Have you ever ordered new beautiful clothing pieces online, only to find out that they are low-quality once you tried them on? This is a common problem of online shopping, accentuated by the rise of fast fashion over the last 20 years.
Many fashion brands and retailers create thousands of new styles every week with a strong focus on new trends but little attention to quality.
They make buying new clothes faster, easier, and cheaper than ever before but also products that less durable and meant to be replaced quickly.
Unfortunately, the overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothes create massive amounts of pollution, waste, and greenhouse gases every year.
One of the best ways to make fashion more sustainable is to buy higher quality clothes. Avoiding low-quality clothing results in better social and environmental impacts.
Here are 17 vital tips to never buy low-quality clothes online ever again.
1. Look at the product description
Always look at the product description before buying new clothes online. Since you can't look at the labels while shopping online, it's best to take some time to gather lots of information.
Well-made clothing on fashion brand websites or online retailers generally provides plenty of details about care instructions, fabric contents, sizing, and manufacturing.
2. Demand a guarantee
Ask for a quality guarantee or warranty when shopping online for new clothes. A store offering a decent warranty is a good sign that the clothes it sells are high-quality.
If an online apparel retailer doesn't offer any guarantee, trust that its clothing items are low-quality and not durable enough. Time to go shopping somewhere else!
3. Ask #WhoMadeMyClothes
As consumers, we need to care more about how our clothes are being made. We have the right to ask fashion brands and retailers for more transparency, accountability, and sustainability.
If a fashion brand is transparent about its production facilities, it probably has nothing bad to hide. It often means that its clothes are high-quality, made with greater care for people and the environment.
If you cannot find information about manufacturing practices, policies, or supply chains, it's a good sign to buy new clothing pieces from someone else.
4. Be on the lookout for greenwash
Many fashion brands and retailers make misleading claims about the eco-friendliness of their products. It's a marketing practice called greenwashing.
It's false advertising and unethical practices that tap into the good conscience of consumers. Fashion companies want to appear more environmentally friendly than they are in reality.
5. Don't support fast fashion
Fast fashion brands have a disastrous impact on the planet, people, and animals. Don't purchase new clothes from them.
Large fast-fashion chain stores, brands, and retailers mass-produce cheap trendy clothing to make huge profits with little care for anything else, including creating quality products.
They neglect the environment as well as the welfare of people working in their supply chain. Read up my definitive list of fast fashion brands to avoid.
6. Ignore huge discounts and low prices
Low-priced clothes are also cheaply made. Fast fashion brands usually produce in faraway overseas countries where labor costs are very low and use low-quality materials for their clothes.
Avoid clothes that are very cheap and heavily discounted because they also are low-quality. Expensive clothing is generally more valuable and of higher quality.
7. Look at alignments
Cheaply made clothing is quickly produced to save time and fabric with disregard for details. If you look at alignments attentively, you can spot low-quality clothing when shopping online.
Try to detect mismatched patterns, asymmetrical elements, and other bad alignments in the garment shape.
8. Scout imperfections
If you'd like to never buy poor quality clothes online ever again, pay attention to imperfections. Small imperfections are very common in low-quality and cheaply made clothes.
Look for poor cuts, irregularities, and defects in the clothing pieces you are about to purchase. They are often caused by cheap materials with low fiber strength or simply bad construction.
9. Avoid cheap synthetics
Cheap synthetic fabrics are usually used to produce low-quality clothes. They not only reduce the lifespan of clothing but also endanger the environment and human health.
Prefer clothes that are made from higher quality sustainable materials. You have the choice between natural organic fabrics and eco-friendly synthetic fabrics.
Read up my ultimate list of the top 10 eco-friendly and sustainable fabrics for clothing.
10. Stay away from see-through pieces
See-through clothes aren't safe or durable. Watch out for them. Thin, light, or see-through fabrics don't hold for a long time. Accidentally revealing pieces are low-quality and cause issues.
Think out clothing as your second skin. It should make you feel and look good at all times. When shopping online, look for fabrics that are thick enough. Avoid see-through pieces and get something better.
11. Pay attention to fit
Since you cannot try on clothes when shopping online, you can't fully test their fit before buying them. A proper fit is very important when purchasing new clothing.
You can look at the pictures and identify the style, cut, shape, and construction of garments. Clothes with a poor fit not only look cheap but also suit you in some places but not others, like a waist too wide.
Read the sizing guide/chart, the model size, and try to see if the clothing piece can match you perfectly. You don't want to get any clothes that are too big or too small.
12. Cheap finishings are a bad sign
It can be difficult to see details when shopping for new clothes online. It gets a lot easier if the fashion store provides full-scale pictures. Try to inspect the clothing pieces carefully as much as possible.
Search for mediocre finishings, such as loose threads, missing buttons, or rough edges. These are often found in low-quality clothes. If you see any, look at something else!
13. Observe the stitching
Cheaply-made garments have bad stitching. Look at the stitching carefully and they what kind was used to sew the pieces together.
High quality generally has extra stitching to increase its longevity. With more stitches, the garment is much stronger.
On the other hand, poor stitching work is often a clue for cheap materials and construction.
14. Look for excellent fabrics
If you want to purchase high-quality clothing online, it's a good idea to pick durable fabrics over cheaper alternatives. Premium fabrics not only are more environmentally friendly but also last longer.
Clothes made of high-quality materials look and feel much better. On the other hand, low-quality fabrics are cheap and deteriorate rapidly over time.
Clothing brands that create and sell high-quality clothes online usually provide lots of information regarding the materials they use in their collections.
Follow my ultimate guide on how to check the fabric quality of clothing.
15. Remove unneeded extras
Ornamentation, embroidery, and embellishments are often superfluous. If you choose clean cuts, simple shapes, and basic designs, you can make every piece you own a winner.
High-quality, classic, timeless pieces make the essentials of a conscious wardrobe. When you remove unneeded extras, you often improve the look.
You can craft simple yet stylish outfits by combining high-quality fundamental pieces. Keep it simple and do wonders for your fashion style, your budget, and the planet.
16. No trendy prints
Trendy prints are made fast and cheap. They won't last for more than a year.
Prefer classic and timeless pieces over trendy clothes. These are easier to combine and create different outfits. And you can wear them for a much longer time.
17. Dodge exposed zippers
Well-designed clothes don't include visible zippers because they create difficulties. Clothing pieces that are high-quality and made to last don't have exposed zippers.
Apparent zippers make manufacturing much easier. That's why cheaply made clothes usually have them.
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.