hanging clothes

Where Did The Quality Go?

Seriously where did it go?

hanging clothes

Racks of clothing, but nothing of substance…

I remember a time when you could find quality. It wasn’t that long ago. There were stores jam packed with quality clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry. So what happened? Where did the all the quality go? Is it due to the fact that most items are now made in China, Vietnam or some other country I can’t even pronounce. I’m not sure what happened but something did…

We were shopping this past weekend and I don’t know how many times I uttered the phrase, “where is the quality?” Nothing’s the same. What happened to my favorite lines of clothing and handbags? The stores were filled with merchandise but it wasn’t calling my name or saying…pick me, pick me like it always did. I remember going in Coach and wanting every single bag in there. It was hard to make a decision there were so many I loved. I couldn’t even find one single solitary bag I could even kinda like. The same with Michael Kors…there was a time I would go without groceries to buy the bag I coveted(this is a true fact). I loved every bag and design from each season. That hasn’t happened in over 5 years.

Don’t even get me started on clothing lines. Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor just don’t do it for me anymore. I loved these stores and their clothing lines. When I would go in the Ann Taylor store it screamed class. And the clothing was something that would last forever. I still have some of the “good stuff”. One of my other favorite stores White House/Black Market was the same. I wouldn’t be able to go in there without buying something and it took forever to narrow my choices down to a reasonable level of 3 items. I went to all of these stores this past weekend and didn’t buy one single thing. I didn’t see anything I liked or if I did even come close to liking it the cost was so high it didn’t warrant a purchase. But I would have most likely bought something no matter what if it called my name. All I heard were crickets…

I haven’t found a pair of shoes or boots I’ve absolutely loved in so long that I am still wearing my Bandolino black boots from 10 years ago. And even though they are 10 years old, people still come up and ask me where I got them. I did recently find a pair of purple suede booties, which really surprised me since I am not a big purple fan. But they were very cute and I hadn’t found anything in so long I just had to buy them. Also the point here is, I am still wearing a pair of boots that are 10 years old and they look like I bought them yesterday…QUALITY.

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” ~ Henry Ford

So where did the quality go? I did some research on this and also by reading the brands websites and checking them out on Wikipedia I found out some very interesting facts, at least I thought they were interesting. Bandolino shoes and boots were first made in Italy. Enzo Angiolini designed for the company and even had his own line for awhile(I remember this and bought quite a few of his designs). They were part of US Shoe until Nine West bought them and then Jones Apparel Group. Then Nine West Holdings snapped them back up. From what I could dig up because they make it extremely hard to find out where these companies are doing their manufacturing, they are now produced in China.

Michael Kors was first made in Italy as well. Most of the finest leather comes from Italy so that makes sense. Now their purses are made in China, Korea and Vietnam. Coach bags were produced first in Italy. I didn’t know this. They were also made in the US, which is where I thought they were made. Now they are manufactured in China, Turkey and Thailand among others. Not in the US anymore as far as I could see. Another handbag I love is Hobo Brand International. They were founded by Toni Ray in 1991 on her dining room table in Annapolis, MD. She cashed in her life savings and headed to NY with her daughter and son in law. They were made here in the US. I can’t find anything to tell me where they are being made now. But the simple fact I can’t find it on their website with the rest of the story leads me to believe they are no longer made here. I could be wrong though.

Ann Taylor was founded by Richard Liebeskind and he named the stores after his father’s best selling dress at his own store. Their products were made in the US and are now manufactured in Bangladesh. Chico’s started out as Chicos Folk Art Specialties on Captiva Island, Florida. They acquired White House Black Market around 2004 which had started as a single store in Baltimore, MD in 1985. They also own SOMA. They manufacture in over 30 countries, some of which are China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and even the US.

And then we have Ralph Lauren. During the 2012 Olympics the uniforms the US Team wore were designed by him. He caught a lot of flack and there were even protests over the fact his clothing wasn’t made in the US and was in fact being manufactured in China. When the 2016 Summer Olympics rolled around Team USA’s uniforms were made in the US. The brand is manufactured in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

I tried and tried to find some lines of clothing and accessories that are still being made in the USA and here are a few:

  1. Frye Company – they make beautiful shoes, boots and handbags.
  2. LL Bean – boots and clothes
  3. Alex and Ani – jewelry and bags
  4. Pendelton – blankets and apparel
  5. New Balance – sneakers and sportswear
  6. American Apparel – clothing(hence the name apparel)
  7. SAS – shoes
  8. Stetson – hats and boots
  9. Lucky Brand Jeans – jeans and clothing (not sure if everything is made in the US but their jeans are. I absolutely love their sweaters because they have something you don’t see everyday…QUALITY. I can spot them a mile away. They have that look and feel I love. I hope it stays that way.


Boots and Sweater

Me at work in my Bandolino Boots and Lucky Brand Sweater

There were a few others on the list but I never heard of them, so I just posted the ones I knew. I think this is really a sad list. What do you think? Were these brands better off when they first started? Should they have just stayed small? Does the fact that they are manufacturing in countries other than the US make the clothing and other items look and feel differently. Can I say the word we are all thinking of…Cheap.. cause that is really what it is. It is cheaper to make the clothes and accessories in these countries, but then what they get is a cheaper looking item. Did the fact that the people who cared enough to start a company are no longer running it and a board that has no idea what their mission was is even on the same page now? Do they care what we as consumers want? I don’t know the answer to these questions but I got a news flash for you….If we keep buying this cheap crap they will continue to make it.

So what do you think? Do your favorite brands look and feel the same way they did a few years ago? If they don’t, what do you think the reason is? I’d love to hear from you about this.

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. There must be the will to produce a superior thing. ~ John Ruskin


16 thoughts on “Where Did The Quality Go?

  1. Coach was a go to always and like you hard to decide which one, Ralf Lauren sold one of a kind models the men’s always fit Larry now yuck and do not both. I also find they are a little cheaper, but not enough to sacrifice the quality. I really do not have to go out in nice duds, but when I do the are recycled from my closet. Now the problem I have lost 50 lbs and nothing fits. I don’t even want to go out and look. It is and oh shit moment😩. We can save a few dollars and look terrible bring things production back to the U.S. My sister had bought clothing at recycled shops and they may be older, but new to her.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. Most of the stuff out there is crap. I too, remember when I was young and we had to drive around town to individual, signature stores to get quality clothing—long before commercial malls were invented.

  3. Levenger has some great handbags. Eliza B and leather man make great sandals and belts.. made is USA I once swore by the quality of Eddie Bauer, that went downhill. I hate to shop, so I prefer classic looks with high quality. Made is USA doesn’t mean what it did in days gone by. Sometimes all the source materials are made elsewhere.

    I’d love to take a look at Haralee’s pjs. Can you post her website.

  4. This is dear to my heart. I have written about ‘Fast Fashion” which many companies have gone to; inexpensive fabrics and inexpensive production not in this country. It is disposable fashion! In my own company our sleepwear is made in the USA. Of my competitors, I am the only company that is made in the USA and not by sweat shops but by a real manufacturing company that pays a living wage and health benefits! Yes I could make more money going ‘off shore’ for my production but that is not part of my values!

    1. Well good for you Haralee for keeping it in this country. I am so sad at the quality or lack there of these days…

  5. Brava! I buy brand names, because they look better and last longer, not just because they have a big name label. QUALITY!! You’re so right. A friend calls me a label snob, but I’m still wearing the same sweaters I wore 25 years ago because they still look great. My same friend is lucky if her cheap looking pieces last one season. Yes, brands cost more, but if amortized over the 25 years, my big label sweater cost less than all the cheap sweaters put together that my friend has bought over the same time period. I’m sure you know this, but there are different levels of most brands. Just because it says Michael Kors or Coach on it, doesn’t mean it’s their top of the line. It all depends on where you buy it. Michael Kors at an outlet mall, Dillards and Neiman Marcus are very different quality from one another. My mother taught me that if every year I buy one really nice piece in the spring and one in the fall, I will build a great wardrobe over time, and she’s right. I still do that. Brenda

  6. Thank you for voicing what I thought for a while. I swear it’s time I think it I feel like I should grab a stick, wave it and shout “get off my lawn!!”
    But it’s true. The quality and so many of my favorite brands has faltered.

    1. Oh my gosh I feel like that too carla, let’s get our sticks ready…and together we are a strong force to be reckoned with…us mid lifers…

  7. Guess this post is out of my league. I’ve never bought brand names…other than Capezios haha…always shopped by price and bargains. We were poor and even though I now can afford I’m still a bargain hunter. Besides I get bored with stuff. But very interesting blog. Wanna see the purple booties 😜

    1. Oh susie I am a bargain shopper all the way, I shop TJMaxx and Marshalls and Ross…but they have the brands there too…just overall the quality is down…and that is sad..for us and our country.

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