I finished reading “Overdressed: the Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” a few weeks ago and I’m sad it took me this long to get to it. Months ago, I listened to an interview with the author, Elizabeth Cline, on NPR and I was instantly intrigued. I HAD to squeeze some reading time into my disgustingly busy schedule.
I’ve always been turned off by the idea of mass-produced clothing and assumed the author of a book that highlights all of the problems with fast fashion would be of the same mindset. Wrong. What’s interesting is Elizabeth Cline confesses to being a “former fast-fashion junkie.” She realized her home was full of cheaply made garments that she had blindly purchased because shopping for cheap clothing had become a habit instead of a need or even a treat. She decided to dive into the world of garment production to find out its social, financial and environmental repercussions.
I’ve been doing fashion design for years and years and never before have I really been able to step back and view the fashion world, garment production, my closets, and my own personal shopping habits all at once. Before reading this book, all of these different things had a bit of a disconnect from one another, even though that seems silly. I mean, I know that sewing garments and fashion and shopping and closets full of clothes are linked. Obviously. But I finally had that a-ha! moment where you can just see it all at once. This book made me want to LOVE every clothing item I own. I don’t want to just have clothes. I want to have things I love to wear. Garments that are special and well-made. I want things that make me both feel good and look good and that will last for a long, long time.
Several times while reading this book I went to my closets and would pull things out and put them in a donation pile. I kept finding things in my closet that I just HAD. I didn’t love them. I didn’t really look great it them. They weren’t constructed great and the fabric wasn’t anything to brag about. They went away. Alot of them. I shop differently now, too. I only buy something if it feels good and looks good and will continue to do so. Sure, I still have plenty of cheap clothing in my closet that I just couldn’t part with (yet), but I feel like I’m ready to make better decisions for my wardrobe.
The other thing that this book helped me do was realize just what I’m up against. I’m a small clothing and accessories brand. I make things start-to-finish, one at a time with my own hands in my small studio located in America. A lot of consumers aren’t interested in paying me what it takes to create high quality fashion this way. Ok, MOST consumers aren’t interested in paying me what it takes to create high quality fashion this way. Luckily, my brand, Audio Helkuik, is not interested in how MOST consumers are shopping. You want interesting high-quality handmade garments and accessories? I’m here for you. Not interested in that? That’s fine. Forever 21 and H&M are stocked full of garments. I’d recommend you read this book though. It highlights some of their design and business practices. Verrrrrrry interesting.
“Overdressed” by Elizabeth L. Cline: http://www.overdressedthebook.com/
Interview with Elizabeth Cline on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2013/05/02/180557959/ethical-fashion-is-the-tragedy-in-bangladesh-a-final-straw