The purpose of this guide is to help steer beginners in the right direction when shopping. This list is meant to be an informative resource, not a standalone blacklist. Almost every brand has something worth getting (e.g. canvas belt, white socks, tees); however this guide is intended to give a brand summary about certain companies and designs, especially as it concerns questionable content.
- I have taken the community’s comments into consideration and will continue to do so. If you think a brand does not belong, please write a thorough argument in the comments below. I am not claiming that all of these brands are 100% horrible, many of them have redeemable elements. However, a buyer should be wary of the listed issues with these brands. Shop critically and do research before purchasing.
- If you like some of these brands, I beg that you don’t take it personally – please write a well thought out argument in the comments. If anything is unclear, please state your complaint below.
- Note that some of these brands are sporty. I am not suggesting that sportwear should not be used for track or sport. I am simply arguing that a buyer should be careful not to wear certain activewear as casualwear.
- And finally, if it looks good – wear it. If you like it, then do what you want. I’m not telling anyone how to behave, these are just suggestions and summaries intended to aid beginners.
Popular reasons for being on this list:
[PQ] - Poor Quality, including inferior construction, inferior materials and inconsistent quality control. [UD] - Ugly Design, overstylized products, especially graphic-tees. [OB] - Over Branding, large and frequent logos and branding [EP] - Exorbitant Price, quality-per-dollar below average peer
- Abercrombie and Fitch [OB] Frequently overbranded clothing. Quality is fine, if a bit overpriced. Not bad on sale if you own a seamripper.
- Aeropostale [OB] [PQ] Almost everything in this store has tons of branding. Quality is subpar.
- Affliction [UD] [EP] Too many gaudy graphics. Quality does not justify the price.
- Aldo [PQ] [UD] Glued soles. Horrible quality control. Many reports of shoes falling apart within a few months. Terrible leather.
- American Eagle [OB] Quality is actually not that bad. However, too many graphics, too much branding. Essentially an A+F clone.
- Armani Exchange [EP] Poor materials, low quality control. Obnoxious branding. Price doesn’t reflect quality.
- Ben Sherman [EP] [PQ] Most of the clothing here will be low quality and over-priced.
- Birkenstocks [UD] Unattractive shoe-sandal hybrid. Comfortable around the house, not advised for leaving the house. Stigmatically associated with hippies.
- Chaps [PQ] Quality ranges. Most of this stuff is horrible material, poor construction, poor quality control. Rarely you can find something that may be worth buying on clearance if you are completely strapped for cash.
- CK [PQ] Diffusion brand. Bad fabric, made in China. Even on sale, their shirts aren’t worth $15. Much better suiting available at the price.
- Crocs [UD] Swiss cheese plastic shoes. Also make hideous slip-ons and lace-up shoes.
- Diesel [UD] Definitive over-distressed jeans. Some of their stuff is acceptable if you can find it on a steep sale (some sneakers, nondistressed denim).
- Dom Rebel [UD] [EP] Overpriced pointless graphics.
- Ecco [UD] – Their overall shoe collection is inelegant and/or overstylized. Many complaints of quality control with their soles. However, their boots have a good reputation for utility in snow and salt.
- Ecko Unltd. [UD] Unnecessarily busy with graphics and detailing.
- Ed Hardy [EP] [UD] Cheesy graphics with subpar quality-per-dollar. Not worth considering.
- FCUK [OB] [EP] Too much branding, low quality-per-dollar ratio. Inconsistent. Poor quality control.
- Guess [OB] [PQ] Poor quality-per-dollar ratio overall. Ugly screenprints. Mild overbranding. Only buy at a steep discount. Jeans worth considering at a mild discount.
- Hollister [OB] Branding on everything. Expensive for the quality. Fine if you can find something unbranded on sale.
- Hot Topic [UD] Graphic tees. Poor materials. Ugly branding.
- Hush Puppies [UD] Inelegant. These are made with comfort in mind, but they sacrifice aesthetic. If you’ve got no one to impress at the office, then they’re fine, but these are not attractive shoes.
- Jos. A Bank [PQ] Poor construction, poor quality materials. People buy them because they are cheap, but it is not worth the money.
- J Shoes [UD] Cheap design, and it shows in the aesthetic. Plain unattractive shoes.
- Kenneth Cole Reaction [PQ] [UD] Diffusion brand (KC in label only). Poor materials, poor design, poor construction.
- Kmart [PQ] Low quality materials, poor quality control, poor construction.
- Lee [UD] [PQ] Quality is poor, but pretty proportionate to price. Cuts are unflattering, generally not advised.
- Lucky Brand Jeans [UD] Overdesigned, overdistressed.
- Men’s Wearhouse [PQ] Poor materials, poor construction, cheap quality.
- Michael Kors [PQ] [UD] Not a bad women’s brand, but the stuff for men is poorly designed, and poorly made.
- Oakley Sport [UD] Their Lifestyle sunglasses are fine, and quality is completely fine, but their sport merchandise should not be worn sartorially, as it is overstylized and obtuse.
- Quiksilver [UD] [OB] Overbranded, overstylzed, too many graphics. Quality inferior for price, fine for sporting activities.
- Rock and Republic [UD] Overstylized. Low quality-per-dollar. Bad cuts. Ugly prints.
- Rockports [UD] Obtuse. Poor profile. Ugly lasts. Not good materials.
- Sean John [UD] Overstyled. Too many pictures/designs. Price not reflected in materials.
- Skechers [UD] Busy, overdesigned. Juvenile.
- Steve Madden [UD] [PQ] Very low quality materials. Very poor construction. Design is inferior.
- ThinkGeek [UD] [PQ] Materials are subpar, designs are very bad. Too many graphic tees.
- Threadless [UD] Fabric is ok for the price but the pictures and designs are not advisable.
- TOMs [UD] [PQ] Poorly designed espadrilles prone to falling apart. There are plenty of great espadrilles out there for the same price.
- True Religion [UD] [EP] Most of their stuff is overstylized or overdistressed. Quality is not reflect in the price.
- Uggs [UD] Not a good look for men. Their boots are busy and obtuse.
- Van Heusen [PQ] Very cheap clothing, and it’s reflected in the quality.
- Vibram Five-fingers [UD] Some love them for track or sports. However, these should never be worn sartorially.
- Walmart [PQ] If you buy your underwear here that’s good and fine. However, most of the clothes here are quite low quality. The materials and construction are bad. A large ratio of this stuff is novelty graphic tees.
- Woot [PQ] [UD] Poor fabric, juvenile designs.
- Wrangler [PQ] Many unflattering cuts. Lower bursting strength and higher weave deformations. Denim-finishing chemicals are lower quality, and the fabric quality control has lower standards. Seam and zipper strength is inferior.
- Yesstyle Brands [PQ] Very deceptive pictures, everything is pinned and the lighting is meant to trick the buyer. Poor quality materials, poor construction, stay far away.
- Zoo York [UD] Busy graphic-heavy punk skater brand. Materials aren’t terrific
- 7 For All Mankind [EP] Frequently-distressed jeans with cuts inferior to many brands in this price category.
Note: Clarks and Timberland make some great stuff, but much of what they make is ugly and overstylized. Forgivable because of the Desert Boot, Mali boot, Abington line, and some Earthkeeper wear is acceptable.
- American Apparel – Great value on tees.
- H+M – Slim clothes for cheap. Fabric isn’t terrific but it gets the job done.
- Land’s End Canvas – Large selection of affordable clothing of acceptable quality
- Levi’s – Good fit for the price range, higher quality standards than its peers.
- LL Bean – Good quality, good selection, satisfaction guaranteed.
- Uniqlo – One of the best values out there. Slim, well constructed clothes at affordable price.
- Zara – Many cheap options with solid quality. Broad selection. Definitely worth trying.
- Banana Republic – Decent shirting, decent outerwear, good sweaters, good pants. Frequently has sales.
- Club Monaco – Some people love it, some people don’t. They definitely have some affordable pieces, at least worth checking out.
- Dockers – This brand used to be for your dad, but now their cuts are pretty slim and they’re definitely affordable.
- Eddie Bauer – Good outdoor/workwear clothing. For affordability, cop during a sale. A lot of their line exits the “affordability” region, so just stick to what you can buy.
- Express – Some people really like the fit of their shirts. Their producer pant also has a good reputation.
- Gap – Cheaper than J Crew or BR, but quality isn’t quite as good. Good for budget outerwear, cheap sweaters, cheap pants, and cheap tees if they fit well.
- J Crew – Solid shirting and outerwear. Buy it on sale for best value, 15% student discount.
- Target Missoni (basics only) – Good reputation on tees and underwear. Avoid everything but the basics.
- Vans – Acceptable, cheap, low profile sneakers. Half their fare is eh, avoid their clothing.