I love these posts. I don’t do enough of them. They swirl in my head, but don’t make it to the blog. Please send me topics. And content if you’d like to write one, I’ll be happy to put it up. Like this one from Hexicon. I noticed that she had referred to a particular book in a a couple of posts on The Mothership. When she mentioned in a thread here that it would make a good Let’s Talk, I took her up on it:
Gigi, thank you for offering to discuss Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline. This Huff Po article hits the highlights, In Overdressed, Cline describes the effects of modern fashion production and consumption habits — how “cheap chic” means offshoring, instant production, disposable quality, constant shopping — yet still we feel like we have nothing to wear. As she puts it, budget retailers such as Old Navy and F-21 “are all running on the same high-volume, low-priced fashion formula that has squeezed the life out of the rest of the industry, forcing independent department stores to consolidate, middle-market manufacturers to shutter, and independent retailers either to go high-end or go home. Budget fashion has now remade the entire apparel industry in its image. And it has profoundly changed the way we think about clothing. . . . Well into the twentieth century, clothes were pricey and precious enough that they were mended and cared for and re-imagined countless times, and most people had a few outfits that they wore until they wore them out. How things have changed. We’ve gone from making good use of the clothes that we own to buying things that we’ll never or barely wear. We are caught in a cycle of consumption and waste[.]”
Curiosity and the good reviews led me to pick up this book, but because I’ve never really been much of an Old Navy/F-21/H&M shopper, I didn’t really think the disposable clothing phenomenon affected me directly. Bad assumption! Cline explains why the widespread availability of cheap “chic” has resulted in quality declines at the mid-range, as well as other challenges for mid-price retailers. (JCAs, we’re not imagining it!) Because this is a shopping blog and we’re here to have fun and talk about clothes, I wanted to skip over the heavier economic, ethical, and environmental issues Cline raises, and go to the question that is relevant here:
What does this mean for how we shop? When trends are created instantly (and disappear just as quickly), when new items of clothing barely cost more than a latte and are rolled out on a near-weekly basis, and when price competition at the low end has driven down quality everywhere, how should we shop and think about clothes?
* Let’s Talk – retail quality
* Let’s Talk – chic (but cheap…the follow up)