Quality can be a tricky thing sometimes. I look for it in everything. Even when I'm buying things at dirt cheap prices in a thrift store, I won't settle for less. Why? Because no matter what you spend on something, to buy low quality is to waste your money. In building an Affordable Wardrobe, however, one must find the loopholes. Certain items are of roughly universal quality, regardless of brand name cache. I call these items the "cheap commodities", things like tennis shirts ( I don't call then polos bacause they wre designed for tennis.)Every year around this time I stock up on tennis shirts in various colors. Come Summer they will be my uniform. I will wear them in bright sun, and the colors will fade. I will wear them by the sea, and the salt air will accelerate their deterioration. And I'll sweat all over them. Therefore, I see no point in owning fancy ones.
This batch recently arrived in the post from Land's End. Sure, Land's End is a weak budget knock off of L.L. Bean, but these shirts fit well, and they're available in every color imaginable, plus they're cheap, so I won't feel bad cutting them up into cleaning rags in September, or wearing them for yard work next Spring.
I've owned plenty of Lacoste tennis shirts in the past, and frankly I don't see much difference between them and these, other than the price tag and the lack of ostentatious label recognition. If anything, I find the Lacoste shirts to be more than a bit unforgiving if you are less than svelte, which makes the Land's End shirts better in my particular case. Last year, I bought a pile of tennis shirts at H&M. Those were pretty good for short money too. I'm also a fan of Gap socks and cheap Marsala for cooking.
It's foolish to buy cheap junk if it really is just junk. It's even more foolish to pay top dollar for it because an ad campaign and goofy label won you over. It's true, brand names can be a loose guide to quality, but with more and more companies spending more and more money on marketing and making up the difference with the cheap sweatshop labor, the lines are becoming blurrier all the time. Learning the difference between real quality where it matters and petty brand name hype is one of the sharpest weapons in a man's sartorial arsenal.
Besides, tennis shirts are basically glorified t-shirts with collars on them. They may be an indispensable wardrobe item for the Summer, but I'd rather spend my real time and money on important stuff, like tailored clothing and things made of silk.
Stay tuned for the acquisition of summers other cheap commodity: canvas sneakers.