" It’s hard for people to understand the value of their own stuff."
May 29, 2015 9:47 PM   Subscribe

 
In the last few years, the rise of fast-fashion retailers (H&M, Forever 21, Zara) has severely affected pricing across the entire fashion industry. These companies are outperforming American fashion mainstays, like GAP, Banana Republic, and J. Crew, forcing these brands to reevaluate their pricing and production strategies.

Honestly, I feel ripped off when I ship at stores like Gap and Banana Republic. The clothes may be made of nicer material than the fast fashion places, but they still don't seem particularly well-designed or manufactured.

I never knew just how much nicer nice clothes are until I found a pair of high-end jeans in a thrift store. They fit perfectly, felt great, looked great, and wound up lasting me years. New, they would have been something like $200. Which, my automatic reaction is "THAT IS INSANE" but in terms of the quality:price, they were probably a better deal new than an $80 pair from Banana Republic.

These days, I buy flashion or I buy nice designer shit from thrift stores when I can find it. Mid-range stuff just seems like the worst of both worlds.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:10 PM on May 29, 2015 [19 favorites]


I strongly suspect this is also the narrative the upmarket brands want you to believe so they can continue to sell to both discount and full price customers. "Oh those pants at the outlet are completely different!" so they won't dilute the value of their brand. The real dilution happened, though, when they decided to start making their upmarket items from the same sweatshops and human suffering and disposable materials as the outlet goods. I think we should be less wary of being "tricked" into buying $39 pants for $39 than we need to be about buying $39 pants for $89. I think the myth of higher price = higher quality hasn't been widely true for a very long time.
posted by Gable Oak at 10:40 PM on May 29, 2015 [33 favorites]


Lately when I've gone to Banana Republic I've found the shirts and slacks on the sale rack selling for about the same prices as stuff at the fast fashion stores. I worked at a shopping mall in the early 2000s and discount rack prices were cheap, but never as cheap as they are now. That's in absolute dollar terms. I think I have a pretty accurate gauge of that too, since on my lunch breaks from work I would always browse for clothes and then wait for things to move from the front of the store to the discount rack in the back, which is when I would make my move.
posted by wuwei at 11:14 PM on May 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is not just clothing. That heavily-discounted, name-brand, flat-television at Wal Mart is often a cheaper version than what you would get at other stores.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:09 AM on May 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I find it hard to believe that the outlet stores are secretly lower quality than the mainstream stores. If you can make a lower quality product that isn't easily detectable to consumers, that's what will happen. They're not going to just produce higher quality products for the high end stores because they feel generous. That's not really how capitalism works.
posted by zixyer at 1:25 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Anyone who pays attention to the labels at outlets should already be aware of this: the labels often say "Factory Store" and the price tag sometimes says something like "this style was created for our outlets." They don't exactly advertise it, but they're not hiding it.

For most brands that have outlet stores, the original quality isn't so high, and the discounts aren't so low, that it feels like being suckered. It's not bad quality - Gap stuff works just fine for me and generally lasts me a few years - but it's not like people go there looking for investment pieces.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:43 AM on May 30, 2015 [11 favorites]


Wasn't this something that also happened with digital cameras? When the general population started to look for the considered "Pro" cameras on the low end, the manufacturers started cutting on part quality and put them on general electronics stores because the actual pros would simply move towards the mid-range, while the regular guy on the street who just wants to take nice HDR photos is perfectly happy paying the same for a lesser version.

Either way, I can't afford expensive clothes other than shoes (and not having money, natch) for a reason: my body shape fluctuates a lot depending on how much active I am. at least I can throw my €10 C&A pants and a drawer and forget about them until I'm not-fat again. But a pair of €90 Levis... heeeeeeeh. And if my body wasn't so atypical of the rest of the population, I could probably live from vintage and charity stores. I'd probably look like a 90s sitcom character most of the time, but it's not like I'd care.
posted by lmfsilva at 5:10 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have recently been looking for very specific things by searching online, usually regardless of brand. What I'm finding is that very often the low-end fast fashion things are very well made with interesting design.

Whereas if I'd just gone into a fast fashion store, I couldn't count on that at all. The fast fashion stores are full of stuff I wouldn't necessarily want to wipe my floor with. And unfortunately the same seems to be true of traditionally mid-range stores such as Gap.

A couple of summers ago I was going into actual stores looking for sundresses to buy new, and I could not get over how shit the quality was. And quality-wise, I am not hard to please, but this stuff was so bad that even I cared. None of it was any better than the fast fashion stuff, but it made up for it by being far more expensive. I ended up paying £40 for a rag of a maxi dress in GAP, just to get the whole thing over with.

Two days later I wandered into a market, found a stall selling upcycled sari skirts and tunics from a workers' collective in India, and literally emptied out the contents of my purse. Which came to £40. In exchange, I walked away with five tunics, two reversible skirts, a tie-front top and a free scarf ("because I know it's going to someone who'll wear it"). I floated around in spectacular and perfectly comfortable silk all summer. Was the quality amazing? No, but it was good as it needed to be and I'm still wearing those things.

There's just no way I'm ever going to bother walking into a retail store again, unless I know ahead of time the precise item I'm going in to get.
posted by tel3path at 5:22 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thrift stores and garage sales are the best! I got a tropical dress for my son's Hawaiian outdoor wedding at a thrift store for under ten dollars and it looked as nice as anything anyone else was wearing. I have gotten lots of things over the years that are good quality, look nice, and last a long time. Often they are unique as well, people are always asking me where I got my dresses and tops. My husband gets all his stuff in thrift stores too, except shoes, and got a perfectly respectable tuxedo for fifty cents on the mission sale rack. Not that he has anywhere to wear it but you never know!
posted by mermayd at 5:49 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thrift stores and garage sales are the best!

I think they work well if you wear common sizes. A man who wears a regular medium or large shirt, say, is going to find plenty of options; a man who wears a size like tall-XL, XXXL, or XS may not. The people I know who love shopping for used clothes are all more or less in the broad center of size distribution, and they have great luck when they shop. But it's not advice that generalizes to people outside of that, in my experience.

It's also regional, because you are at the mercy of what is being donated or sold on consignment, and the selection is going to vary tremendously based on demographics, luck, and how things are sold and resold around the country on the wholesale side.

Most of what I buy is for work, and I try to stick with the few remaining brands like Carhartt that still provide a good cost/quality ratio. The aggressive lowering of quality is not limited to the discount outlets described in the FPP, and it is always upsetting to realize that a previously good brand has lowered the quality of their materials and production.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:22 AM on May 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'd love to thrift shop for all my clothes but I wear a 16/18/20 depending on garment and manufacturer, and in my local thrift stores there ain't shit in those sizes except some shapeless old tops and stonewashed mom jeans and frumpy mother of the bride dresses.
posted by palomar at 6:52 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


Hit post too soon... basically the best local shopping option for clothing in my size is Old Navy, which isn't quite as fast fashion as H&M or Zara, but it's still not great. I'm sure they're using abhorrent labor practices. I'm probably contributing to another human's misery by buying cheap tank tops and I don't know what to do about it.
posted by palomar at 6:56 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honestly, I feel ripped off when I ship at stores like Gap and Banana Republic. The clothes may be made of nicer material than the fast fashion places, but they still don't seem particularly well-designed or manufactured.

Last year I was literally ripped off by Gap when I squatted down while wearing a pair of their shorts. The butt seam completely ripped all the way from the crotch to the top of the butt. That was a fun walk home through Boystown.
posted by srboisvert at 7:36 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


We don't have Nordstrom where I live, so I was excited when we got a Nordstrom Rack. It only took one trip there, however, to figure out that the inventory was not discounted products from Nordstrom, but in fact clothing produced specifically for Rack. (The shoes might be an exception.) I'm not interested in the stuff produced for Rack - it's mostly synthetic and aimed at much younger crowd, so I don't shop there anymore.

My city is low income and most of the thrift stores are full of clothes from Target and Walmart, so I don't really bother with thrifting anymore. When I was in college and had lots of free time, I exerted a lot of effort on thrift shopping and figuring out which stores had the highest quality/most interesting stuff, but now I just can't spend a whole Saturday driving around town to come home with one skirt.
posted by Squeak Attack at 7:40 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


This shouldn't be a surprise to more, uh, thorough? meticulous? frequent?, shoppers. Look at the JCrew and Gap websites. Notice that the clothes selling in the outlet and the clothes selling in the store don't overlap. If you shop (or window shop) a brand regularly you start to recognize this.
posted by maryr at 7:59 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh god, the various Awful Things that have happened to Brooks Brothers over the years somehow the outlet exclusive, noticibly shittier 365 brand is the worst. All these damn things are made in the same damn factories with the same damn level of care and attention, just the label changes, all cost are aspirational branding, and they're all owned by the same damn banking conglomerates anyway.
posted by The Whelk at 8:00 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Seriously there's no difference in quality between Gap, Old Navy, and Banana Republic, same company, same standards, different price point. The only honest to god outlet deals I've found are at like the Van Husen factory store in San Franaisco, it's all bone standard, utterly uninteresting menswear ...and it's priced accordingly)
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 AM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I worked part time at the Loft outlet i found out the tags are different and it's a whole different line.

Since my discount applied to both outlet and regular store, i can attest that yes, the outlet brand was waaaaay crappier. It was like old navy quality whereas the regular store was, well, better.

the prices weren't that drastically different, the outlet was just crammed with a wider range of stuff and often had sales.

the selection at the main store was smaller, but much higher quality and less fast-fashion... more enduring styles.
posted by sio42 at 8:03 AM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


(And yeah mid range stuff is the worst of both worlds by far. )
posted by The Whelk at 8:04 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Eh, I just accept that I am not Quality and cannot afford such. The end.

Ever been in a Gucci outlet? Most ridiculous, useless store ever.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:04 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


The worst is when those online used clothing sellers get on this band wagon and say their shirt, made for their store and not sold elsewhere is now 80% Off their ...own ...suggested ..retail price?
posted by The Whelk at 8:07 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Articles that talk about thrifting are missing something if they don't talk about the online thrift shops like Twice. I tried Twice when I did a major closet cleaning and it got me a couple of albums at Bandcamp, if I recall correctly. And maybe financed a couple of months of my recurring donation to Metafilter.

Thrifting is great if you have time and the right body shape. My husband is XLT or XXLT in shirts depending on the store; it's not worth bothering for him. And I just don't have the energy to spend looking for things that fit me and are in my style. I can manage online but even retail shopping is frequently too effort given the likely findings.
posted by immlass at 8:38 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah the more higher end online pawn shops (I'm sorry, LUXURY CONSIGNMENT) always seem to be mobbed with professional buyers and nothing is ever in my size, the more "reselling Blazers you can buy at the mall" places like Twice are usually better for actually finding clothes.
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on May 30, 2015


Good post, thanks. I noticed 10 years ago that some of my previous "go-to" brands for work clothes suddenly turned to crap: fabric quality, structure and decent stitching just went away. (Looking at you, Banana Republic and Ann Taylor.) It seemed to correlate with the rise of the fast fashion places (which are seriously a waste of money: I bought a couple tops from H&M once and they didn't survive a wash, they were basically disposable). I love fashion but don't want to shop all the time. I'd rather get something nice that I can wear for a few years.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:53 AM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh, and the dilution of handbag brands! I think Coach, etc., have just made a strategic decision to cut their quality by 50% and bank on the name, knowing that a striver can actually sort of afford it. I don't want a bag that says "COACH COACH COACH" on it, dammit. Marc Jacobs "affordable" brand is the worst: "Marc by Marc Jacobs, a Marc Jacobs company, owned by Marc Jacobs." Calm down, Marc.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:02 AM on May 30, 2015 [18 favorites]


Winners drives me nuts. "Originally priced at $50" or "Suggested price $80" and now it's a steal at $30? Fuck right off. $30 is a fine price for this, but don't lie to me and tell me I'm getting a deal. That kind of marketing should be illegal.

Thrift stores, yeah, best thing in the world unless you are a non-standard size. I'm a 16/18 and that means that a trip to Value Village often ends in tears. I'd rather spend more and get less at Reitman's than put myself through the hell of "I guess I'm too fat for everything" at a thrift store.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:06 AM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think they work well if you wear common sizes. A man who wears a regular medium or large shirt, say, is going to find plenty of options; a man who wears a size like tall-XL, XXXL, or XS may not. The people I know who love shopping for used clothes are all more or less in the broad center of size distribution, and they have great luck when they shop. But it's not advice that generalizes to people outside of that, in my experience.

Quoted for truth. It's relatively minor compared to other parts of the privilege spectrum, but the privilege middle of the spectrum-sized people get in shopping is a well-documented thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:10 AM on May 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


GAP OUTLET - made in Omelas
posted by benzenedream at 9:32 AM on May 30, 2015 [15 favorites]


All the thrift shops in my area are just awash in nothing but elastic waist polyester slacks and pill-riddled old sweaters cast off by retirees who've finally accepted you NEVER need a sweater here. And every store, whether affordable or not, sells the same polyester garbage. Which really sucks because I like clothes, but am resigned to living in Old Navy jeans with a ridiculous back waist gap and t-shirts from Target. I just don't have the time or money it takes to seek out better alternatives.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 11:23 AM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I think they work well if you wear common sizes. A man who wears a regular medium or large shirt, say, is going to find plenty of options; a man who wears a size like tall-XL, XXXL, or XS may not. "

So, I like shopping the clearance racks at department stores like Macy's. You are, of course, getting the same shirt, pants, etc. that were full-price some weeks earlier. You are also getting some excellent prices (50% or more off the original price). So, win-win.

Interestingly in the clearance section the converse of the above problem is true. Since the common sizes sell more quickly you find many more XXL shits that you do L shirts, many more size 42 slacks than 32, etc.
posted by oddman at 11:25 AM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]




Thrifting can be fun but I'm Nthing the tall, big guy thing. Mr. Roquette is a BIG guy. Getting shoes that fit him is a nightmare.
We hit a local shoe sale at a sporting goods place and found shoes which fit him at $20, so he said 'I should buy 2 pair' and I said 'YES! DO IT!' Because shopping of any kind for him is miserable.
I can find things for me at reasonable prices easily. I am on the plump end of mid - range.
My neighbor seems to go clothes shopping for fun. It's not fun once you are 3X! Worse yet, she's indecisive about her style and asks random people how something looks on her. I admit it, this drives me crackers. I kind of know what looks right on me. I make some of my own clothes. I don't machine sew. If I find that something I want isn't in any place I shop, at any price, like for example, a black denim skirt... Size 22-24, ankle length WITH pockets, well, I'll go to a fabric store buy the fabric and make it.
I don't sew such nice tops, so I do look for those.
I seldom buy used shoes any more. I don't carry a hand-bag. I use a vest with pockets or those flat cross body bags. Handbags are a pain. Women's clothing without adequate pockets gives me a vapor.
Clothing has to fit my life-style, it needs to be both beautiful and durable.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:52 PM on May 30, 2015


Interestingly in the clearance section the converse of the above problem is true. Since the common sizes sell more quickly you find many more XXL shits that you do L shirts, many more size 42 slacks than 32, etc.

Lots of women's clothing stores only stock 1-2 XL and XXL sizes on a rack with 10 Smalls, 10 Mediums, and 10 Larges, and that's if they stock above a Large at all. Since bigger women are starved for cute clothes, they often sell out in bigger sizes quickly. This is doubly infuriating considering that an XL in many lines IS the most common size for women in the US--equivalent to a 14.
posted by almostmanda at 1:14 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Agreed. It's virtually impossible to wait for sales or clearance prices when you're an XL or above. So add the full-price markup to the insult of an embarrassingly small inventory of cute or stylish choices for the larger shopper. But there's always a glut size 0 left on the clearance rack.
posted by vignettist at 1:23 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Thrifting sucks in big cities and hipster areas. Go for medium-sized towns with some kind of well-paying industry. I got a sweet blue suede jacket in Knoxville for a song. Last year I also picked up an unaltered men's suit, original price tag intact, which was made in ... Yugoslavia.

Polo used to be durable stuff back in the day. I have a couple shirts I inherited from my brother that are probably 30 years old and look great.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:37 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Lots of women's clothing stores only stock 1-2 XL and XXL sizes on a rack with 10 Smalls, 10 Mediums, and 10 Larges, and that's if they stock above a Large at al

...and they don't stock Talls at all, except on-line (if then).
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:21 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I can't disagree that the mid-range sized people benefit most from thrift store clothing deals, EXCEPT - children. Up til they care what they wear? You can save so much on kids clothes at thrift stores.

Another thing I've noticed is that thrift stores in areas near military bases often have really unusual and neat stuff - a lot of tacky crap too, but a lot of stuff that gets brought back from overseas or other places they've been stationed that someone decides not to take to their next duty station.
posted by lemniskate at 3:48 PM on May 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I deeply don't get TJ Maxx. It has way lower quality and worse selection than Goodwill or any similar second-hand store, at 3 times the price. Is their entire clientele people who are squeamish about clothes that somebody else used to own?
posted by threeants at 3:49 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I get the frustration over sizing, but is it really much better at non-thrift stores? Pretty much every time I go into a new-clothes store, which is admittedly not too often, I have to pass on trying some item that interests me because they don't have any of my fairly typical size in stock (so surely it's even harder if you're looking for a less common fit?). If anything, I feel like at thrift stores the "regular" sizes tend to be heavily picked over, leaving a disproportionate wealth of 28-inch men's pants and size 9XL shirts.
posted by threeants at 3:56 PM on May 30, 2015


I'm plus-sized and tall and I can hardly shop at brick-and-mortar stores at all, at least for pants, used or new. I just recently found out that Avenue stocks tall sizes -- for years I'd just accepted that I had to order online every time I wanted a pair of pants.
posted by Jeanne at 4:38 PM on May 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


This article doesn't even graze the topic of the quality of life of the people sewing your shitty discount pants together which is... I dunno. I don't have any sympathy for people misled by this. The same stores are emblematic of much more important issues than this-both the name brand and licensee garbage.
posted by Evstar at 4:44 PM on May 30, 2015


I've read several articles on this theme (one fascinating recent one that I can't seem to find right now). It's interesting/weird to me that this Medium post was written by the founders of an online boutique, but I guess it's good "content marketing."

I know that stores like Ross and the like are a scam but I sorta enjoy them anyways. There is a certain brand of super cheap dresses at Ross that fits me really well. You can always get good prices on housewares. I also buy $5 baby blankets for my dog (who rips them up and needs new ones every 2 months) - vs. about $20 at Target.

The only thing that really irks me is that one of the stores (Marshalls?) had an ad a couple of years ago that "explained" how they got such good deals. The "story" was basically that they bought overruns, which we now all know is patently untrue.

(Um and yeah...everyone who says "you can find great stuff at thrift stores" either has a much easier-to-fit body than I do or the patience of a saint)
posted by radioamy at 4:45 PM on May 30, 2015


I have never had the experience of going to a thrift store and scoring one of those legendary "esteemed quality brand for $8!" finds. Mostly it's trying to decide if the stains will come out of that white shirt or I can belt that dress to make it fit right or coming home with a single shirt after spending 2 hours sorting through crap. And I do have a pretty average sized body, other than being short.

I have a friend that has amazing vintage/thrift store style so I'm not knocking it at all. I'm honestly jealous, but that just isn't my look so I have a really hard time seeing the time investment of thrift shopping to be worth it.
posted by misskaz at 5:51 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I find it hard to believe that the outlet stores are secretly lower quality than the mainstream stores.

Having worked at a clothing industry company at least some of whose clothing I'd wager everyone in this thread owns at least some pieces I can tell you authoritatively that you are wrong.
posted by winna at 6:19 PM on May 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


I do like Ross and TJ Maxx for non-women's clothing stuff - dog toys, treats, beds, and blankets like radioamy says, random craft stuff, miscellaneous food items, socks, and hair products. So okay, mostly stuff for my dogs.

I used to do well thrift shopping and finding vintage stuff, but like I said, I devoted many hours per week to it. It was my main hobby. Now I try to find on-line retailers that are dependable and interesting, and go that route.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:46 PM on May 30, 2015


Yeah, sorry, if I need a pair of jeans I do not have time to spend two days running around town to thrift stores looking for a pair that fits just right. Thrifting is awesome for "I wonder what's here," not "I need a specific thing."

I used to live by a great consignment store in a pricey part of Boston where I could get some great quality stuff (ask me about my beautiful wool cape for $50!) but it was so, so dependent on when someone who happened to be my size brought stuff in.

I've known about the "factory outlet" thing for a while; so many designer brands are doing similar things - isn't Kate Spade New York a crappy version of Kate Spade? - and it's increasingly hard to keep track of which ones are which.
posted by olinerd at 6:48 PM on May 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think YMMV based on where you live. I don't live in or near a real metro area, and I shop at TJ Maxx and Marshalls near exclusively for clothes. My alternatives are basically Walmart, Target, and then your usual mallrat stores--or somewhere like Banana Republic or Loft, which I either can't or don't want to afford (I haven't decided yet, but I spill coffee a lot, which is less of a disaster when it ruins a $17 shirt vs. a $50 t-shirt). All of the thrift stores in my area exclusively carry worn-out, faded, stretched to hell shirts that were sold at at Walmart (and maybe Target, if you're really super lucky) 15 years ago--nothing anywhere near new, higher end, or even presentable.

I can't say I've ever noticed a real quality of difference between Marshalls and Old Navy, Kohls, Target, etc. If anything, I think the quality is better and selection is far less one-note. I have sweaters/cardigans, dress pants, and jeans from Marshalls that I've had for at least four years, and they're holding up just fine. The tops are good for about four months but are absolutely no worse than anything I've bought from Target, Old Navy, or that range of stores, but they're definitely less expensive. And I'll be damned if I don't love the hell out of the men's Calvin Klein knit ribbed jacket I got for $5 off the clearance rack about five months ago. That thing has survived a lot of physical labor, and, surprise, a different colored version of it is on the Calvin Klein Website right now. Do I care that TJ Maxx/Marshalls licensed CK for a blue version with lesser construction? Not really. It was $5. Your move, Goodwill.

Also, Marshall's gift bags are freaking cute.
posted by coast99 at 8:19 PM on May 30, 2015


Ugh I love those Buffalo exchange places and that article explains why quite succinctly.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:41 PM on May 30, 2015


Having worked at a clothing industry company at least some of whose clothing I'd wager everyone in this thread owns at least some pieces I can tell you authoritatively that you are wrong.

Wrong about what? That the clothes are different or that they're lower quality?
posted by zixyer at 10:14 PM on May 30, 2015


I mean, I have so many workhorse and classic and downright beautiful stuff in my wardrobe from thrifting, but that's treating it like a hobby and not a way to shop and also fancier men's stuff is easier ironically cause the selection in most stores is so small.

Also like half of it was from a bonanza I found in Paris of like an entire Hugo Boss wardrobe, shoes and all, in my size, going for ten euros a piece.

That's not like, a sustainable bit of advice for everybody, literally find treasure.
posted by The Whelk at 10:30 PM on May 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


wrong about what? That the clothes are different or that they're lower quality?

Both. The mass market stores have very different quality and style requirements than the upper tier stores, which are both different than the 'outlet' lines, even when the name brand is the same. The amount of negotiation between the clothing manufacturer and the various tiers of retail is quite intense between trying to hit a mutually-acceptable profit point and trying to maintain the retail and brand's need to maintain customer perception of quality.
posted by winna at 6:56 AM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


...and they don't stock Talls at all, except on-line (if then).

Or Shorts, to be fair. And don't of us are Short but not Petite.
posted by maryr at 7:45 AM on May 31, 2015


In my experience, thrift shops, particularly Goodwill and Salvation Army can vary drastically by city and even location. I know here in Boston the Central Square Goodwill is fairly depressing while the Davis Square Goodwill is a relatively pleasant shopping experience. Meanwhile, when I visit SF I am wowed by the treasures I find (that won't fit in my suitcase, woe).
posted by maryr at 7:47 AM on May 31, 2015


If TJMaxx and name-brand outlets are actually selling full lines of cheaper clothing designed for them, I think I'm a bit confused about what happens to the higher-level merchandise that actually does fit the standard outlet narrative (discontinued lines, returns, slightly defective merchandise, etc., from the main collection). Items like that must still exist, so if the place to buy a real last-season/ discontinued J. Crew garment isn't actually TJMaxx or the J. Crew outlet, then where are those items being sold?
posted by Bardolph at 7:50 AM on May 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


i have seen bona fide designer items I've been looking for, turn up with T J Maxx labels on, so apparently it can happen.
posted by tel3path at 9:02 AM on May 31, 2015


so if the place to buy a real last-season/ discontinued J. Crew garment isn't actually TJMaxx or the J. Crew outlet, then where are those items being sold?

The J. Crew website's sale section is a huge unwieldy beast with thousands of items. It seems like they just let their overstock linger there forever.
posted by almostmanda at 9:19 AM on May 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't believe J. Crew ever sells anywhere but their own stores, be they standard or outlet.
posted by maryr at 2:47 PM on May 31, 2015


People want cheap stuff with high-end labels, and this desire for false status fuels the outlet business.
posted by Sassenach at 2:47 PM on May 31, 2015


> Or Shorts, to be fair. And don't of us are Short but not Petite

Huh -- I thought Petite was retail-speak for short. What does it mean?
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:02 PM on May 31, 2015


Petite means small, but generally it's the 'short' section. The trouble begins when there are no pants for people both short and over size 12.
posted by Trifling at 4:14 PM on May 31, 2015


I'd be interested to learn more about the rise in outlet merchandising (a retailer creating a team of buyers/merchandisers inhouse to purchase a line specifically for the outlet store) vs the rise of online stores. Vertical companies (those who only sell their own brand in their stores) now have a full price "outlet" open 24 hours a day, so how else could they expect to keep their outlet market (which was huge in the last decades of 20th century/fist decade of this one) relevant?
posted by ovenmitt at 4:48 PM on May 31, 2015


For example, Petite dresses are usually shorter between the shoulders and waist, as well as between the waist and hem. Sometimes they also have a smaller bust. Similarly, Womens clothing is usually just scaled up, ignoring that people who are heavy aren't magically taller than the rest of us. I'm sure Talls have a similar propblem, but when discussing fashion, it's really hard to be sympathetic to tall thin people (sorry, that's just me being resentful of your ability to wear maxi length dresses).

General retailers seem to assume that Juniors want bare bellies and short shorts, Petites are little old ladies and Womens are circus tents and everyone with taste and style must be S, M, L. It's the cheapest way to make the clothes and we, as customers, like paying less. It's *expensive* to buy properly fitted clothes if you are outside that 2-12 range in any dimension.

(Sorry, Dudes, I know nothing of your clothing ways, I am sure this applies to you as well. On one hand, I'm jealous of your seemingly logical sizing descriptions and available variations, on the other hand, you get like one quarter of the style options that women get. Sorry, your shopping seems much less fun.)
posted by maryr at 5:30 PM on May 31, 2015


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