Vintage over new – what happend to quality in cloth?

After spending the best part of a day trawling the high street trying to find a pair of well cut wool trousers or simple classic skirt I gave up and came to the conclusion that one of the reasons I buy vintage is for the quality of fabric and the cut of the cloth.

Unless you are prepared to spend over £100 for a garment made from more than 20% wool – it seems impossible to find clothes that do not have a stretch in them?  What happened that we have to have comfort over style – don’t get me wrong I know we all need to have some ease of washing garments and that a bit of a lycra never hurt anyone but the nearly all of the fabrics I felt seemed to “squeak”?

There are some great high street shops out there but it seems to me that most of them have forgotten how to make simple classic clothing and are addicted to adding stretch, unnecessary details or trims in the hope that it makes it more appealing.

Quality of fabric seems not to matter anymore – I always remember a number of years ago when training with Hobbs I was told that wool isn’t actually wool anymore but wool fibres drawn out and then stuck together with a glue like substance and pressed into one large piece. Years ago there were mills all over the UK producing wools but now it is only the luxury markets that can afford to use “real wool” in there clothing.

Man made fabric is not a new thing but even the polyester dresses of the 70’s are better quality and at least have  a classic style that is simple and elegant!!

I know that it takes more time to find vintage pieces and it is not just a case of one size fits all, but one of the joys I find in vintage shopping is that when your hand touches a wonderful fabric or a beautifully cut item catches you eye you heart jumps just a little bit knowing that you have found something “to die for”.

Retreat Vintage Norwich,

Vintage can be part of your everyday wardrobe and should be if you are like me fed up with the poor offerings from the high street. Mix it up with some basics from department stores if you need to but don’t settle for comfort over style. Buying vintage is re-cycling and you will find that your clothes will last longer – crikey they have survived for a least 20 years (I can’t agree yet that 90’s is vintage – sorry) – how long do you think your high street purchases will last – not long I guess they will be in landfill before you vintage classic wool skirt even looks worn??!!

So I won’t be taking to the high street shops any time soon – it’s vintage all the way with me with a few modern twists.

Tell me what you think? Have let go of style in the search for comfort or is there still hope out there for quality clothing??


  • Mim says:

    More British mills are now spinning, and as a handknitter I’m seeing ever more options for homegrown natural fibres, but as an industry it’s far from healthy.

    One of my favourite cardigans needs repairing after 20+ years. It’s 100% lambswool, fine gauge and soft enough to wear against skin. And I got it in Littlewoods, which was the lower end of the market even then. Try finding wool knitwear in shops now – almost all of it is squeaky, non-biodegradable, nasty acrylic. (I don’t mind acrylic in certain guises, but when it’s pretending to be wool it literally makes my teeth twinge.) The only brands I do see using wool are higher-end-of-mainstream, such as Boden, and then they charge a premium price…

    Don’t get me started on the crappy quality of High Street ‘cashmere’…

    • karenjw says:

      I know I have fabulous vintage wool suits and dresses but as you say it is the high end now that use quality fabrics – maybe we have to start changing peoples attitude to want better quality products to kick start the industry again??

  • Ladan Ladanu says:

    I sew a lot an even in cotton the ‘hand’ of modern cloth is very different to that of vintage. When I was younger good wool fabric was plentiful, now it seems so odd that even relatively poor quality fabric is so expensive. I also can’t find good viscose or rayon. I look for vintage fabric and I find them a lot better quality and of course quite a lot cheaper.

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