Friday, 21 December 2007
I spent this morning with the design and management team of a UK fashion house for a story I'm doing. At one point the conversation turned to the high street, and whether the public was tired of cheap, disposable clothing.
I mentioned that I had bought a couple of Zara dresses that had fallen to pieces, and finally replaced them with a Vanessa Bruno dress which cost more than twice as much. I was told the reason why they fell apart. The label said machine washable.
A jersey dress that costs £49.99 will lose its colour when it's machine washed, particularly if it is black. The cheap thread and slapdash stitching will come undone in the rough and tumble of the spin cycle. The zip may slightly lose its placement and become difficult to do up. So why does it say machine washable? Because the high street knows that people won't buy a cheap dress you have to dry clean. More expensive dresses often have dry clean only on the label, and can in fact be machine washed, but the designer won't say so, because a machine washable designer garment sounds cheap.
We moved on to the baffling story of a pair of Zara trousers. I tried them on but didn't buy them. Changing my mind, I came back the next day and finding the same size on the rack, bought and paid for them, thinking that since I'd tried them on the previous day, they would fit the next. When I got them home, they were too small. This is because Zara allows for say 2 cm of 'slippage' ie the same item in the same size may be up to four cm different in size. On top of that lax quality control means that clothes will always get through that are out by more than the slippage limit. So the two pairs of trousers I tried on could have been six or eight cm different in size.