Photo by Salt Water New England

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Reader Question: How has social media improved the clothes people buy, and how has it hurt?


A reader question for the community:
Dear Muffy, 
I much prefer buying my clothes directly from the company/store without the mall store mark-up.  The explosion of the Internet and social media has made that easier in many ways.   But I also feel that this has enabled more and more clothing companies, large and small, to pull the acrylic over our eyes, so to speak.  So much language about "designed" in the US while at the bottom of the product description is the dreaded "Imported".   It seems like the loudest companies, not the best companies, win.  Marketing feels cheap and easy.   I get irrationally angry at the companies that sell belts or sweaters with American Flags on them that are made in China.
Here is my question. Overall, has social media helped or hurt people in finding good clothes? 

23 comments:

  1. I don't use social media.

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  2. Has social media helped? Yes and no ( for me). I've never been a trendy person, never followed fads. I don't generally care what other people are doing or buying or eating so social media platforms like FB have never been of any interest to me. Muffy's blog is the only 'social media' that I engage in and although I rarely purchase the items that she models, I enjoy knowing my options should I need or want to makes such purchases. I grew up wearing these timeless styles and I still wear them today. In fact, I found Muffy's Daily Prep blog because I was in a frustrated rage over not being able to find quality clothing and wanted to know if others were feeling the same. It's also validating to know that there are at least a few folks who value good taste and traditional style.

    I agree with your comments about the marketing tactics being cheap and easy. I felt the same irrational anger you described right after 9-11 when most Americans ran out and purchased cheap Chinese-made American flags and bumper stickers. I felt it was a hypocritical and shallow display of patriotism. We've become a nation that is great at purchasing external props to memorialize or brand ourselves but this shallow behavior has replaced good character.

    I once looked forward to the LL Bean catalog and website every season but now I get the same grungy, dirty, moldy feeling that I did when I visited one of those cheap big box stores. I don't smell the fragrance of the wilderness or freshly baked cookies, I smell plastic. I don't know how well stores like Bean are doing these days but I read a lot of comments on sites like SiteJabber and it appears that more and more people are realizing that they are wasting their hard-earned money on trendy disposable fashion. There seems to be a desire for authentic vintage and hence, the marketing of ' vintage appeal' and so I think the pendulum is beginning to swing toward quality domestic manufacturing. This same shift occurred in organic foods. 20 years ago it was extremely difficult for me to find organic and healthy foods in my supermarket or find a physician that specialized in functional medicine. Today I have many local options.

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    1. I can personally attest to the fact that L.L.Bean still has literal and metaphorical balsam sachets strategically placed in their Freeport store.

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    2. Best. Answer. Ever.

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  3. I don't see how it can hurt anyone, I see social media especially IG as a platform that can connect people with similar interests. There's plenty of TRAD, IVY, PREP, accounts to follow and get inspiration from or learn, source etc...

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    1. Would you care to share a few? Thank you.

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  4. Oooh great topic. Looking forward to the comments.
    I’m boring in the clothing department. No fads or trends or anything but the tried and true.
    MaryAnne

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    1. Sounds like you aren't keeping up with the kardashians :-)
      I had to look up how to spell their name so I must not be too up either.

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    2. JCW, your comment made me think one time at a jewelry store in my neighborhoods fancy mall. My husband and I went in and instead of the usual greeting of "Hi guys!" I got a nervous "Hello Mrs. ----" from the store manager. As I moved along the counter with the expensive stuff I noticed a customer with maybe a dozen luxury shopping bags, covering the floor and some of the display cases. I figured this woman was pondering something really expensive, hence the nervous store manager. So I politely walked passed the cases I wanted to see to let this woman have her space. When I got to the other half of the store I said to my husband "I wonder where she is from that there is no shopping?" he said "I was wondering the same thing". Then we overheard a young woman on her phone saying something about a celebrity sighting. Now I was curious, who is that person? I took a quick glance on our way out, still wasn't sure who it was. Then did a google search the next day and found out it was Kim Kardashian .

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  5. I have to agree with the above comments in that I am not much of a fashionista. I have been dressing the same way all of my life. I am not sure if the way I dress is called “Preppy”, “Trad” or “Ivy”, although I did go to prep school and to Ivy League Universities, and my wife’s nickname for me is Preppy. (But that is another story.) However, I am much more of an in-store shopper when it comes to pants/shorts. I am thin and have a 30-inch waist so trying on clothes is a must for me. Plus I really like to see the quality of the clothes I am buying. If they are cheaply made and will wear out quickly, I see no reason to spend good money on what will quickly become rags. Buying something new over the internet is a waste of time for me, as I really don’t trust the quality. So, I think the internet is not a positive when it comes to clothes as quality is something you can’t see or feel on a webpage. Although, if I am replacing something from a store I know and trust (LL Bean, Brooks Brothers, etc.) then I will. Good quality clothes (if taken care of properly) will last you years. I still have a Shetland sweater I purchased from Land’s End when I was in college back in the 70’s. While the color is a tad faded, it still looks like new. That is quality that is difficult to find nowadays.

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    1. Randall September 12, 2019 at 12:24 PM:

      No grown man should be allowed to have a 30-inch waist.

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    2. Staying in shape is actually not that hard. Stop eating and drinking like you are an out of control college student. Eat a sensible diet and exercise. I run 3 - 5 miles three days a week and weight train three days. I can still run a sub- 8 minute mile. My BMI is 19 and my body fat is under 15%. There are very few excuses for a sedentary lifestyle.

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  6. Although I doubt that anyone has ever thought of me as fashion conscious, I don't know that social media has ever made any difference to my clothing habits. I have found some good buys on the internet, particularly eBay, but you have to know something about the product first and, anyway, I don't think there are any real bargains to be had.

    The imported part is a mixed bag. Something from the U.K., Ireland or Italy is just as imported as something from China. I will admit, though, it is a little difficult to impartially and fairly judge the quality of something knowing where it's from, allowing for the cost.

    Likewise, "avoiding the mall markup" is also tricky, as is trying to avoid trends--including authentic vintage. However, both the local L.L.Bean store and Brooks Brothers (I shop the former and walk past the latter) are located in the mall. For authentic vintage, I shop the wine department at the supermarket.

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  7. I've shopped at LL Bean for over 30 years because of the quality and durability of their products. Their products lasted for years e.g., tweed wool blazers, wool dress pants, solid leather belts, heavy cotton khakis, etc.. I can now buy the same quality flannel shirts and khakis at Walmart, as sold by LL Bean, for a third of the price. I will seriously miss LL Bean, especially at Christmas. I use to buy most of my Christmas gifts from them and you knew you were giving quality gifts.

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  8. I don't need social media to tell me how to dress but I do need to shop online to dress the way I like because traditional clothing (other than cowboy clothing) is no longer sold locally. I won't shop at Target or Walmart.

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  9. Social media really doesn't impact me. It the production environment does. I tend to shop the vendors listed on the right. My brooks and bean days have mostly passed except for vintage purchases on eBay and etsy.

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  10. I gave up anti-social media 8 years ago to protect my privacy, stop intrusive ads and avoid the trolls. The internet has not changed my shopping habits at all. I have been buying my clothes from the same shops for around 20 to 30 years. In fact, my choices have narrowed rather than expanded.

    The big problem is foreign ownership and "creative directors" who have ruined traditional brands (e.g. Hawes & Curtis, Brooks Brothers, Polo RL) and even Savile Row tailors (such as Gieves & Hawkes and Huntsman).

    Manufacturing is often outsourced to Turkey, Asia and China. The quality often plummets as prices increase to cover the huge marketing costs, including paying blaggers and "influencers" who are generally nonentities with no style or taste.

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  11. Social media? As in, facebook, instagram, twitter, and the like? No influence on the clothes I buy or how I dress. I just follow the people I'm friends with in real life, so I already know how they dress.

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  12. I feel like this is 2 different questions and some folks are actually answering a third - lol.

    Has social media improved the (actual) clothing? Maybe - it, for sure, highlights the need for transparency. Very easy to call out a manufacturer for deceptive practices.

    Has social media helped people find good clothes? My answer would be yes. I love finding small makers that are doing cool things -Jill McGowan in Portland, for example. Or our very own Sailor Rose. I would not have been exposed to either without social media. Interesting that folks don't consider blogs to be social media......

    And what people seem to be answering - does social media influence how you dress? Again, maybe - it appears that a lot of us will buy based on a recommendation from Muffy (again, social media) so, while maybe it doesn't influence your overall style, it surely makes a difference in what you wear.

    Such a long answer! Maybe I'll go scroll thru Instagram for a while.....

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  13. The internet has totally changed my shopping habits! I said to someone "I don't buy anything online" and then quickly realized I was buying everything online. I have created my own curated experience with outstanding retailers (e.g. H. Stockton in Atlanta)or manufacturers (e.g. Mercer and Sons) where I can get exactly what I want virtually overnight in the sizes I want, and know the fit and quality will be excellent. I never would have been exposed to or had access to these in a meaningful way without social media.

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  14. I don't know that social media has had any influence on how I dress -- trad/ivy/prep call it what you will. . . much like my male family members of previous generations -- but it has made it easier to find a sartorial community of reasonably like-minded souls in our otherwise slovenly age, and clued me into some retailers of suitable gear that I might not have discovered otherwise.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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  15. If it's all over social media, I don't buy it!

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  16. You might just be onto something there!

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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