7 Sneaky Ways Clothing Brands Cut Costs and Why You Need To Know Them

7 Sneaky Ways Clothing Brands Cut Costs and Why You Need To Know Them

So the other day I’ve been going through Zara clothing rack and the quality of many items I’ve looked at seemed very subpar, especially for that price tag.

I don’t have a problem with affordable brands for low quality – they don’t charge that much for their items. It’s the brands that offer poor quality at high prices that really frustrate me as a consmer. That’s not to say that Zara and other brands in this market offer only poor quality items or that I’ve gotten only negative things to say about these companies – it’s their business strategy and their decision, same as it is my consumer decision to buy them or not. I’m writing this post because I’m convinced that consumers deserve the best quality for their money. Here’s a list of 7 common things that brands save money on and basically make customers pay more than the item needs to cost. Let’s start!

By all means, Zara is just one of many many other brands that do this – charge a lot more for items of clothing that did’t cost them even nearly as much to make. As a consumer I usually go one of these two ways: either buy a very cheap item that won’t survive for long, but the cost per wear will still make it worth it, or spend more time searching very good quality items that’ll hold for months and years. Both ways are a part of my strategy of getting the lowest possible cost per wear. This is the reason why I rarely (if ever) buy fast fashion items – they go out of fashion too quickly and I hate creating waste.

Read more: 5 Ways How I Deal With ‘Wardrobe Graveyard’

The reason why many brands make low quality clothing is simply to reduce the lifetime of an item. This way they urge the customers to keep coming back for new clothing once their current ones start losing shape or fall apart.

Please note that I don’t mean expensive clothing as ‘good quality clothing’ – good quality can be found in all the price ranges, same as bad quality.

I don’t include the fabric quality in this list because it goes without saying.

Here are 7 signs that a clothing producer didn’t try that hard in terms of quality:

1.Pattern alignment. Here I mean pieces of clothing made of patterned fabrics. If you’ve ever head a striped shirt, you could have noticed this: the stripes on seams are either aligned or not. It goes for any pattern and is a really good sign of how hard the manufacturer tried to make the item good quality and good looking. Aligning a pattern means taking more time and potentially spending more fabric on the item production.

2.Too thin zipper on thick fabric & poor quality zippers overall. I’ve had my share of bad zippers. They get stuck, fabric gets stuck in them, and they separate. To make sure that the zipper is good enough, I usually zip it up and down several times in the dressing room, making sure that it’s smooth. Anotehr important thing to check is whether there’s sufficient distance between the actual zipper teeth and the fabric – if they are too close together, there’s a higher risk of that the fabric can get caught up in there. Besides, YKK zippers are also the best ones!

3.Buttons. Buttons is a common way for brands to save on. It’s easy to figure out why – good quality buttons are actually pretty expensive. If you come acros buttons on an item that look too lightweight, have defects on them, aren’t uniform in color (unless it’s part of the design), have scratches on them, and are too thin/lightweight for the fabric they are sewed on, it’s a good sign that the brand cuts the costs in this department. Of course, the buttons aren’t a reason to skip purchasing an item if you like it, but it’s just always cool to see that a brand takes it up a notch and gives extra attention to detail.

Read more: 5 Ways How I Deal With ‘Wardrobe Graveyard’

4.Seams – are they appropriate for the fabric? Sometimes I see that brands use too thick needles to sew items made of very thin and gentle fabrics. This can potentially cause the fabric to fall apart in that area and unravel, making the item lose shape quickly (it becomes especially noticeable after washing). To check that the seams are good, stretch the item on the seam – if you clearly see holes from the needle and the seam is stretching out easily or even creates a gap in between two pieces of fabric, then prepare to use delicate cycle if you purchase the item.

5.Lining. The quality of lining says a lot about a garment. One of the most commonly used lining materials is polyester, but there are different kinds – thin silk-like lining, thicker silky lining, almost see-through lining. Here my best strategy is to trust my sense of touch – tactile information says a lot about any item. If I feel that the lining is very thin and extremely lightweight, almost to a point where the fabric threads are coming apart when I touch it, then it’s a no for me.

Bonus tip: did you know that in jackets the lining often comes apart on the seam in the middle of the back because it’s contantly being pulled as we move our arms and shoulders. Well, the jacket with purple lining on the inside has regular lining, but the jacket with green lining (it’s inside out on the picture) has a fold on the back that allows the lining to have some give:

Courtesy of Google Images

6.Buttonholes. This is my personal pet peeve. If I see that the the buttonholes are crooked, there are threads sticking out, or the stitches on the buttonholes distort the fabric, it is a good sign that the manufacturer didn’t try hard at all. Buttonholes are very important because it’s a part of the garment that’s being used frequently when I button it and unbutton it. Here are examples of buttonholes that just make my perfectionist eyes happy:

7.Poorly done print and appliqué. I love prints and appliqué on clothing – they often give an item a lot more creative look. What I hate though are prints and decorations that crack or fall apart after a few wears and/or washing (even if the wash is done according to all the instructions). If I want to purchase an item with any print on it, I always make sure that the print is soft enough and is as if merged into the fabric or – even better – the print is embroidered on or made from initially different color threads. As for appliqué, I make sure that the beads or other decor elements aren’t deformed or damaged, that they are securely sewed on or that there are no visible glue leftovers on the fabric. Appliqué has to be done in a neat way, because it shows that the brand cares about their customers and strives to provide the best quality.

Wherever you shop, you’re always worth the best quality for your money. I hope these little things will help you avoid a sneakily poor quality item next time you shop!

Do you have your own little things you pay attention to while shoping that serve as the ‘make it or break it’ moments?

What’s your take on the price/quality combo in clothing? Are you willing to spend more time browsing to find a better quality item or do you prefer switching your clothes frequently enough so that they don’t have time to lose shape/fall apart? I’d love to know, same as everyone who reads this post, so you’re most welcome to let us know your thoughts below💕💕💕

See you in my next post,


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Author: Alexandra @YouAndMeAndCupOfCoffee.com

Passionate researcher and writer. Coffee maniac. Pilates enthusiast. Makeup and skincare junkie. Occasionally - movie and book reviewer. Come join me on my quest!

5 thoughts on “7 Sneaky Ways Clothing Brands Cut Costs and Why You Need To Know Them”

    1. I’m very glad to hear that! Absolutely – the retail markups are just sometimes crazy for the quality. I’ve browsed online and found that the usual retail markup is around 50-65%,so it means that wholesale price for a dress is $50 and retail would be $110-130 🤯 And for many brands the markups are much higher. Good thing there are many smaller brands that offer high quality items – that’s where I don’t mind paying more at all. Takes a bit more time to find them than just going to the familiar and easily accessible stores, but it’s awesome to have such opportunities.


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