I enjoy the hand of luxurious, expensive, and embellished fabrics. Just as an art lover enjoys the experience of an exhibit, I appreciate the beauty of an exquisitely made textile. Designer names like Etro, Dolce Gabbana, Prada, and Gucci use some of the most beautiful fabrics in the world for their couture and ready-to-wear collections, but these collections are sold at prices out of reach for most people.
Designer prices are often extremely expensive. Case in point this sweater by Brunello Cucinelli. I was lucky enough to be in Vancouver recently, perusing the beautiful Fall 2017 Collections in Holt Renfrew. I came acorss the Brunello Cucinelli boutique selling expensive sweaters like this one featured in In Style’s October 2017 issue. My first thought – “I could make it.” If you are an experienced knitter I’m sure you have said this many times.
Brunello Cucinelli is known as the “King of Cashmere” and the manufacturer of luxury sportswear and “high quality” knits. I agree with his business philosophy, that too much cheap product is sold in the world, so he focuses on expensive designs made by highly skilled workers. His plant is in Solomeo, Italy; his company is socially conscious, and Cucinelli’s collections are produced on site. It would be difficult to sustain this business model in most parts of world, as Italy has a long history of skill in manufacturing luxurious textiles and yarns, and only a small percentage of people can afford such luxury.
However, there is a point where an extremely high price doesn’t dictate the quality and skill. Don’t get me wrong, you often do get what you pay for, but an exorbitant price isn’t indicative of quality. Price does have the power to change your perception of a product, because the notion of “quality” is perceived, and has a different meaning for every consumer. My philosophy is to pay more for “quality”, because I’ll get my money’s worth over time. Because I am knowledgeable about fabrics and construction, I am able to discern if a garment is well made and worth the expense. There are many skilled people who can make quality garments at lower price points. The price factor plays a part in determining quality (generally the more details added in construction and the use of fine fabrics made of natural fibers, the higher the price); but price is not the only indicator of quality.
I can’t afford such a price tag for a sweater, but even if I could I wouldn’t. If you are lucky enough to spend the money, go for it, but if you’re skilled in making garments, you realize that you can knit or sew pieces of high quality with sustainable materials, skill, and attention to detail without the extreme price. When purchasing woven fabrics or hand knit materials, I look at the fibers and yarns used, skill, and attention to detail. How are the seams sewn? Dangling threads? Nylon thread used for hems? How are the embellishments attached? Natural vs synthetic fibers (I would never pay a high price for a synthetic)? Care required to maintain its beauty? These are some of the questions I think about when determining quality.
Because of our over-consumption of mass produced goods, I think North America has lost an appreciation for the beauty and quality of textiles, and the skill required to turn raw materials into a luxurious product. But paying an excessively high price tag isn’t necessary to have quality clothing. There are many designers, and you, the skilled knitter or sewer that can create garments of quality, by paying attention to the source and type of materials, skill, longevity, and attention to detail. Why not make your own luxury at a cost that won’t break the bank.