Friday, March 7, 2014

Excess and Express Dress

Last night, I looked into Fast Fashion, a book about the devastating effects - economically, ecologically, and psychologically - of the evolution of the fashion and clothing industry into another instant-consumption-and-throwaway economic juggernaut.  The comments section at Amazon might have been the most intriguing product of my curiosity - and not entirely reflecting on the content of the book itself.  There's a worthwhile indictment here on a certain part of the publishing industry, but nobody illuminates the reason for the problems people find (editorial departments are overhead, and many have been stripped to the bone).

Even with the problems some editions of the book seem to have (unfortunately, it's not clear how to find cleanly edited printings ...), I have to admit a strong enough concern about the issues it raises to overcome the editorial quibbles.  The effects and costs of our consumption may not be perfectly reported, but they MUST be reported, and I want to learn.  Insty-wardrobing is something I've thought about before; unfortunately, there aren't a wide array of options to look into these things.

Today I did find other angles, of sorts, on the same picture.  One of these, I suspect, points to why this pattern of purchasing has taken hold in the United States in particular.  Populism is a fundamental part of our national psyche, and insty-clothes are a great equalizer.  They can even provide a good feeling inside, "I am not being wasteful when it comes to money" - even as we are wasteful in opting for ten cheap tops which won't survive two years, and which are made of

The final article I'll link is the second I saw today on the subject of cost and clothes, which looks into why some garments are so expensive.  At exactly the other end of the spectrum from the populist H&M $99 wedding dress, we investigate why a wedding dress should cost $8,000 - and indict the wedding industry in the process.  As you might guess, I have a whole RAFT of nasty and completely irrelevant opinions I'll keep to myself for now in the interest of brevity.  The point is that, as much as populism appeals to us - so do elitism and status - and weddings are the occasion upon which symbolism and consumption mean the most to many.

What is the monetary value of the image you leave behind for your descendants?  What do we want it to say?  What do we want it to take away from, or add to the world itself?

What are the dog-walking pants and ratty sweater I'm wearing right now going to become as years pass and their matter travels into the waste stream enveloping more and more of our planet ... ?

What part do the economics, the chemicals, and the totemistic and cultural importance of our clothes play in our lives individually ... and collectively?


Avery said...

I have learned with clothes that if I just keep wearing, washing, and repairing them, sooner or later, someone will give me more. (Though I have seen fit to purchase new undergarments in the past few years.)
I get the distinct impression that I am odd in this. Just based on the sheer quantity of clothing being sold out there, I must assume that someone is buying it--and that it's one of the most popular things out there. I'd rather superglue my shoes back together (hey, they are still holding,) and buy another book. :)
I've often wondered if other people are treating clothes as disposable. It's easy to see something pretty or different and think, "Oooh, I want that!" And so often we're told "You deserve that!" (Usually by my mother, who thinks I need new shoes.)

Anyway, thanks for the thought-provoking post :)

DLM said...

Hee! You might find Shoe-Goo and more flexible glues with more substantial body are even better for shoes. E-6000 is hearty and more "rubbery" than super glues. They take a lot longer to cure, but I'd bet they last longer, especially as they're made for more porous materials than the cyanocryalates! :) I've even had good results with wood glue one time.

Shoe repair shops are still around too, and a proper repair costs five or ten bucks compared to thirty-forty for a cheap pair of shoes.

Thank you so much for commenting!