By Regina Connell.
My Ts are the hardest working things in my wardrobe. Particularly my black ones. They are both beautiful and useful…nay, essential: I wear them at least 5 out of 7 days. So I take them seriously.
Now it’s time for true confessions here: the Gap Favorite used to be my go-to T. I’d buy a new one every year and reveled in the fact that they were cheap. But they’d changed over the decade I’d been doing that. I didn’t love wearing them anymore: I could feel the quality was on the decline, they weren’t wearing all that well, and I was forever finding loose threads. And I just didn’t feel that great about wearing a T from the Gap, not when I’m about promoting indie manufacturing and the artisanal ethos. So, I resolved to upgrade to a quality T, one that was crafted well.
But was it even possible to find something made by a smaller scale manufacturer? And would it be possible at an even close-to-reasonable price point? And how would I even begin to evaluate quality? Was organic everything the answer? So I started investigating, chatting with people who know their fabrics and what I should look for: people like sustainability and textile expert Lynda Grose of California College of the Arts and Andrea Donnelly of Little Fool Textiles (an artisan textile maker out of Virginia) and designers like the textile-obsessed Erica Tanov.
And the answers were far from straightforward. But one thing became clear: the notion of quality comes down to a lot more than technical quality (how does it look, perform, wear, feel). There’s a subjective component, and an environmental/social component. As Lynda says, “Something that’s in use for a long time, that works functionally, is beautiful, has utility, that’s all quality.” And that jives with my overall premise that quality—like luxury and pleasure—has to embrace the senses, the head, and the heart…
For all the rest and more on our version of the new luxury, wander on over to AltLuxe.
The New Luxury: altluxe.net