Clothing Bargains?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Children wait with shopping bags inside Macy's department store on 'Black Friday.' (Chris Hondros/Getty)

Brooklyn-based journalist Elizabeth Cline discusses her new book, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion—a look at the downside of inexpensive clothing.


Elizabeth Cline

Comments [13]


re carolita from nyc: What makes you think there are not bed bugs on new clothing? When you purchase a new garment are you sure that no one with bed bugs tried it on before you??

Nov. 23 2012 11:07 AM
Eileen from Fort Greene, Brooklyn

When asked, "OK then which is a better choice: cotton fabrics or polyester fabrics?" Ms. Cline's answer dissapointed me.
She said that the issue is not "which one is worse", because they are both bad.
I agree with her that it's important to choose SMALLER sources, like organic cotton from small farms that is sent to small business clothing creators, right? I agree with her that acquiring USED clothing is the best way to go, but I think the public is ready for a bigger answer:
Cotton VS Polyester, we REALLY DO need to know, which one is worse? One involves farming with pesticides and extreme amounts of water use, one supports the petro-chemical industry and puts non-organic and poisonous materials (that never degrade or disappear) into our environment.
And producing clothing in both fabrics can involve sweatshop labor, am I right on that?
So which is worse? People want to know the answer to this.
Also, to the caller who said acquiring "used" clothing is an unlikely option for most people, I, a fashion hound, answer: Yesterday at a Thanksgiving gathering, my complete outfit came from a combination of thrift shops, cheaper vintage, and an ongoing clothing trade that happens in my apartment lobby. Same is true for the outfit I'm wearing today and tomorrow. I buy an average of 2 pieces of NEW clothing per year.

Nov. 23 2012 10:57 AM
Sara from Bushwick

There are so many small scale designers right here in NYC, shop the multitude of markets, pop-up shops, and craft fairs (there are some very cool craft fairs these days!) and you'll be surprised to find that many of the items are not as expensive as you would expect - especially when you couple supporting local artists with not overbuying junky throw away clothes.

Nov. 23 2012 10:28 AM
designer from PA

The answer is No. We can't pay the workers working wages because the huge department stores squeeze the factories for the lowest possible price. They would say that they need to be "competitive" meaning they need to make more money than they did the previous year. The people at the top squeeze everyone on the way down the production line and some of these department stores demand that the factories do this.

Nov. 23 2012 10:26 AM
cait from brooklyn
this (slightly scary) website gives consumers a list of brands made in the USA. A good resource, though obviously not the only answer to solving these problems.

Nov. 23 2012 10:21 AM
Elissa from Brooklyn

What about the EMOTIONAL element of shopping in bulk and often-- instant gratification, etc.?

Nov. 23 2012 10:20 AM
carolita from nyc

I like Michelle Obama wearing j. Crew and Target. She's wearing what the rest of us wear. It's not about how frugal she is -- we all know what she can actually afford. It's about not dressing above the majority of citizens.
And buying better quality things may have been easier before the Recession. Now, you go to j.Crew, which I think is as high end as most can aspire to these days unless one's rich, and although the stuff costs more and looks higher end, it doesn't last that long anymore. Buttons fall off coats, and even cashmere sweaters pill within days. So you're better off spending half (or less) at the lower end stores.
Nobody is offering truly high quality anymore -- not unless you truly expect people to spend a grand on a winter coat. If you look at Brooks Brothers, even their merchendise is way below the quality it used to offer. But not cheaper!
As for thrift stores, happy bedbug hunting!
We're talking about "fashion", though, of course. If you want to go shopping at a sporting goods store for all your clothing, of course when you pay more you're usually paying for well-made garments. (Great if you work from home or are a mountain ranger.)

I'm the kind of person who repairs my umbrellas and uses vacations and lulls to repair and sew buttons back on things, so I know of what I speak.

Nov. 23 2012 10:19 AM
Bob Miller from Scarsdale, NY

I work in the domestic textile industry and can comment knowledgeably about this subject. Trying to get through on phone.

Nov. 23 2012 10:18 AM
frank from bk

retail saved nyc..

Nov. 23 2012 10:17 AM
Peg from Willseyville NY

Except for underwear, I buy ALL my clothes at second hand shops. Almost everything I get has little or no wear, there's TONS to choose from and many are very well made.

Nov. 23 2012 10:14 AM
tina from Manhattan

Starting in the new year I challenged myself to only purchasing clothing from thrift stores mostly as an exercise in becoming aware of my consumption and to increase recycling. To date I have bought one new item this year.

Nov. 23 2012 10:14 AM
Jen from Hamilton heights

Be it cheap clothes or cheap food, we do end up paying for it in the end in one way or another.

Nov. 23 2012 10:12 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

I hate to break it to you, but this is not news. Smart people always choose quality over quantity.


Nov. 23 2012 10:02 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.