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LEEDS – T-Shirts costing as little as £5 were found to be more durable than those costing up to ten times more, a new study from researchers at Leeds University found. Researchers tested a variety of garments, ranging from men’s and women’s jeans, hoodies and T-Shirts. They found that in many cases, the price of a garment offers little indication of how well it will wear or long it will last.

The study team tested the durability of 65 clothing items retailing from under £5 to £150 from a range of UK high-street brands. All items were tested under lab conditions, including repeat washing and visual assessments as well as specific technical tests for different clothing types.

The team found the durability of both high and low-priced garments ranged from excellent to very poor across all clothing categories for men and women.

In one of the tests, a women’s T-Shirt priced under £10 outperformed one retailing at around £40. In another, women’s hoodies priced between £11-£20 were ranked higher on the durability scale than those priced at just under £50 and around £100.

The study found only “negligible” differences in durability for a pair of women’s jeans priced at around £15 compared to a pair retailing at more than ten times that price.

A men’s T-Shirt costing under £5 ranked as the second most durable out of 17 items tested – outperforming one at ten times the price.

Of the garments tested, only menswear hoodies showed consistently higher performance than lower priced alternatives.

Dr Mark Sumner, lecturer at the University of Leeds, said: “Action to make the fashion industry more sustainable is critical. But objectively measuring how long clothes can last is complex and difficult, because durability is affected by the type of materials and fabrics in the garment, how the clothes are made, and by how we wash and care for our clothes.

“However, this independent research has shown how we can measure durability to identify the most and the least durable garments. And the results show that retail price can’t be used to predict which garments are going to last longer than others. The results also show that value for money varies widely across different garment prices.”

Responding to the report, Kristen Fanarakis, owner of Senza Tempo Fashion told Apparel Insider: “Most designer brands today are just that — brands. They’re marketing machines not manufacturers. Most brands, not just fast fashion brands, want and need you to continue to repurchase to maintain their revenue growth for their private equity or public shareholders. They don’t have the incentive to create a quality product.

“In the past, the price of a garment gave us some indication of the quality of a garment. Clothing was broadly made better prior to the 1990s, and in general you got better quality or finer materials the more you paid. When you bought a logo you were buying quality, now you’re just paying for the logo — literally. 

“What these results show us is that we need to become better educated consumers and know what to look for and feel in a garment to assess its quality. We need to look beyond the adjectives, logo or price. It’s why I show the inside of seams on product listings. It’s why I write blogs with detailed quality checklists that link out to third-party sources and show examples of what to look for broadly — quality is the ultimate form of transparency. You can’t greenwash quality.”

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