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Getting Fleeced?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I'v been bothered for a long time about the following. As I recall Malden Mills basically invented the polyester fleece weaving technique to manufacture Polartec around 1982. By 1992 a number of companies had figured out how to do essentially the same thing, and have been improving since. My question is, you can now by a fleece zip up or pullover for $15 from Old Navy, $50 from Columbia (MTR) and $80 and up from high end manufacturers. Is there really such a huge difference? Granted, some might last a bit longer and some can stretch a little more, and some can also block wind and rain (not exactly necessary under a good shell) and some can provide the same insulation in a thinner material, but is there a difference that warrants an eigthfold increase in cost? When you look at the tags they are all made in Thailand or Vietnam or some other near slave labor country. Are the high end brands just ripping people off for essentially the same product?
post #2 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschick
...My question is, you can now by a fleece zip up or pullover for $15 from Old Navy, $50 from Columbia (MTR) and $80 and up from high end manufacturers. ... but is there a difference that warrants an eigthfold increase in cost?
I can justify it from one source, Patagonia. They do two things that cause me to say this, they've worked with Malden Mills to improve the designs, and their products are sourced and manufactured with an environmental diligence all throughout the supply chain. They're also a good corporate citizen, especially compared to some of the other names in the industry. That last statement applies a hundred times over when compared to large coprorations.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
right, but they are so out of my price range
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by aschick
right, but they are so out of my price range
Unsure where you are located, but if available try local swap meets, and places like REI for members-only sales. 'Patagucci' gear lasts a long long time, so you see it being sold off in second hand sales a lot, eBay in particular has a lot of items listed.
post #5 of 29
there's a lot of different variations on fleece. The old navy is thin and very porous, whereas the higher end stuff is often the windbloc variety (no wind), and is of a much higher quality. It's like leather jackets or jeans. There are cheap ones and expensive ones for a reason.
post #6 of 29
Northface denali fleece is the best fleece I've ever owned. I'm 5'5" 125 lbs and I have no problem fitting in their kids XL fleece which is only $75. I wear the fleece alone as a jacket until temps fall below 30.
post #7 of 29
Agreed that you don't want to go bargain basement for fleeces, but most mid-range stuff will be just fine. Patagucci really isn't better in any performance otierented way for straight fleeceware, IMHO. I think it has more or less become a commodity item unless you are talking about some kind of hybrid thing.
post #8 of 29
Patagonia outlasts everything else hands down. TNF doesn't come close and everything else just sux. Really- I have Patagucci stuff with ten years of hard wear just beginnung to fray. And I've taken worn out stuff to the store and they've replaced it free. I have a Patagonia outlet store (SLC) nearby, so I get most fleece tops as seconds for $20-30, other stuff 50%-70% off. It's amazing stuff.
post #9 of 29
All I can add aschick....is something more or less along the same line. I bought an EMS fleece pullover for ~$30 a few seasons ago....Doesn't Breathe!! and this fall I found a NorthFace pullover that breathes for ~$80?..or something like that. After putting up with the perspiring/chilling with the other crap last season....I really didn't care what the NorthFaces or Marmots cost... There must be some buys somewhere though....
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaveSkisWillClimb
All I can add aschick....is something more or less along the same line. I bought an EMS fleece pullover for ~$30 a few seasons ago....Doesn't Breathe!! and this fall I found a NorthFace pullover that breathes for ~$80?..or something like that. After putting up with the perspiring/chilling with the other crap last season....I really didn't care what the NorthFaces or Marmots cost... There must be some buys somewhere though....
interesting. I have a nice EMS windbloc that's lasted me around 8 years now. Best garment I've ever owned.
post #11 of 29
I have marmot fleece from 1985 that is still going strong, no pilling, still thick. Have had other cheap fleece vests and jackets that have worn out in 3 months.

Try MEC in Canada - usually have pretty good quality stuff, more of a cooperative than REI now, pretty cheap house brand.
post #12 of 29

MEC sample

Just popped into the Mountain Equipment Coop website--and guess what their featured product was....

http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...Eprd_id=784501
post #13 of 29

Differentiation

Quote:
Originally Posted by aschick
I'v been bothered for a long time about the following. As I recall Malden Mills basically invented the polyester fleece weaving technique to manufacture Polartec around 1982. By 1992 a number of companies had figured out how to do essentially the same thing, and have been improving since. My question is, you can now by a fleece zip up or pullover for $15 from Old Navy, $50 from Columbia (MTR) and $80 and up from high end manufacturers. Is there really such a huge difference? Granted, some might last a bit longer and some can stretch a little more, and some can also block wind and rain (not exactly necessary under a good shell) and some can provide the same insulation in a thinner material, but is there a difference that warrants an eigthfold increase in cost? When you look at the tags they are all made in Thailand or Vietnam or some other near slave labor country. Are the high end brands just ripping people off for essentially the same product?
It's what companies do to get you to pay more for essentially the same thing--just not quite the same thing. Differentiation.

And the pricing -- for everything, not just fleece -- is based on supply and demand. It has nothing to do with their costs; it has everything to do with what people are willing to pay. If pricing was based on cost of production and distribution, a Coke would cost less than a nickle. Same for Starbucks coffee (well, maybe a dime).

Want a horrendous example? Diamonds. DeBeers is the world's largest cartel (except, maybe, OPEC). They manipulate the market to keep supply short relative to demand. And demand is created by those DeBeers commercials that say absurd things like, "How much should you spend for an engagement ring? About five months' salary." Such complete B.S.

Every company is, from a profit maximizing perspective, trying to behave like a monopoly. If you are completely devoted to a brand, they represent a monopoly (to you) for that product. No other product matters to you. Thus, you will pay a premium.

Ok. Finished with my business school / economics rant :
post #14 of 29
In my experience, there is a big difference between some fleece products. I used to hate it because I used cheap unbreathable products which made me sweat like crazy. So I wore wool instead, and still do sometimes. But the higher end stuff is great. Like others have said, REI is a good place where you can find both expensive and cheaper products. Look at high end stuff like Arcteryx & Patagonia and then look for similar REI brand gear at half the cost.
post #15 of 29
hands down the higher-end quality stuff works so much better.

i stand on the side of spring for something good once and you'll be happy for a long time. if you look at a $80 200-weight fleece, and think that you will have it for at least 6 seasons, that's less than $20 a year, and with the cheap stuff, you'll buy two in the same time period. and this is being very conservative. as many will attest, quality fleece can last a decade or longer.

those cheap ones are porous, pill super easy and lose their loft so quick. and the snaps, zippers and fit are usually never just right.

the patagonia synchilla fleece is in my opinion one of the greatest shirts ever used and it will out perform an old navy garment 30 seconds after you put it on and will last 8 times as long.

i would recommend only buying fleece that has the polartec tag on it - or the patagonia synchilla.

duofold makes great underlayers that you can always find for a great price!
post #16 of 29
I have a fleece I got from Price Club 12 years ago for $35 CDN. It's a no-name and it is still in excellent shape. It is my most worn outergarment -- almost daily from late fall to spring EVERY YEAR.

You should be able to tell if a fleece will last just by the weight of the fabric and it's density. I'm sure there are poor fleeces out there (just check out Chinatown in Toronto) and there are really good ones too, at low low prices. I'm sure Patagucci is fine. I'm also certain you can get as much for way less.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Crab
Patagonia outlasts everything else hands down. TNF doesn't come close and everything else just sux. Really- I have Patagucci stuff with ten years of hard wear just beginnung to fray. And I've taken worn out stuff to the store and they've replaced it free. I have a Patagonia outlet store (SLC) nearby, so I get most fleece tops as seconds for $20-30, other stuff 50%-70% off. It's amazing stuff.
Second that. Also, Patagonia makes Regulator fleece which is thinner but has the same warmth as much thicker fleece. Granted that Patagonia is an investment but if you are a serious out doors person it is worth it.

Have also had good luck with Northface, Marmot, and Mountain Hardware. Basically, the better brands are better and you get what you pay. REI is a good alternative. If you can't affored the better fleece search sites like Sierra TRading for closeouts....also Patagonia and REI have closeout/outlet stores on the web.

Some of my fleece is 10-12 years old with lots of use and still looks good.
post #18 of 29
post #19 of 29
Malden Mills, only makes the fleece They have a copy right on the name polar fleece. They make thier product in the Us at a factory is somewhere in New England. other companies buy the fleece and make the vest, Jackets, pants ect out of The Malden Mill fleece. Malden Mills ships the fleece to whereever the product is being sawn together. Viet Nam,China. Companies like Nother Face, Columbia, Patgonia and the rest are all chasing cheap labor pools all over the world. Yes there are other brand fleece products out there. some much better then others. Something from Old Navy is
useing a vary inferior brand fleece. I support Malden Mills becuse of what happened a few years back. They had a major fire at the Factory. The Mills owners at that time could have moved the production over seas. Instead they rebuilt and hired the workers back so that they could still be Made in the USA. That is a good company one worth supporting. They make a great product and work to keep a head of the competion. Like goretex you do pay a bit more for the name yet in the long run it is worth it.
post #20 of 29
I'm wearing a 13-year-old Patogonia fleece pullover at this very moment. If you amortize it, it's pretty darn cheap.

On the other hand, a lot of people like to turn their wardrobe over more often than that.
post #21 of 29
I have been wearing the same campmor 200 fleece pants under my North Face shell pants for over 10 years. 65+ days a season for the last 7 or 8 years. I paid $19.00 for them. They are Polartec fleece from Malden Mills. I also believe the mill owner paid the works some type of salary while they were out of work waiting for the rebuilding.
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Well I just bought some Polartec 200 fleece pants by Avalanche. I hope they last as long as your's!
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by unionbowler
i would recommend only buying fleece that has the polartec tag on it - or the patagonia synchilla.
Yo can get Polartech for much cheaper than $80 of course. Polartech is a MM trademakr I believe and its one I would also look for. Gore Windstopper is also good addition if you need that.

On the environmental implications I hope that I don't need to point out that this is all synthetic, and hence ultimitly from non-renewables (petrochemicals) -- for better or worse, awfully hard to make an enviro-argument (No, pattagucci doesn't make theirs from free-range polyester plants, though the Synchilla name is pretty cute ), except, yep, get a brand that will last a long time.
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lodro
Y...No, pattagucci doesn't make theirs from free-range polyester plants, though the Synchilla name is pretty cute, ...
To correct a finer point, Pat Ah Goo Che does source some (not all) of their fleece fibers from recyclables. More importantly, virtually all their manufacturing processes are very low impact, so much so that they are the standard that everyone else aspires to meet. All in all I'm impressed how they do it.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by glint
interesting. I have a nice EMS windbloc that's lasted me around 8 years now. Best garment I've ever owned.
No glint, it wasn't anything constructed with, or named of "windbloc[k]"....I do wear it all around....everywhere but in-between when active...
post #26 of 29
Patagonia's synchilla fleece snap t is made wholly from recycled materials.

they have a super sweet seam sealed shell that is made 100% from recycled materials.

yes, it is all still really non-renewables, but rather than creating new, they are re-using our leftovers.

i think that is super cool and i will support that. it is expensive. but we only have one world.
post #27 of 29
I've worn the same north face fleece for the past three winters literally daily, in varied condtions. I believe it's a denali fleece and it was expensive, but i've never owned a better all around garmet and would buy northface again in a heartbeat.
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by unionbowler
Patagonia's synchilla fleece snap t is made wholly from recycled materials.
Sure, that's great. Call me cynical though, but the whole thing strikes me as a bit of Ben & Jerry's/Body Shop flavah. You can pay way more than you should (unless you but it at the outlet, natch) and for that you get the eco branding. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, just that there is not a whole lot super-right about it either. The net postive effect of taking the extra $40 you spend and sending it to WWF or whatever would be much higher. The dumps aren't filing up with fleece jackets and making a few out of post-consumer stuff isn't going to help that much. Certainly way better than taking it from primary sources but we aren't in Iraq to protect the supply of oil for fleece jackets either. Actually, come to think of it, making a jacket is about the least wasteful thing we probably do with petrochemicals.

OTOH, I suppose if consumerism can be copted for good effect, what the heck. If they really encourage the rest of the industry to go this way by leading the way that might be really significant, but at the moment it doesn't seem much better than a feel-good thing.

Well, useless political dissembling done for now, sorry.
post #29 of 29

whtmt

Overall the best fleece I have ever worn is from Patagonia. Not only does it work extremely well functionally, but it never wears out. I can honestly say that I am very pleased with every garmet purchased from them. I have some very old mock t's for skiing that are so old I use them for cross training instead of skiing now. I replaced them with some variations of Patagonia's "R" system base and top layer garmets. I also plan to purchase their new "Hoody", for really cold days. It's a capilene and merino wool blend. I expect it to be the warmest and lightest garmet in my bag.

At the end of the day, I believe you get what you pay for or NOT. I expect the garmets I purchase to fit the task at hand in cold, wet weather here in Northern New England and to last a long time to offset their cost.

whtmt & Mackenzie 911
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