General Question

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

With clothing, does a more expensive price mean better quality?

Asked by toomuchcoffee911 (6928points) January 26th, 2009
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

19 Answers

robmandu's avatar

Oh, of course. Absolutely. Every time. Indubitably. ~

cak's avatar

No. You need to shop around, look at the construction and materials used to make the clothes. To assume that expensive always means better quality is ridiculous.

cwilbur's avatar

No. The proof of this can be ascertained by a weekend trip to the mall.

EmpressPixie's avatar

Not always, but sometimes.

robmandu's avatar

People who buy only on price/brand are not concerned about money (or the saving of it). Where folks get in trouble is when they should care about their money – but they don’t – and end up in financial straits.

Sales are often scams. (They current liquidation of Circuit City is a good example. Prices are initially marked up and then put “on sale” for 30% off… you’re likely paying the same, maybe even more, than before the liquidation!)

That said, I’m always looking for a deal… meaning the item I buy usually is on sale. But I don’t trust the sale status. I cross shop and compare prices.

I do patronize places where I’ve had luck finding good value in the past. For me, that’s more quality of fabric and tailored fit moreso than brand. I’ll pay more for something I like the look and if I believe it to be of good quality. Some brands I trust more than others. It’s easy to identify those brands concerned more about hipness than long-term quality.

A Ralph Lauren Polo-brand polo shirt will often hold its collar better over time and resists shrinkage better than some off brand at the Wal-Mart. There are sure to be exceptions. And nor am I proposing that the price difference is worth it to everyone. I’m simply pointing out that it’s more than just some little horsey dude embroidered on the chest.

dynamicduo's avatar

Of course it doesn’t.

One thing you need to learn about the world: businesses want your money. Bottom line right there. They often don’t care how they get it from you, whether it’s through your own desire or through a need they have instilled in you (“I NEED those Pumas because all my friends have one and I’m an outcast now! CRY!”). The fact that a store charges high prices can mean one of many things: the store may have a high brand value and thus you are paying a premium for the ability to display that brand (such as Apple), the store may be out of touch with what consumers are wanting or willing to pay, the store may have high quality materials and do not use child labour thus their prices are higher, the store may have low quality materials and use child labour but want to give the impression that they don’t, etc.

Sometimes, price does correlate with quality. Compare a pair of very cheap Walmart shoes with a pair of custom-created leather shoes. The Walmart pair is made with low cost (and thus often low quality) materials and most likely created by a worker in a factory in China (please read my footnote regarding this). The low price of the shoes is a result of the low cost of the material and the low cost of the labour. Being made with low quality material, the overall lifespan of this shoe is most likely lower as well. The custom-created leather shoes, however, require not only higher quality raw material, but much more time and dedication by a craftsman. As such the cost of the shoe will be higher than the Walmart pair. However, I would be willing to bet that the custom-made leather shoes will last longer than the Walmart pair because the quality of the material is higher, and the craftsman most likely has years of experience in making a quality pair of shoes. And I guarantee you that when one of the shoes malfunctions or breaks, you could bring your leather shoes back to the craftsman and have it fixed (or at least understand how the damage happened), but you would find it very hard to get a cheap plastic shoe repaired, so you would most likely throw out the cheap pair and buy another pair of shoes (and if they’re Walmart shoes, the cycle begins anew).

Footnote about factories in China. For those people who have an immediate negative reaction to sweatshop factories in China – and I’m not talking about the child labour aspect here – I advise you to watch Milton Friedman’s examination into them, such as his documentary Free to Choose. It brings a great deal of light to the situation. Previously I had been indoctrinated to think that all Chinese sweatshops were a horrible thing, so his examination into the reality of the situation was a surprising but well accepted breath of fresh air.

aprilsimnel's avatar

Couture? Custom made? Yes. But they’re made-to-order clothes. The clothes from that big expensive anchor store at the mall aren’t made nearly as well as those, not even the name brands. And the name brands that have been around for awhile were made better in years past than they are now because of today’s cheaper modes of production. They cost the same high prices, though, don’t they? I’m a vintage shopper and have been for years. The awful construction of most new clothing irritates me.

If you find a well-constructed piece of clothing, made with good fabric, try to find it cheaper, but don’t be afraid to pay more than an Old Navy price for it. Buying good, sturdy clothes for a little more at the outset is cheaper in the long run, because you don’t have to replace them so often. You have to be careful as you shop and you have to take good care of your clothes.

When I worked on a TV show a few years back, the costume designer showed me an Armani suit she was altering for an actress, having gotten it off the rack from Emporio. Even that suit had a glued-in (!) interface and lining where only a few years previously, it would’ve been hand sewn. The shoulder stitching was noticeably bunched. It’s all a big scam for the unaware consumer. It’s just not the way it once was when it comes to good quality clothing and shoes.

cwilbur's avatar

@dynamicduo: In the case of Apple, it’s a lot more complicated than simply paying for Apple brand prestige, although there is certainly some of that. My Powerbook is 6 years old and still my primary computer; no other computer I have ever owned has lasted that long. It cost considerably more up front than a comparable Windows or Linux machine when I bought it, and it was undeniably a beautiful computer and something of a status symbol; but if you amortize the price I paid for it over the time I’ve used it, it is easily the cheapest computer I’ve ever owned.

This is similar to the reason I buy classic clothing from places like L. L. Bean rather than clothing of the moment from discount stores. Yes, I pay $40 for a pair of jeans with the L. L. Bean name on them, where I’d probably pay $10 at Wal-Mart; but the L. L. Bean jeans have a lifespan measured in years. (And if they wear out faster than I think they ought to, L. L. Bean will replace them.)

It’s like Sam Vimes’s boots theory. The rich man pays $50 for a pair of boots that last 10 years. The poor man only ever has $10 to spare, so he buys cheap boots for $10 that last one winter. After 10 years, the poor man has spent twice as much on boots as the rich man, and he still has wet feet.

dynamicduo's avatar

Very true cwilbur (I find myself saying that often today!). Apple does provide a solid product. They also invest heavily into research and development, which in turn affects the price that they sell at.

I find it very interesting how this issue has flipped itself about in the past century. We started with tradesmen who could provide custom made medium to high quality products in limited quantity for average to high prices. Then the industrial revolution came in and started offering low to medium quality products in massive quantities for low prices, and people shifted from paying for a hand-crafted item to paying for a mass-produced item. Today’s economy makes me unsure of which direction we are heading in now – people don’t have a lot of money to afford custom made or even simply higher quality items, but people are also getting upset at buying cheap merchandise that breaks quickly or is made of sub par materials or from companies that do not do business ethically. Which is why I think we are ultimately headed in a bit of a Do It Yourself direction – people will take a shot at mending a tear in their shirt, and realize “wait a second, this shirt seems pretty easy to make, I wonder if I can do it,” and they try and realize that yes, things that once seemed like they could only come from a store (bread or pasta, shirts, nice looking thank you cards, etc) can be made by oneself at home. Thus leaving their money available to purchase higher quality items that they cannot make themselves (such as a Powerbook).

flameboi's avatar

yes, always :)

nebule's avatar

i hear you all i really do…but surely….generally…. (i know! i hate generalisations too) a £50.00 anything is going to be better quality than a £5.00 anything… in clothing terms… a designer jacket may still not be the same quality as it was 20 years ago perhaps, but it surely will be better quality than a high street garment? No?

cwilbur's avatar

No, @lynneblundell, not at all.

The £50 thing might be a low-quality thing that has a fancy label on it. (In the US, having the names Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, American Eagle Outfitters on a garment is enough to triple its price.)

The £5 thing might be a well-made quality thing that wasn’t quite in style and is being sold at cost because too many were made.

dynamicduo's avatar

@lynneblundell – the only way to know for sure is by your own (or close acquaintances’) personal experience with that brand over time. And generally, no, there is no correlation between price and quality. If I were a store owner and saw you coming down the street, I would raise my prices just so you thought my store was of more high quality. Luckily I am not a store owner, but sadly many store owners do think similarly.

EmpressPixie's avatar

But! Lynneblundell is talking about a very legitimate psychological experience that most people have (and sometimes try to fight). If something costs more, we usually attribute higher quality to it regardless of actual quality. Further more, if something sounds amazing, more people are often willing to buy it at a higher price than a lower one. If the price is too low, it sounds too good to be true and they won’t go for it.

dynamicduo's avatar

Indeed EmpressPixie, there is a lot of psychology that goes behind pricing, marketing, etc. Insane amounts of it, in fact. Such as why all prices end in 99 cents – humans generally react better (read: are more willing to purchase the item) when prices are not whole dollars. A person is more likely to purchase an iPod for $299.99 than one priced at $300.00, even if both items are the exact same, and even when there will be tax added on to result in a non-99 cented total.

cwilbur's avatar

At the same time, there is something to be said for price influencing the perception of value.

One of the standard bits of advice for computer consultants is that the more you charge, the more seriously your clients take your opinions. If they pay $300/hour for the privilege of hearing you opine on databases, they will believe every word you say. If they pay $30/hour for the same information, they will see if the boss’s nephew, who has put some stuff on the intarwebs, has any opinion on them.

@lynneblundell‘s perception is a common way of thinking. If you’re setting the price for something, understanding just how common that belief is crucial: it means you put a $50 price tag on your product instead of a $35 price tag, and enough people buy it at $50 because they think it’s higher quality that you get to laugh all the way to the bank. But it’s not always true. Stores benefit by people taking shortcuts in the analysis all the time.

desiree333's avatar

Most of the time but not always. Abercrombie & Fitch is much more expensive than American Eagle but not better quality. Sometimes you pay for the quality and sometimes you pay for the brand. Something like a Chanel, Coach, or say a Louis Vuitton purse is really expensive (usually $400—$3000+) you are definetly paying for the quality in the really high fashion brands.

augustlan's avatar

I think it’s more likely to make a difference in comparing the low and middle areas. Like cwilbur, I much prefer to buy LL Bean, Lands’ End or Eddie Bauer clothing than Wal-Mart clothing because it is well made and sturdy. They all stand behind their products, too. But that’s a smaller gap in pricing and a bigger gap in quality than the difference between say a Lands’ End polo shirt and a Ralph Lauren Polo polo shirt. The price gap may be similar or slightly larger, but the quality gap is smaller. The Lands’ End polo is every bit as well made as a Ralph Lauren Polo polo. In that example you are no longer paying more for better quality, but for the name alone.

mij's avatar

I buy cheap clothing in Bali and it lasts well if it’s looked after.
I don’t buy designer stuff and prefer hunting in Op shops for pre used stuff.
It’s one form of recycling…
And saves on the pennies.

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