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Quality in the Fashion Industry?

Posted by Deborah Nelson on Mon, Jun 24, 2013 @ 12:06 PM

I attended and really enjoyed a fashion show last week, put on by some very talented designers, featured by The Fashion Group International, Inc. of Minneapolis & St. Paul. This fabulous 'Minnesota Designer's Showcase' was sponsored by the Bloomington Sofitel Hotel and MANY volunteer professionals that made it all possible.

It was an inspiring treat! Five fashion designers and three jewelry designers were featured, showing everything from sleep and loungewear to evening wear. Custom and classic or whimsical pieces were shown. I loved most of them, but sitting right next to the runway, I was able to really SEE the quality of fit, construction and design, up close and personal!

I do know that when a particular garment is custom designed for a specific individual, it may not fit a stage model, so I won’t discuss the fit of these styles.

Generally, the design and construction was very good, with a few impeccably tailored garments. As a ‘seasoned’ fashion designer who has worked with both modest and very high quality manufactured ready-to-wear, along with all types of dance and performance costumes, along with more than my share of bridal, pageant and evening gowns over the years, I am ALWAYS spying on QUALITY (or lack thereof).

I look at design elements, the use of fabric, and then the execution (manufacturing) of these designs. Unfortunately, most people today are totally oblivious of real quality in a manufactured garment. Racks and racks of cheaply made (off-shore, generally) garments fill our department stores and even specialty stores.

And a note: not all cheaply made garments ARE cheap. As soon my daughter started elementary school, she know what to look for.  I pointed out features such as matched stripes and plaids, along with hems (or lack of hems on her cheap dance recital costumes).

I schooled her on what to watch for.To this day, she is an excellent bargain shopper, as she knows when a bargain is really a bargain, not just a throw-away rag. (And she has a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Marketing).

Gone are the days when couture and semi-couture construction techniques are incorporated into clothing for the masses. We are lucky if plaids and stripes are horizontal, let alone matching. My daughter had me (and UW-Stout) to educate her. What about everyone else?

Back to the show!... I did catch a glimpse of the requisite chain on the inside of a Channel-esque jacket. Bravo! What does this chain do? It adds weight to the hemline and gives it a certain look and ‘class factor’, when the jacket is worn.

I also saw some exquisitely tailored buttonhole pockets. I saw painstakingly matched stripes. I saw many stunning designs that delighted the audience (including me). 

But I also saw some hemlines riding up on the back. (The best aesthetic is to have a hemline drop ever-so-slightly in the back – it is a much more pleasing look for the eye). Also, on an expensive evening gown, I saw a skirt lining that was too short and the back slit was not properly faced, leaving an unsightly view from the rear. Either this gown was too-quickly completed, or the designer was unfamiliar with couture-style lining. Attention to this simple detail could have raised the classiness factor of this gown. It made the dress look trashy, (from the back).

But these are some of the things that I notice, that the untrained eye may not notice. I am aware that labor and material costs factor into what details and techniques can be used in either a mass-produced or custom garment, and still stay within budget.

The burning question Is: Which is worse: Not financially being able to incorporate a higher quality detail, or simply not being aware of what a higher quality detail might be?

Tags: Custom Dance Team Costumes, Costume Fabric Tips, Quality in Costumes


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