I heard about Fashionopolis as it was one of sources on a recent Climate Town video (which was awesome and you should totally watch after you’re done here).
Fashionopolis is the third book by Dana Thomas, published in 2019. She’s a careered fashion journalist for such esteemed publications as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Bazaar and more.
The book is set up in three parts.
Part One covers the history of mass produced garments. Starting in the industrial revolution to now in the world of over consumption, globalism and exploitation. Fun…
It did start exploring more modern manufacturing plants that are more automated and transparent about how the workers are being treated. Which is nice to know there’s some change in the industry to make things a tad bit safer. But at the same time the big fast fashion companies are still actively lobbying against countries like Bangladesh from raising the minimum wage.
This part was interesting but also extremely sad, since it really highlights the lack of care companies have for their employees lives or safety.
Part Two was more focused on material production and ‘rightshoring’ which is the return of garment manufacturing in first world countries with more more ethical and environmentally conscious practices. Or that is how I understood it in the context of the book. I googled it after finishing the book and my definition is off.
It gives reasons to why some garment manufacturing is coming back to the US and UK. As well as suppliers like dyes, wools, lower water cotton and more.
There were interviews some of the startups that are working on fabric recycling, particularly cotton/poly blends (which is shockingly common and currently essentially impossible to reuse or recycle (Secondhand covered the journey to the grave is covered really well in that book if you’re curious)).
Somewhere in this section we start hearing about Stella McCartney, the fashion designer. I knew her as the lady that designed that ugly jackets for Taylor Swift’s Lover merch. She’s also Paul McCartney’s daughter. #funfacts
But she’s been very active in reducing furs in luxury fashion, and has been investing and partnering with many of small manufacturers that are creating ethical or recycled materials. It was really cool. But also the book talked about her a lot. I don’t know if it’s because she’s the only one doing anything or if that just who the author could interview.
Part Three is about renting and sharing of clothing, as well as the second hand market. All of which have been growing in recent years. The author seemed to focus in on luxury rental companies (Like the Real Real). I think it would have been cool to have talked more which places like ThreadUp or Goodwill to discuss how the secondhand bomb has been effecting them. Since that’s where us normies get our second hand clothes.
I enjoyed Fashionopolis. I have an interest in fashion (or maybe garment production since I like sewing). And this book was filled with sooo much interesting information. However, when I read a book like this, I wish it was a documentary instead. The author tried describing this as much as she could but I want to see it. I ended up having to google some of the stuff mentioned just to understand what she’s talking about. So at the very least photos would have improved the reading experience. If you have a interest in fashion or curious about garment manufacturing this book is for you.