Enjoy millions of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more

Only $11.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion


Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

ratings:
4.5/5 (27 ratings)
Length:
7 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 27, 2016
ISBN:
9781515986799
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

All about the bargain…

Cline explores the cultural, economic, and ecological shifts that happened over the last few decades that resulted in fast fashion's current domination of the clothing landscape. She shows how society once had a very different attitude towards clothing; while we once prioritized longevity and good craftsmanship, now it's all about the bargain.

Description

Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to fast fashion chains like H&M now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. Retailers are pro­ducing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they've turned clothing into a disposable good. After all, we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it's cheaper to just buy more.



But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?



In Overdressed, Elizabeth L. Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retail­ers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals.
Publisher:
Released:
Dec 27, 2016
ISBN:
9781515986799
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

Elizabeth L. Cline has written for AMCtv.com, The Daily Beast, New York, The Etsy Blog, Popular Science, The New Republic, The Village Voice and seedmagazine.com. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.   Visit www.overdressedthebook.com



Reviews

What people think about Overdressed

4.4
27 ratings / 17 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    pg. 198 cheap fashion is a waste of money... "because the materials and sewing often aren't even worth owning."
    The cheap clothing industry has taken jobs out of our nation and is filling our landfills.
    Natural materials can be composted, but most clothing is made with mixed fabrics and most are manmade. We do not have the technology to separate the materials.
    "clothing that is well made is not cheap..." pg. 208
    pg. 221 "cheap clothes not only undermine those who sew, sell and design them, they're the pitiful result of decades of price pressure that has erased the craftmanship and splendor of what we were."
  • (3/5)
    Why I buy most of my clothes from Goodwill
  • (5/5)
    Probably my favorite book of the year (it's March). The research is broad, detailed and complex. Elizabeth Cline offers a number of explanations and ways of looking at the problem of fashion, from the price scrutiny of consumers, changing clothing culture, intellectual property, profit margins of business, and other elements of the global fashion industry. I was constantly engrossed in all of the different ways to think about this issue. She goes right to the sources of trade organizations, U.S., Chinese, Bangladeshi, and Dominican clothiers. She looks at different companies, statements of fashion designers and leaders, and the history of fashion and prices.

    If you only want to know how to make your fashion more ethical, try the following suggestions in the book: (0) stop buying fast fashion: Zara/H&M/Old Navy/Forever21 (1) minimize the size of your wardrobe (2) choose high quality items (will experience a lot of wears, reparable, durable, looks good) (3) indicators (but not necessary or sufficient indicators) of fair trade include transparent sourcing, fair trade certifications, low production volumes, slow cycles, prices higher than fast fashion retailers (4) evaluate each garment individually instead of relying on a brands (offerings differ) (5) consider making your own clothes (6) see if you can find vintage clothes (7) repair clothes and shoes (8) only donate clothing that is in good condition and of good quality
  • (3/5)
    Not a lot of shocking information here, at least not if you've kept abreast of the fashion news for the last several years. There were a lot of typos and Malapropisms scattered throughout the text and I always find that very distracting. Overall, it was an interesting book but not enthralling.

    I haven't bought a new piece of clothing for probably 15 years, so I'm not the target audience here. I certainly applaud mindfulness in all things, including fashion.
  • (5/5)
    I had heard an interview with Elizabeth Cline on NPR and all I remembered was the quote that Zara was able to get items from design to store in two weeks. Two weeks! How does that work with the fashion shows and clothiers and, and, and -- oh wait, it doesn't. Welcome to fast fashion.

    I currently find myself in a similar position to the author at the start of the book, with two closets and two dressers my clothes still split time between the bins and the floor. I blamed it originally on moving to the Mid-West, suddenly now I needed two distinct wardrobes to deal with the changing weather, but the truth is I am in the group of people who want new clothes on a ridiculous basis. Though my clothes come from more of the mid-range stores (Banana Republic vs. Old Navy) than the shops Cline discusses, they are still made in the same factories.

    What I appreciate about Cline's book is she distributes the blame for our culture shift evenly amongst consumers and producers, consistently reminding us that the more we demand lower prices, the more producers must sacrifice quality. It's hard for me to imagine a time when people dressed up to go downtown to the department store, as consumers we have let our desire for more, win out over our desire for good.

    I also appreciated the end where she discussed her own transformation and some of the options for breaking yourself of the fast-fashion habit. Not all of us can afford to spend $800 on an Armani Prive blouse, and as she points out in her novel, even some of the top houses have seen a steady decline in their products. Speaking of designers, I thought the section on how clothes were basically a lose for most major brands was insightful. It makes sense, but I never really stopped to think that their profit was in the few things regular people could afford (handbags, shoes, sunglasses, scarves), rather than there clothes.
  • (4/5)
    This is a pretty good book for anyone interested in the following:

    * Labor rights
    * American (domestic) production and manufacturing
    * The history of fashion

    Cline positions herself as a "fast fashion addict," a term I don't think is necessarily correct in describing her, as she also readily admits that she only purchased "fast fashion" because it was so cheap. That's less a fashion addict and more someone who chases what they believe to be a bargain.

    Anyway, that part doesn't matter so much. At some point, Cline came to the realization that clothing today sucks: It's made of cheap fabrics, it's poorly created, and the fashion of the moment seems to change every 2 seconds. Unlike eras past, the 2000's don't have a defining "look", and this is in part due to so-called "fast fashion."

    So Cline sets out on a quest to learn what, exactly, fast fashion is, and how we can remedy our shoddy clothing situation. The results of her investigation are fascinating and eye-opening. She explains how cheap fashion can be sold so very, very cheaply, and she explains why name-brand fashion is so incredibly, outrageously expensive and how cheap fashion has actually contributed to the soaring prices of high fashion.

    When she discussed the prices, I particularly like that Cline dug up the prices of mid-priced fashion (something that has all but died in modern times) from bygone eras and converted it to today's funds. She does a really great job explaining how clothing used to be a few key pieces meant to last for years and be repaired, reused and refashioned before finally, finally being donated. She also addresses some common misconceptions about clothing being essentially earth friendly because "it's fabric," which ignores the massive blending and usage of petroleum-based fabrics (like polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc)and other man-made fabrics.

    This is just a really fascinating book, but the best, the absolute best part, in my opinion, is that Cline offers viable, real-world solutions for how we can change the industry. In case you don't want to read the book, here's how:

    * Learn to sew. The art of sewing is being lost in this generation -- go buy a cheap hobbyist machine and take classes at your local JoAnn's or Michael's or whatever craft store you have. Use your newfound ability to sew to alter clothing to fit you better, to build a more personalized style, and to repair and extend the life of the clothing you own.
    * Buy ethically-sourced clothing. We keep saying we want manufacturing back in America, but we've driven it offshore with our increasing demands for ever-lower prices. There are factories operating in LA that were paying by the piece finished rather than the required minimum wage (so if you didn't finished enough pieces in an hour, you didn't make minimum wage), and they were still shipping orders overseas because it was cheaper. If we put our money where our mouths are and start buying clothing that is ethically-sourced -- as in, we purchase it from factories who pay their workers a living wage, health benefits, etc., or we purchase it from businesses who do in fact make it in America, then we are speaking with our wallets and taking a stand for value and ethics over savings and convenience.
    * Participate in clothing swaps. Instead of going to the store and spending more money on more cheap clothes, go through your closet. Arrange or find a local clothing swap, and bring some clothing that's still in good condition but that you just don't wear anymore.

    For that last bit, you're probably thinking why not just donate? Read the book. It addresses that question.