Is quality really key?


I consider myself a bargain shopper, especially when it comes to apparel. Why pay full price when you can just wait for the products to go on sale? Although, there are several other ways that can help you save money. You can sign up for a store’s cashback program, use online or in-store coupons, or even shop for defective products. Now some may be skeptical about purchasing defective products, but in reality you shouldn’t have to worry too much in regards to apparel, unless you are very picky. There are many situations where I would rather purchase a slightly defective item to save a big chunk of change.

As manufacturers produce hundreds and thousands of items, some are bound not to come out perfect. Quality control weaves these defective products from the approved products. From excess glue on a shoe to incorrect stitching on a garment, there are plenty of small details that can be irregular. Now these items don’t necessarily present a hazard to customers, but major retailers such as Nike cannot be seen selling sub-par products in major retailers. That is why they offer these “irregular” or “b-grade” products. You can find a few of them slip past to major retailers, but you mainly find these types of products in outlet stores. Now this scenario would be different in the auto industry, where defective components or products would not be allowed to be sold because of the dangers they may cause.

I bet that many of us have been to and/or shopped at an outlet mall and have seen how much cheaper apparel is compared to full price retailers. “Defective” products that I purchase from outlets (mainly sneakers and sports apparel) usually tend to be just as fine in my opinion. Things are meant to be worn and I believe little nicks do not really affect the overall look/performance of the particular product.


Do you guys think these defective/irregular products are worth purchasing in the long run?

Do you think quality control might be too strict when it comes to products like apparel (that do not pose danger)?


The Fast and the Furious


Recently, I spoke with a former retail executive and got into the topic of fast fashion. I learned some interesting facts about the industry and think it’s a great topic to discuss. I bet that many of us have been to or purchased from fast fashion retailers such as Zara, H&M, or Forever 21. Do you ever wonder how they are able to mass produce some of the trendiest pieces and sell them at such low costs? Well, you will now get an idea of how they do it and how these retailers have become so successful.

Two words that come to mind when talking about fast fashion’s success: Speed and Volume. Zara, fashion retailer based out of Spain, can design, manufacture and get new product into their stores in less than a month’s time. How do fast fashion retailers do this? According to the former retail executive, they have workers go to Italy, France, or wherever they are taking fashion trends, purchase designer garments, and take them to a mass producer in countries such as China or Korea. The manufacturers copy, but alter the piece in 9 different ways, to avoid legal troubles, and then mass produce the new items. Companies might have different strategies, but that is a prime example of fast fashion.

Many of the retailers mentioned do not only provide speed, but they also provide volume. In 2013, Zara produced around 450 million garments for its 1,770+ stores. I can only imagine how much H&M produces with its 2,629+ stores! As these retailers are able to mass produce with low wage manufacturers, they are able to offer their clothing at dirt-cheap prices. Many retailers, such as Forever 21, are then able to charge less for their clothing as they have their manufacturers produce with cheaper, synthetic materials. With prices so low, consumers like you and I find ourselves leaving these stores with at least one item and usually fall into the dilemma of not bothering to make our way back to the stores to make a return.

It is evident that fast fashion’s quick and efficient supply chain management is crucial to their success, but there has to be some downside to the system, right? Since most of the products coming out of these retailers are cheaply made, it is without a doubt that these garments are not going to last forever. As some of you know, some of these garments won’t even last 2 or 3 wears. It is a pain, but at such low prices, what can you expect?

Food for thought:

Can you think of any possible flaws in the fast fashion system?

From a consumer’s standpoint, are you willing to give up quality for quantity?

From an ethical standpoint, what do you think about retailers exploiting low wage workers overseas?