Below are a few observations I’ve noticed with cheaper clothing generally.
First, the quality of the garment is simply not as good. This includes the fabrics used, the attention to detail, the quality of stitching, design and assembly, long term durability, etc. I’ve tried numerous articles of cycling and other outdoor clothing from both AliExpress and Amazon. A relatively few items have turned out to not be disappointments in some regard. There is something to be said for the R&D that goes into developing the more expensive clothing, just like there is for the various components of the bike. The proprietary fabrics and panel designs are typically superior. This is especially evident in the chamois’ used in cycling clothes. Granted, there is some markup for the marketing and name recognition of many expensive brands which is irritating to pay. I rarely pay retail for an article of clothing. Will try to shop during season change sales, holiday sales, other site promotions, and often even buy used from ebay. I’ve had much better luck with used name brand cycling clothing than the Chinese stuff. Just have to know your sizes in a given brand and look for things that still have some life left in them and have been properly cared for.
Second, the comfort of cheaper garments is considerably lacking. This includes such things as the design, cut, and fit of the article. I’ve yet to see a cheap Chinese manufacturer who has designed and executed their design as well as most of the other cycling specific brands. The quality control in production is simply inferior. Like much of the imitation products that come out of China, the cheaper clothing is not designed to be a replacement for products aimed at niche markets with specialty uses such as cycling. Rather, these cheaper clothes are intended to be used by the masses and those unfamiliar with the advantages of nicer clothes. Potentially they could be used as supplemental clothing for short shoulder seasons or something if the rider is not inclined to make the investment for those types of weather given that they don’t ride enough to justify it or something. However, for me, I’ve discovered that it is especially true in the shoulder seasons and other inclement weather conditions that the more expensive garments really make a difference in comfort. I ride indoor and outdoor year round in an area with typical four seasons including snow and subzero temperatures. I’ve especially noticed the comfort difference in the chamois’ of cheap clothing. There is almost nothing as miserable as chaffing and saddles sores ruining your ride as a result of a poorly fitting or designed piece of clothing. Additionally, the weight and durability of the name brand clothes is typically much better. Especially if you buy the high end items. Generally more panels are used in the garment, and a rider can get the desired fit for their body type and use of the garment. Don’t have as many options in the Chinese stuff. Granted some fabrics are designed for very specific uses or temperatures and are not very good if employed for an unintended use. This can result is damage to the fabric. Sometimes you want something very breathable, and others you need something water or wind proof, or light and packable. The Chinese stuff seems to have a very hard time addressing the specific needs of a given type of garment or body type, and rather employs a philosophy of “one size fits all.” Whether talking about actual size, or a given type of use.
Third, part of what you’re paying for in a name brand garment is for warranty and customer service. I’ve had several name brand garments damaged and been able to get repair or replacement (depending on the circumstances) when working with reputable manufacturers. There are several US manufactures that I prefer simply because they are easier to deal with for me. However, there are numerous European manufactures that have this area really well dialed in also. When you buy a cheap Chinese garment, you’re gambling the entire cost of the garment basically, hoping that it will last long enough to get your money worth out of it. Even if comfort were equal to the more expensive stuff–which it is not–you’d have to get the equivalent amount of use relative to the amount spent in order to make it comparable. For example, if the garment costs half as much, you’d have to get at least half the lifetime out of it to be worth it. This rarely happens. Granted, nothing last forever, if you use it, and all chamois’ wear out, even the best. So you have to find the balance between cost and use that works for you. I believe the more you ride, the more an expensive garment will be a better value because they hold up so much better if taken care of properly. Most of the name brands come with a lifetime warranty covering manufacturers defects. You won’t find that in a Chinese garment. I’ve used warranties several times which convinced me of the value of buying name brand.
Finally, I do agree, and there is an argument to be made that cheap clothing is useful sometimes. For short rides such as indoor trainer rides, out of inclement weather and in controlled temperatures, I believe there is value to using and wearing out a cheaper garment than a nice name brand one. The clothing used on the trainer tends to get washed more frequently and has the added wear that comes with that (I only air dry my synthetic clothing, never in the dryer). It is nice to have a clean pair of bibs for every trainer ride, but that is probably an unrealistic expectation if we’re talking about nice name brand bibs. Unless you’re washing clothes every other day, which will take a toll on the life of the garment. Additionally, for a cyclist who isn’t riding as frequently, or just getting into the sport, these cheaper clothes have a place. When I first got into cycling I was using almost exclusively cheaper clothing. In my ignorance I could not justify spending $100+ on a pair of bibs or shoes when there is such a prevalence of what appeared to be adequate cheaper clothing. I’ve since affirmed my belief in the adage, “you get what you pay for.”
That is probably enough said on that matter for now. Take it for what its worth. But as Plato said, “opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”