Sunday, June 10, 2012

A tale of two leather jackets - Zara

This blog is about understanding the differences in quality between garments. 

I've used two leather jackets from Zara as the two garments which we will look at.

The blog post will help you to understand how a brand produces an item at different price points, in order to appeal to different demographics of customers. 

Make no mistake that those differences in prices translate to differences in quality.

And so this blog post commences.

Zara has two black leather jackets (amongst others):

# 1:  Zara Woman $359
# 2:  Zara Basic $199

Country of origin:

Notice the Basic jacket is Made in China, while the Woman jacket is Made in Morocco. You may think the hourly wage in those countries doesnt differ by alot, but there is definitely a difference - and that is reflected in the price.


So here is the Zara Basic jacket:

& here is the Zara Woman jacket:

Notice the leather looks smoother, softer and more even on the surface of the Zara Woman jacket? 


Also its shoulders have padding, the seams look more defined....the Basic jacket leather looks stiffer, more plastic-y & has no padding at the shoulders....

The padding gives the Woman jacket more edge and interest. 


Look at the cuffs - the Woman jacket has the padded stitching, the Basic jacket has a flimsy rolled over edge. 


Look at the body/hips of the jackets.

There is extra detail on the Woman jacket - the padding, the buckles, the more substantial zipper pulls.

The Basic jacket just looks more wrinkly and the stitching itself creates wrinkles along the stitching lines.


Now look at the collars:

The Woman jacket has straight seams, straight edges and the selvages (the leather bits tucked into the seams) are even & not rippling. It looks like it is made with a fine hand.

The Basic jacket is has lumpy edges - the selvages are uneven. The seams are not straight and it looks like it is made very roughly.

The back:

Look at the backs - the Basic jacket is bunching at the arm holes. The leather is hard looking and wrinkly.

The Woman jacket looks much smoother - the seams are flat at the shoulders, arms and the torso. 

It has a horizontal seam at the shoulders which helps it to sit flat.

It also has a circular seam at the bottom which acts as darts & gives it more shape.

In contrast, the Basic jacket has horizontal seams which wont hug the body as well.

The seams:

Now look at the actual seams....on the Basic jacket....crooked, lumpy...eeeww...

more seams on the Basic jacket..... same, crooked, lumpy etc....

then look at the Woman jacket - straight, even, LIKE!

Are you paying for the name?

In my (fashion) travels, I hear so many people turn their nose up at designer goods on the basis that they are too expensive, saying "all you're paying is for the name" and that a cheaper item "is just as good".

Seriously folks, yes, there is some payment for the name - that's where the design house makes a return on the fact that it came up with a unique design, something original that leads rather than follows the trends. Yes, with that comes some advertising. Lets just accept that & move on.

The moral: The extra quality that comes with extra cost

The other component of the extra price includes a higher cost for better fabric & trims, a higher cost for better skilled labour with better production machinery. The more expensive item also had a more skilled production sample team - where it had a gazillion more fittings with the fit model and re-made the pattern until it fit well. The quality control is also far better in the more expensive garment - eg: crooked and lumpy seams are sent back to the maker, they dont make it to the retail floor. Its these type of reasons that the Zara Woman jacket is more expensive than the Basic jacket.

In Zara's case, the crooked & lumpy seam version did make it to the floor, as a cheaper item - its a deliberate business tactic to entice a less cashed up customer to shop there (in addition to the customer who is able to afford $359 for a jacket).

If you're not in the biz and you dont sew, you may find it difficult to hone in on these these types of differences when you examine a garment alone. A side by side comparison makes it easier to see.

Train yourself to identify differences in quality 

The other way to train yourself to identify these differences is to go into expensive stores and try on the good stuff. There is no need to buy. Just try on. Its probably easier to do this in the department stores than the boutiques - but its the quickest way to get an education about a good quality garment.

What's the point of that?

When you are shopping (whether its at the store or at a warehouse sale), you are in a better position to identify the best quality you can afford.

What if you cant afford the expensive version?

Ultimately you may not be able to afford the more expensive version of a dress or a jacket or whatever. 

I am certainly not advocating you forgo necessities to buy expensive frocks nor am I suggesting you re-prioritise what's important to you to buy frocks. 
What I hope I have done is give you some tips so that at whatever price point you are comfortable with, you have better knowledge to help you identify the best quality possible.

So if you examine the cheaper Zara Basic jacket & decide that its not worth the price point, you have more confidence to walk out without buying & go looking elsewhere....

Does that make sense? 

I hope so - this sort of stuff will help you develop a better wardrobe and be better dressed as a result.


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