Choosing Secondhand Designer Clothing, Part 2

In the previous feature, designer Vita Gottlieb offered her tips on how to tell good quality gear from run-of-the-mill. In this second and final part she concludes her advice.

The fit of second-hand designer clothing is better

“The fit is very important and usually conspicuously better on a designer garment. While a high street store might have a size 12 item that gives a so-so fit to most size 12 people, a design house will have more highly-skilled pattern cutters who turn the two-dimensional design into the three-dimensional dress / jacket etc. Rather than just scaling one design up or down, a design house’s team will adjust the design carefully for each size. Pattern cutting is a highly technical skill, good pattern cutters are highly trained, not easy to find and are expensive. The best ones end up in design houses and they will really do their research – they will measure people in more detail and with more care, to get a better understanding of the human form. They have fitting models – ‘sample’ people; not models, or athletes; normal-shaped people who come in and allow designers to test the fit of their items again and again. A company like Gucci probably has hundreds of top-grade pattern cutters.

The material is cut more generously on second-hand designer items

“Look also at how generous the maker has been in the cut of the material. The length of the tail of a shirt, the presence of lapels etc. That is, the non-essential material. Some cheap women’s jeans have faux pockets, for example. A line of stitching that looks like a pocket but isn’t. Base-level production is cut-throat with the material as well as the stitching, but design houses don’t have to economise in this way.

Look really carefully at the ‘features’ on second-hand designer gear – the ‘notions’ as designers call them

“Look at the labels, the buttons, the button holes – or hoops, the zips and all the decorative stuff. A simple button hole and a plastic button will do but buttons can be beautiful, as can labels. Top-end designer garments will often have beautiful but completely ‘unnecessary’ stitching that demonstrates that the item was made to be beautiful, not designed to be as cheap as possible to produce”.

Vita then provided some examples of lovely detailing and you can see these in the photos below.