Monday, October 8, 2012

Trick or Tat?

Getting touchy-feeling at the agora
A little early for Halloween you say? So why are these tacky-to-the-touch goods masquerading as acceptable apparel? The other day I was feeling my way around Banana Republic. You know— fingering the fine gauge sweaters and running a discreet hand down the hand of the silk blouses. Quel disappointment! Too much muddle in the mix. Nothing felt— well— nice. Is this how manufacturers must economize now— it looks good but feels "off"?

A bridge too far?
What the heck is "ponte" anyways? You are right if you see the similarity between ponte and Italian for bridge. The fabric was originally named "Ponte di Roma" or "Roman Bridge" which is "suggested by the arrangement of loops". This blend of poly, rayon and spandex fabric looks the same on both sides. It's like a heavy-weight double-knit jersey and is almost always a swath of solid color.

Is there a home for Wayward Acrylic?
Whatever happened Virgin Acrylic? And it's best friend Orlon (the trade name for acrylic fibers first hatched in 1941)? Methinks my old sweaters are not biodegrading in a Brooklyn landfill. I picture them in a twisted heap of sludge, trying their best to get back to the test tube as they surely will never return to Nature. Perhaps I should go visit them.

Actually I kind of like these...
How about Tencel? This staple of the Better Old Ladies' Wear department actually feels great. Like Alec Guinness in his impervious-to-dirt white suit, Tencel never wrinkles. A little creepy perhaps, but Tencel would appear to be the most natural of all the unnatural-feeling stuff. Tencel is the trade name for lyocell, a biodegradable material made from wood pulp celluose. If it's environmentally friendly, versatile, durable and made from trees managed for sustainable harvest, why do we not see more of it?

Not the same ilk as silk
Here's another question: Even if the feel remains the same, why does a 100% viscose blouse masquerading as silk cost $158? And if it looks like silk, costs like silk, even need to be drycleaned like silk, should I still care that it's not silk?

E-commerce keeps on growing. Not only can you not try it on or get a true sense of the color on your computer, there's no way to feel it. Until someone invents a better touch-screen we will have to accept that our pig-in-a-poke may not actually feel soft as pigskin.


  1. Love the 100% virgin acrylic label!! Chuckling here...and the viscose? I guess you can save some silk worms lives by buying it instead of silk. Funny so true about the feel of these clothes.
    PS- always difficult to type the characters to prove I am not a computer. Any thoughts to turn that feature off?

  2. Saving silk worms— I never thought of that!
    As for the "feature"— that seems to be a Blogger imposed protection. It traps me too on other sites. I'll see if anything can be done.

  3. I so much miss the nice "hand" of good quality fabrics. I've pretty much given up on the garbage in stores - I was shopping with a 10 year old yesterday and was appalled by all the plastic-based clothing (and shoes, ugh!).

    I'll continue to wear silk!

  4. Lizzie over at Vintage Traveler reminded me about your fantastic site today. I LOVE this post. You are one of the few style bloggers I've seen (besides Lizzie) who has written honestly about fabric and quality. I think I've left a comment in the past and would love to get in touch. I am the CEO of We face a different challenge than the e-commerce quandary you mentioned-we use the best Ponte di Roma (it's washable, doesn't pill and is the same that goes down many a runway), and the rest of our fabrics are Italian as well. We manufacture here in NYC, and we're able to price everything under $200 because we don't wholesale. We're extremely dedicated to fitting and flattering real women of all ages. We offer free shipping both ways so you can try on and we also send swatch cards so you can feel our fabrics before you buy. Ok, this sounds like an infomercial! But really, our problem is that our stuff looks very simple online but the fit and fabric are so much more than they look. Or at least our customers say so:)