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To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  450 ratings  ·  42 reviews
An expose on the fashion industry written by the Observer's 'Ethical Living' columnist, examining the inhumane and environmentally devastating story behind the clothes we so casually buy and wear. Coming at a time when the global financial crisis and contracting of consumer spending is ushering in a new epoch for the fashion industry, To Die For offers a very plausible vis ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 2nd 2011 by 4th Estate GB (first published May 5th 2008)
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Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Once upon a time “fashion” was only for the upper class. Clothes were custom-made to fit the bodies of rich patrons, who could pay for top quality fabric and workmanship. Fashionable patterns filtered down slowly, so that the lower class could copy them and produce their own clothes with lesser materials. Dressmaking was slow and expensive, both for the rich and the poor. For this reason quality was important. Clothes and accessories were made to cherish and to last.

When mass-production arrived,
Jun 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Ahh, I finally got hold of this book. It's hard to find; neither my library nor Amazon carries it. I ordered it through Powell's (shipped from the UK). I wouldn't be surprised if this book's publication was actively suppressed in the U.S. This book is for you if you want to know:
--How a $20 dress at H&M got to be that cheap
--Why we're buying more clothing, not less, now that it's cheaper than ever
--If there are other factories like Rana Plaza in Bangladesh (YES. And many garment industry moguls
Marie Z Johansen
When I read "Overdressed" by Elizabeth Cline I was motivated to start make my own shirts again and I looked for more books about the true cost of what has, aptly, been called the "fast fashion" industry. I have never been an "on trend" shopper or clothing wearer. My tastes have always been a bit more prosaic and conservative and I have always preferred clothes that will be used for years rather than months.

Learning about how and why the cost of clothes have plummeted has been areal eye-opener to
We know the horror story behind our clothes, and yet we shrug - perhaps guiltily, but still - and carry on, myself very much included. The practices of modern fashion are obscene, as is our endorsement of them, as is the fact that this is all the accepted norm.

It truly boggles the mind when you take a long, hard look at the ins and outs of the whole horror show through a book such as this one. Yet ’To Die For’ manages not just to be readable, but a masterclass of balance: Siegle is both friendly
Sam Middleton
Oct 05, 2020 rated it liked it
Admittedly, the clearest lesson I learnt from this book is that I am not, and likely never will be, particularly interested in fashion.

That said, I've got a great deal of respect for 'To Die For', even if I feel it's significantly let down by its shortcomings.

It is an impressively well-reasearched, detailed, persuasive and passionate analysis (and condemnation) of the fashion industry, given greater weight by the author's clear love of fashion and position as a former fast fashion devotee.

Feb 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
Honestly depressing. While I was already subconsciously aware of what an ethical nightmare the fashion industry is, this book gave it a whole new level of clarity. Although now sadly ten years out of date, I imagine the vast majority of the content still rings true. It is the kind of thing I would want to share with others, but as most people are already conscious of it on some base level, the true severity of these issues and correct approach to solve them would be hard to get across to people ...more
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this was a really fantastic book. I recommend it to anyone who wears clothes. Seriously, everyone should read it. While it is unfortunately very UK-centric in terms of the stores and brands referenced, enough of the information and concepts apply in North America that it doesn't matter. And I learned that they have a different word for tank tops in the UK and clothes aren't hung from racks in the stores, they're hung from rails and I always appreciate learning something new when I read! But ...more
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
The blurb on the back of the book states that it “peels back the layers of the global wardrobe to reveal the naked truth about the big name ‘it’ brands we swear by and the cheap clothes we can’t live without”.

I don’t know about you, but the blurb on the backs of books, combined with the front cover, are the two determining factors that make me want to open and read page one, or close it and move on.

That back blurb made me want to read on. Immediately. And I’m glad that I did. Because of the rese
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I was browsing titles at a clearance bookstore a few years ago, I remember picking up a black and white covered book with incredible interest. As an avid consumer in my early-twenties, I'd not once given any thought to the fashion industry beyond four things: what celebrities wore; what I wanted to wear; what I could not afford and what I actually wore. I'd never once thought of the environmental effect of the swishy swashy wares that I'd pop on once or twice every now and again and dispose o ...more
Laura Carre
May 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting reading; the author gives a deep vision of what really happens behind our clothes. She gets to the core of how raw materials are archieved, the industry behind the labels, which is already interesting enough to suggest this book.

However I found it quite confusing a times and way too demanding as well as discouraging. It is not feasable to ask any clothing industry to change its business model overnight. You cannot expect for them to sell to mass consumers ethically. Also, no pe
Apr 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Following on from reading about the environmental issue of saving the bees, (it seems to be a theme for my reading choices at the moment) I pulled ‘To Die For’ off the shelf.

I have no idea how I came to own this book, and it was originally published in 2011 so is a little dated now. But Siegle’s commentary on ‘Fast Fashion’ is a real eye opener...

Now having a tiny bit more of an inkling as to the processes that go into making something that I’ve always taken for granted - and the exploitation of
Charlène Bennevault
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sustainability
"We all have a part to play, and if you engage with life, you will get a new set of values, get off the consumer treadmill and start to think, and it is this great thinkers who will rescue the planet."
- Vivienne Westwood

Everything you want to know about the unsustainability of the Fashion Industry is in this book - offering a comprehensive explanation, really useful even though sometimes it was quite a tough piece to read. This is to the books what The True Cost is to the Documentaries about fas
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
A well researched insight into the fast fashion industry and it's hidden cost.
An inspiring read.
Siegle has more passion for environmental issues than I (being more concerned about the people involved in the process personally). There was the odd time as I read that I started to wonder what exactly the author thought we could do (as there was so much about what isn't helpful or isn't enough), and as you might expect the author writes from a rather privileged position which can occasionally blind
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite a thorough examination of the fashion industry at the time it was written (2011), but it also carries to the modern days, as the fashion industry is not quick to change. It discusses the different fibres and how people, animals and the planet are dying for them, how different processes are required to make fabrics, how faulty the supply chains are and how naively we consumers believe into global fashion companies when they promise they are doing what they can. It leaves some thing ...more
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
WOW What an amazing well researched books- this book will certainly open your eyes....not in a good way to the fashion industry. Fast fashion, Fashion waste, how our clothes are made, sourced and resold/recycled - You may well find yourself disappointed when you read about your favorite designers policies. They maybe be advertising Fair trade or organic cotton yet the garments are being produced in a sweatshop in Bangladesh, where workers are paid $1 per day -

It is not a book you read in one si
Emily Burgess
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This opened my eyes to the world of fashion even more. The facts and figures are heartbreaking yes, but the passion and inspiration that I got from this book has led me to look deeper into the problematic issues our fashion industry through my masters degree.

Thank you Lucy Siegle for being utterly amazing at your research and your dedication to making fashion real again. Amazing.
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Analyses clothing from lots of angles, giving a good overview of both environmental and social/human costs of fashion. Also provides lots of solutions and steps that both companies and consumers can take reduce the harm in the cycle.
Amanda Red
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for anyone in the developed world. Clothing is ubiquitous. We often forget, or are happily ignorant about, the origins and production of clothing and fashion accessories. I look forward to becoming a more mindful consumer after having read this book.
Lianne Bell
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I pre-ordered this book ahead of its release in 2011 after reading every single article Lucy Siegle had ever written whilst I was studying at University. It didn't disappoint. It's a real eye-opener and a perfect read for anyone wanting in-depth answers about the origins of their wardrobe. ...more
Melissa Clough
Jun 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is so well researched and written - a great insight into the inner workings of every aspect of the garment making process. Despite being almost 10 years old, a lot of the truths laid out in this book disappointingly still ring true today.
Ella Rose
May 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Very well researched! My favourite book that I have read on this topic so far. I've been researching fast fashion for a while and I love reading about it from different perspectives. Very interesting! ...more
Rachel Beaver
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thought provoking, wardrobe shaming, research driving, habit changing.
Dec 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really interesting and well researched book. Perfect for anyone who enjoyed Stacey Dooley's documentary and wants to dig a little deeper. Has given me food for thought in many areas. ...more
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must for everyone that loves fashion!
May 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
capitalism is killed
Anne R.
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A must-read for any consumer. Would love to see a new and updated edition of this book.
Laura Fusaro
Oct 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Best book about fast fashion I’ve read so far.
Diane Foo
Jul 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: diane-s-library
This insightful book delves into how fashion has morphed into something quite repugnant, and the myriad ethical and environmental issues in the fashion supply chain. It's exactly the kind of book that could've probably stopped me in my hoarding tracks over a decade ago (it was actually the documentary 'The True Cost' I watched in 2016 that first opened my eyes).

Lucy goes on the field to investigate issues like chemical pollution, raw material sourcing, animal welfare, child labour, garment work
Satkar Ulama
Apr 28, 2015 rated it liked it
This is one of the most interesting fashion books I have read. Interesting because it exposes fashion industry from another side, revealing the unseen, the unethical, and what major fashion firms have hidden from consumers. The first chapters discuss about unethical conducts fashion companies do, from raw material exploitation and labor enslavement for the sake of extreme profit maximization. This somehow reminds me of Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, ex ...more
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it

I read this book because I liked 'Overdressed' and was looking for similar books. I found it quite interesting and informative especially the breakdown on different materials and their environmental and ethical impact.

On one hand, I am glad that clothing has become democratized and accessible for all but on the other hand, I am appalled at the rate of our consumption. When I walk in malls in south east Asia, everybody seems to be shopping every day and fast fashion stores like H&M, Uniqlo a
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Lucy Siegle is a British journalist and writer on environmental issues. She is a reporter on The One Show. Siegle offers a unique and beguiling perspective on environmental issues and ethical consumerism.

News & Interviews

Since lockdown days, many of us have given in to sin. Sloth, gluttony, and envy might have sufficed for vice during this time, but there's also...
17 likes · 5 comments
“When I ask consumers (as I frequently do) what they do with their ‘old’ clothes – I use the term ‘old’ with caution – their answers are upbeat and cheerily green: ‘I recycle them,’ or ‘I donate them to a charity.’ We have a tendency to overvalue or talk up the items that we give away: people will remark on how they’ve given up a ‘very good skirt’ or a ‘top quality piece’. They appear to expect to be walking down the street the following Thursday and to see their skirt or jacket occupying pride of place on the central mannequin in the window of their local charity shop. This is highly unlikely: only around 10 per cent412 of UK donations, the ‘cream’, will actually be retailed through the shops (these make up the most valuable donations to the charities). Most are likely to be found somewhere on a 10,000-mile journey. We are back to salaula.” 0 likes
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