Over the past few years, through sale-stalking, birthday gift cards, and impulse purchases (see this), I’ve managed to accumulate a nice collection of shirts. Shirts with lovely hues, shirts with special embellishments, shirts that I like. Shirts that I should no longer be wearing in public. Why is that?
Every single one of my knit shirts, and believe me when I say EVERY SINGLE ONE, has developed tiny holes in my front midsection. The shirts are all fairly new, from the last 2-3 years, and are from several different brands, including GAP, J Crew, Old Navy, and (ahem) Target. What do they all have in common? Except for J Crew they are all cheap, and they are all made in factories outside the U.S., mostly in China. Although most of the shirts with holes are from J Crew (as my husband loves to point out), as a statistician I must clarify that most of my current wardrobe is J Crew, and that a true analysis would need to take into account the proportion of each brand in my wardrobe, as well as the thickness of the fabric. Perhaps that is just my denial talking, because I’ve certainly been “brand loyal” (aka liking their clothes) for a year or two.
If the above hole doesn’t seem like a big deal to you, look at this.
If the first picture is a mild flu, the second is a level four outbreak. Contagion!
Okay, gather up Gumshoes, let’s try to solve this mystery together.
1. Although I am certainly not an entomologist, common sense suggests that if this was a pest infestation the affected area would not be this localized. It’s not bugs.
2. My next suspect was the laundry. I have an amazing HE front-loader with no dents or pokey things in the drum. I was about to start a hand-wash only trial, when one of my shirts (the green perfect fit henley from J Crew pictured above) developed holes in it the first time I wore it. Within two hours of putting it on. TWO HOURS, people! It’s not the wash.
3. My lifestyle- it is true that I have three very young children, and said children tend to tug at shirts and demand to be carried around. Perhaps their little feet are rubbing against the front of my shirt while I am carrying them on my hip?
Perhaps it is a toxic lifestyle-fabric interaction, in which the thin fabrics of today are not resilient enough for the wrath of toddlers. This remains a possibility, although I would assume that holes would also appear in other high-stress places, like my shoulders and neckline, if this were the main explanation.
4. A specific threat. Could it be an acidic belly button? A corrosive waistband? A bumpy countertop? A prickly seatbelt? A combination of the two? ( Here is an in-depth diagram of the button-countertop theory). It could be all of these things. But why only in the last few years? Have fabrics just gotten too thin? Maybe, but again, wouldn’t there be more wear all over, instead of just at the front? Have seatbelts gotten more prickly? Is it the Obama administration? WHAT IS GOING ON?
5. A worldwide conspiracy of cheaply made goods with malfunctioning factory equipment. While this may seem like the “second shooter on the grassy knoll” theory, I think that it is the answer. Of course this is anecdotal, but the only shirts I have that have not developed these holes are American Apparel. (Unfortunately, things like this Christmas green velvet thong bodysuit and the creepy actions and attitudes of the company founder give me pause when shopping for their clothes). I settled in on this theory when I found out that I am not alone. Just look at this, this , or this. There are people all over the world, with clothing from many different brands, who have these holes. ALWAYS IN THE SAME PLACE. I’ve wasted hundreds of dollars on shirts, and if you add us all up it has got to be millions of wasted dollars.
I’m not sure what to do next. Just like we learn in behavioral research, it is a lot easier to tell individual people to wear an apron while they cook or get a fleece cover for their seatbelt then to tell companies to stop producing crappy products. But I just can’t do it anymore. I’ve decided no more online shopping or B&M shopping at the big chain stores for shirts. I’m going to stick to brands and styles that have thicker fabric and are made in the USA or countries other than China. And I’m not a true locavore or anti-globalization in a dogmatic way. I just want shirts that don’t have holes. Period.
Do you have this problem? Where do the holes come from? Comment away!