Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion—and the Future of Clothes

Penguin Pr. Sept. 2019. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780735224018. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780735224025. BUS
Journalist Thomas offers a wide-ranging exposé of the fashion industry. Her book title invokes themes from “Cottonopolis”—the sobriquet for Manchester, England, and birthplace of the 18th-century Industrial Revolution—to Metropolis, a 1927 dystopian film about low-wage factory work. This work describes a similarly massive, problematic modern industry, which allows capitalism to run amok and pushes rampant consumerism and endless consumption. It affects developed economies by outsourcing jobs, hits developing nations with sweatshop labor, and creates environmental degradation. Thomas offers readers hope for change by introducing visionary entrepreneurs who embody the future of fashion. At the individual level, for example, she visits Stella McCartney, who uses new simulated fibers grown in a lab in place of leather and animal products. On a larger scale, she spotlights new approaches to manufacturing blue jeans, from a farmer growing natural indigo to those planting organic cotton. The author also explores circularity as she considers how clothes are recycled and fibers reused, as well as checks out new companies that rent out clothes. From clothes made on 3–D printers to factories full of robots, Thomas shows us sustainable alternatives for the future.
VERDICT Fascinating reading for anyone who wears clothing.

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