Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
You check the labels on your food and beverage packages, and you avoid using toxins in your household and personal products (especially if you shop at the E.C.!), but have you ever looked critically at the contents of your closet? For Cline, a former cheap-clothing addict, it takes the purchase of seven pairs of shoes at seven dollars each to realize that something is seriously wrong with her shopping habits.
Many of us (especially as students) have grown accustomed to paying incredibly low prices for our clothes, and this has enabled us to latch on to trends and replace our clothes at an unprecedented rate. We are obsessed with steals and deals, and unlike Gob from Arrested Development, we openly brag about how little we pay to dress ourselves.
Yet the main message in Overdressed is that good clothes aren’t cheap – and there are huge repercussions for our fast fashion addiction. In order for stores like H&M, Zara, and Forever 21 to sell a dress for ten dollars, they must take advantage of economies of scale. In other words, they produce hundreds of thousands of any one item, using the cheapest material possible and even cheaper labour.
Cline travels from New York to L.A., The Dominican Republic, China, and Bangladesh to document the industry’s rapid race to the bottom. Throughout Overdressed, she covers the fall of American manufacturing and the decline of sewing; the environmental impacts along the entire chain of production and disposal; and the social injustices facing current factory workers.
By the end of the book, Cline’s pragmatic approach will inspire you to change the way you purchase and refurbish your clothes, and encourage you to think about what’s hanging in your closet. If you wear clothes (especially cheap ones), then this is a book for you.
-Alex, Education Director
Interested and want to learn more? Check out her website at http://www.overdressedthebook.com/