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How to buy clothes that are built to last (nytimes.com)
100 points by bookofjoe 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 126 comments



Throwing 75lbs of clothes away in a year blows me away at first glance. I hate shopping for clothes & buying them, I guess I naturally buy stuff built to last and I'm really conservative with fashion I guess. (Which is probably more common for guys).

The item that drives me nuts with disposability at the moment is sneakers. I walk & work out a lot and I'm finding a lot of the running/training type shoes wear out in 3-4 months, the sole is shot but the uppers are totally fine. I'm trying to find more durable shoes to wear for casual wear & walking that actually last.

Stuff that I can get 10 years out of makes me happy. I've successfully done that with stuff like boots & winter coats/mountaineering jackets. Gore Tex has a lot of competitors these days, Gore Tex stuff is really expensive cause of the standards they apply to licensees.. Most of the competing products are cheaper because they don't put as many requirements on the clothing designer. But almost anything I have bought that is a Gore Tex outerwear garment will easily go 10 years which makes it a huge bargain over other stuff.


"In 2015, the last year for which the Environmental Protection Agency has data, the United States generated 11.9 million tons — or about 75 pounds per person — of textile waste, most of which ended up in landfills."

They are counting all textile waste in the country. Not just fashion related, not just clothing, and not restricted to consumer goods.

NYT is using their typical corporatist-absolving-tone which blames consumers for the environmental evils of industry. Textile waste is not something that consumers can make truly significant impact in because the majority of what NYT is blaming on them is outside of their control. The entire premise of this article that reducing textile waste should fall to the responsibility of consumers is unfounded.

Consumer guilt can do a little bit, but they are a relatively small proportion of the problem. Reminds me of 1990s recycling propaganda. Suggesting that poor people buying cheap clothing is the cause is disingenuous at best.


> They are counting all textile waste in the country. Not just fashion related, not just clothing, and not restricted to consumer goods.

I can believe that consumer clothing wouldn't make up a majority, but I really want a breakdown of that textile waste now, instead of the NYT or cwkoss's ready-to-eat opinions.

Edit: here is the EPA's study

The main source of textiles in municipal solid waste (MSW) is discarded clothing, although other smaller sources include furniture, carpets, tires, footwear, and other nondurable goods such as sheets and towels.

https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-...


Your source continues...

EPA estimates that the generation of clothing and footwear was 11.9 million tons in 2015 (4.5 percent of total MSW)

If 4.5% in the majority, they have too many categories.


There are two different denominators here.

The first is that clothing is the majority of textile waste.

The second is that textiles are 4.5% of all MSW.

Which means that clothing is >2.25% of all MSW.


This is a dangerously specious argument. Industry manufactures items for consumers. Textiles, specifically, are rarely intermediate materials in or byproducts of manufacturing. If you believe otherwise, in opposition to the EPA, news media, and common experience, please enlighten us all with actual facts regarding not-consumer textile use and what portion of the waste stream this represents. Otherwise this gives the impression of simply trying to absolve oneself of any sense of personal responsibility and claim that everything is someone else's fault.


>blames consumers for the environmental evils of industry.

Industry exists to sell to consumers. You can't decouple them.


Reminds me of Captain Vime’s theory from Pratchett’s Men at Arms:

“But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in ten years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.

This was the Captain Samuel Vimes 'Boots' theory of socioeconomic unfairness”


Running shoes are typically only designed to last for at most 500 miles. It's just hard to make a foam material that can provide cushion but also not break down over time (and still not cost a fortune).

I think the best practice is to only use your running shoes when you run. Wearing them around town as you do errands just adds the amount of time you are compressing the foam in the soles. That said, the old running shoes still work fine for walking around after the 500 mile mark. They just don't provide much cushion to absorb impact.


True, maybe some shoes could be designed with replaceable soles though (so you can preserve the upper). Probably not economical since shoes are so cheap to make anyway and the sole is probably the most costly part.


I've found that about 300-350 miles for actual running works for me (but then I am a bit of a heavier build) - by then the soles and insole are fairly worn. I do not doubt that I probably get a good 100+ miles extra wear where I am not actually running.

300 feels low, but when you get into a new pair of basically the same trainer after running around in a 300-350 mile old pair, the new ones feels amazing in comparison so I feel like there is some accuracy in that.


A neat trick to get a few extra hundered per pair is buy two, and alternate. It appears that giving the cushioning more than 24 hours to decompress increases the lifespan.


Ten years' durability* for non-underwear garments is what I shoot for as well. It's possible to get considerably more than that with a little extra care [for example, line drying rather than putting in the dryer machine]

-- I've pretty much always dressed the same -- it is more difficult to find quality clothes these days, even from mail-order places that used to be reliable in that regard.

What I look for is : - practicality - durable + comfortable fabric - quality fittings e.g., zippers / snaps - solid workmanship - thrifty price for value - where it's a reasonable option, I go for stuff made in the USA

Since certain makes of clothing are already under discussion here, I'll add a few of my go-tos -- n.b. I have zero affiliation with these or any clothing companies:

~ Flannel shirts : Codet / Big Bill

~Rugby shirts and similar : Columbiaknit

~T-shirts, turtlenecks, sweatshirts : Union Shirt Supply

~Jeans : Roundhouse, Texas Jeans

~Khakis : Bill's

~Polyester "dress jeans" [? right] : Wrangler 'wrancher' [made in Mexico, last forever] ~Cycling bibs : TheBlackBibs [great, made overseas]

~Mountain bike shorts : Zoic [reasonably OK, made overseas]

~Dress shirts : WhiteDressShirts [when absolutely necessary]

~Belts : Bison Designs

Socks and underwear - there used to be good options in this category, but getting verrrrrry hard to find, so I've regrettably started treating them as one-or-two-season-then-toss

- When I can find the time [rarely], I also look for stuff at thrift stores, mainly for the environmental benefit [though the low price doesn't hurt!] -- mostly oxford shirts for everyday wear

I have a hard time focusing if I'm not comfortable, so for me, clothing like the above is a worthwhile investment

*I used to get this much wear and more out of shoes [buy quality boots and shoes, get resoled as needed], but since I've moved to sneakers [due to leg and foot injury], generally I only get a season out of sneaks even with a multi-pair rotation.


Nylon socks last practically forever. See US seller We Love Colors Inc. (welovecolors.com)


Thanks for the tip!


You'll find luck with more classic styles. Older generations really appreciated things that lasted a while and were repairable when broken. Rancourt, Quoddy, Redwing Heritage, and many other heritage brands can be found for a decent price and are resoleable when the bottoms wear out.

You'll also have a lot of luck with clothes meant for serious outdoors use. The prices can be seriously inflated but are often found 30-60% off on season end clearance. There are too many brands to list but I'm very happy with my Salomon, La Sportiva, and Inov-8 shoes.

Inov-8 has recently pioneered the use of graphene rubber in the outsoles of their running shoes doubling or even tripling their longevity.

Also keep an eye out for Vibram rubber outsoles. They're an Italian rubber brand known for being more durable. They're a bit more common to find.


I hear you on the sneaker front. I now only buy ones with "gum" and other non-white soles for this reason. They last longer in the sense they don't look like $#it nearly as fast.


I was about to recommend skateboard shoes to the comment above for the same reason.

It has been years since I've skated, but I've always liked the simple style of some skate shoes. After experiencing the same wear-out with running/walking/training shoes I went back to skate shoes. The last pair I bought five years ago and the soles are just now wearing out.

It occurred to me that most are designed to be durable against constant contact with sandpaper. While they aren't _as_ comfortable as running shoes, I found a pair that I really like. Being both simple in look, lightweight, and comfortable.


Yeah, skate and indoor soccer-ish style are my favorite too.


> The item that drives me nuts with disposability at the moment is sneakers. I walk & work out a lot and I'm finding a lot of the running/training type shoes wear out in 3-4 months, the sole is shot but the uppers are totally fine. I'm trying to find more durable shoes to wear for casual wear & walking that actually last.

I work for a niche company[0] that manufacturers high quality running shoes as well as healthy everyday footwear and depending on the particular model and its sole design we offer a resole service, which many customers take advantage of.

[0] https://www.lunge.com/en/


If your personal style permits, for casual wear and walking (but not working out or running) you could look into a resolable option like a Goodyear welted or Blake stitched shoe or boot. Chukkas generally work well with workplace appropriate attire and most footwear of this type have a sole material that lasts way longer than sneakers. I've never heard of anyone wearing through a Vibram sole in 3 or 4 months. When you've worn through a sole you just get cobbler to stitch on a new one and most can be resoled 3-5 times.

Granted, you're not likely to save much _money_ this way, a cobbler will charge about as much as a new pair of sneakers cost, but you'll throw a lot less stuff away.


>>I walk & work out a lot and I'm finding a lot of the running/training type shoes wear out in 3-4 months.

I was walking to and from work (~7 miles round trip) for a couple years, and made the switch to these hiking boots [1] for the same reason. I also hiked a lot (local 10+ miles hikes, Kilimanjaro, etc.) and these have just gotten more comfortable with time and use.

A small quibble I have is the laces wear out regularly. I have to replace them every ~8 months.

1. https://www.keenfootwear.com/p/M-TARGHEE-III-MID-WP.html


I like Common Projects sneakers. They're expensive, but the quality is good. I used to go through lots of pairs of Vans or Converse, but I've had a pair of the Achilles Low for a few years and they're still in good shape even with a lot of wear. The soles are durable. They are also very plain/minimal looking so I can wear them for casual walking around or even instead of a dress shoe sometimes.


>a lot of the running/training type shoes wear out in 3-4 months, the sole is shot

This isn't about price but weight. Because of new materials tech, we've gotten used to super light shoes (and they definitely help in terms of performance) but the cost of that is durability. Typically in materials science weight and durability have an inverse relationship. There are exceptions, but you're not finding those in department store sneakers.


I wouldn't be all that surprised to find out I throw out 75lbs of clothes a year. Just shirts. Everything else lasts a long time, but dammit I have an uncanny ability to get grease spots on the front of my cotton shirts. I finally just started buying them cheap in bulk. I also don't really throw them away directly, I recycle them into rags first, but the end result is the same. I sometimes only get to wear a shirt two or three times before it's ruined.

Maybe I need to wear a full-time bib.


Modern detergents are amazing but plain old Dawn hand dishwashing detergent is better than any of them for greasy spots. I put some in a travel-size squirt bottle and keep it next to the Shout gel that I use on most other stains. It's a miracle. Shout out to my sister for telling me about it.


Yeah Dawn is pretty amazing at cutting grease. In the laundry I usually use Lestoil, it is also very strong but also it foams less than a dishwashing detergent.

Just have to remember to put it on before washing. Ha!


I have the same problem. I don't care about fashion but I like to look decent. I started shopping in Marshall's recently and it's been amazing. John Varvatos t-shirts for $15, Calvin Klein t-shirts for $8. Sure enough, 2 of my white t-shirts immediately got stained but I didn't care since in the past, I'd have paid $30 for the same t-shirt.


Grease spots from food? I can usually get those out in the wash. I apply detergent directly to the spot and rub it in a bit. Then I let it sit for a while (a few hours, overnight, whatever) before putting it into the wash like normal.

Modern detergents are amazing. I once spilled cooking oil directly onto some cotton shorts and they came out fine.


For a long time, I have taken the approach of getting up from the table and going to the sink and applying soap vigorously to an oil spot as soon as I notice I've gotten it on my clothes. It seems to me that the sooner the soap or detergent manages to get in contact with the oils, the less time they have to set, and the better the chance that a subsequent wash will remove all trace of my overenthusiastic eating.


Do you wash them at 60°C? Cotton shirts can take that despite label 30°C wash instructions. Skin grease goes won't go under 60°C (not every wash need to be hot though).


We used to have them, they were called waistcoats


> I walk & work out a lot and I'm finding a lot of the running/training type shoes wear out in 3-4 months,

Not for running, but for almost everything else, Vans and Chucks will last a lot longer. They are great for squatting as well! (100% contact with the ground)

I put a lot of miles on each pair of Vans, they last me ~2 years before the sole gives out, the fabric starts to rip at about the same time.

Anything from Ecco will probably last. I've also never seen any of my Keen stuff fail. Both brands are rather expensive.


I'm not sure about Chucks. I originally thought the same but the last pair I had developed holes in the top and the soles wore out in less than a year. I don't think I put a ton of miles on them. I'm guessing they sacrificed quality for profit somewhere along the line.


When I was wearing Chucks I got the leather ones.

Switched to Vans because they are a little bit wider.

Sad if the cheapened out on the soles. I used to wear the leather down before I wore the soles out.

(Obviously garbage leather if it got worn out...)


+1 for Keen


> I'm trying to find more durable shoes to wear for casual wear & walking that actually last.

I've been pretty happy with my New Balance 990 shoes. Has lasted me years longer than any other shoes I bought. These are made in the US so I don't know if the quality is better than their other models or even other brands. I've never bought expensive shoes until I bought these but now I'm sold.


I don't know about running, but I've been using the same pair of Nike Frees for about 3 years. I do cardio, weight lifting and bodyweight exercises for an hour a day, 5 days a week.

Then again, maybe I'm wearing them longer than I should. I often go years without buying any new clothes and still wear clothes from when I was in college 20 years ago.


For a walker, Dr. Martens are unbeatable. A pair will last 10 years (and longer) for sure, with a modicum of care.


They used to last years. They are cheap crap now.


That 75lbs number... I'm skeptical.

I don't buy anywhere near that much clothing. Assuming there are perhaps 20% similar people to me who buy very few items of clothing each year and pretty much throw away a handful of pairs of worn-out shoes and torn socks per year, then the rest of the US has to be averaging 91 pounds per year.

That feels very high.


"In 2015, the last year for which the Environmental Protection Agency has data, the United States generated 11.9 million tons — or about 75 pounds per person — of textile waste, most of which ended up in landfills."

That figure is not limited to consumer clothing. This article is NYT recasting the repercussions of bad industrial practices as something that customers should feel guilty about, when they are actually responsible for only a small proportion.


I've found that different soles on running shoes wear out way faster than others. The soft, white squishy-style rubber wears out super fast, so I always make sure my running shoes have the harder, black rubber soles instead.


There's a valid reason the lower of the shoes wear out quickly. They are absorbing the impact and vibration that in a firmer more durable shoe is absorbed in the legs.

As an ultra runner I used to buy more durable shoes focused on the idea of I wanted to get more miles per dollar out of them. As I'm aging, I now realize the value in the shoes taking more beating than my legs is worth the extra value in rotating my shoes more frequently.

Growing up in poverty doesn't make this an easy life change for me to adopt, but I consider spending more for something that provides better long term fitness/health a valid reason for increased costs.


The clothing brand I've had the best experience with in terms of longevity is Patagonia. I have some items that are passing the 20-year mark now, things I wear every year like Hawaiian shirts in the summer and fleece gloves and insulated jackets in the winter. In the few instances where a piece has failed sooner than I expected, they repaired or replaced it.

In terms of longevity in outerwear, one of things I look for is nylon fabric. A lot of brands (including Patagonia) are using polyester more for jackets, bathing suits, etc. There are some advantages, like it holds DWR treatments better, and can be made with recycled plastic. But in terms of durability there is no comparison; nylon is just tougher gram for gram.

For socks, wool hiking-style socks seem to last well for me. By hiking-style, I mean the socks have different "zones" of thickness, usually thicker on the sole and heel, thinner across the top and ankle. I have Wigwam hiking socks and Smartwool dress socks have lasted well; in fact I'm having trouble remembering if any of them have actually worn out. Mostly they just get slightly thinner over time. I have tried a bunch of cotton socks, and Gold Toe seemed the most durable, but I still like the wool padded style better.


Patagonia is great, I discovered their garments through my needs as a climber, but the quality and durability of their clothes emerges from core values deeper than merely serving the physical needs of climbers:

> [...] Our criteria for the best product rests on function, repairability, and, foremost, durability. Among the most direct ways we can limit ecological impacts is with goods that last for generations or can be recycled so the materials in them remain in use. Making the best product matters for saving the planet [...]

https://eu.patagonia.com/gb/en/company-info.html

They also do more than simply make longer lasting clothes:

Ifixit style repair: https://www.patagonia.com/worn-wear-repairs/

Re-used / recycled: https://wornwear.patagonia.com/


Kind of turned off by their front-and-center political advert on the home page though[1]

I mean, regardless of where you stand on this particular pet issue... it's not what I came to their site for! I came there to look at their clothing... instead I got a face-full of politics. Why do that???

Some of you will support this particular cause - but what if it were something you don't support? Right to life, build a wall, etc... Would that change your impression?

Keep the politics out of your business - in particular - keep it off your home page!

[1] https://www.patagonia.com/home/


The owner of Patagonia cares about environmental issues. I’m sorry that bothers you. He’s not a conglomerate with a board afraid of offending someone. But he has a record of putting his money and time where his mouth is. He was a world renowned climber and original dirtbag. The earth is important to him.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yvon_Chouinard

https://www.earth.com/news/chile-new-national-parks/


The earth can be important to him, and he can "put his money where his mouth is" without placing politics on his webstore's home page.

Like I said - if it was some issue that wasn't your kind of politics, it would be a turnoff to see this when you're just trying to do some shopping.

It's a turnoff even if it is your kind of politics - I was interested in their clothing. Now I'll shop someplace else.


I think for an outdoors apparel company, being visibly concerned about conservation and global warming is very on-brand. Part of why people choose Patagonia is their politics. Most companies you're not quite sure where to find those politics listed - because the front page is all products. I think it's brilliant for Patagonia to do the opposite here. It's not like people can't find the jackets after hitting the landing page.


> I think for an outdoors apparel company, being visibly concerned about conservation and global warming is very on-brand

Except "Extinction" is pretty radical, extreme, and alarmist. Even for someone that supports doing something about global warming.


What exactly do you think the consequences are if we don't do anything about global warming? Mass extinction is not outside the realm of possibility.


It reminds me of the George Carlin bit, "Save the planet? The planet will be fine. We're the ones that are screwed."


Patagonia has been very successful with this marketing model. Now reddit and also this site is full of free adverts for them.


I don't remember if it was in his book[1] or if it came up when I was discussing the book with someone. Climate change basically ruins all the outdoors stuff so it's tied pretty directly to his business.

[1] Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard; the founder of Patagonia


There are other comments about Patagonia specifically, but broadly speaking, there are a bunch of recent examples of companies whose business growth benefited from adopting public political positions: Penzey's spices against Trump, Nike's Colin Kaepernick ads, or Chick-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby on political issues related to Christian faith. Eco-politics has been part of Patagonia's identity for decades and is arguably important to their business success.

There's a growing sense among business leaders that companies benefit from participating more broadly in society than just making a profit. You can see this discussed in tons of business articles, and in the recent statement from Business Roundtable on the purpose of corporations.


Wool socks definitely wear out over time; however, Darn Tough has a free replacement program. Send in worn out socks, receive new pair.


With all these buy-it-for-life garments, there needs to be some kind of control to demonstrate the advantage of the BIFL version. Some heavy, $100 wool hoody might last 10+ years, but so has my $20 cotton one from Americal Apparel (and I don't need the additional warmth from wool, I'd wear my Pata Nano-Air if I did). A $300 GoRuck pack is bomber, but my $50 North Face backpack from college has lasted 12 years through snowy winters, international traveling, hiking etc. Sometimes "overbuilt" is just that and not really needed, unless you really treat your belongings roughly (you're an actual soldier or thru-hiker).


I definitely don't think there is any reliable connection between price and durability. North Face or Jansport backpacks are classic examples of items that are well-known for their durability but are not very expensive up front.

Patagonia is not an inexpensive clothing brand, but it's also far from the most expensive clothing brand.


Flint and Tinder has a 10-year guarantee on their hoodies, and instead of replacing them, they'll repair them. https://huckberry.com/store/t/category/flint-and-tinder/hood...


I couldn't find that on their site. They have an 'unconditional warranty', but I kind of expect even good socks to wear out over time.


Got some on right now, love them.


Arc'teryx makes great looking and very long-lasting products; quite expensive, though.


I lived in Florida for a couple of years; morbid to consider but of my grandparents' generation, many migrate south and end up there. So there was an incredible array of like-new mens' clothing sold at huge second-hand shops. I have a collection of silk, short-sleeve button down shirts, wool blend pants and coats.

In one case, I purchased a new, custom tailored double-breasted linen suit for ten cents. It was far too small for me, but I gave it a young high-school student: he had never owned a suit.

Another fun hobby of mine was to dress up in these wool suits, go and walk dogs or pick up trash in our local park.

Turns out, wool could handle the heat. I overheat easily, but I was fine. The clothes usually did not need laundering. Just hang them up with enough air.

At the time, these clothes cost a fraction of new jeans and t-shirts or active wear. And they held up fine. Some of the silk shirts are starting to shred, but as they cost me a quarter each is no problem.

The wool suits will last longer than I will. Some of them more than 50 years old.


Two years ago I vowed to only buy vintage clothing (with exceptions for under garments, shoes and concert swag). Two years later, I haven't bought any clothes! The problem is that vintage clothing for men is a really bad shopping experience, at least in DC. Few retail stores and the ones that do exist only seem to have clothes from a groovy era or a less fashionable, probably slightly older set. (I'm in my 40s. I like my clothes on the slimmer side.) The vintage option is so much more possible for women.


I think more and more people realized vintage clothes are actually better quality and the higher demand sent the prices up. You can still get lucky in some thriftstores though..


The article didn't spend a lot of time discussing the type of washing machine used. But in my experience that makes a big difference.

Front loading machines seem to be quite gentle on clothes. Perhaps because they don't use an agitator? My mostly 100% cotton clothing lasts for years and years. My family is tired of seeing me in the same clothes.

But maybe another big difference is between men's and women's clothing. The women's stuff feels very lightweight, very delicate. I'm not surprised that it doesn't hold up as well as men's.

And then there's fashion. My girls buy jeans that start out with holes in them. How long can that last? In contrast, by the time my jeans have holes in them they are definitely worn out.


I find its the drier actually.

Prior to having a dryer I hadn't thrown out a t shirt due to collars and stuff wearing out, after getting the dryer they just fall to bits after a few years.


Last apartment had and air circulation system for hang drying clothes. They would dry in a couple of hours and we never had to deal with shrinkage or wear.

Our new apartment has a front loaded. My wife's clothes were in awful condition after a couple of months. I refuse to use it.


Everyone hang dries their clothes in Italy, and we kept doing that when we moved to the US. It definitely is a win-win in terms of making clothes last longer and using less energy.


Yeah, unfortunately England, in winter, isnt really conducive to drying clothes outside.


Clothes actually dry pretty well inside in winter because your air is dry, so the water gets pulled out quicker. Just need a bit of airflow.


Neither is a lot of Italy, nor Bend, Oregon where I live. In winter, you put the drying rack next to a radiator or heating vent or whatever, inside.


Yeah, but then you get damp, and mold, been there, done that.


Wash more often. If you wash every day or two, the amount of water in your clothes will not be super significant. If you wash once or twice a week, then your relative humidity will spike. You can buy super efficient washers, so power consumption is not really an issue (especially in comparison to using a drier). The other thing you can do is to "change the air" in your house every once in a while, especially in winter. Just open the windows and let it breathe. Letting the cold air in reduces the water carrying capacity of the air. When you heat it back up, the relative humidity drops.

I know these kinds of things are not common in the UK, but when my wife and I lived in England for 2 years, that's what we did and it works very well.


You just have to find a compromise. I tumble dry my undershirts, underwear, etc, but line dry my button downs, sweaters, hoodies, jeans, etc. I wash those less often anyway, and line drying them saves money because those are the pricier items in my closet.


My clothes started lasting a lot longer after switching to a Haier portable washing machine and line drying my clothes.

The Haier has no central agitator, and I'm sure that helps, but, of the two, I'm guessing the bigger impact comes from line drying. The contents of the average lint trap would seem to suggest that tumble dryers really do a number on clothes.


> “If it doesn't feel comfortable,” said Dr. Ritch, “you’re going to dispose of it more quickly.”

Or for me, after every shirt I try on feels uncomfortable against my neck, I lose hope and just quit shopping for clothes. It solves the waste problem, but I wish I could find a way to solve the problem of fabric distracting me as it weighs or rubs against my skin throughout the day. Maybe nudist camps are the real answer here.


Explore non-cotton and non-wool materials: modals, rayons, synthetics, etc


Workwear brands (Carhartt, Duluth Trading, Dickies, Doc Martin, etc.) and some outdoor wear brands provide high quality and durability. If that's what you're interested in, and you've reached the point at which looking hip isn't your thing, and don't care to comb through piles of vintage items looking for a reasonable fit and style, you'll have options.

Aside from fast (tranlation: fall-apart) fashion, my major gripe over the past decade has been a transition to slim styles which offer very little latitude for different body shapes, and frankly feel tremendously uncomfortable in a full day's wear. You'll pay a slight premium, but generally less than mainstream brands.

A few classic items can offer many years of excellent wear without appearing dated.

The changes to mainstream clothing have lost my patronage at any number of stores. And the practices described in this NYT piece strike me as both alien and revolting.


I can't agree more concerning the move towards 'slim' bodies.

I can't fit into the majority of popular jeans brands for the lowly crime of playing hockey as a youth, and now having larger than average legs and glutes.


There was a very interesting thread on this topic here some weeks ago [991 points; 287 comments]:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20503194 — "How to assess the quality of garments (2014)"


I posted that one too ;-)


Ah, missed that detail. Nice work :-)


I normally buy clothes that are targeted towards blue collar workers since they are typically designed to be more resistent to wear and tear, at the expense of not looking very stylish. Since I work a desk job, they last a long time. My boss says I dress like a farmer (or fisherman in the summer), but I also only have to replace old clothes every 3-4 years when they get to worn out, and even then they just get demoted to yardwork clothes.


If anyone wants a lead on an over built street wear brand here you go [1]

It was started by this precocious production engineer from Montana who found themselves working their way through Nike and then leaving to make clothes by hand that are the most over built clothes I’ve ever found. All of the seems are done with heavy duty upholstery threads and the fabrics are the heaviest weights that still are comfortable. I’ve never encountered anything like it. Also hand made in America if that maters to ya.

[1] https://lastheavy.com/shop?category=shirts


That website tho...


...yeah, against all odds, I don't think an $80 white t-shirt is a great option, regardless of how long it will hold together.


I'm not entirely sure the best solution is to educate people on buying quality clothes. While that is important, I suspect that consumption isn't just due to shitty clothes wearing out too soon. It's probably due to our culture of fashion trends and constant consumption and the "keeping up with the Joneses". If you go on fashion subreddits, you'll hear people talk about how you need to buy long lasting clothes, inevitably quoting that tired Terry Pratchett segment on boots^[1]. Except these same people have 10 pairs of long lasting boots!

I don't know the answer because honestly, I do like buying new clothes. I do like changing how I look. I do like looking good. And I'm far from alone in this regard. Maybe instead of blaming the consumer, there should be some regulation on manufacturing clothing? Or some sort of carbon/pollution tax? A cynical take on this is that fast fashion companies are attempting to foist the blame onto the consumer, when really they're preying off a universal desire to look pretty and polluting the environment in the process. We should of course educate people on the impact of their choices. But telling people to stop buying stuff to make them look pretty is going against a very basic, very fundamental desire.

[1]: https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/72745-the-reason-that-the-r...


> I do like buying new clothes. I do like changing how I look. I do like looking good. And I'm far from alone in this regard.

I like eating cheesecake until I'm stuffed with it, but I don't because it's not good for me. Liking something isn't sufficient justification for doing it. Maturity means knowing when to heed your impulses and when not to.

I understand that it's hard to scale that philosophy and solve a systemic problem, but I don't think we should just blindly accept that people are gonna do what they feel all the time.

That desire to change how you look partially comes from a cultural value. You're surrounded by people doing that and showing you them doing it, and talking about how great it is. Change that culture, and I bet that desire would evaporate.


I agree that we should try to change the culture. But solely depending on having people act better isn't going to be enough. Especially since changing the culture of fashion would mean fighting celebrity culture, people's ingrained obsession with fashion and basically the entire concept of sex appeal.

To take your example of cheesecake, it's perfectly fine to have a personal policy of self control. But if you extend that to the general population, you miss a few things. For one, perhaps there's a reason people are eating so poorly, such as food deserts^[1] or simply lack of time or money. Second, perhaps the fast food companies are acting in particular ways that can be deemed unethical. Personally I find the ways in which fast food companies market to children and feed on what's essentially a sugar and fat addiction pretty despicable and an underhanded tactic. But that's just me.

Indeed blaming the consumer is a pretty common tactic. Keep America Beautiful is a famous example. The entire campaign was an attempt to foist the blame onto people littering instead of, y'know, the corporations producing millions of disposable items^[2]. And yes, stopping littering was a good goal. But it also distracts from the underlying problem: why are we allowing these disposable goods to be produced?

With clothing we should be asking a similar question. Why are we allowing such terrible industrial practices, from the pollution to the child labor?

[1]: http://americannutritionassociation.org/newsletter/usda-defi... [2]: https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec...


I have a large set of American Apparel Hammer t-shirts that I bought about five years ago. I wear them every day. I bought a few more once I heard they were going to the dogs, but the quality had dropped dramatically.

It's a big shame that they went to the dogs, as I've been unable to find any other t-shirts since which match the following criteria:

1. Heaviness of fabric 2. Generous, stylish cut (i.e. not skinny as fuck) 3. Well-sewn 4. Retains colour even after five years 5. 100% cotton: retains shape even after five years

If anyone can make a recommendation that is available in the E.U., I would greatly appreciate it. In before Hanes Beefy-T. They do not match up.

I've solved the socks and shoes part of the equation. Sadly, I have yet to solve the trousers part of the equation. I recently had to resort to getting vintage Levi's jeans from the 80s. It was impossible to find anything with a pure enough fabric, generous enough fit and which was heavy enough for a reasonable price.

Socks: I buy from the Falke Family series. 94% cotton, quality fabric, comfortable and long-lasting. Not made from sweaty, 50% synthetic crap.

Trainers/Sneakers: USA-made New Balance 990. Comfortable. I managed to get nearly a year of near-daily use out of them. Expensive compared to most other trainers, but well worth it given how quickly similar shoes disintegrate.


I have found the Uniqlo T shirts to be quite good quality.


They say they should be washed in cold water on delicate cycle; how can they last if they can't even be washed in warm water?


Thanks. Looks like these might be a match.


Quality maybe, but not durable imho.


Got any alternative suggestions?


Why buy new clothes at all? Good, clean, used clothes can be found anywhere if you care to look around a bit. They're also much cheaper, and if you don't need them anymore you can either sell them, pass them to your family or neighbours, or donate them to a charity.

Last year we bought all of our summer clothes used. I got myself 3 pairs of Levis as good as new for 10€. I really don't get why clothes have to be bought new.


Unfortunately, I rarely find new clothes that fit me well, let alone used.


I go through a few pairs of H&M / Uniqlo jeans a year, because they simply wear out. I always buy the same look and I kinda wish I didn't have to buy them so often.


The same goes for shoes. A good pair of shoes is expensive but durable and serviceable: it is work taking them periodically to a shoe repair shop. A good pair of shoes takes the shape of your foot after some wearing and could last even 10 years.

Modern shoes are designed to quick obsolescence, for example the sole wears and cannot be replaced or the shoe is so cheaply made that it is not worth fixing.


If we didn’t mix cotton with synthetics, we could compost those items. There should be a law for such things.


The book of Leviticus forbids the mixing of fibers in a garmet, but then again it does the same for homosexuality. shrug


I've had several items with near daily use that have lasted me well over seven years.

If you want to build a solid, long lasting wardrobe, you can't go wrong with the following:

Boots: Redwing Iron Rangers

Jeans: Levi 501stf or anything unsanfordized that's heavier than about 11oz

Shirts: Anything 2ply 100% cotton


I have a lot of miles on my Iron Rangers. Best boots I've ever owned. They are both comfortable and durable, which is a rare thing in my experience.


It's hard to kill them. I'm glad to see that they're getting a second (third?) life because of their durability - I bought mine on deep discount after the Made in America/logger clothes trend went away around 2011 or 2012 and they were considered to be clown shoes (because of the toe cap) compared to the 1000 Mile and other boots.

They've gotten crazy expensive again - it's a good thing that mine are going on eight years with little signs of needing to be replaced.


Mattereum is working on this problem. The idea is to use the blockchain to make really detailed records about physical objects, and track their performance across a number of owners - from design to disposal, using the Ethereum blockchain to bring all the data together. We're starting with collectibles (higher values, better margins) working with William Shatner.

https://medium.com/humanizing-the-singularity/how-post-indus... this blog post digs into the model in a lot more detail, and takes you through our prototype.


®®®,@1,Was XML


I find the opposite. To build a personal brand, it's helpful to look very similar.

Steve Jobs and black turtlenecks.

I want audiences to recognize me and connect me from viewing to viewing.


Why would I want clothes to last until they look dated and unfashionable?


To state an obvious reason: because the "throwaway society" is killing our planet and humans along with it.

Also it would cost you less money to buy better quality clothes in the long run.


Terry Pratchett had an interesting spin on that: https://www.thebillfold.com/2015/03/to-terry-pratchett-who-g...

And yes, I've noticed that you do save money buying better made clothes that don't disintegrate in one season of wear.


Apart from what Davide says: isn't it nice that if you have something which feels really good to wear because it fits properly, you know it'll last? Also: I honestly believe many people would be happier, or at least have less things to worry about, if they'd care less about how they look. (plus once you start talking to somebody, it's what you have to say what matters, not how you look)


If you're settling for mostly skinny jeans and a nice shirt, I don't see this as likely.


Does a 3 button suit look dated and unfashionable? White shirt? White t shirt? Merino wool jumper, unpatterned? Bog standard pair of levis?

Fashion can be timeless, even if its only a subset.


"Fashion" industry does this on purpose so peeps keep on buying to stay in fashion. They make regular design alterations so that clothes appear dated from year to year. When the altering possibilities run out older models start rolling back as new as in fashion.


I don't think its "on purpose" in the sense of a grand conspiracy.

If you're a designer, you cant keep sending the same clothes down the catwalk year after year, if you design for a client, you cant really design the same stuff as last time.

Everybody does it, even the software industry, the clothing industry just does it at a higher tempo.

Ultimately, you don't have to play the game if you don't want to. The most stylish people I know don't really follow what's fashionable, and then there's me with jeans, t shirt, and a nearing on 20 year old jumper (that's vintage right?). If anything 'fashion' just seems to be a keeping up with the Joneses thing, rather than about looking good.


Maybe you're right, it's not a grand conspiracy as in all the fashion people met and decided that, but the general tendency and the reason behind it is the same: sell more.


Because there are timeless, classic looks that make you look suave AF.


Because you need to be foolish to care about such things.

You would want them to last right until then though, so you don't have to buy the same trend twice.


longer-lasting items does not necessarily mean ten years; it also means t-shirts I can wear the entire summer, or blue jeans I can wash more than 5 times...


T-shirts wearing out, I get. Bacon neck is all too common.

But jeans you can't wash >5 times? What kind of jeans can't hold up to that? Of all my clothes, jeans are my most durable by a long shot.


Similar experience with cheap uniqlo jeans. They look great at first but after a few washes the shape changes drastically, they get shorter and color fades even if washed with cold water and line dried. Sure, it helps to buy 1 extra size but they wont feel right until you wash them a few times but then the color has faded.


Interesting. Just out of curiosity, do you dry your jeans? I'll admit to ruining the fit by throwing them in the dryer.


Only fools care about fashion.




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