Sharon Griffitts's Reviews > Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline
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really liked it

This book should be an eye-opener for all the shopaholics out there, myself included though I have worked hard at rehab. Cheap clothes are just that - cheap both in dollars and as the author points out, in quality. And do we really need all that stuff?

Cline documents the great waste as Americans fill their closets with cheap clothing and shoes, much of it to be worn only a few times before it either falls apart in the laundry or the wearer tires of it. She visits second-hand stores and learns that most clothing donated is not sold or distributed but ends up being recycled as rags or sometimes sold in huge pallets overseas.

The author visits factories in China posing as a buyer looking for manufacturers. She is well treated but astounded by the pollution in one of China's largest manufacturing districts. Output of these factories is measured in tens of thousands of pieces per day. And wages are of course low. They would have to be as garments sell for as little as $5 each back in the United States.

The decline of textile and clothing manufacturing is also addressed. And she meets some who are bucking the trend and making garments in the United States again. Some of this manufacturing is high end clothing but other is trendier wear aimed at young people.

It is not just the quality of the sewing and design (simpler designs require less time and expertise to make and therefore are cheaper) but also the quality of the fabrics themselves. I can attest to this decline in quality as I recall years ago shopping at J. Crew with my daughter and admiring the fabrics. A couple of years ago,on visiting J. Crew I was surprised and dismayed at the difference in fabric weight. I found it to be inferior, though the prices were unchanged. (As a hobby seamstress myself, I know good quality fabrics by their hand or weight and feel. Much cheap fashion is made of thin, cheap fabric and it is disappointing to a lover of fine fabrics.)

I enjoyed this book and learned quite a lot about clothing manufacturing and design. This book ranks with "The WalMart Effect" which I read a few years ago as an eye-opener on what really goes on in the world of retail manufacturing. Long before I read that book I boycotted WalMart for social and environmental reasons. "Overdressed" has spurred me to boycott cheap fashions also, to reduce the number of items in my closet and to get out my sewing machine!
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Reading Progress

February 7, 2013 – Started Reading
February 7, 2013 – Shelved
February 20, 2013 – Finished Reading

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