When Good Brands Go Bad

While shopping this weekend, I tried on a pair of silver b.o.c oxfords. (I cannot find them online, sorry). They were on sale. They were super cute. And they fit great except for being too narrow near the toes. The salesperson said, "Those are Borns; they'll stretch." I nodded and took off the shoe to see if the stitching would hinder any stretching. That's when I noticed the shoes weren't made of leather. I know b.o.c. is a less expensive division of Born shoes so quality is sacrificed slightly, but I've never seen them make an $80 shoe from man made materials. Even though the shoes seemed like a good quality and felt close to leather, I didn't buy them because I couldn't be sure they'd stretch to fit comfortably. In fact, I have no idea how these cryptic "man made materials" would wear at all.

Most of the Born and b.o.c. shoes are still leather. All the other shoes I've checked in the store looked like they lived up to the quality I expect from the brand, but I've found a few more "man made materials" shoes online with little price difference from their leather brand mates. The once trustworthy brand might be slipping.

I've watched this happen to Naturalizer's shoes over the last few years. I wore an old pair of Naturalizer sandals for five years before retiring them, but I wore out a more recent pair in just a few months. Also, they offer fewer sizes and widths. They remain a favorite of mine for comfy and cute shoes, but I can no longer count on every size 11 dress shoe and size 10 1/2 sandal to fit. In fact, I've been mostly disappointed by their offerings four seasons in a row.

Some of my other once dependable brands have sacrificed quality. My leather Thinsulate gloves, which I used to buy every year, haven't been cut properly for three years. I will probably go into mourning when my last remaining pair wears out. Victoria's Secret has started making pricey bras that don't last any longer than the ones I buy from Target. And Target offers more sizes!

Speaking of Target, I'm bummed by the downgrade a lot of their clothing has received recently. Too many things are cut inconsistently and falling apart before they even leave the store. Materials are also thinner and cheaper while the prices remain the same or get higher.

I love the new designer offerings from Payless, but I can't wear them because Payless eliminated my size 10 1/2 shoes (with Naturalizer fazing the same size out I'm left to hoping size 11 shoes run small). Now where can I buy cheap trendy shoes and super affordable bridesmaid heels?

These and many more are all brands and stores I love and rely on. I don't want to stop buying their products. That means I have to find new stuff. That isn't easy. Right now, I'm coping by clinging to the good products they do make and writing letters telling each company how much I love the brand and hate where it's headed. Of course, my letters are never answered by anyone other than the auto-reply bot. Have you noticed any brands slipping? What are we to do?

Image source: Vogue Italia


Jennifer Wells said…
I think that clothing in general has become cheaper. I don't know if it's corporate greed, or that people are loving their disposable-wear.
S Haines said…
This is exactly how I feel about Gap and Banana Republic. Their tshirts used to be heavy cotton and good quailty. Now you can see through them and are lucky if they last more than 5 washes.
Jael Paris said…
The Limited used to make all of their jersey tops out of modal. Now they're polyester.
propriatress said…
...quality is in the dumper. For decades, I've turned to vintage, and If I buy new, which is Rare, I buy very little and I only buy top quality. I have shoes that are 30s, 40s...70s,etc.still in great shape. Rotating my shoes..is mandatory so I don't wear out my faves...therefore I have a lot of "faves"! ;-)
Jennifer Wells said…
Victoria's Secret used to have beautiful lingerie made out of silk. Now, everything is polyester.

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