By Lexi McGlade
In an eye-opening novel entitled, Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline, the consequences of “fast fashion” are considered. Fast fashion is a term used to acknowledge the rapidity with which trends move from the runway into stores in accordance with the latest style. Cline interweaves personal anecdotes and historical facts as she provides readers with an understanding of how the fashion industry has changed over the past 50 years. In a culture in which discounted and low price tags are glorified, the fashion industry has lost the potency it once had. No longer is clothing valued for the quality of the materials, the labor that went into its creation, or the individuality of the item. Instead, consumers seek the best deal they can find and stores cater to this craving. This is largely a result of the fast-paced merchandise turnover in the industry today. An item bought in the fall is likely to be out of style by the next year, and therefore individuals avoid investing a lot of money in something they plan to discard in the near future. On the other hand, the quantitative consumption of clothing has skyrocketed, and individuals justify this with the belief that the underprivileged will benefit from their leftovers. However, Cline asserts that this is false, for there is far more clothing being produced than is necessary.
Cline visited sweatshops and clothing factories across the world, corresponded with a multitude of individuals, and delved into the history of fashion to reach the conclusion that there are simpler ways to reinstate value in the industry. She believes that even an investment in a sewing machine or a trip to a thrift store would be adequate to restore one’s appreciation for clothing. However, Cline maintains that the ultimate remedy will be to return to independently-owned companies and relieve the reliance on Asia for the production of goods.
With these changes implemented, the “fast fashion” industry would likely see prices increase, but this may be necessary to give the American garment industry a fighting chance. A powerful novel that is relevant for all ages, Overdressed sheds light on a potent issue that is currently overlooked.
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a website for women focused on mind and money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.