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Main Character of the Week: Clothes

The quality of the in-house garb you buy at strip mall cornerstones like Target and Old Navy is under fire this week.


Ramon Ramirez


Posted on Nov 11, 2023   Updated on Nov 13, 2023, 6:49 am CST

Main Character of the Week is a weekly column that tells you the most prominent “main character” online (good or bad). It runs on Fridays in the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter. If you want to get this column a day before we publish it, subscribe to web_crawlr, where you’ll get the daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

The internet is a stage, and someone unwillingly stumbles onto it weekly. This makes them the “main character” online. Sometimes their story is heartwarming, like the guy who was fired after hitting a customer in the head with a pumpkin; usually it’s a gaffe. In any case, that main character energy flows through the news cycle and turbo-charges debate for several business days.

Here’s the Trending team’s main character of the week:

It’s clothes.

Specifically, the quality of the in-house garb you buy at strip mall cornerstones like Target and Old Navy is under fire this week. And as a corollary, the unrelenting churn that results in overloaded Goodwills.

As TikTok user Aly Rook said recently

“Please tell me someone else has noticed how every clothing brand right now is making their clothes thinner and worse quality, but they come up with a new name for the thinner, cheaper fabric that makes us think it’s innovative?” she says in the video. “It’s really just cheaper. The worst offender of this is Old Navy. I’m doing my laundry. I have these bike shorts that I have had for eight years—they’re really old—from Old Navy. They’re so thick, I can wear these multiple times, they don’t smell. They’re still in such great condition. I’ve probably washed these 1,000 times in the last eight years. They don’t make them like this anymore.”

By contrast, she claims, the new fabric line from Old Navy, Power Soft, is less durable and thinner. In the comments, users piled on brands like American Eagle for the same thing.

We’ve emailed Old Navy about this.

Zooming out, one of the Daily Dot’s most-trafficked stories this week covered a viral TikTok video that blasted Target for its recent lean into “fast fashion,” or cheaper-made, seasonal, reactionary clothes made to be cycled through quickly.

“Target has completely changed their clothing over the past few years, and they’re churning trends, and people are buying them as fast as they’re dumping them,” user @carolinetlord says in the clip.

As Daily Dot contributor Stacy Fernandez wrote:

The New York Times confirmed what many thrifters around the country have found to be true. The age of being able to find high-quality items at a reasonable price at the thrift store is over. Instead, it’s been replaced by racks upon racks of polyester fast-fashion with prices that sometimes don’t beat the original price or how much you’d pay for it on sale online.

These fast-fashion donations make it so people in need of affordable clothing end up with lower quality items, and the surge of donations has driven up thrift store operating costs since they need to hire more people to sort through the mounting donations that have resulted from a quick trend cycle.

People no longer buy items seasonally, or about four times a year. Instead, new trends come out constantly, and people are getting rid of their clothes as quickly as they’re buying them.

And of course, amid uncertainty and chaos in your news feed and economic stressors disrupting our preconceived notions of pricing, the clothing discourse was really about how hard it can feel to go about your daily life. 

As TikTok user @jpall20 noted in a viral video: “Leaving the house is a dystopian nightmare” because “the quality of everything has gone down in the United States.”

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*First Published: Nov 11, 2023, 6:00 am CST