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Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes

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An investigation into the damage wrought by the colossal clothing industry and the grassroots, high-tech, international movement fighting to reform it

What should I wear? It's one of the fundamental questions we ask ourselves every day. More than ever, we are told it should be something new. Today, the clothing industry churns out 80 billion garments a year and employs every sixth person on Earth. Historically, the apparel trade has exploited labor, the environment, and intellectual property--and in the last three decades, with the simultaneous unfurling of fast fashion, globalization, and the tech revolution, those abuses have multiplied exponentially, primarily out of view. We are in dire need of an entirely new human-scale model. Bestselling journalist Dana Thomas has traveled the globe to discover the visionary designers and companies who are propelling the industry toward that more positive future by reclaiming traditional craft and launching cutting-edge sustainable technologies to produce better fashion.

In Fashionopolis, Thomas sees renewal in a host of developments, including printing 3-D clothes, clean denim processing, smart manufacturing, hyperlocalism, fabric recycling--even lab-grown materials. From small-town makers and Silicon Valley whizzes to such household names as Stella McCartney, Levi's, and Rent the Runway, Thomas highlights the companies big and small that are leading the crusade.

We all have been casual about our clothes. It's time to get dressed with intention. Fashionopolis is the first comprehensive look at how to start.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published September 3, 2019

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About the author

Dana Thomas

40 books80 followers
Dana Thomas is the author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, and the New York Times bestseller Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, all published by Penguin Press. She began her career writing for the Style section of The Washington Post, and for fifteen years she served as a cultural and fashion correspondent for Newsweek in Paris. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times Style section and has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and Architectural Digest. In 1987, she received the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation’s Ellis Haller Award for Outstanding Achievement in Journalism. In 2016, the French Minister of Culture named Thomas a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters. She lives in Paris.

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5 stars
787 (27%)
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1,281 (44%)
3 stars
663 (23%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 414 reviews
Profile Image for Nore.
729 reviews35 followers
October 28, 2019
Fashionopolis is an extremely well-written, comprehensive book; Mrs. Thomas spoke to people from all levels of the manufacturing chain, from workers on the floor of the factories to fashion moguls in LA and NY, giving the reader a comprehensive look at the industry from the initial sketch to the finished product, as well as a brief history of the fashion industry and the rise of fast fashion. Her writing style is clear and engaging, which made this a quick, enjoyable read.

I came away from this book much more hopeful than I did after reading Overdressed, a book near and dear to my heart, a book which solidified my decision to do 99% of my clothes shopping in thrift stores (the only things I usually buy new now are underwear and socks). Hearing about the advances in sustainable fabrics and manufacturing processes that have been made just in the past five years makes me wonder if one day, I won't be able to buy affordable new clothes without feeling like a terrible person, and that's wonderful!

So why only three stars? What didn't I like about this book?

Dana Thomas is the sort of woman to buy a $1,000 dress without it causing her too much stress (in fact, she portrayed buying this £831 dress in two installments as fantastic way to acquire clothing). Dana Thomas is the sort of woman who is able to afford a $750 blouse. Dana Thomas, while not one of the uberrich, is clearly well off, and deeply invested in fashion in a way the average consumer is not and cannot afford to be.

The most expensive thing I have bought in the past five years was a new pair of Converse to replace the pair I'd worn for 11 years - since they were custom, it ran me about $85. The second-most expensive thing I've bought was a secondhand leather backpack about three years ago. I paid $15 for it. Most of my clothing has cost me between $7 and 25¢, since everything I buy is thrifted. I'm currently saving to purchase a few items from a small brand I love that uses deadstock fabric and sustainable practices (Noctex, which has gorgeous stuff), and their clothes only run between $60-175, depending on what you're looking at.

So I think anyone reading this review can understand why I chafed at Thomas's neverending insistence that the only way to purchase responsibly was to buy from brands that list coats at $2,100, or, if you're really strapped for cash, to buy secondhand Gucci from The RealReal for a couple hundo instead of a thousand.

No matter how you look at it, the brands that Thomas presents as ethical and affordable in this book are out of reach of basically everyone I know, and everyone my friends know, and everyone THEY know. We aren't out here buying $1,000 dresses. We aren't going to spend $80 a month to be able to pick a few pieces of designer clothing to wear to our office jobs. So who was this book written for? The very narrow subset of fashion magazine writers who don't quite make enough to afford the clothing they write about? I've never been so angry at a woman for talking about dresses! As interesting as it was to read about the technology going into sustainable fashion these days, none of it was practical or affordable for me or anyone I know.

So here's some advice for the people Thomas isn't writing for, the people out here making enough to keep afloat, the people who want to look nice, as ethically as possible, without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on clothing:
- Thrift. Find the local thrift stores in your town. Find the ones in nearby towns. Not just Goodwill - look for the ones owned by people in your community.
- Learn to sew, at least enough to do basic mending. It'll make your clothes last longer. Do some research on how to care for your clothes (For instance: Got a twisted seam? Don't put it in the dryer; hang it and pull the fabric back into shape. Doesn't fix the problem, but it disguises it!).
- Look for smaller indie brands like Noctex who are attempting to make clothes ethically, but affordably. Maybe they aren't using all of the most cutting-edge technology, but anything's better than shopping at F21 or H&M.

Good luck out there to my fellows out there who are also relatively poor, but like to wear nice clothes. I'd still recommend this book in order to see what's going on with textile science (seriously, it was interesting), but don't expect to come away with any practical advice for where to shop.
Profile Image for Diana.
285 reviews
October 10, 2019
The biggest reason people buy fast fashion is the one thing that's not really addressed in this book: Price. Someone who buys fast fashion can't afford the "reasonable" price of around $300 to rent an outfit. Or $800 for a "slow fashion" sweater. Or even $50 for a t-shirt.

One other thing that bothered me was the complete lack of awareness of race and class history when discussing the history of, for example, the American cotton industry. How do you talk about cotton in the South without even mentioning slavery, Jim Crow, etc.?

I did like learning about environmental issues and new technologies in fashion, but again, if it doesn't address the price issue, it doesn't really address the consumer need.
Profile Image for Jolanta (knygupe).
803 reviews174 followers
November 5, 2020
Jau nebepamenu kada jaučiau malonumą kažką nusipirkus. Net perkant knygą jaučiu kaltės jausmą. Jau nekalbu apie kokį tai rūbelį...nebent perkant kokias vilnones kojines turguje iš bobulytės, megztas turbūt iš išardytų senų mezginių. Apsipirkimas virto į nelengvą tiriamąjį darbą. Kur gaminta, kas gamino, iš ko gamino, kaip bus perdirbamas, kaip irs...ir pagaliau, kur įsigyti.
Ši knyga apie rūbų ir aksesuarų prekybos ir gamybos dabartį ir (pagal autore) ateitį, naujas tendencijas. Žvilgsnis į šį verslą iš moralinės puses. 
Knygos pradžioje užsimenama apie tragišką Rana Plaza gamyklos Bangladeše griūtį, kuomet žuvo virš tūkstančio ir bvo sužeista virš 2000 darbuotojų. Nepaisant jokių saugos taisyklių ten buvo siuvami (gal ir tebesiuvami) rūbai greitosios mados ženklams. Ir tokių gamyklų pilna Kinija, Indija ir kitos Azijos šalys, Lotynų Amerika...

Toliau seka kritika didiesiems fast-fashion ženklams. Daugiausia, žinoma, kliūva tokioms greitosios mados  'begemotėms', kaip Zara, H&M. Būtent jos, anot autorės, varo aukštosios mados dizainerius (na, kaip ir tuos kurie norėtų kurti kokybišką, ilgalaikę ir dabar jau ekologišką madą) į neviltį dėl savo pigumo, greičio...ir žinoma, rūbų pasiūlos pertekliaus. Jean Paul Gaultier: "The system doesn't work...There aren't enough people to by them. WE'remaking clothes that aren't destined to be worn" ir "To many clothes kills clothes". Mūsų Julia Janus, kiek girdėjau, ar tik ne dėl panašių prižaščių pasitraukė iš mados verslo. 
Jaučiuosi kiek dviprasmiškai vertindama autorės darbą. Knyga, kaip ir reikalinga, bet šiaip jau, ji skirta pasiturinčiam vartotojui ir man kažko įpatingo neištransliavo. Alternatyvų greitajai madai yra, bet jos toli gražu ne kiekvienam įkandamos. Autorė kalbina vieną iš mados judejimo  zero-waste Amerikietę, mados dizainerę, Natalie Chanin. Jos kompanija - "Alabama Chanin" super atsakingai žiūri į gamybą. Štai ką Natalie  sako apie verslą apskritai: "Growth isn't necessarily getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. No, it's doing things in the right way, and creating the right environment. Fine-tuning". Viskas labai faina.  Bet...kiek iš mūsų galim įpirkti kelnes už $700, palaidinukę už $200. Jos klientės -Michelle Obama, Tilda Swintom... Toliau San Francisco indie brand Gustin. Jau kaip ir įperkama. Džinsai dažyti naturaliu indigo, auginamu Neshville (Tennessee) Stony Creek Colors founder Sarah Bellos, be jokių pesticidų -$70-170. Beje, būtent džinsai yra 'hyper-polluting - in their creation, and in their afterlife'. 'Almost all the denim we wear - 99.99% - is dyed with synthetic indigo. What is not publicized - what the apparel industry discreetly sidesteps - is that synthetic indigo is "made of ten chemicals - including petroleum, benzene, cyanide, formaldehyde - that are toxic or harmful to humans. [...] The economics aren't there for people to care. You can buy benzene for cheaper than paying a farmer to grow crops. Pollution is the cheapest way to do business." sako Bellos. Ir dar apie NEorganiška medvilnę: 'Nonorganic cotton - known in the business as "conventional" cotton - iš] among agriculture's dirties crop. One-fifth of insecticides - and more than 10% of all pesticides - are devoted to the protection of conventional cotton, though it is grown on only 25% of the world's arable land. The World Health Organization has classed 8 out of 10 of America's most popular cotton pesticides as "hazardous". 
Labai didelis demesys šioje knygoje skiriamas dizaineriai -Stella'i McCartney. Ji yra viena iš aktyviausių, jei ne pati aktyviausia, zero-waste, eco, organic, žodžiu, environment friendly mados dizainerių. Kodėl pirkti jos gaminius, Stella sako: 'You will have more value attached to them, you will have more pride attached to them, you will have a better-quality product, and it will serve you well for a long period of time.' Knygos pabaigoje autorė vis del to susiprato prabilti apie mažesnias pajamas turinčius, bet norinčius vartoti sąmoningai pirkėjus. Naaaa...žinot ką tai reškia :)  Tai va, ką atsako ta pati Stella M. -'Get it in the sale of the sale of the sale. Get it secondhand' (bet čia kalba eina apie visus tuos environment fiendly ženklus). Secondhand - tai čia vėl visi tie butikai, kurie prekiauja tais išskirtinais ženklais. Damn :)))
Profile Image for Gwen.
1,034 reviews33 followers
December 10, 2019
Excellent reporting, useless "advice"

This makes me want to reread Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. I didn't love it at the time, but I remember Cline sharing practical advice and tips for more sustainable clothing for those of us who can't afford to drop $128 on a (organic cotton, handmade in the United States...) t-shirt or might actually like to own their clothes (and wear them out). Thomas' research and quality of interviews is excellent, but her parting words are...just rent clothes? Or spend $128 on a t-shirt. Or figure out where to buy U.S-grown indigo-dyed jeans. Or wait for the as-yet not commercially available lab-grown "leather" belt. Or a $1,000 Stella McCartney blazer. (Or less if bought used...which I suppose is the point? But still. How many of us can afford to buy a $500 pre-owned blazer?)

Thomas thinks nothing of dropping $1,000 on a dress ("just pay in two installments!" and it's suddenly more affordable). I would have appreciated this book much more if there had been even the smallest nod to the average person who cares about sustainability but can't afford Thomas' suggestions. And if the only solutions are prohibitively expensive, that could have merited a much larger discussion.

At the very least, I'm now hyper-aware of my clothing purchases and consumption--and what exactly goes into bringing cheap garments to market. My goal for 2020 is to find a (used) sewing machine and experiment with making my own clothes. (I'm not sure what the impact of making fabric is, and I hope that it's less than ready-made clothes...)

h/t: Anne Helen Petersen
Profile Image for Jill Meyer.
1,167 reviews105 followers
September 8, 2019
The other night I went to my son and daughter-in-law's house for a casual Friday night dinner. They have two young daughters and some time before dinner was devoted to the girls trying on clothes and shoes their mother had ordered on line - giving their measurements and shoe sizes - and deciding what they were going to keep and what would go back. This modern day Wells Fargo Wagon delivery system is only one of the ways that clothes for all ages get made and distributed these days. In her book, "Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes", author Dana Thomas takes the readers behind the scenes to look at clothes made for Zara and its competitors, which provide cheap fashion just made to wear-and-throw-away, to the "back to nature" clothes, hand made in communities in the US and Europe. Zara's clothes are made in real-life sweat shops based in Asia and Central America, and Thomas doesn't stint on giving the hoary details of those places.

Thomas also looks at the history of fashion and how politics has often affected it. I hadn't realised how much NAFTA had helped wipe out much of the manufacturing base in the United States since the 1990's. Thomas shows how our decline was matched by the uptick in world-wide production went to areas where it was cheaper to produce. I didn't get the sense she was condemning NAFTA; rather that she was explaining the after-effects.

Dana Thomas's book on the ins-and-outs of how today's fashions are produced and how the future of fashion will look is not for the reader casually interested in the subject. She covers fashion from the designs to the manufacturing to the distribution of clothing and accessories and the reader should be at least somewhat familiar with the names and the histories and techniques she refers to.
Profile Image for Chloe Kian.
14 reviews2,629 followers
September 23, 2020
An amazing book about the fashion industry, its past, present and future. Full of information and very dense yet very easy read with so much insight you wouldn’t get anywhere else. Highly highly recommend!
Profile Image for Anna.
1,652 reviews616 followers
March 28, 2022
When I picked Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes off the library shelf, I was expecting it to be very depressing due to prior awareness that the fashion industry’s business model has an appalling social and environmental impact. In fact, I found it more optimistic and encouraging than anticipated. Thomas does not stint on showing the exploitation and pollution inherent in fast fashion. The opening chapter describes sweatshop catastrophes that killed hundreds of workers, then recounts how slow and reluctant fashion brands have been to accept any factory regulation whatsoever. Later chapters, however, are focused more on alternatives and solutions.

The writing style is engaging and journalistic, with each chapter centred upon interviews with enthusiastic people trying to improve fashion. Although these efforts are currently dwarfed by the multinational fast fashion juggernaut, it’s heartening and interesting to learn about them nonetheless. One chapter discusses less environmentally destructive processes for treating jeans, another organic cotton, another fibre recycling, another automation of clothing manufacture. As this is fashion journalism, the interviewees are always described in glowing terms with note made of what they are wearing. I found this amusing without being distracting, familiar from reading Vogue and ELLE back in the day.

I couldn’t help comparing Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes with Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion which wholeheartedly blames neoliberal capitalism for the state of the fashion industry. Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes does not do this and mostly considers improvements on a microeconomic level: technological innovations, ‘rightshoring’, and changes to consumer behaviour. I think the two books compliment each other well. Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes has its blind spots, while Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion is strong on diagnosis but weaker on suggestions for improvement. To her credit, Thomas notes that not all the options she profiles are compatible or even scalable and acknowledges the need for systemic change from the pursuit of very short-term financial returns. This is a particularly good point:

In fashion and apparel, [Stacy] Flynn said, “we fail to innovate on so many levels because we’ve been reliant on nineteenth-century equipment” – spinners, looms, sewing machines – “and the way we think about that equipment is such a twentieth-century mindset – that resources are infinite, that cash is the only thing that matters. Everything is based on style obsolescence, with consumption being the key driver.”

One limitation Thomas does not acknowledge, though, is that clothing needs to fit people. The cheery discussion of clothing rental companies ignores the fact that they only cater for those lucky enough to fit into high fashion brand sizing. This is obviously not the case for plus-size people and neither is it for me as I’m very short. Until there is a more fundamental change in size availability, surely fashion rental companies will have a limited market.

Personally, the idea of a made-to-order garment that would fit me properly and I could wear and repair for a long time is the ideal. The constant novelty of fashion trends is interesting to observe without participating, as I like to stick with my personal style. It’s also notable, albeit not surprising, that the brands in Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes that I looked up online are very expensive. I not talking £50 for a top rather than £5 but £500, or even £1000 from Stella McCartney. For most people reading this book, including me, the easiest way to shop ethically for clothing is to buy second-hand. Charity shops and eBay are my first port of call. For underwear and pyjamas, there are an increasing number of options with lower environmental impact materials and socially responsible manufacture. However, I still guiltily purchase from H&M on occasion simply because, unlike the majority of clothing brands, they sell my size.

Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes did encourage me to reflect on my approach to clothing, without giving me any particularly actionable new information. I enjoyed learning about innovative new fabrics and methods of manufacture. Hopefully over time these will become mainstream and available in a wider range of sizes. Fundamentally, though, the horribly wasteful fast fashion business model has to stop. Maybe current supply chain mayhem caused by the pandemic and geopolitical conflict will forcibly slow it down a bit.
Profile Image for Allyson.
267 reviews19 followers
October 10, 2019
Listened to this (read by author on Audible) as I wanted to learn more about the environmental and societal impact of the apparel industry, as well as future innovations. This book definitely brought me up to speed in a great way on those areas. However, as some other reviewers have mentioned, this book really spent a lot of time focusing on innovations made by luxury brands such as Alabama Chanin and Stella McCartney, that are prohibitively expensive to the average consumer. One skirt that Alabama Chanin sells is $9,000, which is stupid expensive. The author seemed to spend over an hour talking about the innovations and sustainable practices this company employs. I would argue that they are not strategies that make a massive difference if they produce $9,000 garments. Now the ideas that come from these practices are interesting to think about, but it is not worth lauding over and profiling them for the amount of time that the author did. The book is slightly tone-deaf throughout the book, highlighting sustainable practices employed by the luxury fashion industry, and slightly turning up her nose at the only slightly-affordable brand for consumers, The Reformation.

This book does not contain much advice beyond shop at the luxury retailers she highlighted and if you can't afford to buy from the source, buy at the sale of the sale of the sale, or buy secondhand, or buy secondhand on sale. This is not practical advice. I think it slightly promote elitism that only wealthy consumers can have a choice in how they look, leaving the leftovers for everyone else. She also highlights renting clothing as a viable option and again does not particularly focus on Rent The Runway, a company attainable for the average consumer, but a French rental company that rents Stella McCartney and other couture designers.

I would read this book if you have a specific interest in learning about the environmental impact of various manufacturing practices, where the industry is generally, and what types of innovation are happening. This is not a how-to book, nor a book for the average person looking for an interesting read. It's dense and fairly academic.
Profile Image for James Scholz.
47 reviews1,816 followers
February 25, 2022
enjoyed the first few chapters but the other half of the book was pretty shit
Profile Image for Krystelle Fitzpatrick.
602 reviews34 followers
September 16, 2020
This book would be absolutely brilliant...if it weren’t so out of touch. There’s a lot to be said for the amazing innovations in science moving away from the appalling current way we approach fast fashion- but as someone who is constantly broke, I have two words for you that this book does not give. They are: op shopping. That’s it. Simple as pie.

My first pair of jeans that I ever owned as a teenager were Versace. The price? $2 from a Vinnies bin. There is zero reason to spend your money on something as ridiculous as secondhand Versace at half the price it retailed for when it is literally hanging around in the trash. There’s so much of a propensity for people these days to buy and discard- you’re going to find so much of value in op shops, and this book just doesn’t go into it.

Fast fashion is a blight, of this there is no doubt. I enjoyed when this book delved into the industry and examined the ins and outs of the current appalling situation. What I did not enjoy was the propensity for it to go into how amazing designer brands could be. We can’t change how everyone thinks- but we can change how some people do, and so saving material from landfill will make a huge difference. In the end, money can’t buy happiness, and that Prada bag won’t buy you happiness either- but I think that’s a hard lesson for some people to unlearn.
183 reviews20 followers
September 10, 2019
This is a thoroughly well researched and well written book on the behind scenes of the fashion industry. Focusing on clothing production, the book is enlightening and frightening at the same time. To find out in detail what it takes to make a single pair of jeans and how damaging it is to the environment was shocking. After reading this book, it will be a long time before I buy another pair. It was interesting to learn about designers who are trying to create not only more sustainable fabrics, but also more eco-conscious reusing of material. Parts of it really reminded me of Silent Spring in the urgency of what wanting up the minute fashion does to the environment. A must read not only for eco-lovers, but also for fashionistas. It's eyeopening to find out where your clothes come from.
Profile Image for Monika.
578 reviews40 followers
May 31, 2022
W USA sprzedaje się rocznie 3.5 miliarda t-shirtów i 520 milionów par jeansów.
Do wytworzenia i przetworzenia bawełny na 1 t-shirt i jedną parę jeansów potrzebnych jest 19 tysięcy litrów wody.
W tej książce, nie nowej już, jest mnóstwo tego typu faktów - dotyczących obecnie stosowanych systemów produkcji i dystrybucji ubrań, ale też o innowacyjnych i bardziej zrównoważonych materiałach, o modyfikacji łańcuchów dostaw na mniej obciążające środowisko, o ludziach, którzy walczą o lepszą produkcję ubrań.
Bardzo ciekawa książka, ale chętnie przeczytałabym jak to się pozmieniało podczas pandemii. Jakie rozwiązania przetrwały, jakie zmiany przyspieszyły a jakie spowolniły.
January 29, 2021
Fantastic read - highly recommend!

Very interesting look at the dark side of fast fashion: how fast fashion came to be so damaging, Zara’s business model, looking back to Manchester’s role in the industrial revolution, factory conditions.

But this book has quite a positive tone towards the end with a look at new sustainability initiatives: Reformation’s business model, Stella McCartney, rental market.

I’ve only given this book 4/5 stars because I felt there wasn’t enough emphasis on the top reason why people buy fast fashion - price.
Profile Image for Jenn.
191 reviews6 followers
December 21, 2021
This book really excels and explaining the negative impact that stems from our current model of fast fashion production in terms of human rights and climate change/environmental impact, and how more sustainable fashion practices can benefit both the people making our clothes and the environment.

Unfortunately, the book suffers from the same problem I always encounter when sustainable fashion is discussed--cost to the consumer. Thomas presents a vary valid argument about why sustainable clothes that are made by people making a living wage costs more than fast fashion, and if you can afford those prices, then I absolutely support the idea that people should purchase the sustainable option. But the reality is that most people cannot afford to pay those prices, and have no other choice but to buy the cheaper fast fashion garment.

Thomas does discuss buying second hand and renting clothes, but the time devoted to this discussion in minuscule compared to the focus given to the manufacturing process. Sure, buying second hand sounds like a great option, but again, not everyone has the means to purchase second hand clothing, at least not at the price points of the places she's discussing which involves the sale of used designer clothing. It's also often less convenient than purchasing from a physical store or from fast-fashion online retailer which often has better shipping and return options. Even the cost of renting which can run about $50+ per outfit, is out of reach of many consumers. Thomas never addresses these economic realities. Whenever she discusses the consumer, she assumes them to be people who are buying more clothes than they need and are throwing clothes out after just a few wears. She talks about living in a kind of world where we love are clothes and have an emotional connection to them vs. the current worldview of rampant consumerism and treating clothing like disposable objects that carry no meaning.

That view ignores the reality of the many people who simply cannot afford to pay slow fashion prices where a pair of pants or a shirt could easily costs hundreds. Sure that shirt or pair of pants may last longer, but there are many people who simply cannot afford that upfront cost. I don't expect the fashion industry to solve the economic and social issues that restrict the finances of consumers, but I do think it's reasonable to expect it to be a larger part of the discussion.
41 reviews26 followers
January 11, 2022
It was a highly motivated book. Maybe it was not the right time to read it.

It read as an alarmist book (maybe with good reason), but there were several things that turned me away. First, the book had references towards the end that was linked to chapter and page number, but there seemed to be some misalignment with the pages of the book. Give me a chance to verify claims being made by the author. If there was enough effort put into adding references, maybe the author could've just added a number in the superscript indicating which part is referenced from which source.

The estimates that were put in the book - such as the amount of water that it took to grow and process cotton seemed to be a bit off. Based on back of the envelope calculations, the clothing industry (just cotton growing and converting to T-shirts) took about 1000 cubic kilometers of water (per book sources). The annual precipitation on Planet Earth (admittedly based on a quick Google Search) is estimated to be around 500,000 cubic Kilometers, of which 100,000 cubic kilometers falls on land. In my mind, it didn't fit that 1000 Km^3 or 1% of all precipitation on land, was used for t-shirts.

Finally, the analysis of the book did not seem to be accurate to me. First, the author completely ignores the importance of low cost clothing in keeping clothes on the backs of the world. Second, the jobs it creates in countries where the industry is located is of extreme importance. Quite often there is no better alternative to individuals.

The effort required to read the book to eliminate the bias of the author did not seem worth it. Hence I abandoned the book midway.
January 11, 2021
(ฟัง audiobook ฉบับภาษาอังกฤษ)

ฟังเพลินๆ สนุกดี ว่าด้วยต้นทุนทางสังคมและสิ่งแวดล้อมที่ผู้บริโภคมองไม่เห็นของ ‘fast fashion’ อย่างแบรนด์ Zara เน้นประสบการณ์ตรงของผู้เขียนที่ไปสัมภาษณ์คนที่เกี่ยวข้องกับกระบวนการผลิตทุกระดับ ตั้งแต่ผู้บริหารไปจนถึงแรงงานในห่วงโซ่อุปทาน ชอบการอธิบายผลกระทบทางสิ่งแวดล้อมและนวัตกรรมใหม่ๆ ที่พยายามแก้ปัญหา เช่น เสื้อผ้า 3D printing, วัสดุย่อยสลายได้ บริการให้เช่าเสื้อผ้า ฯลฯ

ส่วนที่ไม่ชอบคือ ‘ทางออก’ ต่างๆ ที่เสนอนั้นดูไกลเกินเอื้อมสำหรับผู้บริโภคทั่วไปที่ไม่ได้ร่ำรวย เช่น แนะให้เช่าเสื้อผ้าแบรนด์ดีไซเนอร์ซึ่งค่าเช่าก็แพงเกินอยู่ดี และสาธยายความพยายามของบางแบรนด์อย่าง Stella McCartney ยาวเกินไปจนอดคิดไม่ได้ว่านี่รับเงินพีอาร์บริ��ัทมาไหม :>

ใครอยากได้ภาพกว้างของปัญหาจาก fast fashion เล่มนี้ก็โอเค แต่สำหรับทางออกที่ลงมือทำได้จริงกว่าสำหรับคนทั่วไป เล่ม Overdressed โดย Elizabeth Cline ดีกว่าเล่มนี้มาก
386 reviews
November 21, 2019
#nonfictionnovember2019 - Design Prompt

I liked reading portions of this book....but not most of it -hence the rating. The subtitle is "the price of fast fashion and the future of clothes," but 80% of this book is about "the future of clothes" and only 20% is about "the price of fast fashion." The majority of this story reads like vignettes - there's a chapter about natural indigo, a chapter about new technologies in denim distressing, etc. - and although the vignettes somewhat weave together, I found they aren't very in depth.

I had high expectations for this book, because I absolutely loved Dana Thomas's book "Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster." This book is clearly well-researched, but still somehow managed to lack the depth or "point" of "Deluxe."

If you're really into learning about the nitty gritty technology about how jeans are being made to be more sustainable, you should read this. Otherwise - pass.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
Author 3 books144 followers
December 8, 2019
This should be required reading for every single person that buys clothing and thinks of shopping as a fun, harmless activity. It is not! And our choices are killing the planet and even many of the people who are tasked with making the clothing. What’s the future? Common sense: buy less, rent, reuse, repair, buy secondhand. An enlightening and tremendously reported read that I won’t soon forget.
Profile Image for Honey.
355 reviews11 followers
March 1, 2022
The book is a good eye-opener as to why fast fashion is evil, and it also addresses environmental and socio-economic issues brought forth by the clothes we wear on our back. Whilst it continues to be a booming and lucrative business, we do have to ask how much our society is willing to pay for the price of fashion.

I liked that it gave a nod to the increasingly severe issues from outsourcing, particularly working rights and conditions in developing countries. It begs the question why businesses find it so hard to own up to their mistakes, and why nobody feels responsible for their contractors and subcontractors.

Fascinating to read about the innovation brought forth by revolutionaries of sustainability and the science/tech involved around this.

Personally, I'm not a shopper (still have clothes from 20 years ago that I wear to this day) nor am I huge on trends, but reading this book has made me even more conscious of the pieces I will keep and purchase hereon.
Profile Image for Ana-Maria Petre.
130 reviews45 followers
April 15, 2020
Not finished this but I think I got everything that was useful out of it. Starting to get into too much corporate gossip for my taste.
Profile Image for Navya.
239 reviews4 followers
June 6, 2020
This book is a hard-hitting look at the modern fast-fashion industry, and the damages it is causing to both labour rights and the environment. It also touches on what could possible alternatives be, all through the supply change.

Thomas' reporting is impeccable. She speaks to a variety of stakeholders in multiple countries, delves into the history (and future) of common fashion items, and drills down each step of the fashion and clothing supply chain. I learnt a lot from it and will definitely be more conscious of my wardrobe.

However, I am not entirely convinced of the solutions provided here. Thomas suggests 'reshoring' (i.e. domestic, smaller-scale ethical production), without comprehensively expanding on the effects and benefits of a global supply chain, and many solutions suggested do not seem particularly scale-able (particularly when many alternative sellers use artisan production as a selling point). I am, however, heartened by some technological changes she covers, and will be looking forward to their expansion.

The other missing perspective is that of the consumer - and why fast fashion has taken such a deep hold over many of us. The issue of price is brought up, but then brushed aside. There is minimal discussion on the over-consumption mindset and the forces shaping consumer needs. I can understand that this was not the focus of the book, but the topic of sustainable fashion feels incomplete without it.

Ultimately, it is a very informative read - but at an introduction, problem-identifying level. For ideas on what individuals can do, you will have to look elsewhere.
Profile Image for SnezhArt.
416 reviews39 followers
August 8, 2022
Великолепное исследование всей цепочки создания вещей и попытки поговорить об этом в ключе устойчивой моды.
Profile Image for Nicole.
355 reviews4 followers
February 17, 2020
A good overview of the fashion industry’s excesses and the damage it’s causing on both a human and environmental scale. The book also highlights fashion innovators who are trying to fix the industry, either by leveraging technology and interesting recycling processes, or by going back to more old-school methods. I’ve been wanting to get smart on how to buy better clothes - both in the sense of better quality that holds up longer and also better for the planet. This book was a good place to start. It gave me some brands and companies to look into, although I wish there had been more in the way of suggestions.
Profile Image for Hazel.
282 reviews
April 7, 2020
90% Informative

A wonderful book to learn from about fast fashion and what most people wear everyday, this book is informative and a must read for all those who don't know where there clothes come from.

Author:Dana Thomas
Ages:12+ for understanding and knowing what certain things are, for example, NAFTA.
Profile Image for Kinjal S.
24 reviews5 followers
February 17, 2022
Really useful however, it would have been nice to see more information from the East re: sustainability efforts and sustainable clothing rather than a fully European/ Western perspective where the rest of the world is only mentioned with regard to sweatshops.
Additionally, I think Thomas glosses over a significant percentage of the consumer market - not everyone can afford to buy sustainable fashion nor does everyone want to rent their clothes either.
7 reviews
May 31, 2021
Gave me a very thorough introduction to sustainability in fashion while really exploring all aspects of the supply chain in a way that didn't dismiss the artistry and the specificities of fashion as a sector.
Did have slightly too much focus on high fashion and luxury items when I would have liked to hear bit more about the future of fashion for people with lower-incomes.
Profile Image for Sarah.
145 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2021
I listened to the audio. An interesting 'read'.

I agree with some of the reviews saying there wasn't complete practical advice. I think that boils down to where you are in discipline. I don't expect anyone to switch mindsets overnight. I feel slow and steady growth in a positive direction has better staying power. I'll admit, the idea of buying a $1000+ dress makes me cold sweat. But the idea of buying used/second hand, using what I have, making an educated purchase, repairing clothing etc is a lot more acceptable to me in this moment.

I understand it's a book about the fashion industry, so I think researching sustainable companies, knowing the practices they preach and follow and even the amount of effort that goes into said $1000+ dress (overheads, marketing/ads, livable employee wages etc.) Does make some sense. Though, I'm not there.

Where I am is: researching sustainable companies, using/repairing what I have, learning to sew, learning about fabric and the process of making a wearable garment, borrowing from others, buying simple yet fashionable clothing that won't be out of style next season. It's not for everyone, and I wouldn't hold it against anyone who isn't at that place in their life or wardrobe.

Dana Thomas writes well and I appreciated the in- depth chapters of the fashion industry, both fast and slow.
Profile Image for Megha.
85 reviews5 followers
June 13, 2020
[3.5 stars]
Such a thought-provoking read! I can definitely come out of this saying that I will never look at my closet the same way again.

Dana Thomas has done meticulous research on this book and takes us through the entire supply chain of fashion, from the designers at the top of the "cerulean blue" fashion pyramid to the workers being exploited in offshore sweat shops. It forced me to confront the horror and bloodbath that went (and continues to go) into the production of literally everything I own in my closet. At some point, an interviewee of Thomas defeatedly utters "Listen, we all know our shit’s made in sweatshops. But we put it in the back of our minds. Nobody cares.” And - well yeah. But I cannot put it in the back of my mind anymore.

Dana Thomas also outlines the various advances we've made in the field of sustainable fashion - whether it be in manufacturing and distribution through robots and automation, or through the creation of sustainable lab grown cloth or 3D Fashion Design, or the increasing popularity of thrifting and renting sites like 'Rent the Runway' and 'TheRealReal'. This does make me hopeful that perhaps one day in the future, everyone will be able to wear affordable green clothes without completely killing the planet.

And while I'll round out to give this book 4 stars for undeniably changing the way I think about clothes, I also do not disagree with the critique against this book . Thomas simply does not address *WHY* fast fashion is so popular - Price. The average person absolutely does not have $800 dollars lying around to buy a dress, even if they were to buy it in 'installments' as Thomas seemed to suggest in one chapter. Other things I would have liked to see was how differing body shapes/sizes impacts the ability to find sustainable or green fashion; Thomas admits most renting and upcycling sites as well as organically sourced clothes brands only carry a small range in clothing sizes.
Profile Image for Victoria Robert.
121 reviews1 follower
April 8, 2022
Excellent read! 👏🏼 Well written with clear and insightful messages regarding today's fashion industry 👚 (and its history). I think everyone should read this book. We all wear and buy clothes! 🤷🏼‍♀️ Though I had a bit of an understanding of the terrible aspects of today's fashion industry before reading this book; I was still surprised at the extent of it. This book helped me realize that it's an industry that negatively impacts several global domains (including basic human rights) and it's in desperate need to be transformed on all levels. My biggest personal takeaways were (1) try not to wash my clothes so much (they'll last longer) 🧼, (2) buying used is better than buying new (even try renting your clothes?!) 💰, (3) consider how and who has made what you want to buy 🌎. These are just a few of the endless takeaways I got from this book! Kudos to the author, Dana Thomas! ⭐️👏🏼
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