I really hope you are enjoying our “What Are You Wearing” fashion book study. The second book in our series, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline, has been on my Wish List for years. This book answered the literal question of “What are we wearing?” What is it made of, where did it come from, and how was it created?
Many, many years ago, I swore off Forever 21. The horrendous product quality, poor brand standards and policies, and generally tacky styles turned me off right away. However, I still shop at fast fashion retailers like H&M and Zara. While I knew they weren’t the best quality, I thought they were a good resource for inexpensive trendy or simple pieces. We all do this – shop for something easy, inexpensive and quick. Stores like Old Navy, Kohls, Gap, H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 are fast fashion retailers that produce clothing at an alarmingly quick rate.
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion is an in-depth, well researched report on what fast fashion is. Where did it come from? What is it made of? What is the impact on our economy, our environment, and our world? The author traveled all over the world and spent many years meeting with seamstresses, designers, factory workers, and industry leaders to find out what exactly we are wearing.
I learned three important lessons from this book…
- Good, quality clothing from natural materials, made in ethical ways, with quality stitching and construction, in expensive. If you’ve ever wondered why a 100% silk blouse from an upscale shop costs $300, it is usually due to quality sewing, an ethical brand, and a good quality product. This blouse will most likely last you forever, but it will cost you. This isn’t just because its a nice product, but because these materials, workmanship, and quality are costly.
- There is no reason that a polyester blouse made in China should cost $300. Be aware of what you are paying for. I don’t believe in buying something expensive for the name, but rather for the exquisite product quality. If you’re buying a shapeless blouse, made of plastic in China, with loose threads and uneven seams it should cost $10. If they are charging you $300, run. Run away.
- Cheap fashion is cheap. There is no way around this. In order to sell a shirt for $10, it must be made cheaply. It is poor quality fabrics, poor quality stitching, and poor quality construction. There is nothing wrong with this – we all need tank tops and t-shirts and other items that can be bought cheaply.
I love these quotes from the book…
“I imagined a design team trying to dream up a coat or even a dress for a consumer…What kind of dress can we make for $30? they’d have to ask themselves. The answer is not much of one” (Cline, 2012)
“Over the past two decades, American consumers have accepted, and benefited from, the race to the bottom in fashion. The competition in garment manufacturing has been beyond fierce, with only the lowest prices surviving.” (Cline, 2012)
“But what if more of us thought about clothing in the way people – until very recently – have always thought about it? Clothing is valuable. It should be valued.” (Cline, 2012)
I really enjoyed this book. Elizabeth R. Cline’s Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap is an deeply researched report on what we are buying. I learned about product quality, clothing factories, ethical brands, and where my clothing comes from. It was written in an interesting, engaging way that allowed me to learn about a very serious subject without losing interest.
What did you think?
- Did you enjoy the book?
- Will you continue to buy fast, cheap fashion?
- Are the effects of the fast fashion culture worth the cost on our environment and our world?