NEW YORK — Welcome to fashion democracy.
With consumers bombarded this season by all sorts of must-have looks, from hippie-chic skirts to the cropped denim jacket, trends can be found simultaneously at all prices.
All of this can be quite confusing to the value-obsessed consumer trying to figure out which store offers the best buy. With that in mind, WWD took a look at one of spring’s basic uniforms — a cropped denim jacket, white tank top and floral printed skirt — comparing the style, quality and price at six stores: A|X Armani, J. Crew, The Gap, Express, Old Navy and newcomer H&M from Sweden.
The conclusion is that when it comes to fashion at a price, H&M seems to be eating everybody’s lunch, delivering the outfit for $57.50. That’s about a quarter of what A|X Armani is charging at the high end and about $12 less than Old Navy’s.
A closer look, however, reveals there are some differences in quality. H&M’s $13 skirt is made from viscose, and therefore isn’t as soft as its competitors’ cotton styles, and, unlike most of the others, the skirt isn’t lined.
Then there are the buttons on the denim jacket. H&M’s buttons are sewn on, not riveted, as the others are. However, the Swedish retailer’s pre-washed denim jacket with slanted stitching at the sleeves appears to offer good quality for the price. In comparison, Express’s jacket is not prewashed, the stitching is uneven and the rivet buttons are plastic. For the best look of the pack, there’s A|X Armani’s jacket, at $125, which is in a soft dirty denim, with good stitching and antique rivet buttons.
Then there’s the cotton tank. H&M’s $5.50 cotton tank is the least expensive, but it doesn’t have as soft a hand as Express’s version at $12.50 or Gap’s at $10. A|X Armani’s ribbed $28 version, however, has the best cut.
Here, the looks: