Monday, June 25, 2012

Great Read: "Overdressed" by Elizabeth Cline

A couple weeks ago, I was waiting for Dennis in my car listening to NPR. (When I was younger I went through an NPR-listening phase, but about a month ago, I started listening again. SO glad that I did.) It was 7:00 p.m. and one of my favorite WBUR (Boston NPR) shows came on - On Point with Tom Ashbrook. The entire hour was dedicated to an interview and open debate/conversation including the author of "Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion" Elizabeth Cline.

Basically, I was sitting on the edge of my seat listening and drinking in every single word that Elizabeth Cline had to say. In my opinion, she's a genius. The basic gist of her book is about the decline of the quality of clothing and textiles in America. Our generation (starting from 1980) doesn't understand quality of garments. We don't understand trends, because everyone in America is wearing the same trend in a different rendition; which I completely agree with. In the 1990's, the Gap was one of the first retailers to start the mass-manufacturing one t-shirt into millions. Everyone wanted the same t-shirt and the same pair of jeans. Unfortunately, with outsourcing being the big thing these days, it only gets easier for big retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, Forever 21, and H&M, to make clothing extremely cheap garments with poorly-made materials and textiles. Not only are they using cheap materials, but they are also paying their employees at a depressingly low wage. Forever21, Target, and H&M are trying to create cheap fashion-forward clothing, so that everyone can feel like they are indeed fashion-forward but without spending the price. Post WWII women were still spending sometimes over $100 (present day inflated price) on one piece. They would have sometimes only four or five outfits and would constantly be rotating them, because they were spending a good amount for high quality clothing. We all brag about how we got this top for five dollars and those jeans for ten, and I totally do this all the time! But what's the point? I mean, yes, I'm a young kid with not a lot of money... That's what thrifting is for, right?! But I am just starting to realize how important buying vintage has become to me. Clothing made before 1980 is so much better quality! I have three blouses that were made in the 70's. I wash them regularly, and they haven't aged a day! In fact, I think they probably look the same they did on the day they were made...

The other night I brought this up with my friends, saying that I was thinking of boycotting Target, H&M, and Forever21, and yes, I'm probably going to stick with it. Their clothes are cheap and last me like a day, so why spend the money on them? And while I'm at it, why support the poor treatment of their workers in their factories?

Some ladies might not agree with me. Someone asked me why it was wrong when they don't advertise being high-quality? Well, to me it's wrong because I want my clothes to last. It's not worth spending $30 on a shirt that will only last a couple washes.

What do you think?


JanM ♥ said...

I totally agree with you on the quality of clothes now. But I feel like I prefer buying from stores that I mentioned because they're affordable and yes, fashion forward. Although I would LOVE to shop at Bloomingdales, Nordstrom and the like, I have yet to reach the point in life where I can afford more than just their sale racks. Oh and maybe there's something wrong with me but my mom always says that since I was a kid, everything is disposable to me, I would ask her for a dress, wear it once and forget about it. It's a baaaaad habit.


The Creative Collaborator said...

I think you might be interested in watching this, I think it might help you see more of why it's important to you besides just better quality.
just something to think about :)

Teaka said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog post I just wrote about this book. Seriously such an amazing read. I'll probably be reading it through again this summer just to soak more of it into my mind.

You said someone ask you why it was wrong when the don't advertise being high quality? Well I think that book just such a great job explaining wrong. It's not wrong like murdering someone but it's like what we don't see won't hurt us....or will it? We don't see the factories these clothing are made in and we don't know how little they are being paid. We also are allowing ourselves to get sucked into such a materialistic mindset that buying cheap means we can buy more often and we can just toss it if it doesn't last long.
Anyways before I just go on a rant I'll just leave it at that.
Cheers to this book!


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