronics stores that I enjoy.

I had a fashion idea once: a tailored shirt with a red hem, so that the white buttons would be reminiscent of the windows in the cheatline on old aeroplanes. It seems the whole industry is built on branding and marketing though, so the technical side is practically a commodity.

Nevertheless, I'm still pleased to see sewing machines in the hackerspace. I often need to fix my trousers - it's great that they have lots of pockets and the thin fabric dries quickly, but they keep ripping in an embarrassing place between my legs when cycling.

> I had a fashion idea once: a tailored shirt with a red hem, so that the white buttons would be reminiscent of the windows in the cheatline on old aeroplanes.

When you say hem, do you mean placket?

If so, i like this idea. There are online custom tailors, like Bivolino and iTailor, that will let you customise the placket fabric and buttons (and more) of a shirt, so you could do this. I have a few shirts where i've done just that, although not in your colour scheme - i like a white or pale blue pattern for the base fabric, and then a bold floral pattern on the collar and placket.

Yes, I meant placket! Thanks for the ideas of custom tailors; I'll check out their prices.

I choose clothing mostly to be low maintenance, functional, and inexpensive over the long-term. I had (apparently incorrectly given the discussions here) assumed that to be the norm around here. The amount of people expressing difficulty finding clothing that lasts also surprises me. Maybe it's because I'm a guy or maybe it's because I've never purchased from a fast fashion brand. (?) In my experience a typical adult men's clothing item from Walmart will last hundreds of wearings and washings, no special picking through the options needed. (I'm talking just regular clothes--coats, footwear, gloves, etc are probably exceptions to this).

The only area I've had trouble with is finding casual, easy slip on/off everyday shoes that last a long time. I wear the same shoes literally everyday and always seem to wear the soles out in less than a year. (Perhaps I'm asking too much here there because I'm on my feet a lot?) Any tips on this would be appreciated.

There are tips out there to have 2-3 pairs of shoes and rotate between them since the downtime for airing out lets them last longer, apparently.

(Not sure if that also includes the soles. Soles can be replaced if the quality is there though.)

I hate the complete lack of transparency in garments. We need to know all the details, including the weave?

For someone that sweats a lot in hot & humid climates, why does one white cotton shirt show the sweat, and another doesn't? Why do I feel cooler with a thicker cotton shirt than a thinner one?

> I hate the complete lack of transparency in garments.

Visiting HN for a reset after a frustrating meeting, this line is exactly what I needed. Thanks :).

The weave is very important, but is one of the easier things to determine. For example, a voile (though uncommon in men's shirts) is much lighter than a moleskin though you would never find a summer shirt made of the latter. As someone who also sweats freely, I sympathize with you. If wearing a single shirt, I tend to go with a darker color for that reason. If wearing a dress shirt, I'll always wear an undershirt with it. There was a semi-famous US Army study about thicker cotton shirts feeling cooler in the heat since they can absorb more of your sweat than a thinner shirt. I can't attest to its accuracy. I wear them so I don't look like I just came in out of the rain.

I can attest to the sweaty undershirt argument. It was a revelation for me. The other really strange thing is that if you have a sweaty undershirt, you will sweat less because you will be cooler. It's really amazing.

> We need to know all the details, including the weave?

You don't. In fact I'd argue that having access to the details makes you more likely to both choose the wrong garment and rationalize that wrong choice.

> For someone that sweats a lot in hot & humid climates, why does one white cotton shirt show the sweat, and another doesn't?

Branch one of this answer includes all kinds of details about thread count, thread length, thread quality, and all kinds of other details for you to get lost in.

Branch two: don't wear cotton in hot & humid climates.

> Why do I feel cooler with a thicker cotton shirt than a thinner one?

Branch one includes all kinds of wonderful details about the way in which cotton wicks moisture but does a poor job of evaporating that same moisture. (Your thin cotton shirt sucks up your perspiration to arrive at the "moisture traffic jam" much sooner than your thicker one.)

Branch two: don't wear cotton in hot & humid climates. Synthetic, bamboo, and even light merino tee shirts will all perform so much better that the difference between thin and thick cotton will become thermal noise by comparison (pun!).

Seriously, don't learn the details. I can't tell you how many times I've had pointless conversations about the differences between various proprietary waterproof breathable membranes to people who are using the rain jacket exclusively in the Southeastern U.S. (Hint: none of them will do a decent job of being breathable there. So just pick one, unzip the vents under the arms and get on with your day.)

Edit: clarification

> don't wear cotton in hot & humid climates

I seriously had to LOL at this. When I first moved to Japan, I was clueless. I live in a particularly hot and sunny part of Japan. During the rainy season, we sometimes have rain every day for a month (like this year :-P). It took having my clothes literally rot on the line before I understood this point. My predecessor (government program rotates foreigners to teach English) was famous for going to events with a shirt stained green from mould.

It's the very first thing I tell people when they come here: don't wear cotton. There are much better natural fibres for this weather. You can also have cotton synthetic blends and they won't rot. The clothes that work well in the UK and most parts of North America can't stand up to 2 months of 30 C plus at 90 percent relative humidity.

Having said that, there are a lot of traditional cotton clothes in Japan and I have found that they are surprisingly comfortable. However, they are expensive. Probably those details you are talking about ;-) Practically all of the cheap clothes I know of are synthetic blends.

I'd give one other small piece of advice: buy clothes in areas that are famous for the weather you want to feel good in. Anybody wants a nice, not-bulky, warm winter coat: buy it in Canada. You want a nice summer suit for 100 degree F weather? Taiwan. You want a sweater for those cold rainy days? Scotland.

> I'd give one other small piece of advice: buy clothes in areas that are famous for the weather you want to feel good in. Anybody wants a nice, not-bulky, warm winter coat: buy it in Canada. You want a nice summer suit for 100 degree F weather? Taiwan. You want a sweater for those cold rainy days? Scotland.

That's a nice start-up idea.

I can't afford to travel the world to do my seasonal shopping.

The World can't afford for people to travel the globe either.

> I'd give one other small piece of advice: buy clothes in areas that are famous for the weather you want to feel good in.

For a summer commute from SF to Sacramento I'll bring a waxed cotton raincoat. After all, that's what all the people wear in that city that is famous for rain.

Or I can take a deep breath, admit to myself that I'm not a domain expert, and forge a relationship with someone who is.

This expert will use clues from the relationship to help me choose a garment. Maybe they find out I'm generally never in the elements for greater than 5 minutes. So they show me this dinky little windbreaker that is so light it can actually fit in my pocket. They explain how it isn't actually waterproof but it has a treatment that makes water bead off, and the ease of shaking it off and small size might be a decent tradeoff given my situation.

So now I'm carrying vastly less weight with a useful garment. I never would have chosen it on my own because my non-expert brain fixated on the word "waterproof" as if it were a boolean. Meanwhile, the domain expert measured the time it takes for water to penetrate the seams and found it plenty long enough to meet my needs.

> Anybody wants a nice, not-bulky, warm winter coat: buy it in Canada.

The current trailblazer is almost certainly Patagonia's micro puff jacket which uses a synthetic fill that AFAICT reaches the warmth-to-weight ratio of down. (Added potential benefit that the synthetic fill would continue to insulate if wet while down won't.)

Patagonia is a U.S. company, so you missed out on the latest greatest by choosing based on country conditions.

I'm being super finicky, and of course there are Canadian-made non-bulky winter jackets. But this thread started with someone wearing cotton in the summer heat. Such a person can just as easily buy a cotton hoody in Canada.

Way too simplified. You don't think I gave up wearing white cotton shirts in hot climates? Of course I did, but that's because there's not enough information to judge shirts off the rack aside from the "100% cotton" label.

Anyways I don't need the nitty gritty details, but there should be some sort of consumer friendly information that would make it easier to judge things. Not necessarily what the experts use.

What's even more frustrating is that its impossible to find even a brand that uses good quality fabrics all the time. Even expensive outdoor gear can be hit and miss.

Hope is not completely lost. Some crazy Japanese companies produce stuff with unbelievably good fabrics all the time. E.g. The Real McCoy's, Buzz Rickson, Studio D'Artisan and a few others.

For cotton, many of their models are loopwheeled which is a fantastic low tension fabric that ages really well. All they are doing is to copy American techniques from the golden age of workwear and sportswear. In fact, they try to produce perfect reproductions.

Modern streetwear brands like Outlier and Acronym are also really good.

I love Ventile cotton as it's natural and fairly rain resistant. You can find several brands that use Ventile made by Stotz in Switzerland in coats. For pants, if you don't like denim German Ripsmoleskin is fantastic.

Finally, knitwear from Inis Meain and SNS Herning is machine produced but absolutely fantastic. Expensive but not insane prices like some superb Italian brands.

All these brands I mentioned are really high quality. Plus the production process and materials employed are really transparent. There are many others with different styles I would also trust like Merz B Schwanen, Maison Margiela or SEH Kelly.

I checked out some of the brands you mentioned, and holy crap they're expensive. Outlier has 3 t-shirts on offer for $300, shirts from most of those brands average $150, Acronym are selling jackets for $1k+....

I'm expecting a reply on the line of "quality comes at a cost" but I've got shirts over a decade old that have no visible signs of wear and cost a tenth of what these cost.

Disclaimer: Outlier fan.

The shorts and pants are where Outlier really shines (okay, and button-down shirts), they’re the best value. the ~$100 Ultrafine t-shirt is luxurious as hell but then you’ll want to wear it every day and it’s pretty delicate, being wool. Their pants definitely uphold the “quality comes at a cost” argument.

Also there are luxury brands with questionable quality that will also sell you a t-shirt for $100 that doesn’t have the same thought into materials or build as Outlier, etc.

Just based on googling by and looking at the price, I don't think these brands are something the average HN reader buys.

DISCLAIMER: I work at Son of a Tailor

We do exist ! Our selection is not that large yet, but we are growing it steadily and slowly, to make sure that the garments we choose work for the product.

We exclusively use the best quality garments we can find(within reason of course) That means only using Supima Cotton for cotton and Merino Wool for wool products. We even get our fabrics knitted and dyed at a place we trust near or production facilities in Portugal.

I'm not totally sure if that part of our business is totally unique, and i'd imagine that many small brands go to the same lengths to ensure the best quality but maybe you should just stop looking at large clothing companies when searching for quality.

Pretty funny reading an article like this on HN :)

Loro Piana (the clothing brand) is rather expensive but you will not often (ever?) run into poor quality fabrics in their stores.

There is just no way that a 625$ price tag for a polo shirt can be justified by the product's quality.

Loro Piana cotton polo shirts are definitely not worth the price, the 645$ cotton/linen "jeans" definitely are.

Nothing by Loro Piana is bad, lots of the stuff is overpriced but many things are quite reasonable. After the LVMH acquisition they regularly offer pretty great discounts too.

I just bought one of these jackets (in yellow) for 1000 euros, an absolute bargain. https://us.loropiana.com/en/p/Man/Jackets/Sweater-Jacket-FAE...

Garments are so complex !

It still has so many handmade parts in the process and stuff that sound simple when you don't understand it like sizing is actually very complex (and not solved IMO).

To answer your question, even between 2 100% cotton shirts, depending on the density of the cotton used, its type, and the way it is weaved, 2 cotton shirts can be radically different.

I heard the emperor is working on this....

This was a surprisingly good read. However it's pretty long, so a table of contents would be useful for navigation and future reference.

> This was a surprisingly good read. However it's pretty long, so a table of contents would be useful for navigation and future reference.

Agreed. I read through the introduction before realizing that the fabric descriptions was when I began learning something.

I'll definitely try to remember the quick and easy spot check techniques the article mentioned, e.g. holding cotton fabric up to the light to see how tightly woven the yarn was.

This is awesome. I absolutely hate the 'fast fashion' trend of retailers like H&M and Forever21.

I try to find well-fitting, high quality clothes, but it's getting harder and harder. American Eagle is probably one of the better outfitters out there. I've been finding a lot of luck with online retailers from South Korea - the country has a great sense of style, even for men, and their population is generally slender build which leads to well-fitting shirts.

Could you name some?

Textile quality, tailoring and fit, or a good price: in general with very few exceptions you pick two. I am a fanatic about my clothing quality and have searched high and low to find the right quality. Fit is, in general based on taste, and price is really limited by your time to search sales.

I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Loro piana, Brunello Cuccinelli and to a lesser degree Zenga provide the very best quality generally available, but at an ultra steep price point. Their designs are conservative, but not boring, and they will last many seasons without going out of fashion.

On the bargain end these days he pickings have become very thin due to the Chinese textile death spiral middle market brands are in. Uniqlo provides good quality on certain items for a great price. But most others are single season junk if that. Middle market brands like Theory and Vince are barely better and not worth the cost. Gap Subsidiaries have also fallen to Zara quality for twice the price. Same for Hugo Boss and similar.

It’s left the average person looking for reasonable fashionable designs and good quality with very very few options. Outlet high end retail is the best ROI today when compared to cheaper new clothing.

> I’ve arrived at the conclusion that Loro piana, Brunello Cuccinelli and to a lesser degree Zenga provide the very best quality generally available

Why not go bespoke at this point? I keep asking myself this, laziness seems to be the only reason.

Because I wear their streetwear lines not suits. But on that note I visited Saville Row on my last trip to London and even they talked of Brunello admiringly.

Surely bespoke streetwear isn't more expensive than (high end) bespoke suits?

(high end) bespoke streetwear is almost certainly going to be more expensive than (high end) bespoke suits.

I’m curious who might even provide that. I know at trunk shows I have customized fabrics on street wear but never any concept of bespoke. I’d imagine you’d have to be a six figure spend or more client to get that privilege.

Really depends on the kind of "streetwear". Bespoke jeans, leather jackets, tees and boots will be easy to come by.

Anything more "exotic" will depend on the specific garment. Lots of adventurous tailors around there, but some items are just fundamentally better suited for mass production.

I don't think you'll need six figure spends unless you want something particularly difficult to make. Everything weird is going to be expensive though, developing a whole new pattern takes a while.

vnapersona bespoke by Maurizio Altieri looks fascinating, I'm not sure how attainable it is though.

At least Zegna is quite a bit cheaper than Loro Piana, so it might be a better value, at their main lines. Diffusion ones like Z Zegna might be iffier. But pretty much everything is getting to the "not what it used to be" stage.

ZZenga and the old Zenga Sport seem to be of nearly the same quality, more forward designs and fewer exotic materials (mostly cotton and synthetics, with some wool). I generally find their sportswear to be very nice. If ZZ didn't add some of the louder Italian branding, like Emperio Armani, it would be the best quality/value tradeoff.

You're more likely to find items made in low-cost countries those lines, though. I had Sport jeans fall apart much sooner than I expected (which for gauze-thin linen isn't that much to begin with), while E.Zegna stuff has been going strong for 10+ years now.

But at least it's not Armani Exchange, which is H&M quality at best.

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