What happens if a brand no longer means quality?

I spotted an interesting bit of research carried out in the UK recently by PWC.

The study analysed the durability of clothes available on a typical UK high street. The study tested 10 pairs of jeans ranging in price from £7 (RM38) to £123 (RM680) and ten polo shirts ranging in price from £12 (RM66) to £85 (RM470).

PWC wouldn’t divulge the names of the ten retailers because, well they represent most of them but it did disclose that on the whole the cheaper versions of the jeans and polo shirts fared better than the designer brands.

The garments were put through 15 different trials to analyse the strength of their seams, if they shrank, and if so, by how much, their colour fastness and how they resisted abrasion. The study focussed on how well made the clothes were and the quality, not the fit, brand name or how fashionable the garments were.

The best performing jeans, in terms of cost were

1) Jeans priced at £9 (RM50)
2) Jeans priced at £18 (RM100)
3) Jeans priced at £9.50 (RM53)
4) Jeans priced at £123 (RM680)
9) Jeans priced at £40 (RM222)
10) Jeans priced at £25 (RM139)

It was a similar story with the polo shirts. The top two versions cost £12 (RM66). A polo shirt costing only £4.50 (RM25) came in an impressive 3rd. The £85 (RM471) came in fifth.

From a branding perspective, this study is interesting because consumers often justified paying a high price for a fashion brand because they felt that if it was expensive, it must be of good quality.

Does this mean that this is no longer the case?

If we can no longer trust brands to produce quality products, do we need brands?

Or are we able to get fashionability without the price tag?

What do you think?