The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Book - 2012
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Penguin Putnam
Until recently, Elizabeth Cline was a typical American consumer. She’d grown accustomed to shopping at outlet malls, discount stores like T.J. Maxx, and cheap but trendy retailers like Forever 21, Target, and H&M. She was buying a new item of clothing almost every week (the national average is sixty-four per year) but all she had to show for it was a closet and countless storage bins packed full of low-quality fads she barely wore—including the same sailor-stripe tops and fleece hoodies as a million other shoppers. When she found herself lugging home seven pairs of identical canvas flats from Kmart (a steal at $7 per pair, marked down from $15!), she realized that something was deeply wrong.

Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenney now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. 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. After all, we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.

But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being?

In Overdressed, Cline 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, follows the fashion industry as it chases even lower costs into Bangladesh, and looks at the impact (both here and abroad) of America’s drastic increase in imports. She even explores how cheap fashion harms the charity thrift shops and textile recyclers where our masses of cloth­ing castoffs end up.

Sewing, once a life skill for American women and a pathway from poverty to the middle class for workers, is now a dead-end sweatshop job. 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. Creative inde­pendent designers struggle to produce good and sustainable clothes at affordable prices.

Cline shows how consumers can break the buy-and-toss cycle by supporting innovative and stylish sustainable designers and retailers, refash­ioning clothes throughout their lifetimes, and mending and even making clothes themselves.

will inspire you to vote with your dollars and find a path back to being well dressed and feeling good about what you wear.

Baker & Taylor
Evaluates the actual costs of low-priced, poor-quality clothing while tracing the author's own transformation from a cheap fashion consumer to a conscientious shopper, a journey during which she visited a living-wage garment factory, learned to resole inexpensive shoes and shopped for local, sustainable clothing. 20,000 first printing.

& Taylor

Evaluates the costs of low-priced clothing while tracing the author's own transformation to a conscientious shopper, a journey during which she visited a garment factory, learned to resole shoes, and shopped for local, sustainable clothing.

Publisher: New York : Portfolio/Penguin, c2012
ISBN: 9781591844617
Branch Call Number: 338.47 CLI 2012
Characteristics: vii, 244 p. ; 24 cm


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Mar 24, 2016

This book made me realize the the drop in quality and styling in womens' clothing is no illusion- it's an epidemic. I am looking at all my buying choices with new eyes. It's also made me think very seriously about re-learning how to sew, and crafting my own clothing.

Oct 30, 2013

This book is incredibly well written and well researched. It really opened my eyes to a lot of things I've never thought about before. Not only are the clothes available at the mall made by people who aren't being paid a living wage, they have no tailoring and are of poor quality. Our clothes also get thinner to save money. One woman Cline interviews says it best, we are wearing rags. I would reccomend this book to anyone, particularly if you are interested in shopping, a sustainable lifestyle, or quality over quantity.

Oct 06, 2013

Although the writing seemed stilted at times, overall this book was very interesting and gave me lots to think about. Definitely recommended if you enjoy clothes and shopping!

Jul 01, 2013

This book is a great read. I've never really been someone who follows the latest fashion trend and after reading this book I doubt I ever will be. I have tried to make my own clothes when possible which means they are designer (me) originals as well as repairing anything as needed. It is a real eyeopener about how most clothes are made these days, why they are so cheap and how disposable they really are. I truly never gave any thought to what happens to clothing once it goes to charity either. The environmental costs for the countries which manufacture most of those cheap clothes should concern everybody these days.

Mar 13, 2013

It made me think about the kinds of things I buy. It's a lot harder to find quality clothing for women over 50 than it used to be. A quick read ... I found especially interesting the chapter on thrift stores, and what happens to our clothing after we donate it away.

Oct 07, 2012

This is an amazing book! Women have needed a read like this to explain the drop in price, style and quality of clothing available in stores today. Time to get out the sewing machine!

SMBE Aug 24, 2012

This book was difficult to read because it was so poorly written. It is amazing that it was published.
The subject was interesting however her presentation was poorly organized. She writes like a high school student.

Aug 19, 2012

I suspected this all along. If everyone read this book and absorbed its message, it would literally change the world.

Jul 28, 2012

A well-balanced expose of the cost of the current fashion industry in human exploitation and environmental degradation. Most interesting was the new trends--the cost cutting factories in Asia are now unable to compete for quality goods, so real high fashion manufacturing may come back to North America.

Jul 05, 2012

Most people must buy the cheaper imitations because the brand names are too expensive except as for special occasion items; designer items are even more ridiculous because 90% of the cost is that square inch or so of designer label.

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Mar 02, 2014

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