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Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (2012)
by Elizabeth L. Cline
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Inspired by this book, I took a trip to the thrift store today for the first time in several years, and it seems that fast fashion has gotten an even stronger hold than it had in 2017. I could hardly find anything 100% cotton, let alone the silk and wool treasures I used to find. *Sigh* This is a decent book but not really anything I didn't already know. And the narration of the audiobook isn't great (narrator kept mispronouncing words, like saying "blots" for "bolts," and "tawny" for "tony"), but it gets the job done. ( )
Unexpectedly fascinating. A game-changer.
I've been dissatisfied with my clothes for years, painfully aware of the poor quality of the sewing and the fabrics, noticing the lack of detail.
Cline explains why and what a consumer can do about it. So I'm looking at doing my own sewing at least for simple tops and dresses.
Right now I'm wearing a pair of $150 shoes that were made in America (which I happen to buy because I have hard to fit feet). In 2013 America, I am the exception. 20 or more years ago, however, I wouldn't have been, as Elizabeth Cline shows. In inflation adjusted money, the price of clothes has dropped dramatically and our expectations for clothing have changed alongside. We now buy cheaper clothes in larger quantities.
The drop in price and the rise of fast fashion has come at a cost, however. We have come to expect clothes that are cheap in quality as well as in price. They are made under time pressure in foreign factories with poorly paid workers, from cheaper fabrics, in quickly run off collections ripped off from other manufacturers. The mid-market fashions many of us grew up in are now hard to find or completely nonexistent: the lines that purport to be mid-market are now made cheaply as well. At the high end, while some pieces reflect a genuine increase in labor, materials, and design, others retail for far greater markups as a demonstration of affluence and the importance of labels.
Cline does a nice job of demonstrating the costs--both in clothes and to the workers who make them--of our modern attitude to fashion. She is short on suggestions, however, aside from promotion of ethical fashion initiatives. The book is predominantly focused on standard sized women's wear. As with fashion in general, plus (where we pay 3x or more the price for equally poorly made clothing--no Zara for us) is ignored. A few mentions are made of suits, but men and children get short shrift; the examples are continually of dresses, skirts, and blouses.
As always with discussion of ethical fashion, I left with a small amount of personal frustration, but the issues addressed are relevant for all.
This has been doing the rounds of the interwebs for a while, and it fits into my recent goals to buy less, make more, reduce crap. It was a fairly thought-provoking read, even if not a lot of it was a major revelation. It sucks that good manufacturing jobs are almost extinct in the US, and while the author points to slow fashion in LA and Brooklyn as signs that this might be changing, I hardly think it's on an industry scale yet. I had no idea that when I was a teenager, we still made 50% of our clothes here!
I would really like to feel good about where my clothing comes from and how it's constructed, and I don't want to wear synthetics (or hemp pants). I guess I'll just have to keep plugging away at that learning-to-make-clothing thing!
ETA: This graphic: http://tumblr.everlane.com/post/41880067167/youve-heard-of-farm-to-table-but-hav... illustrates the point of a much of the book. Companies mostly divorced from their sourcing, which makes it harder to create ethical products. (I realize the graphic comes from another company that produces overseas, and excuse me if my trust factor isn't high enough to buy their ethics-speak hook, line, and sinker. Yet.)
Excellent book on what needs to change in the fashion industry and how consumers need to change their buying habits. Full of statistical facts, blunt, and to the point. A book for consumers as well as those studying economic inequity and environmental damage.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
The work evaluates the costs of low priced clothing while tracing the author's own transformation to a conscientious shopper, a journey during which she visited a garment factory, learned to resole shoes, and shopped for local, sustainable clothing. Until recently, she was a typical American consumer. She had grown accustomed to shopping at outlet malls, discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and cheap but trendy retailers like Forever 21, Target, and H&M. She was buying a new item of clothing almost every week, the national average is sixty four per year, but all she had to show for it was a closet and countless storage bins packed full of low quality fads she barely wore, including the same sailor stripe tops and fleece hoodies as a million other shoppers. When she found herself lugging home seven pairs of identical canvas flats from Kmart, she realized that something was deeply wrong. Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JC Penney now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)338.4Social sciences Economics Production Secondary industries and services
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