As a long time advocate for sustainable and responsibly made fashion, it pleases me when I read an ethical fashion book that teaches valuable lessons in a disarmingly honest and intelligent way. Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by fashion journalist and Marie Claire editor-at-large Clare Press doesn’t disappoint.
In this fascinating book, Clare argues her case: that the fashion industry is in a state of decay, and needs to be revolutionised. And at the risk of sounding biased, she does so rather successfully.
Tracing fashion history as far back as the 16th century, Clare is meticulous in laying the groundwork for her argument. She also travels across the world to interview designers, sustainable fashion advocates, and farmers alike; it seems Clare has left no aspect of the fashion industry – not even luxury brands that grace the covers of the publication in which she works – unscrutinised.
What readers can expect.
Clare covers the rise and rise of unconscionable consumerism propelled by the department store phenomena in the 19th century and the advertising industry in the 20th century; and encouraged by television shows such as Sex and the City. She explores how fashion lost its innocence, in its deplorable treatment of textile workers in the early 20th century and garment workers of the 21st century, most notably the Rana Plaza complex collapse that killed 1,133 and injuring 2,500 more.
The book also examines the negative impact of the industry not just on people, environment and our wallets (“In 2015, American households owed an average of $15,609 on their credit cards”) but on our psyche too (“A British study by Publicis found that, far from being a salve, the act of shopping can actual cause depressed feelings”).
In spite of this, Wardrobe Crisis is optimistic about fashion’s future. It offers readers many examples of hope; from the brands doing good, such as Yvon Chouinard’s Patagonia and Stella McCartney; through to the individuals working tirelessly for responsibly-made fashion, such as Orsola de Castro and Carry Somers, founders of the global movement, Fashion Revolution. Clare also touches upon the fashion technology helping us to clean up fashion.
Littered with facts and figures and clearly well-researched with nine pages of footnotes, this brilliant writer delves into heavy subject matter without making readers feel hopeless or worse, judged. Clare’s background as a designer, brand consultant and fashion editor gives her a unique and qualified perspective on the multi-faceted fashion problem. She also writes with a degree of candour, making this fashion insider likeable, and the information she presents easy to digest.
The book proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the industry needs to change, lest it buckles under the weight of its own gluttony. I even took notes while reading the book – an activity I indulge in when provoked into thought – to help jumpstart my own research.
In my organiser, a sample of the notes taken:
- Learned about couture governance (I didn’t know that to be a couture house, a label had to have at least 20 Paris based staff on full time pay)
- Hermes croc farm in Australia ***MUST RESEARCH!!!***
- Luxury has lost its lustre – “the ghetto fabulous”
- The law of averages – how many handbags, jeans, etc do you have?
- Australia is a not a “green” country, it is a mining country
- We’ve forgotten how to commit – are we “fashion sluts”?
- Luxury fashion is about selling dreams – when a customer makes a purchase, they’re buying into it
Some non-fiction books are ineffective at getting you to think deeply in a way that will have a lasting impact on your psyche. Wardrobe Crisis is not one of them. If it doesn’t affect the way you shop, at the very least it will have you questioning your relationship to the items hanging in your closet. A perceptive critique of the fashion industry as a whole, it is required reading for anyone who cares to learn about the impact of their fashion purchases.
To get your hands on this amazing book, make sure to purchase a copy here.
Disclosure: Eco Warrior Princess received a copy of the eco fashion book Wardrobe Crisis as a gift from the author. All opinions expressed are that of the writer’s. We are committed to high standards of integrity which you can learn more about here. This post also contains affiliate links so if you decide to make a purchase, we make a small commission which helps to keep this website running without too many annoying advertisements or compromising its content.