Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. We buy a new garment a week on average and make regular pilgrimages to outlet malls, cheap chains like Forever 21, and the sales racks of department stores and off-priced retailers like TJ Maxx. Retailers are producing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more importantly, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?
In Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Cline (a former fast-fashion junkie herself) sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retailers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China and Bangladesh and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how the pressures of cheap have forced retailers to drastically reduce detail and craftsmanship, making the clothes we wear more and more uniform, basic, and low quality.
Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, returning to custom clothing, refashioning clothes throughout their lifetime, and mending and even making clothes themselves. Overdressed will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear. [Penguin Portfolio • June 2012]
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Praise for Overdressed:
“Overdressed does for T-shirts and leggings what Fast Food Nation did for burgers and fries.” —Katha Pollitt, The Nation columnist
“Cline contends that ‘disposable clothing’ is damaging the environment, the economy and even our souls, and she presents a dense and sobering skein of data to support her thesis.” – New York Times Book Review
“Overdressed is the fashion world’s answer to consumer-activist bestsellers like Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma…Self-deprecating about her own lack of style-she has a thing for fleece-lined sweatshirts-Cline writes with the zeal of a reformed shopaholic.” —Businessweek
“Elizabeth L. Cline goes for the jugular straight away in this exploration of the consumer love affair with cheap clothing… Cline’s target is… broader than her book’s title implies.” — Los Angeles Times