Has the Quality of T-Shirts Declined in The Last Decade?
We were thinking about the tiny hole phenomenon and whilst we now know what causes these pesky little holes (essentially, friction is the culprit, you can read an in-depth explanation of what causes tiny holes in t-shirts here), we were wondering if the problem has got worse in recent years.
One thing is certain, here at Holé HQ we have no memory of holes appearing in our t-shirts as kids, that is, unless we fell out of a tree and ripped them, or they got snagged on things whilst we were out playing!
With the rise of fast fashion though and the cost of clothing lower than ever, it stands to reason that in the ongoing drive to cut costs, that clothing manufacturers are using cheaper fabrics which could be more prone to tiny holes.
You’ll have seen evidence of this yourself. Walk into any Primark, order online from a fast fashion website like Boohoo or even Wish, and you’ll notice that the main reason why their clothing is cheap is largely down to the choice of material and quality of the fabric.
Of course, there are exceptions, but you’ll often find that material in garments purchased on fast fashion websites or cheaply on the high street is thin and flimsy, that it feels ‘funny’ to the touch or that it doesn’t wash well or maintain its shape.
Did you know that online fashion retailer Boohoo had sales of a colossal £580 million in 2018, whilst ASOS, Britain’s biggest online retailer generated £2.4 billion in the same year?
With figures like that, it’s clear that consumers are happy to spend on fast fashion, and it would seem that as long as the price is right (i.e. as low as possible), quality is no longer a primary consideration for many shoppers.
Greater pressure on manufacturers to cut costs
When there’s the opportunity to makes sales totaling hundreds of millions of pounds then in order to supply the insatiable demand for clothing at low prices, retailers are leaning on manufacturers who are being pushed to provide clothing at the lowest possible price points, which means cheaper man-made synthetic fabrics are likely to be used far more frequently.
10 to 15 years ago, you could argue that if you were buying something like a t-shirt, it was likely to be made out of decent quality Cotton, compared to today when a typical basic adult t-shirt might cost just £5 and is more likely to be made from Polyester, which depending on weight of the fabric and how it’s finished, could prove much less hard-wearing than a more expensive natural or thicker material.
Some of the characteristics of cheap fabrics
- A looser knit or weave - this is why some fabrics fail to hold their shape
- Use of cheaper synthetic materials – nylon and polyester are cheaper to produce and lighter to transport in bulk from places like China
- Using a much thinner weight of fabric - which is more prone to wear and rips
- Poor, loosely sewn seams - this speeds up production and cuts costs further
Did you know that over a third of global textile exports are from China? That’s a pretty big market and with more and more clothing retailers and brands desperate to slash costs with little or no regard to maintaining the quality and longevity of their clothing, and no regard for the environmental impact of fast fashion, it’s no wonder that demand for Chinese textile manufacturing is at an all time high and continues to experience astonishing rates of growth.
So perhaps the increased use of cheaper and thinner fabrics in our clothing is playing a part in the tiny holes we sometimes get appearing in our tops? What do you think?
If you’re looking for a solution and want to stop tiny holes appearing in your tops, then check out our jean button covers.
Read more about the Economic and Environmental Impacts of Fast Fashion.