I was annoyed with what I saw in Prada’s Spring collection at Barney’s last week: a black, unlined, poorly made, ultra lightweight, 100% nylon, dowdy looking double-breasted trench selling for $1895. It wasn’t the price that annoyed me because you can expect insane price tags on new collection items from fashion brands like Prada, Chanel, Gucci and Cavalli. It’s the inferior quality, bad fit and uninspiring design of the garment that got to me. The very least that one should expect from any designer piece is impeccable quality, luxurious fabric, superior fit and exclusive design innovation. Some designer houses do satisfy this criteria, and then there is the rest.

In the rag trade, more expensive does not necessarily mean better and vice versa. Even top designers like to cut corners to increase profit margins. Don’t assume that a Marc Jacobs original is beautifully made and will launder well because of its price and the status attached to the brand (his prêt-a porter collections look particularly shoddy). This is why you need to develop an eye for good quality. You’ll save yourself lots of money if you do. Don’t be put off walking into stores that you perceive as having poor quality items. Chances are high that you’ll find something unique and of acceptable quality if you know what to look for.

Join a discussion on distinguishing good quality from bad in the YLF forum.

Armani Collezioni 'Sand Dollar Print' Belted Kimono JacketBurberry London Gold Single Breasted Trench CoatDonna Karan Collection 'Floating Dots' Skirt

I’ve seen these particular designer pieces up close and they were superbly made (with a price to match!)