Before buying new clothing, you may want to check the quality of its fabric. This is an important step to ensure the clothes are high-quality and long-lasting.
In the long run, it will not only help your budget but also protect the environment by saving resources, limiting waste, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
These are many qualities to look for in textiles for apparel, footwear, and accessories. Some are more crucial than others. The best way to encourage sustainable fashion is to buy fewer clothes and higher-quality.
The overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothing due to fast fashion made consumers consider clothing as a disposable commodity.
Fast fashion popularity and worldwide reach are highly detrimental to people, animals, and the planet. It's about time to pay more attention to the quality of the clothes we buy and prepare a sustainable future for fashion.
As consumers, we have the power to drive change in the global textile and apparel industry. When we choose to buy and wear high-quality garments, it results in a lower social and environmental impact.
Valuable fabrics are more likely to be produced sustainably and under decent conditions for the textile factory workers.
Here are 15 tips to check the fabric quality of clothing.
1. Fabric material
Check what kind of material the fabric is made of. Natural and organic fibers such as cotton and linen usually make high-quality fabrics. Whereas synthetic materials like viscose-rayon and polyester are used to produce cheap garments.
Read up my article on the top 10 most eco-friendly sustainable fabrics to learn more about the different types of textiles for clothing.
2. Resistance to stretch
High-quality fabrics keep their strength and shape even after being stretched out. Pull the fabric with both hands and see if it comes back into place. It's a great sign for durability and longevity.
3. Quality hand feel
Clothing is our second skin. It should make us comfortable at all times. How does the fabric feel under your hand and on your skin? Prioritize comfort to avoid red, irritated, and itchy skin.
4. Timeless look
Prefer clothes that are classic and timeless over bold styles and trends. Check the fabric overall look to determine that it won't go out of style easily. Search for clean shapes, simple cuts, and elegant silhouettes.
5. Durable coloring
Textiles and apparel can be high-quality, chic, versatile, stylish, and modern with the right colors. Look for information on the dyes used during manufacturing to ensure a durable and eco-friendly process. Well-done coloring is a clue for quality clothing.
6. Fabric weight
Lightweight fabrics tend to be cheaper and less resistant than heavier textiles. Fabric weight is a great indicator of strong construction and can help you pick more durable pieces.
7. See-through clothing
Fabrics that are unintentionally see-through and revealing aren't safe to buy and wear. These are bound to cause issues as the fabric is light, thin, and won't hold. They should be avoided.
This is especially important if you are choosing fabric for activewear. Read up my article on the top 10 sustainable fabrics for sportswear to identify high-quality and functional textiles.
Natural and high-quality fabrics are generally highly absorbent. Moisten the fabric gently, press it with your fingers, and see how fast it absorbs liquids. Moisture shouldn't make an even wet spot but follows the threads of the fabric.
9. Tight threads
Loose fabrics are more subject to deteriorate over time. They tear and break down easily after wearing and washing them. Choose textiles made with a tight weave or knit.
Imperfections are a sign of natural fabrics but also often found in cheap clothes. Look for cuts, irregularities, and defects in the fabric which are caused by low fiber strength or bad construction.
11. Fabric sourcing
Where do your fabric and clothing come from? And who made them under what kind of conditions? The fabric origin tells you a lot about its quality. Pay great attention to the store and its suppliers where you are making purchases.
Look for poor stitching, mismatching, asymmetry, and other details to tell if a fabric is cheaply made. When the finishing is bad, it's a clue for cheap materials and construction.
13. Ethical and sustainable production
Buy fabric made sustainably with ethical production methods. The best textiles and apparel are manufactured with high standards regarding the environment and people.
Follow my guide on how to check if a fashion brand is ethical to learn what to look for in sustainable and fairly made textiles.
14. Certification standards
Certification standards guarantee production with sustainable processes under environmentally friendly and socially responsible working conditions. Choose textiles with the least possible impact on people, the environment, animals, and with responsible use of resources.
Read up my article on the best eco-certification standards for textiles to learn more about them.
Low-priced fabrics and garments are cheaply made and low quality. High prices don't necessarily mean higher quality but they are an indicator helping us make better choices.
About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.