The Recession Is a Bad Thing for Fashionistas

I had heard that in order to combat the recession, many restaurants were scaling back on qualitative ingredients in order to keep their prices constant.  Maybe before they used half a tomato in their recipe…now, they use only 1/4 of the tomato, so they can get two dishes out of that half of a tomato. 

For some places, it worked out fine.  For other places like chain restaurants where customers expect their food to taste exactly the same every time they go…it didn’t work out so well. 

For many of us, tomatoes at $5+ meant that we just had to forego eating tomatoes that summer. 

I know that this site has recommended Ann Taylor Loft and the Gap in the past, but after my most recent visit to the stores, it looks like both stores have succumbed to the recession and has decided to put out sub-par merchandise and fabrics that I would not recommend for any fashionista. 

In Loft, I bought 7 different things.  I only kept 2 items.  The other 5 are being returned today.  I tried the items on when I got home.  I thought I could live with the fabrics not being 100% as qualitative as it usually is…until I put them on and saw that the cuts on every shirt were completely wrong.  Did they make the size large for a petite little Asian woman from the factory?  How did I guess right?  It was made in China. 

The bone structure of a Chinese woman is very different than an American woman.  The cut is all wrong (especially in the shoulders).

Going into the Gap afterwards, I wasn’t pleased with what I found.  I’m the type of person that walks through and touches the fabric.  The only items that got a nod from me were their PURE collection, and some of their Body shirts that were on the clearance racks. 

Their t-shirts and tanks…they’re flimsy.  The guise is that they’re meant to withstand the summer months…that’s why their lightweight, but I’ll take a qualitative shirt over a flimsy shirt any day.  Some of us don’t have the most amazing abs in the world to wear those flimsy shirts.  We need something with more structure that doesn’t roll up when you wear it (the flimsy shirts roll up…most annoying thing in the world), and will cover our muffin tops more appropriately. 

While I continued my search for the “Favorite” tee, I finally found what I was looking for.  I was getting ready to pick up my new white tee, when I touched the fabric and stopped.  I was horrified.  I have plenty of Gap tees (wearing one from 5 years ago as I write this), and they are of a much higher quality than the shirt I had in my hands.

Each time I looked at it, I could see the lines of the threading separate in the fabric itself.  It’s not supposed to ever look like that.

I walked out of the Gap with only a pair of pants from Body, wondering if my love for couture fashion has finally made me turn up my nose at these stores that I loved so much.  I can tell you that is not the case.

Why?  Because I’m wearing Gap clothes today and a Ports 1961 cardigan.  The Gap clothes I’m wearing today…the regular tank and tee are from over the last five years.  I think I bought the tank 3 years ago.  They’re not the same grade of fabric I touched in Gap last night.  They are actually of a higher grade.  The tee was only $8.  The tank was only $2.50.  I got them both on the clearance rack.  So why are these items more qualitative than what is in their store now?

Both stores have succumbed to what restaurants were forced to do…and because they fall into the chain category…this recession fix doesn’t work.

I also want to point out something else…the price.  What they call a sale, isn’t like the sales of old.  The prices they want for each piece are not directly correlated to the grade in fabric.  The prices may still be the same, but the grade in fabric is not conducive to a fashionista paying that same amount for a crappy item.

Why pay that when she can get a designer brand for the same price at a sale somewhere else?  Those designers are not scrimping on the grade of their work…unless they are doing a collaboration with Target to make their pieces more affordable.  Only when they do that do they have an excuse.  Gap and Loft do not. 

It’s the fact that they made their reputation known amongst fashionistas that they were the GO TO place to get all of the basics that they needed that makes this move a NO NO.  To go down in quality, while major couture brands are having to send their stuff to sample sale sites and discount retailers…why pay for lower quality when we can get the top notch quality with a designer name on sale for the same price? 

As of now, based on what I saw last night, Gap and Loft have now degraded themselves down to Forever 21 and H&M in my book.  In other words…I won’t shop there anymore because they do not sell qualitative items.  They are selling cheap crap. 

As for designer winners, I would like to congratulate Rebecca Minkoff for doing something during the recession that not only saved her label, but took it to new heights.  Her company is still in its infancy.  She used to sell items that left her name brand out of reach for so many fashionistas.  Now, thanks to the MAB and MAC, she’s brought her price down under $500 so that fashionistas can finally afford her brand.

Her Mini MACs (morning after clutch) retail at $195.  Get it on sale…you’ll see the price as low as $123.  I picked up her MAB (morning after bag) for $140 at  It is my most prized possession right now.

If she hadn’t brought the price of her label down to a more affordable price during the recession…she would not have survived and succeeded like she has.  Check out this Wall Street Journal article on How She Built her company.  It’s a lesson for all designers.

About Michelle Kenneth

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