I had a conversation a couple of years ago with a former employer about brands and brand value. Their position was that brand products are pretty much the same within their respective industry; essentially, the elements of that brand product remain consistent across the board, and the only thing that differentiates each brand is the label or name of the company that produces the product. They used examples such as clothes and coffee, 2 of my favorite things to talk about, to illustrate their points. “Coffee is coffee is coffee, derived from coffee beans,” they said. “There is no difference between a pair of Wrangler Jeans and other jeans (designer or not), just the label,” they stated. Hmmm.
Well I disagreed wholeheartedly to those points. Coffee is not just coffee. Each cup of coffee is different because of the type of bean used, how that bean was grown, and how it was roasted to make the taste different. Similarly, clothing is different as different brands make/create their mark using various cuts, fabrics, styles, and other accessories to finish the final product. And this is where brand value kicks in.
If I were to ask, “Is there a difference between Prada, Armani, Target, and Wal-Mart clothes?”, what would one say? I would answer a resounding “YES!” to that question. Designer brands normally use finer fabric materials, better stitching, and time-tested patterns to produce clothing than their non-designer brands. They have more access to finer threads and use better tailoring techniques.
Armani Exchange Dress Shirt
Here’s an example. A great shirt will show its quality by how well that shirt is made, and this is usually defined by its 1) fabric, 2) cut, 3) tailoring, and 4) feel, among others. Add elements of a) style, b) flair, and 3) color, one can then judge accurately whether or not that shirt will be a great fit for their body shape, skin tone, and overall appearance. The ARMANI button-down dress shirt shown on the left is a good example of what quality shirts look like — based on the list I mentioned above — and it is even better to see in person when you can feel that quality. Quality shirts will help you to not only look fashionable, but help polish your appearance and make you look desirable. More importantly, quality shirts last longer than their cheaper counterparts, and are a long-term investment that serves as a foundation for your wardrobe for expansion.
Brands that I can attest to the value of their shirts — and actually own them — include Kenneth Cole, Armani Exchange, (some) Express, and Banana Republic.
While there are more brands that fit the type of quality shirts, there are some brands that do not make quality clothing. I’m not going to name too many names, but brands sold at Wal-Mart, for example, do not fit those standards I mentioned above. Like a lot of cheap brands, they hardly make you look flattering, have great quality fabric, or have exquisite tailoring of such fabric. The cut of the clothing does not accentuate a person’s physique, and most of the time it distorts their image rather than emphasizes their positives.
Oh, and unless you’re a cowboy, work in farming or construction, or heavily involved in NASCAR, Wrangler jeans are not fashionable. More on that argument in a separate blog.
To sum things up, there is worth and value in higher brands because they are more often able to accentuate the positives of your body and make you look AND feel good about yourself. They follow the same high quality guidelines and rules in the clothing that they create, and in doing so, are able to provide a better long-lasting value and investment to your wardrobe.