An educated update on the current state of fashion, how it got there, and a prognostication on its precarious future.
Paris-based fashion journalist Thomas (Gods and Kings: The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano, 2014, etc.) offers informed, fair-minded, passionate, and cautiously optimistic scrutiny of “fast fashion,” which entails “the production of trendy, inexpensive garments in vast amounts at lightning speed in subcontracted factories, to be touted in thousands of chain stores.” The author focuses on the negative ramifications of this rampant consumerism, which gives little regard to garment quality or manufacturing origins. Among the “casualties” of this trend are underpaid, exploited, and often underage factory workers in developing countries; labor forces in developed economies; and the environment, as microfiber-shedding synthetic fabrics and fertilizers commingle to pollute water supplies. Thomas interweaves details on sartorial workmanship, designer profiles, and fashion history into her discourse, creating a distressing yet intriguing story of the textile industry and how the global explosion of “furious fashion” hijacked a uniquely creative economic market. She reveals how this grand-scale industry seized control over impulsive buyers and greedy profiteers, setting in motion a “hamster-wheel cycle” of overmanufactured garments, indifferent consumers, and billions of pounds of waste. In her travels to Bangladesh, five years after the deadly Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, she uncovered somewhat improved working conditions, but there still remained a sweatshop subculture rife with sexual and physical abuse. But Thomas isn’t hopeless, and her engrossing report is leavened with uplifting accounts of brands using organic indigo for blue jeans and a force of designers, merchants, and manufacturers eager to revolutionize the garment industry’s aggressive tide of overproduction through “slow fashion.” In her conclusion, Thomas notes the evergreen conundrum (and “epic-sized mess”) that exists regarding high fashion’s rubric of seasonal production and the recyclers and eco-engineers aiming to recalibrate its production output and repurpose its leftovers.
Convincing, responsible, and motivational fashion industry reportage.