Quality (Old) Fabrics Vs New Fabrics
Last week, a customer commented that older fabrics have a different feel than what most folks are used to feeling when shopping for contemporary clothing. Sounds like a simple observation, but oh no, there’s more to that thought than you think.
The ‘hand’ of any fabric – the way it feels to the touch – is important. Cotton can be crisp, silky, soft, heavy, scratchy, and any combination of the above. Think of your sheets and how they feel when freshly laundered. Or how that tee felt when you first touched the sleeve on some junk store Z-rack.
Textiles used to be one of the most prized items in any household. Exotic silks, meticulous embroideries, and durable cottons were literally handed down between generations and held in high regard as heirlooms. Things of importance and wealth. These generations paid attention to craftsmanship and materials and labor and time. It wasn’t so long ago that this was a common belief. A great example is the quilts made by the women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, who are famously known for reassembling the family’s worn out denim workwear into fantastic geometric fabrics that are sought by both collectors and curators from the textile industry. Those garments were given respect. They were treated with care.
Unfortunately most modern folks don’t know the difference between a quality garment, one made with superior fabrics, because good goods aren’t as readily available as they once were. This has nothing to do with quality control or availability of materials – the issue lies solely within our economy.
Raw denim (cotton) made from pure fibers, unadulterated by chemical treatments or stiffeners or additives costs a lot more than the cheap synthesized stuff. Been to a store lately looking for a pair of jeans? You’ll find every pair has at 2% spandex in the weave. I will say that most people can appreciate quality garments but when you confront them with the decision between backing a well made (expensive) piece of clothing and offering them something cheap, they’re going to pick the cheap option. And this is our problem with nearly everything – keep making more cheap stuff, keep buying more cheap stuff, keep spending money, keep making trash, and on and on and on.
Do people actually want quality clothing? Do they even miss that component of daily life? Certainly a difficult question to solve with a simple answer.