What Is the Definition of Quality?

Quality, perhaps the most frequently used word when discussing craftsmanship and classic menswear. A word that might mean something different to all of us.

Most consumers consider quality to be one of, if not the most important aspect when considering a purchase.

The problem is that quality is often mistaken for durability or sturdiness. Something that lasts and most importantly; can take a lot of wear. This definition is not wrong per se, but it only highlights one of the aspects of quality.

The definition of quality is often described as “a comparison of expectations with performance in a product or service”

This means basically how well the product or service met the expectations from you as a consumer. Those expectations may be based on aspects like price, brand image, or make.  It is only reasonable to expect more from a 3´000 € suit than from one at 1´000 €. While this is true, the price is also just one of the aspects.

The suits could be made in the same fabric but the less expensive one has fewer details made by hand which is a costlier and more time-consuming way of making a suit. While some consumers might value the craft of a handmade suit, others might not, and since the price of handwork often is exponential compared to the additional functionality and has little to no effect on the total lifespan of the suit. It would be considered soft values, well worth the premium for some connoisseurs but less so for others.

Another example that comes to mind is cars.

A Range Rover is arguably a quality car. A sturdy, safe option for everyday life. A Ferrari is also a quality car but while the experience of driving one might be unrivaled it might not be the most practical option in your everyday life, and you would certainly not take it on a skiing trip to the north of Sweden. The Ferrari is without a doubt a more delicate option, but the quality is still hard to question.

Another example that comes to mind is cars.

This same philosophy is very much true for the sartorial world.

When investing in a sports coat, the equivalent of the Range Rover would be a sturdy British tweed. Easy to care for, in a coarse fabric with the potential to be around for decades.  The Ferrari in this situation would be a cashmere jacket. Lovely hand, a soft and delicate fibre that drapes beautifully with a luxurious feel unrivalled by most fabrics. While the cashmere jacket is fantastic, it is perhaps not the everyday choice and will rarely have the same life span as the tweed.

This same philosophy is very much true for the sartorial world.

The point is that quality comes in various forms and the most important is the understanding of what type of performance you can expect from certain items. It is said that great things age with grace and it is true but only if they´re cared for.

Quality is not a maximum life span of a product with the minimum amount of effort but rather the maximum amount of joy over the years you have it.

“The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten”

– Sir Henry Royce, founder of Rolls Royce