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Forever 21, Which Helped Popularize Fast Fashion, to File for Bankruptcy (nytimes.com)
262 points by SREinSF 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 169 comments



Back in '08-'09 Forever 21 was my favorite clothing store. They had styles there that fit well, looked good, used comfortable fabric, and was relatively cheap. Given how the economy was doing at the time, it gave Forever 21 an advantage: clothes 2-3x cheaper and clothes quite a bit more enjoyable to wear.

But the fabric they used disintegrated on me, as woman's clothes tend to. (Men get thicker fabric, but at the expense of being less stretchy. Women like to show off their curves.) The problem with this being that no one else made the styles I enjoyed. It was a fad that came and went. It doesn't exist in thrift stores. I don't even know what to call it, so I can't find pictures in an image.google search. Forever 21 made products I liked, but then they switched and I (and my friends) couldn't find anything that came close since. The last time I bought clothes at Forever 21 was in 2010.

Since then H&M has caught on like wildfire taking over the market Forever 21 once had. They do a lot of the same, but their clothes are even cheaper (why?) and in my current wardrobe my favorite clothes have come from H&M. I'm afraid the same fate will come to H&M that has come to Forever 21. Or maybe H&M will learn from F21's mistakes. Only time will tell.


>Since then H&M has caught on like wildfire taking over the market Forever 21 once had. They do a lot of the same, but their clothes are even cheaper (why?) and in my current wardrobe my favorite clothes have come from H&M. I'm afraid the same fate will come to H&M that has come to Forever 21. Or maybe H&M will learn from F21's mistakes. Only time will tell.

That's a rather weird characterization in my opinion... H&M stores in roughly their current form have been around a lot longer than Forever 21. H&M is also 4-5 times the size of Forever 21 by revenue.


Perhaps they're talking about the US market? In Europe, H&M has been big for as long as I can remember (since the late 1990s, which is when I started shopping for clothes).


I mean, they're European, and all.


>That's a rather weird characterization in my opinion... H&M stores in roughly their current form have been around a lot longer than Forever 21. H&M is also 4-5 times the size of Forever 21 by revenue.

My apologies. Faulty assumption on my part.


H&M is very European (Swedish), I think they’ve only been in the states for less than a decade. I’m more of a C&A person myself, H&M always struck me as too urban (in Switzerland at least).


I’m not sure how long H&M has had a solid foothold in the US. At most 15 years, but possibly your estimate. They have had more stores than Forever 21 in the US for a few years now though.


H&M revolutionized the fashion cycle. In a not good way.

Watch this

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3162938/


My girlfriend worked as a weaving technician and she said the H&M stuff got much worse over the past decade and subjectively it is true. The stuff literally disintegrates if you have it in the drier to often. Sadly enough this is also true for the men’s wear.

I certainly try to spend a little more and get quality stuff. Second hand stores can also be great because you can find great quality stuff that feels better after the 20th wash than the H&M stuff feels fresh out of the store.


> The stuff literally disintegrates if you have it in the drier to often. Sadly enough this is also true for the men’s wear.

H&M stuff for me never tears or gets holes. Mine just stretches in places where it shouldn't stretch (eg. T-shirt sleeves - how the hell do those stretch?! I don't have steroid-monster arms. I have a <1 year old t-shirt where I can put my whole head through the sleeve (usually by accident), and there's still some space left, and i remember it was fitted well when new... So yeah, it's my 'yard work' shirt. ).


Depends on the time scale. H&M shirts I have are extremely thinned out over the years compared to other shirts I have since more than a decade. I cannot eliminate the possibility that the quality varies with the area where they sell it (I am in Europe).


Well apparently women are supposed to only wear a piece of clothing once or twice, no? So they optimize for price, so you can buy more pieces of clothing so you have something to wear, rather than longevity which "nobody" cares about.

That said, it's not just the clothes for women. I tried buying some jeans at H&M, twice. Both times I wore a hole in them in less than a month. I'm not doing anything special, just a regular office guy. I usually buy Diesel jeans and they last at least a couple of years each.


> Well apparently women are supposed to only wear a piece of clothing once or twice, no?

Unfortunately, yes. This is what tends to happen. My wife complains about how this is so much the case in women's fashion. Fashion is designed to encourage consumption. People buy new clothes, new appliances, etc just because of color and style. This drives cheaply made products, since they aren't going to last long anyway.

Really wish we could move away from this and get back to quality products that last. But, until people get past fashion, I can't expect this will happen.


you can still buy quality products that last, you just have to pay more


To what extent do studies or indices or whatever indicating that prices of goods have dropped under liberal economic & trade policies of the last few decades factor in quality of same goods? I'm not sure decent goods have actually dropped in price, and wouldn't be surprised if some have in fact become more expensive, and suspect that extremely crappy goods that didn't exist at all before account for much of the alleged reduction in prices.


Maybe, maybe not. The longer-lasting but expensive stuff might not be available in styles you like, for instance. So, for example, what good is a long-lasting shirt if it looks like something only your grandfather would wear?


This seems to go right back to the grandparent post's closing sentence:

> But, until people get past fashion, I can't expect this will happen.


People are never going to "get past fashion". People who have any money at all have been worried about fashion for millennia now. The only people who didn't were people too poor to do anything but worry about keeping themselves clothed with whatever they could find.


The outfits from these places are almost always based on designs from more expensive fashion designers. I would be surprised if you couldn't find an equivalent or nicer made with first world labor and nicer materials. However I would not be surprised if it cost literally 50x more than an HM equivalent.


> Well apparently women are supposed to only wear a piece of clothing once or twice, no?

No.


Guess I should have been more explicit with some <sarcasm> tags. Still, a lot of women buy clothes that only gets worn once or twice (or not at all).


Most brands, especially the low priced ones has reduced the quality of the weaving and textiles, and that contributes to the fast fashion. Your sweater stretches a bit and you go buy a new one (or so they think). I remember I had bought some sweaters in the late 90s from Topman in the UK and they looked brand new 7 years later. Now, nothing from Topman is nearly as good.

Now though I stick to brands such as COS, yes they do cost x5 or X10 what H&M costs, but the difference in the clothe is evident.


This is interested. About 20 years ago I bought a few Vans button-up shirts. These were amazing garments with vents in all the right areas. I'm not a skater but I understand why the shirts were designed the way they were. They were functional fashion. I wore one of these shirts for 10+ years and when it finally wore out, I was sad to find out that Vans carried nothing like it any more. I tried some other Vans shirts but they felt like more fashion than utility.

I expect durability when I spend a lot of money. I own five Patagonia shirts that are all 10+ years old and still look and feel like brand new. I love how I can turn the garments into my local Patagonia retailer when they reach end-of-life.

I once wore a Calvin Klein tee for 15+ years until it disintegrated. That shirt was soooooo comfy! I didn't want to throw it away, but my wife complained how horrible it looked even when I was reduced to only wearing it inside the house!


>Now though I stick to brands such as COS, yes they do cost x5 or X10 what H&M costs, but the difference in the clothe is evident.

Yeah, but do they really last 5-10 times as long? If not, then from a purely economic point-of-view, they're not as good a deal. Spending 10x as much for something that lasts 2x as long really doesn't make economic sense: you can buy 2 of the cheaper thing and still spend 1/5 as much money.


It's cheap "if your time is free", it is nice being able to depend on your clothes.


What are you talking about? It doesn't take any more time to buy 2 shirts than to buy 1 shirt. Maybe it adds an extra 5 seconds at the cash register, but that's not significant.


It is true buying clothes in bulk would never have entered my mind. One thing stand I have really bad experience with clothes, they break in the most awkard times, cheap clothes does that all the time in my experience. I still have my very high quality jacket I bought in 1995, it takes a beating holds up and is easily fixed.


Where are you getting your clothes? I have some pretty cheap shirts and I've never had one "break in the most awkward time". They just start developing holes, especially on the collar.


I don't need or buy nearly as many of the standard business casual outfits as I used to when I went into an office regularly. (Things have gotten even more casual at conferences etc. as well.)

But I've found a number of my go to mail order catalog places that I used to order from like clockwork have really gone downhill over time. I still buy from them sometimes but the quality definitely isn't what it used to be.


I'm not sure if my memory serves me right, but my impression was that most of their clothing was made in Portugal when they were in a few flagship stores only. Once they scaled their production to a worldwide online shop, more things were made in countries like Bangladesh or China. I felt like this blurred the line between them and the cheaper H&M Premium Quality stuff.


COS is still H&M but their more upper market stores and style, though I have to agree the quality is fairly nice.


I have similar experiences with H&M, and a lot of other cheap basically colored shirts. It’ll feel great at first. Then I’ll leave it in the dryer for a few minutes too long, and the fit completely changes while the material looks degraded.

I’m more than happy to spend $30+ on a simple shirt that won’t change its fit after a few cleanings, but struggle to find a consistent brand.

If anyone has recommendations, please let me know.


> I have similar experiences with H&M, and a lot of other cheap basically colored shirts. It’ll feel great at first. Then I’ll leave it in the dryer for a few minutes too long, and the fit completely changes while the material looks degraded.

Hang dry and use a lower spin speed in the wash. It takes a little more planning and time, but I hang dry almost all my clothes and I have t-shirts from H&M type store that are 8 years old and still holding up. Some higher quality clothes brands are even older and look pretty much brand new.

I can get clothing to last until the fabric actually wears out - elbows in dress shirts, knees in pants etc and even after that you can sometimes convert them to shorts with a little sewing.


Style is rather personal but for reasonably long lasting clothing without extreme prices.

Patagonia or other backpacking suppliers or mid ranged department stores between Macy’s and Nordstroms. The next rung up for most brands aka Banana Republic > GAP can be hit or miss, but you really need to give up on low end stores.

That said quality is visible when you’re buying. Ultra thin cloth just can’t last.


> I’m more than happy to spend $30+ on a simple shirt that won’t change its fit after a few cleanings, but struggle to find a consistent brand.

Yes I face this problem as well. It seems that no matter how much you pay, you get the same clothes manufactured in the same sweatshops but you pay extra for a "better" logo/brand.

I like Zara, but it is debatable if they actually do have better quality for the higher prices they ask for.


I actually really like Goodfellow & Co. (Target's clothing brand).

The men's clothing are on the cheaper side but still feel like decent materials. I mostly just have t-shirts and a few polos. The t-shirts have lasted at least a couple years so far and have gone through many washes.

Most of the styles are nothing to write home about, but if you just want a simple shirt that looks decent and doesn't fall apart, I've had good luck. I think it might be US-only being that it's Target?

For pants, I've put a couple pairs of Lucky Brand jeans through hell and back and they barely show any wear. I'm sure there are more durable ones out there, but these are by far my favorites.

For jackets, it's either Goodfellow & Co. again or a couple of Polo Ralph Lauren zippered jackets that I got for a good deal secondhand. They are soft and feel like they'll last a good while.

This whole comment feels like an ad, but you did ask for brand recommendations. I'm sure someone will tell me how H&M or F21 either owns all of these or use the same factories. I've at least had good luck with them.


Somewhat surprisingly, my go to t-shirt has become Patagonia's Capilene Cool Trail after cycling through too many cheap brands.

Color options are pretty limited, but mine have been through a few dozen wash/dry cycles at this point and still look and fit great.


Shirts: Brooks Brothers. Get the no-iron ones. Supposedly ~$98.00/each but usually available at ~$200 for four of them.


I personally can see how H&M quality went down in last 10 years. Around 10 years ago it was decent quality for reasonable price, not it's just things I'd avoid even touching.


I would say their quality improved. For example, 10 years ago their t-shirts were really thin with skewed cuts that became evident once you tried to fold them. Now the t-shirts are made of much thicker cotton and the cutting follows a proper pattern.


Before H&M you need to talk about Gap. Their local store to me in the UK is almost always permanently empty. I still use them to buy basics, but always shop online. Superdry, the same - it's always empty, but I'm not a fan of big logos on clothes so wouldn't buy Superdry.

Uniqlo hasn't yet made the same mistake of opening stores almost everywhere. You can shop online with them, but there aren't many stores outside of the capital in the UK.

In the UK it really does look like shops on the high street are struggling with the physical costs as opposed to shopping online.


I am from Europe, but currently live in Asia.

I felt in love with Uniqlo. It's just perfectly what I want from a clothing store.

I have heard Uniqlo in Europe and US is different from Uniqlo in Asia and they try to position themselves as slightly more expensive; I can't really tell.


FWIW I tried uniqlo in tokyo (biqlo store) and it was nearly identical to the stuff in london


I shopped at Uniqlo in Japan too, and it seems nearly identical to the stuff in the US (DC). The prices are slightly lower, and you can get it tax-free if you're a tourist, so I stocked up on some things while I was there.


Uniqlo in Thailand at least seems to be more expensive than in London as far as I recall


H&M is much, much bigger than Forever 21. Forever 21 barely exists out side of North America, but H&M can be found everywhere. I mean everywhere. That may be a factor in how cheap they can be - The scale of the business.


Sounds like the article that part of their demise came from a botched fast international ramp-up. Perhaps they didn't have the expertise (or funds?) to scale up.


H&M is the Ikea of clothes.


This is a good analogy for multiple reasons: Both Ikea and H&M hit a variety of price points and tend to have quality commensurate with them.

I’ve bought a $30 dresser at Ikea and $7 T-shirts at H&M, and both were about as durable as you might imagine. I’ve also bought a $200 dresser at Ikea and a $100 coat at H&M, and they’ve held up as well as comparable products twice their price.


They are also both Swedish!


H&M isn't cheap though. £25 for a pair of denim jeans where I can get 3 pairs for the same price in Primark.


Have you checked that those were denim jeans at Primark? Last time I checked all of their trousers were made in huge parts out of synthetic yarn.


They advertise as genuine denim and I have no reason to believe they aren't.


That's crazy. I recall a good pair of Levi's being about $40-50, though I'd have 2 pairs and put them to work for years.


In US, in UK prices range from 70 to 120gbp for a pair of levis jeans.


Levi's are more expensive because they're branded



Please don't post the same comment multiple times. It lowers the signal-noise ratio.


> H&M has caught on like wildfire taking over the market Forever 21 once had. They do a lot of the same, but their clothes are even cheaper (why?)

Because of ruthless exploitation of the poor:

https://edition.cnn.com/2012/11/25/world/asia/bangladesh-fac...


Your experience with F21 is how I felt about H&M but going from 2001 to 2005. It was still a really new store in the US at the time and brought that European slim fit that worked best with my body type which so many American brands lacked at the time. I still pop into H&M once in a while but it's definitely not my main store anymore, I honestly don't know what is. I feel like H&M really popularized fast fashion more so than F21 but I'm also looking at this from a very male (albeit queer pseudo fashionable male if that makes a difference) pov. Granted stores like Old Navy already had cheap clothing at the time but it wasn't really considered "fashion", it was more like everyday super casual wear.


I had no idea H&M was older.

I think it's comes down to cuts at the end of the day. There is a style that fits a body type perfectly and the wearer loves it, but then that style disappears. Or at least that is how it works for me. The cuts that fit my proportions best tend to look and feel the best.

eg, skinny jeans made it hard for me to lift my legs for some of them and low cut / boot cut felt like they were falling down on me, but they weren't really falling down. But give me some jeggings and I'm a happy camper.


> Men get thicker fabric, but at the expense of being less stretchy

Not sure if it's the thickness or the fabric. Men's clothes are more likely to be cotton, women's have more synthetics to get stretchiness and better draping. Not sure what that does for durability, but it might explains issues in the dryer.

I'd also be curious to know the staple length of the cotton used by fast fashion brands, but I'd bet it's shorter.


When I transitioned to female, one thing I was told early on was that I shouldn't put my tops in the dryer anymore, because the dryer will wreck them. So nowadays I hang-dry all my tops.

And one interesting side-effect of my transition is that I actually like the feel of clothes now. Stretchy materials are so much more comfortable. I've never been able to stand the feel of cotton against my skin, and I'm so glad I get to wear clothes made of stretchy softness now. If I had my way, everything I wear would be made of rayon and spandex.


Yep yep. Guy's don't get it. It has something to do with the fat content in skin, but they can't feel much. Imagine if you had a weakened sense of taste your whole life. It must suck to not be able to feel things with any level of detail.

But on the other end, guys can go for hours on a computer no problem, but due to a lack of upper body strength, I need to exercise my neck and shoulder muscles once a week or slowly over time I'll start to get headaches.


> If I had my way, everything I wear would be made of rayon and spandex.

I don't sleep or fly in man-made fibers for fire safety reasons. But I'm also fine with cotton, so your results may vary.


I wonder how many of these "issues in the dryer" are caused by people using the high-heat setting on the dryer. I have clothes that are both cotton and synthetic (like exercise/sports clothes) and I really don't have durability problems with any of them, except for cotton shirts "pilling" on the back where they're tucked into my pants after I've had them for a long time. But I always run my dryer at the lowest heat setting, use the sensor drying set for least dry, and then hang-dry stuff when it doesn't come out completely dry. Even my cheap synthetic cycling jerseys from Aliexpress are holding up just fine.


I agree that a lot of the issues are with the dryer. So many expensive clothes and textiles are rack dry or hand wash only, that it's kind of unfair to compare something cheap that you treat roughly versus something expensive you treat delicately.


The stretch/synthetics in woman's clothing comes from plastic. It's normally more durable than normal clothing. It's intentional planned obsolescence.


> I'm afraid the same fate will come to H&M that has come to Forever 21.

Wasn't looking too good last year [0]. Not sure how they're doing now though.

0: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/business/hm-clothes-stock...


>(Men get thicker fabric.)

Hahahaha. Not anymore sadly with most brands. Profit maximization has fixed that in the last few years.


> their clothes are even cheaper (why?)

Slave labor. It's why my family won't shop there anymore.


H&M makes clothes that seem to have the texture and quality of tissue paper. I understand they are cheap but I assume shopping there is like being the poor man in the boot theory of socioeconomic unfairness.


Perfect for my children though. the pace at which it breaks closely matches them growing out of it. Probably not so good for the thrift store market I guess.


By purchasing clothes from H&M, you're supporting child labor and horrible work conditions. There's a reason the clothes are as cheap as they are.


If you haven’t already,

Watch this

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3162938/


> Mr. Chang, the company’s chief executive, said in a 2012 interview that the chain was named Forever 21 because it targeted 20-somethings and because “old people wanted to be 21 again, and young people wanted to be 21 forever.”

I like how he felt like he needed to explain that one.


I never noticed the name was something about age until now...


The funny thing is that the statement is not true, the first store was called “Fashion 21” and they renamed themselves when they started opening other stores.


That doesn't necessarily invalidate the statement, they presumably put a great deal of thought into their new name.

If their first store was called "Fashion 75", do you think they would have chosen "Forever 75" as their new name?


Here’s some info on potential reasons why they are going bankrupt.

-they are mall centric store and mall traffic has been declining. Other chains have been “right sizing”

-big discount stores (target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, etc) have upped their (discounted) fashion game

-forever 21 was slow to adjust to these broader trends vs competitors

I also agree with proverbialbunny. My girlfriend used to go there regularly but we haven’t been to one for ages. Could just be us getting older though :)

https://www.google.com/amp/s/finance.yahoo.com/amphtml/news/...


Overall mall traffic might be declining but I’ve been to malls here in my city where the higher end malls are thriving and more popular than in previous decades.

The Forever 21’s in my area are located in malls that are dated, and ripe for a major renovation.


That's a really good point. I can understand why other stories have been dying to wanting quality merchandise. Victoria Secret is going out of business, but True (an online only company as far as I know) is amazing. I'm in love with their products. Victoria Secret I never cared for.


>big discount stores (target, Walmart, TJ Maxx, etc) have upped their (discounted) fashion game

Huh? This is true I suppose for Walmart and Target, but TJ Maxx just sells overstock stuff that didn't sell elsewhere.


That's a bit of a myth actually. While they do get lots of their merchandise that way, they don't get all of it.

Check out bullet number 4. https://fortune.com/2014/07/24/t-j-maxx-the-best-retail-stor...


I’ve seen a lot of people going on about fast fashion recently. I’m aware of lots of shops that are considered fast fashion, but which ones aren’t? Where should I be going to buy more durable clothes that are made of nicer materials? I’m genuinely curious. I’d like to change my buying patterns (I’m really not that fashion conscious, so long as I can have some nice button ups and trousers I’ll be happy).


Here's a couple I like that aren't over-the-top expensive or bespoke:

  - LL Bean
  - Patagonia
  - Everlane
  - Lands End
My general rule of thumb: Try to stick to natural fabrics (cotton, wool, linen) for most things. Synthetics can be good but most are really cheap.

If you're willing to pay a little more, there are some small shops still making stuff in America that you can feel good buying and will last a lot longer than your typical fast-fashion goods.


Once you get your sizing dialed in on a few "nice" brands (thrift stores are great for trying several brands, just go in knowing which ones you're looking for) you can wait for sales & seconds (shoes) & used (thrift stores, ebay) & overstock and such. Most are rip-offs at full price but are priced about right (still much higher than fast-fashion, but not insane) at 30-40% off, which isn't that hard to find, and are great deals under that. Now that I know my sizing in a few reasonably consistent much-better-than-fast-fashion brands I just wait for their sales, order a few pieces a year online, and the clothes show up. It's great.


I was looking for an excellent fleece to fit my needs, but I didn't want to spend big $$. I wasn't having any luck, so on a whim I splurged (a bit) and bought a fleece from one of the names listed above.

- I bought it from an outlet store so despite its high price it was still discounted

- It's incredibly well-made

- The "cut" of it is great, as in it fits my form really well

- Its pockets are deep

- It's warm

Zero regrets. It's absolutely one of my favorite clothing items and hopefully something I'll maintain for a long time.


Fleece is one of my exceptions-to-the-rule re: polyester. That said, there's a big difference between investing in a nice, well-made fleece jacket that you know will last many years, and one that is likely to get destroyed pretty quickly. I'm happy to spend 2x as much on the jacket if it will last 2-3x as long.

Especially because, as you mentioned, more expensive jackets are sure to have better features (bigger pockets, better cut/shape, and a higher-quality fabric).


> - The "cut" of it is great, as in it fits my form really well

I find it odd how much better off-the-rack fit tends to be on more expensive clothes (for men, anyway). You'd think that'd be one thing the cheaper brands could easily duplicate, and that the main differences would be fabric quality & construction, but no.


> I find it odd how much better off-the-rack fit tends to be on more expensive clothes (for men, anyway). You'd think that'd be one thing the cheaper brands could easily duplicate

Cheaper bands target a wider range of body types per SKU, which naturally produces worse fit on average.


Everlane touts themselves sustainable and ethical but there's a lot of greenwashing in their marketing. See also https://www.eco-stylist.com/we-tested-everlane-and-they-fail...


Thanks for the information!


> My general rule of thumb: Try to stick to natural fabrics (cotton, wool, linen) for most things. Synthetics can be good but most are really cheap.

For me, buying cheap stuff that has to be replaced often is the price I'm willing to pay for fabrics that feel comfortable and don't irritate my skin.

I absolutely cannot tolerate the feeling of cotton on my skin, and if I have a choice, everything I wear would be made out of rayon and spandex.


Three sources of very durable clothing are:

+ Expedition-clothing brands like Fjällräven, whose clothes are meant to serve a person for years trekking in the outdoors.

+ Specialist shops for clothes for certain professional and industrial careers

+ Military surplus shops.

While none of these are good sources for clothes that will make you look trendy and stylish to impress, they are great options if you just want some solid shirts and trousers to wear on an everyday basis.


I don't know if I've just lucked out with my Uniqlo purchases, but I could also recommend them for good-looking basics that last a long, long time.

I've had a couple pairs of Uniqlo jeans for several years now, and they don't have any of the wear in the crotch my Levis used to get. When I was buying Levis, I might get two years out of them before the fabric at the crotch thins and eventually rips. The Uniqlo jeans are showing almost none of that wear (both regular jeans and skinny jeans).

Same with their t-shirts and polo shirts. The necks haven't stretched, nor have they gotten any holes under the sleeves.

One of the two pairs of chinos I own from Uniqlo has started pilling, though, which is too bad, but still has lasted better than the last pair of chinos I bought at Macy's.

Again, ymmv, just my experience, but my wardrobe is now mostly Uniqlo and I'm buying a lot less replacement clothing (at least for basics) than I used to.

Also, the less you dry clothing at all, the longer it'll last -- I line-dry as much as possible, and toss it in the dryer on the no-heat mode to tumble it a bit if it needs it.


I think this is true of their men's clothing, but not necessarily their women's. My girlfriend's Uniqlo clothes have not lasted as long as mine and they are visibly more cheaply made. For example, one trip, we bought the same coat at the same price, but where mine used three lines of stitching, hers used only two. Her coat started losing down almost immediately. I just pulled the coat out of the closet to wear again this year, but hers only lasted two seasons.


> Specialist shops for clothes for certain professional and industrial careers

I've found that the clothing from LAPG to be very well made, and if you are looking for something that can even be worn in the office (business casual), they have that covered, too.

Their stuff is regularly mentioned in certain forums by people in those professions (LEO, TLAs, etc) looking for good clothing that has a lot of functionality and durability in the field, but still looks good in the office.

I found them after wanting a better quality and longer lasting pair of cargo pants (and later, shorts). I wanted something I could use for outdoor hiking activity, and only found that later they still looked great after a period of day hiking, that I could wear them around town afterward if needed.

I found what I needed, and they have proven their durability, comfort, and capability - more than enough pockets to carry what I need, easy access to all of them, plus a lot of extra strength features needed for hiking and other more strenuous activities.

They sell similar clothing that looks even nicer; ie - same kind of pants but without all the extra pockets - or they have some that are well hidden. Also shirts that look like regular short-sleeve button-downs, but with breakaway side seems for quick access to a side holstered weapon (all meant to allow LEO to "blend in" on certain assignments I guess?).

I found their stuff to range in price - the pants and shorts I bought cost much less than stuff I could purchase at name-brand stores, and have lasted much longer than anything from them as well. LAPG also sells some much more expensive clothing, some of which will make you double-take on the price. Maybe it is just that good - but I've never ventured up to those areas.


Despite being seen as the stereotypical tech-worker uniform, Patagonia seems to use well-sourced, high quality material (and they have repair centers).


I’m familiar with Patagonia, but I’ve mostly seen them as an outdoor clothing company, not anything that I’d consider (non SV tech) business casual/smart. Are there any companies that make that sort of stuff that aren’t evil? Like more what you’d find at GAP or a department store, but not made by slave labour.


I personally like American Giant [1] and Flint & Tinder [2].

Neither has as wide a selection as GAP, and are more on the casual side, but have stuff that can work as business casual. The latter is menswear only, so if you're female not so useful.

[1] https://www.american-giant.com

[2] https://huckberry.com/flint-and-tinder


Costco.

Wait hear me out. I haven't tried jackets or outwear they sell, but they always stock up of decent quality underwear, t-shirts and jeans. Their Levi's last me about 4 years.


You have to be careful with Costco,and a lot of stuff that they carry regularly drops in quality after becoming successful there, but you can find really good stuff there.


Winter is coming so if you're in the market for light-weight fleeces I'd recommend the Fjallraven Keb fleece (http://bit.ly/2os5DNh) and the Patagonia TechFace (http://bit.ly/2osecHV).

REI stocks a number of more-or-less equally high-quality options (http://bit.ly/2orY7C2)

If you're bored of Dockers, I'd suggest grabbing a pair of ABCs from Lululemon, in brown (http://bit.ly/2oAN4qr) and black (http://bit.ly/2mfiYb1)

If you're not sure what you want, other than to browse items of decent quality without getting ripped off, hit up Nordstrom Rack.


If you like the ABC pant, try the Rhone commuter.


Just ordered. They better be good!


The key term you are looking for is "High-street brands" (step below Luxury)

https://www.google.com/search?q=high+street+clothing+brands


Uniqlo


I would second Uniqlo, and also suggest GAP. But honestly I am not really aware of either of their ethical records, but have found their clothes to be a good balance of price and quality, and they are about the only shops I can find as a Mid-20s male where you can buy good quality 'foundational' items, rather than fashion fads.


Banana Republic has, in my experience, better quality 'staples' than the GAP. They have excellent sweaters and quarter zips, for example. I have a weird body shape (I look like a Belter) but haven't had any issues finding things that work

They're part of the same parent company (Old Navy, GAP, Banana Republic).


Uniqlo epitomizes fast fashion.


Not really, their product ranges and styles are fairly static and basic. Zara or H&M are fast fashion, Uniqlo is decent timeless basics


The only other substantial discussions on HN:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7861442

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8971215

I guess "fast fashion" means cheap sweatshop clothes. The bankruptcy is probably caused as much by rising standards of living in other countries as it is by the general shift to online ordering.


Fast fashion means three-week fashion cycles. That a fashion cycle is a single delivery, and the shop cannot order more if something is a great success.

What you say sounds wrongish... In a fast fashion shop you can try on ten things this week and ten _other_ things next week, and rate of change makes online ordering look slow.


Dated a top F21 buyer for a few years and I can say that:

1) Prototype to street was way more than 3 weeks. More like 3 months (still faster than most fashion which makes buys 6 months ahead). Zara is the main large retailer that is actually about 1 month from concept to store.

2) The quality of their men's wear was pretty good for the price.

3) They worked their corporate employees to the bone and paid them 60-70% as much as other retailers for the same job. Girlfriend ended up doubling her pay upon accepting a role with another retailer. And on her last day, they still left her a pile of work that took until 5am to finish...Greedy and unprofessional.

4) Sad to see a whole lot of honest employees lose their jobs. Although the owners of F21 had a big fall coming given the amount of greed and indifference they expressed to employees https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-forever-21-factory-wo...


There's something I'll never understand: how come they left here a pile of work and she worked till 5 AM? Clock shows 5PM (or whatever your end of schedule is) and that's it, you're done for the day, whatever hasn't been finished couldn't clearly be, turn off the computer, clear your desk from the litter, grab your coat, bag and off you go (unless you're a heart surgeon in the middle of a surgery, that is). If they'd leave her with pile of work 2 weeks big, would she work these 2 weeks for free? What makes 'a night' OK but '2 weeks' not? By the sound of it it doesn't seem like she had no other options, being already offered way better job (I hope!). This is teaching companies to mistreat people, by accepting things like that.


Maybe her friendship with her coworkers motivated her to do her best to leave things in a semi-workable state for the team. It could be that she was uniquely capable in her role, which is why she felt responsible for completing certain work that would lead others to struggle even more. Capability as well as the attitude that accompanies it may explain why her pay doubled at the new job. For several people I know and myself, this seems to be the most prominent reason for staying past the committed time. Twelve hours after closing time is extreme, though.


> Prototype to street was way more than 3 weeks. More like 3 months (still faster than most fashion which makes buys 6 months ahead).

Those are different things, right? From what I understand, Apple works on a phone for about 3 years, but they cycle every year. You can have multiple 'prototype to street' cycles running that deliver a new collection every 3 weeks. I'm not sure that's how it works in fast fashion, but I wouldn't be surprised if it does.


My understanding of the difference is that Apple doesn't have "Phone Fashion Week" defining what their phones should look like this year. They get to make that decision on their own. As opposed to someplace like Forever 21, where Fashion Week comes and says, "ready...go!" and now they have to go make clothing.

The caveat is that this is just what I read. I wear 501s and a non-print shirt (yes, sadly, it's sometimes black) to the office every day, what do I know?


Oh, sorry, perhaps fashion cycle is the wrong term. I meant the time a particular garment typically stays in the shop at full price. What's the industry term for that period?


If that was the issue, it would be affecting Zara, H&M, Uniqlo etc as well. Zara is seeing record profits, H&Ms revenues are up but profits are down as they spent their money investing in online sales, Uniqlo profits are also up


This is addressed in the article:

Mark A. Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, said that he believed fast fashion was as popular as ever, pointing to the success of Zara, but that Forever 21 had expanded far too quickly “without regard to a reasonable outlook. It’s a self-inflicted catastrophe”


I would hope that the reason for failure was more about this:

> Forever 21’s struggles have provoked questions around the appeal of fast fashion more broadly. The industry has faced backlash surrounding the environmental impact of quickly disposable clothes and concerns about worker safety

...

> Younger shoppers have increasingly turned to consigned goods and brands that claim sustainability as a value...

But I wouldn’t bet big money on it.


> goods and brands that claim sustainability as a value... Claiming sustainability and being sustainable are two different things. For instance "C&A" is making a lot of things from "Bio Cotton", but you if search for Bio Cotton on their website https://www.c-and-a.com/uk/en/corporate/company/sustainabili... you find this:

"BIO COTTON is all of that. It guarantees you that no genetically modified seeds are used, it supports farmers, saves the environment and feels good for you and your loved ones."

Maybe I am biased (I am not opposed to GMO), but I have doubts that this is the best way to be environment friendly.


All cotton is bio cotton, isn't it? It's not the sustainability or GMO status of cotton that concerns me about fast fashion but the plastic fibres flaking away into the general environment.

I think that we have no choice but to seek sustainability from farming, as plastic is not sustainable from any angle. The alternatives to petroleum plastics are organic, so farming again.


Off topic but I remember C&A from back in the day. (edit: They pulled out of the UK market in 2000)

I don't know why the address has UK in it, because the country select doesn't include UK, and the webshop is in Euros.


It's not about those brands really being sustainable etc. - it's about their claims (the same with food and their labels).

If those claims seem authentic enough they will ease the mind of the customers it helps them enjoy their spent money again though deep down they should know how bad this consumption is for our environment and the poor people involved in the production.


Its almost as if we could do with a strong regular to stop companies abusing terms and greenwashing their products.


We'd need some officially accepted labels which are controlled by organizations that share absolutely no interest with the share holders of these businesses.

But it seems we have like 20 different labels for everything, one less worth than the other.


Talking about worker safety there has been numerous claims in Aus [0] about worker abuse at Uniqlo and yet they still seem to be doing fine.

[0]: https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/everyone-has...


Zara, H&M, and Uniqlo are actually somewhat fashionable, at least as "value" brands. Apparently there is some effect where the top 20 remain the top 20 because they are well-known or have other competitive advantages: https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/retail/our-insights/the-...

For example https://martinroll.com/resources/articles/strategy/the-secre... lists Zara's 1-week supply chain and responsive customer service as Zara's advantages. And Uniqlo similarly has some proprietary fabric technology: https://martinroll.com/resources/articles/strategy/uniqlo-th.... Meanwhile https://martinroll.com/resources/articles/branding/forever21... lists nothing besides their knockoffs being really cheap (and the associated piracy and labor lawsuits).

I don't have time to go through all the other failing stores like American Apparel, Dressbarn, JCPenney, Gap, etc., but the story is probably similar, pointless products with no obvious differentiation. H&M is more interesting, massive chain with CEO/management trying to turn it into something more lean / innovative. It's kind of like Amazon with Whole Foods. The eventual outcome of both is uncertain but so far they're moving along.


Is Uniqlo fast fashion? Or cheap?


They claim they aren't, but their parent company is called "Fast Retailing", and by the definition the GP is using "cheap sweatshop clothes" they match.


Fast Retailing also owns the GU brand of stores which is fast fashion. Uniqlo is upper scale, with higher prices, and long lead times on products. Uniqlo plans its offerings a year in advance and designs their cloths to meet a need.


> I guess "fast fashion" means cheap sweatshop clothes.

Anecdotal: my wife started calling it "Forever Toilet Paper" because the clothes disintegrated so quickly (as opposed to Zara and other fast fashion brands that, while fast to market, still put at least a little work into quality.)


Yes, who would have guessed that you get better quality by paying almost 10 times the price. Shirts at Zara are 60$ while forever21 like 10$.

The problem with clothes manufacturing is that there's huge diminished returns - by paying 6 times more you don't get 6 times higher quality. Clothes technology is rather simple.


"paying almost 10 times the price. Shirts at Zara are 60$ while forever21 like 10$."

That's six times.


> Clothes technology is rather simple.

This feels like when somebody with no clue about development claims whatever you are working on is “simple”.

Something tells me clothes technology is far more complex than you claim.


how much do cheap plastic clothes (polyester, spandex, elastic) contribute to the micro-plastics epidemic I saw on HN recently?

I've been trying to get 100% natural materials (cotton, wool, leather) and they seem more comfortable, less stuffy (especially for sleeping) but that might be a placebo.


From what I have been reading, quite a bit. The plastic lint ends up in the water ecosystem pretty quickly compared to other plastics through washing and drying, and they're not obvious being so small.

I imagine most people don't think about their plastic fabrics being plastic at all, they really don't feel like plastic. So when you see lint balls or bits of lint floating about the house you don't think to yourself "Ah, little bits of plastic going into my lungs". When you empty the lint catcher in a drier and pop it right in the bin, it probably doesn't cross most minds that it's a little bundle of plastic fibers. I like to consider myself pretty well informed on the topic and it wasn't until this year that clothing fibers even crossed my mind.


Somehow in most of the apartments I've lived the toilet was always really close to the dryer. So for many many years I would just throw everything from the lint trap into the toilet to be flushed next time I use the restroom. Without thinking about it, it seemed like 'organic' material. Probably most of it was (I tend to use the dryer mostly for towels and bedding, which is mostly cotton).

One morning it occurred to me that I've been flushing microplastics away, which is really terrible...

Catching particles coming from the wash seems like a pretty tough problem. Even if the washing machine could somehow catch these, I can't see consumers (and thus manufacturers) jumping at the chance to clean out dirty soapy goop from a washing machine filter... which I imagine will resemble cleaning out a shower drain trap pretty quickly.


It’s also really bad for the pipes. There’s a reason why toilet paper falls apart pretty quickly when it gets wet. Generally only waste, water, and toilet paper should go down that drain, unless you want to make some plumber very happy.


Even if they did clean it out, they would probably put it in the trash anyway. Some cities could process it in their recycling process, but that's not every city. I don't think there is a way for us to have plastic fabrics without the microplastics ending up in the environment.


Ashes Ashes has a great episode on it, basically with every wash, your clothes looses micro plastic, especially in the first few times https://ashesashes.org/blog/episode-19-life-in-plastic


>I've been trying to get 100% natural materials (cotton, wool, leather) and they seem more comfortable, less stuffy (especially for sleeping) but that might be a placebo.

Natural materials are obviously more comfortable, more breathable, hypoallergenic, etc. These fabrics are literally the product of millions of years of evolution for putting on top of an animal's skin, and work well with its physiology.


Uh, pretty sure cotton didn't evolve to fix that for animals.

There's of course significant processing applied to those materials before they're suitable as clothing (cotton obviously needs to be picked, it's not on an animal to begin with; leather needs to be tanned).


Lots of people are allergic to wool. Perhaps as much as a quarter to a half of the population will have a mild allergic reaction if they have ordinary coarse wool rubbing against their skin for a long time, like wearing a woollen collar or scarf while trudging through the snow all day. Some people can recognise whether fabric contains wool just by touching it with their fingertips: an immediate itching sensation. So perhaps it evolved for use by sheep, not humans?


Looks like it’s closer to 6% [1]. A lot of people self-diagnose wool allergies, but they really just get crappy wool, or they mistake itchiness caused by the coarseness of the material for an allergy. It’s an easy mistake to make, but it’s unfair to call it an allergy.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23665833/


What about merino wool? It is said to be much less of an issue with allergies, and we see it everywhere these days.


Wool makes me itchy (I still wear it just not against my skin) but cashmere and merino don't have the same effect.


> obviously

Huh? They're obviously optimized for regulating the temperature of the animal they came from. Except for cotton and linen. And they weren't woven. Viscose is pretty comfortable, but it's not a natural fiber. Fiber blends are pretty amazing, too. There's some interesting properties you can get with blends.



While fashionnova is booming.

To give you an idea how fast FN is, they'll sell then make a product (in that order) so fast that when the customer gets it in the mail, the paint hasn't dried yet.

Quality is not their forte.


That doesn’t make sense to me and I work in the fashion industry. Unless you want to pay tens of thousands to air freight goods, min time is at least two weeks.


Amazon will eat this up. They're eating up the custom apparel with the tshirt printing part.


Good. The only fast fashion brand I truly like is uniqlo, but forever 21 was always at the bottom of my list. All of their clothing had prints that looked like it came out of a machine learning algo that wasn't trained properly. I dont understand how they afforded to open these giant stores in the hottest malls. A fun game that I played with friends is to go into f21, try on clothes and see who can assemble the most absurd outfit.


Uniqlo is not fast fashion, apart from T-shirt prints they have same styles every year.


My wife calls Uniqlo a functional fashion store, nice things but built to be used and possibly last longer- if not because of quality then because of the lack of here and now feeling.


They were on the wikipedia page, so I went off that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_fashion#List_of_fast_fash...


Fast fashion is a huge burden on the environment and should not be supported. So good riddance.


My ex took me there in Tokyo when I visited Japan. Shiny shops and good background music but crap for men's clothes. 3 floors of women's clothes and a tiny corner for men's. Not great.


One thing they DID have is a great selection for larger women. While most stores cater to the skinny+young (see brandy melville's "one-size-fits-all" policy), many forever 21 locations had a large plus size section that I know was appreciated by many women.


Fast fashion doesn't need to be bad quality fashion.


I think the quality is a side effect of the real problem with fast fashion: Implied disposability.


The entire fashion industry is about disposability. Forever 21 simply fulfills it at a low price.

If everyone tried to keep up with the latest trends we'd be throwing out nearly our entire wardrobe every year.


I'm a little surprised by this. Forever 21, I thought was the fashionable dollar store equivalent for clothing. It should've done much better than other higher end brands, considering how millenials are spending less and less on clothing.

Also, how are people wearing out their clothes so quickly. I bought a super cheap shirt from forever 21 once and it lasted for years with no sign of wear.


Forever 21's app is really bad, it just couldn't compete with other brands like zara and uniqlo.


App, really? I really don't think a mobile app is at play here at all.


Why does this deserve front page? I read the article expecting customers got woke and are demanding ecofriendly and labourer-friendly clothing. Seems all about bad business decisions, and other fast fashion companies will soon fill that vacuum.




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