FRAMINGHAM, Mass., — When it comes to buying quality clothing, it’s what’s behind the seams that really counts. A recent survey conducted by T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, the nation’s leading off-price retailers, revealed that 77 percent of women consider fabric to be the top characteristic associated with quality merchandise.
In addition to fabric, findings show that women associate stitching (64 percent) and overall fit (51 percent) with high quality apparel, indicating that when shopping for quality fashion, women care what their clothing is made of, how it’s constructed and the way it looks on them.
Enter T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, go-to resources for designer merchandise at amazing prices. The stores take quality seriously – the buyers believe that value isn’t just about price. Value is the right combination of fashion, top quality, brand and price, and all must be taken into consideration when selecting which pieces to purchase.
“I travel internationally year-round to places like Italy and France in search of the highest quality designer merchandise that shoppers will love,” says Jennifer Z., Ladies’ Fashion Buyer for T.J.Maxx and Marshalls. “When I’m making decisions about what to purchase, I always evaluate if an item is on-trend – but it’s more than just the style that matters. I look for key indicators like stitching, lining and the fabric to ensure that it’s not just a stylish piece but also a quality one.”
To further explore what quality really means and how to easily spot it, T.J.Maxx and Marshalls chatted with Sara Kozlowski, Assistant Professor of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design, to get her expert take on the topic.
“In fashion, quality is king,” says Kozlowski. “It’s important to assess a piece in its entirety. Every shopper should be their own personal quality detective and really examine the item to determine whether or not it’s a piece you want in your closet.”
Sara’s top insider tips for how to identify and shop for high quality pieces: Look, Touch, Wear.
- Look at the label to see what fabrics were used to make the garment.
- Global. European designers have a long legacy of excellent craftsmanship. My general rule of thumb is if it says “made in Italy,” buy it! T.J.Maxx and Marshalls have unbelievable merchandise from around the world, including Italian leather handbags, silk scarves and designer shoes.
- Cotton is the ultimate natural fiber and one of the softest materials, which can easily elevate denim, a tee or a cardigan. Look for the percentage of cotton on the tag – 100 percent is the best but often cotton is blended with synthetics and can still be a great quality piece.
- Wool is a great fall fabric that is durable, insulates and mixes well with others including mohair, silk and synthetics. It’s perfect for investment pieces like a great fall coat.
- Genuine leather is often proudly labeled as such so be sure to check the hangtags, interiors, and bottom of shoes for this stamp of quality approval.
- Signature Details. Look for well-crafted functional details including generously cut pockets or extra buttons and yarn sewn into the inside of the garment. The extra materials are for wear and repair to extend the life of the garment. Hardware can also be an easy way to determine if it’s a well-constructed piece. Particularly on shoes, look for real zippers and buckles. Any nonfunctional hardware means it’s there simply for aesthetics.
- Get Up Close and Personal. Don’t get tricked by the trend – feel the piece to determine its quality level.
- Leather should feel supple and buttery versus stiff. An unexpected indicator is temperature – real genuine leather tends to feel warm. I also recommend smelling it. You will know if it’s good leather if it has a rich, masculine smell.
- Cashmere and wool will feel electric. Rub your hand or a plastic item across the surface and its fibers charge and may even create static. Wool will feel breathable and light despite being thick and textured. Cashmere will feel soft, breathable, fluffy and rich.
- Try it on. If it looks good and it feels good, it should also fit well. The piece should lay well and not hug or pull and the seams should align to your body. Shoulder seams should skim the body without any stress or strain. A well cut dress, jacket, shirt or blouse should have ample room across the back and shoulder lines to allow for free movement. Side seams and inseams should run straight down the side of your leg in trousers and skirts.
Shoppers should keep these tips in mind as they embark on their next shopping trip. They will find a breadth of quality merchandise at T.J.Maxx and Marshalls, which are always filled with top quality, designer, on-trend items for the best price possible. Stocked with merchandise from around the world, the stores carry a wide variety of options, from high quality designer handbags and accessories to wool coats, cozy sweaters and leather boots. Fall merchandise is available in stores now with thousands of new items delivered to every store each week!