recommended reading: overdressed



Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline (Portfolio/Penguin 2012)

I tore through a much-awaited pre-ordered copy of this last year and have been pressing it upon unsuspecting friends ever since - this book lays out the problems with the fashion industry as it stands today and is absolutely a must read. Well researched and, I found, incredibly accessible (Cline is interestingly NOT an industry insider, but an average consumer who suddenly realised that owning 354 items of crap clothing was definitely a factor in what is wrong with the world), it covers everything from the history of garment manufacture in America to the frightening attitudes behind youtube 'haul' videos, the slippery slope of mass offshore production to people who are taking steps to slow things down.

While the problem is obviously bigger than one can tackle between two covers Cline has produced an exemplary overview, raising questions that are just as relevant to the everyday consumer as to people who work in the industry, without preaching or being unrealistic...if you are still buying new outfits for $50 every weekend you need to read this.

"...when I walk by an H&M or an Old Navy or a Target, I see what once looked like fashion meccas for what they really are: unsightly jumbles of cheap clothes dressed up as good deals. When we can recognize how clothing is put together, what it's made of, and can visualize the long journey it makes to our closets, it becomes harder to view it as worthless or disposable."


Mica said...

Oh I loved this book! Between this and the "how luxury lost its lustre" book, they were the only times I've been able to stop spending for a bit. They really make you think. So many scary facts in there.

Of course I'd need to pry it out of my friend's hands to read it again - like you I've been giving it out to people to read! :)

Le Fanciulle said...

This has been on my to-read list for a little while now!! Must get my hands on it :D

Alexandra Crosby said...

I am glad you wrote about this book, I must say I walk around with blinkers on sometimes when it comes to news, and releases of books or movies.
But the basic idea of having a handful of key garments of quality in your wardrobe, not mountains of cheap stuff has always been something I have tried to adhere to.
I will gives this a read and see what their ideas are.
Thank you :)

Stacy said...

I just saw this at our local library. I'll have to take it out for my summer read! Thanks for the reminder!

Fashion Hayley said...

Just ordered this book thanks to this blog post. I read Lucy Siegle's To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? a few years back and it really made me think about all the factors that go into fast fashion - from leather production to cotton fields to the actual garment construction and the horrific condition. What none of the books take into consideration (at least so far) is in order to 'buy better' you can't be over size 14. There is nothing out there for plus sizes that isn't fast fashion, or if there is I don't know about it. Anyway looking forward to reading the book and if you get the chance you should buy Lucy Siegle's book too xoxo

harbourmaster said...

Must put How Luxury Lost its Lustre and To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? on the reading list, thanks for the recommendations!

Hayley that's a really good point - I suppose because plus fashion is a younger industry it's going through a different phase of development? The plus industry is lagging behind the mainstream industry in so many other regards (design innovation, fit standards) I think it's just a matter of the timeline being thoughts are that the mentality of the industry has to change - every brand, no matter what their market, has a responsibility to produce less volume at a higher quality to reduce the environmental, economic & ethical pressures the current system has created.