We Compared The Cost Of Basics At Zara, H&M & Aritzia In Canada: Here's Where's Cheapest
The quality and materials of each item were also considered. 👀
Clothes shopping, much like grocery shopping, gas and rent, feels more expensive than ever, and many Canadians are searching for ways to stretch their budgets further than ever before.
While you may prefer to fork out for higher-quality items when it comes to things like outerwear or formal attire, many shoppers prefer to prioritize lower prices for everyday essentials like leggings, sweaters or T-shirts. However, you may not necessarily want to sacrifice quality.
To gain insight into where shoppers can find some of the most affordable (but stylish) clothing in Canada right now, we compared the cost of basics at three major fashion retailers: Zara, H&M and Aritzia.
To find the best possible prices, we searched each website for popular basics, such as "blue jeans," and sorted — where possible — by price, lowest first. To get the clearest picture of which stores offer the cheapest closet staples overall, only full-price items were considered.
Of course, there are a whole bunch of other elements to consider beyond price — like quality, materials and customer reviews, all of which have also been considered where possible.
And, while you may prefer the designs or convenience of one particular brand or retailer, in many cases, the materials used are exactly the same, even if the price differences are considerable.
There are other factors that conscious shoppers will want to consider too, such as size inclusivity, accessibility, sustainability and a store's ethical practices. However, when focusing primarily on cost, one store truly reigns supreme.
Zara's black T-shirt.
H&M price: $6.99
Details: This H&M black tee has a whole bunch of positive reviews and is priced at just under $7. It's 100% cotton, regular length and has a slightly wider neckline with a narrow trim. Thousands of customers rated this an average of four and a half stars out of five. An oversized version costs a little more at $12.99.
Zara price: $12.90
Details: This basic black Zara 100% cotton T-shirt has a round neck and short sleeves and is priced mid-range at just under $13. No customer reviews were available.
Aritzia price: $25
Details: While Aritzia had a couple of black T-shirts on sale for under $15 — like this Tna Melrose T-shirt — there were no similar styles for under $25 at full price. The 94% cotton, cropped-style Tna Homestretch Baby Crew Waist T-Shirt will set you back $25 (rated four out of five by customers), whereas a more traditional fine-ribbed crewneck T-shirt will cost you $30.
The cheapest choice: $6.99 (H&M)
Levi's 501 Skinny Jean.
H&M price: $22.99
Details: There are a whole bunch of H&M jeans on sale for between $13.99 and $19.99, which means it's definitely possible to get your denim here for under $20. Regular-priced jeans start at $22.99, like these slim high-ankle jeans, which are made from 99% cotton. They're rated four out of five stars on average.
Zara price: $55.90
Details: At Zara, you can find a whole bunch of blue jeans priced around the $56-65 mark, with most of the more affordable options coming in at $55.90. At this budget, you could get these high-waisted mom-fit jeans, made from 99% cotton and 1% elastane, or these mid-rise flare cropped jeans, made from the same material for the same price.
Aritzia price: $98
Details: Again, Aritzia currently has a whole lot of jeans dramatically reduced in price, and it's certainly possible to pick up a good quality pair for between $35 and $50 on sale. However, the cheapest full-priced blue jeans are currently around $98 for products like Sunday Best's Jupiter Jean (made from sustainable materials) or Levi's 501 Skinny Jean — however, you do get a designer name for this price, and both are made with at least 99% cotton. Despite the higher cost, customers have rated both pairs at least four stars out of five.
The cheapest choice: $22.99 (H&M)
Striped knit sweater
Zara basic knit sweater.
H&M price: $17.99
Details: H&M has a whole bunch of striped knit sweaters for $17.99, with options in a range of styles and colours. Most are made from 100% acrylic, which is why they're cheaper than wool alternatives, although at first glance many of them appear similar. That said, they are unlikely to be as warm, breathable or soft. Customers rated these sweaters four out of five on average.
Zara price: $45.90
Details: Although there were cheaper alternatives on sale, Zara's basic striped knits will set you back around $45 to $55. The retailer had a whole bunch of stylish options around this price range, although there were no customer reviews available. One such example is the basic knit sweater, made from 83% viscose, 15% polyamide and 2% elastane.
Aritzia price: $138
Details: Outside of the sale, which does include many items, the cheapest striped knit you can find at Aritizia right now is $138. While pricey, the Wilfred Clara Sweater is made from 100% merino wool, sourced from Italy, so it'll probably be super soft and naturally very warm and cozy.
The cheapest choice: $17.99 (H&M)
H&M cotton poplin shirt.
H&M price: $19.99
Details: This H&M cotton poplin shirt comes in at under $20 and is made from 100% cotton. It has long sleeves, a turn-down collar and a loose fit, and customers have rated it as four out of five stars on average.
Zara price: $39.90
Details: Zara's own version of the poplin shirt will cost you about double the H&M alternative, and it's also made from 100% cotton. There are also some higher-quality versions available at the retailer if you're willing to spend a bit more, so it's good to know there are options there if you want to upgrade on materials. For example, you can pick up a tailored 100% silk white shirt for $169 or a 100% linen option for $55.90.
Aritzia price: $48
Details: Once again, Aritzia's sale has a whole host of affordable white shirts, similar to the offerings from H&M and Zara, many of which are priced between $20 and $45. However, outside of the sale, the cheapest white collared shirt is the Wilfred Pose Longsleeve, which will set the buyer back $48 at regular price. Made of 10% TENCEL Lyocell (a sustainable fibre made from wood pulp) and 10% elastane, customers rated this four and a half stars on average. Other options include the Sunday Best Future Shirt, which is 100% cotton and oversized, for $78, or the similar Tna Bixby Oxford Shirt for $78.
The cheapest choice: $19.99 (H&M)
Faux leather jacket
Zara faux leather jacket.
H&M price: $69.99
Details: You can get a faux leather jacket from H&M for under $70, like this black crop biker jacket made from polyurethane and polyester. This is a synthetic material, but it has the general look and vibe of a leather product. Generally, it's cheaper than real leather but not as warm or long-lasting. It's highly rated by customers though, with a five-star rating on average.
Zara price: $65.90
Details: Zara doesn't currently stock real leather jackets, and instead has faux leather offerings starting from as little as $65.90 (although most options are around the $99 mark). This affordable faux leather crop jacket is made from 100% polyester with a 100% polyurethane coating and is actually the cheapest "leather" jacket on this list.
Aritzia price: $148
Details: While many of Aritzia's faux leather jackets are priced over $200, some can be found in the sale for less than half price, which means it's definitely possible to grab a bargain. All of the retailer's "leather" products are also vegan, which is good news for those looking to avoid animal products. The cheapest non-sale item is the Wilfred Little Cropped Jacket, which retails for just under $150. Like the H&M alternative, the exterior is made from 100% polyurethane, although the quality of this product may vary.
The cheapest choice: $65.90 (Zara)
H&M price: $7.99
Details: You can find 100% cotton graphic tees at H&M for as cheap as $7.99, although oversized printed tees — like this 100% cotton light pink lemon style — cost a bit more at $16.99. The cheaper options are a little plain, and in some cases don't look of the same quality as other alternatives on this list.
Zara price: $14.90
Details: Zara has a giant range of graphic and printed T-shirts, with prices starting at $14.90 and going up to $35.90, depending on the design and features. Those without extras like embroidery or unique textures cost less than $15, and some are seriously fun — like this round-neck, regular-fit printed shirt, made from 100% cotton.
Aritzia price: $35
Details: There are a whole bunch of graphic tees in the sale at Aritzia for under $20, so it's definitely possible to find one here for cheap if you're searching within sale season. Outside of the sale items, the cheapest printed T-shirts that Artizia has are around the $35 mark, like this 100% cotton Sunday Best Dream T-shirt.
The cheapest choice: $7.99 (H&M)
Zara body shaping leggings.
H&M price: $12.99
Details: Made from 95% cotton and 5% elastane, H&M's basic cotton jersey leggings are the most affordable non-sale leggings on the site at just $12.99. They come in a variety of colours, and H&M shoppers have rated the product four out of five stars on average.
Zara price: $39.90
Details: Unlike many of the other basics on this list, Zara didn't have a whole bunch of choices when it came to leggings. The cheapest option — their body-shaping leggings — are still fairly expensive for a fast fashion retailer at just under $40. They're made from 67% viscose, 28% polyamide and 5% elastane, which may make them slightly less durable than other items on this list, but potentially lighter to wear and softer to the touch.
Aritzia price: $25
Details: In the sale section, you can find Aritzia leggings for as cheap as $9.99, which means it's definitely possible to find affordable athleisurewear here. Looking at full-priced items only, the cheapest high-rise, full-length leggings are priced at $25. The Tna Chill Atmosphere Hi-Rise Legging has a wide waistband, is made from 95% cotton and 5% elastane, and comes in a variety of colours. Aritzia customers have rated it four out of five stars on average.
The cheapest choice: $12.99 (H&M)
Crew socksThe Tna Cozy Crew Sock
H&M price: $12.99
Details: The cheapest crew-height socks from H&M come in at $12.99 for a pair of wool-blend socks that come in a few patterns. They're made from 60% acrylic, 16% polyester, 14% wool, 8% viscose and 2% elastane, and have five-star reviews from customers.
Zara price: $12.90
Details: Bizarrely, Zara doesn't appear to currently offer any socks for women online other than these metallic thread socks, or these rhinestone fishnet socks. The nearest comparison in the menswear section for a single pair of socks is these embroidered band socks, which are made from 94% cotton, 5% polyamide and 1% elastane. They're the second cheapest out of the bunch, but there was very little choice overall.
Aritzia price: $8
Details: Cozy socks from Aritzia come in all sorts of price brackets, but the cheapest are under $10. Both the Tna Cozy Crew Sock (54% cotton, 25% wool, 11% polyester, 9% acrylic, 1% elastane) and the Wilfred Unwind Crew sock (47% acrylic, 33% wool, 14% nylon, 5% polyester, 1% elastane) will set shoppers back just $8 for a pair. Both come in multiple colours and have five-star reviews from shoppers.
The cheapest choice: $8 (Aritzia)
Overall, in most categories, H&M had the cheapest options available for shoppers. And, in many cases, the materials used were almost the same, if not exactly the same, as the more expensive alternatives.
Of course, the quality of each individual item may vary depending on a whole bunch of factors, and its intended usage is something to consider too.
While H&M came out on top in terms of price and overall customer reviews, it was Zara that consistently had the most choice for each item (apart from socks and leggings), with a whole host of styles and fits for each category. Unfortunately, the Zara website doesn't have customer reviews, so it is harder for shoppers to get a good gauge on quality before purchasing.
Aritzia, while regularly the most expensive, does promise a host of different brands, and have a lot of sale items, and also most often referenced the sustainability of their products.
So, if you're looking for cheap, cheerful and simple – you know where to shop. However, if you're looking for more options or the most sustainable choice, consider spending a little bit more.
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