Sometimes I wonder about the Taliban, I really do.
I am noticing that active clothing for women is progressively harder to find. It's getting shoddier, flimsier, and the fabrics are just junk--while the prices have gone up-up-up. Contrast this with men's clothing, which is made far more sturdily of far better fabrics (and more of them, men being as a rule larger and all) and costs considerably less.
The subtext of this makes me very, very annoyed.
And the thing is, Athleta had been a counterexample to this. A voice crying out in the wilderness. Or something.
I hate crap like that. I hate discovering that a reliable brand has gone down the drain. I hate the way nobody seems to care about durability any more, and I hate the subtext that you're not really active, you're just "active," meaning you want to seem sporty without engaging in anything vaguely strenuous. And I really, really hate crappy customer service.
Helpy indeed. Good word, bad behavior. Boo on Athleta!
I hate the subtext that you're not really active, you're just "active," meaning you want to seem sporty without engaging in anything vaguely strenuous.
Just as a sidenote, I retain (twenty years on? no, twenty-five) the sense of shock from the one time I went shopping with a female friend for her new swimming costume. It seemed ... not unreasonable to go to the swimwear dept. Except that there was nothing there that she could actually, y'know, swim in; it was all beachwear bikinis that would fail instantly at the drag of water. Eventually we went to the till and asked. "Oh," they said blankly. "No, not here. You'll have to go to Sports for that..."
I know the feeling. I was a fan of Eddie Bauer, especially because they had the same styles in larger women's sizes and because, as both a men's and women's place, they didn't get away with shoddy fabric for women's clothing--the sort of thing that I've seen happen often when there's only women's clothes for sale at a store. (Really, go to the fabrics and assess them: pretty regularly, the women's only places are thinner, or poorly dyed, or rougher.
Anyhow, Eddie Bauer wasn't doing that, which made me happy. And then, about three months before they entered bankruptcy, they started to play games with sizes and seams. Suddenly, the same garment with the same SKU, is smaller (I could place one up against the other), and the seams are less sturdy. And yes, the fabric is getting thinner on those items that are not the same SKU as the prior season's. So, I'm going to have to hunt for a new clothing store. *sigh*
I used both EB & LLBean for real clothing and field gear until the early 80's then IMO both went yuppy and their products failed the use test.
Hi Mrissa -- I'm a bit of a lurker (have seen you on Peg Kerr's entries :-) ) -- but one who frequently shops online at the Gap family of stores, and is desirous of being helpful.
I don't know whether you are phone-averse, but if you are not, it might be worth calling in to Gap/Athleta customer service? I work with a phone center in an unrelated industry and have often remarked to myself when on the phone with Gap, "Self, they run a good operation. The reps are pleasant and empowered and seem to genuinely want to do what they can to make you happy. What lessons can we steal from these guys?"
Perhaps if you could get someone on the phone and explain that it is Not Done for skirts to develop holes in them after a mere 3 washings, and that you are Very Fond of your other Nusa Rollover skirts which have stood up to dozens of washings and have recommended them to others, but these seem to have been, how shall we say, a bit of an aberration, and you would hate to think that this is now reflective of the quality of Athleta products...
...I would not be surprised if they would not, for instance, GLADLY mail you a prepaid shipping label to return or exchange your skirts. (They have done this for me before.) If the item is defective, which you should point out in no uncertain terms, that is certainly the least they can do.
It would be a bit more of a stretch, but it is possible that a particularly knowledgeable associate might be able to respond, if you were to ask which other skirts were made of fabric similar to the OLD Nusa skirts, "I do know what you mean, the new Nusa skirts ARE stretchier, but the Cotton Virtue skirt is made of sturdier fabric and has a similar fit."
All that is to say, if you are up to it, perhaps you might consider giving them a call? It might be interesting to see what results.
I hope this has been helpful! (As opposed to helpy, with which I am also unfortunately familiar.)
I do hate the phone, but it might be worth it. We'll see whether I get any response to my second e-mail.
Heh - you just made *me* think about clothing - though, I hasten to add, in an entirely good or at least necessary way. Between reading your first paragraph and reading the rest of this, I switched clothes from washer to dryer and fixed the hem on my good black slacks.
I am sorry to hear that Athleta's quality has gone down and that they haven't been genuinely helpful - particularly sorry, because I'm wondering if this isn't just a fluke but rather a result of being taken over by Gap. The whole reason I liked mail-order stores was being able to get better quality than I could usually find in the mall - not to mention, in Athleta's case, being able to find clothing that catered to both athletic women's lives and their bodies.
I don't have a good sad or grumpy icon, but if I did I'd be using it.
Yes, the timing on being taken over by Gap struck me as possibly non-coincidental also.
If they have anything that would please you: I have never had a bad experience with Deva. pameladean
has also been a fan of their clothes. They aren't cheap, but hoo-boy, are they well made and long-wearing.
Deva all seems to not quite on for my body type at the moment--if I wear things that are that unfitted/drapey, I tend to get lots of questions about impending babies, which is not the best thing for someone who would at some point like to have one and doesn't get to try just yet for health reasons. But I'm glad they have been consistently well-made; consistency in that department is a very good thing to have out there for my friends.
I grind my teeth in sympathetic frustration, having lost count of the brands I've given up on. In the spirit of Internet helpiness, I've had good luck with Land's End bathing suits--I wore one of their "sport tankinis" until I stopped fitting into it. It had a pocket! I haven't managed to wear out any of the other things I've bought from them either, and if you wait long enough, their sale prices are quite good.
. . . fascinating. I went to look at their page, because I was curious what their "tankinis" looked like -- and saw that the search-limiter sidebar, in addition to sizes and colors and things like that, included an option for "anxiety zones."
On the one hand, feh, feeding body-image issues. On the other hand, weirdly yay, for labeling those issues in a way that makes no bones about what they are. I'm not sure what I think about this.
Seconding the comment that this is also the case for men's clothing - not that this makes it less appalling. My general motto now is that if, by some chance, I find a garment that meets my (admittedly pretty severe) standards for clothing, I had better buy several of them, because the next time I try to buy them, they will either not exist at all or they will now suck.
I've found that often, but not always, buying clothes on the web or by mail-order is the solution to this problem - that many makers essentially say, "Oh, you want THAT old stuff! We still make that, we just don't devote shelf space to it." (Others will just give you a confused look because they don't understand any shopping criteria other than newness. And, alas, it seems like there is not much economic incentive for manfacturers to build in durability.)
I'll also say that as soon as Gap gets their hands on anything it goes to hell. Once upon a time I could find good Gap clothes every blue moon; although never the same thing twice. Now I go in there and I'm shockingly unimpressed with their entire stock every time.
I had better buy several of them, because the next time I try to buy them, they will either not exist at all or they will now suck.
my beloved Lands End shoes that I had four pairs of in size 6.5 ... suddenly they started making them too small. 6.5 was too small! All of a sudden! After 10 years! So damn weird. So now I wish I'd stocked up, because of course, the 7s are too big.
I have nothing useful to add here, since I have no advice and saying "gosh, that sucks" is not exactly news to you. But I am amused that we have the same taste in skirts! I have two cotton knit skirts (one navy, one purple) in the exact same style that I practically live in during the summer. I've been wearing one or the other almost every day for the last month and a half! I got mine at Old Navy, though. I'm not entirely sure what it says about the state of the world when Old Navy is putting out more durable product than a women's sports' clothing store, but I'm sure it's worrying.
2010-07-19 07:39 am (UTC)
other interpretations exist
"Helpy" exists in my records from October 2002, coinage credited to my younger sister. She, and I, and others who have used it have not given it any ironic meaning, however, and I doubt I will change this knowing others have take up doing so.
Sorry about the cheapness of the clothes. That's a drag.
2010-07-19 10:57 am (UTC)
Re: other interpretations exist
In 2002, I don't think "truthy" (a la Stephen Colbert) existed to have parallel coinages, so I'm not surprised that "helpy" was sincere in your circles when your sister came up with it then, even aside from there being no particular reason for it not to be.