To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?
Changed me? No.
I have to admit – I am not the greenest fashion wearer. To say that this book completely changed the way I was buying fashion I also can’t.
However, I did see my old self described in the book. You see, I’ve stopped consuming fast fashion at the same time I’ve stopped eating fast food, and I am never coming back.
However, the high street is still king – we love our Zaras, River Islands, H&Ms and New Looks. It’s cheap, convenient and lasts two or three washes, just in time before the new season kicks in. This vicious cycle is described very well in the book.
Business-savvy fashion lovers will really enjoy reading about the logistics of the fashion sector and generally the labour behind a piece of clothing – Siegle paints a very vivid picture.
Fuzzy fury beast
What particularly appealed to me is the part about fur coats, vintage fur coats and of course what has been embraced by fashion houses as well as the high street – faux fur.
I found the research Siegle did about the topic very insightful because:
a) I have been a victim of faux fur myself and I learned on my mistake. I to this day hate that fake fur gilet that I stupidly bought two or so years ago. It stunk, it looked cheap, it was cheap and of course it was far from fabulous.
b) Being close friends with a person who feels deeply for animals and their rights, I was feeling a bit uncomfortable about wearing a priced possession of mine, a gorgeous mink fur coat, in front of her. I wore it anyway but felt that she mentally sprayed me with red paint over and over again.
However, having read that particular section on fur, I now know that sometimes faux fur is far worse than real fur, with the latter being a luxurious and possibly even… here it comes: an environmentally-friendly buy.
Fatima – the “machine” that embroidered your top
If you are particularly emotional, you would find another chapter in the book gruesomely keeping you awake at night, looking at that cheap embroidered top that you bought in Primark. It’s very likely that the sales assistant told you that “a machine” applied all those details onto your garment. Slap, slap, wake up, Scrooge! Here, you can think of Siegle like the Ghost of Christmas Past taking you to India, Bangladesh, or even Jordan among other possible countries where it could have been produced, to see who made it, how much were they paid (if they were paid at all) and under what circumstances. It WILL get ugly.
But darling, it’s Prada!
Also, readers who are interested in luxury fashion will find Siegle’s quick glimpse at the high-end business very interesting. IT bags, IT shoes, IT tops and their glorious copies, also called as items “inspired” by designers. I should know this – I was writing fashion copy for a high street retailer for two years – almost all rip offs were called total and utter “inspiration”.
There will, of course, be dirt on your favourite brands such as Prada or Gucci, but I found the negativity to be quite limited compared to the high street, obviously because these empires are almost houses of God in fashion and can be very secretive, and also for the reason that often customers are splashing out huge amounts of money on pieces of better quality thus buying longevity rather than a passing trend.
Leather not so forever
But arguably the luxury houses bore the hardest slap when Siegle was talking about leather production and dyes – this too won’t be pretty. Yet I found this part a somewhat vital read for absolutely everyone in the world who owns a leather belt, bag or shoes – this will teach you to cherish, take care and value the leather.
The pay off
Siegle finishes the book off with some innovative ideas as to what should we do next to be more ethical and environmentally friendly. Almost like an academic dissertation, some ideas are very realistic and already (though not widely) exist, such as hire-an-IT bag services, others are quite extreme, but I’ll let you discover those yourself.
Could it change you? Yes.
Though it did not change me, as I mentioned before, it is very possible it may change you if you still shop in Primark and treat your clothes like toilet paper after a wear or two. The book discusses a phantom which it refers to as the “Perfect Wardrobe” which is supposed to be made out of super ethical, degradable and environmentally-friendly clothes.
Like most other readers, I am sure, I have rated my wardrobe, looking at how “perfect” it may be. Surprisingly, it made me quite proud – the doors of my wardrobe close pretty well, nothing should be pushed in, I have a few vintage pieces, a selection of designer clothing (loved and taken care of, I must add), a few ethical and organic items, tops I got through some swapping sessions, and admittedly a few high street dresses – but those are the minority. The reason I have been a slightly more “behaving fashion consumer” is because my parents, especially my mother, has taught me to appreciate every item of clothing that I buy – so I just mentally can’t allow myself to buy too much crap.
Lucy Siegle is just telling you what your parents told you in your childhood – be responsible – which is not any ground breaking theory, but indeed common sense. While I didn’t necessarily enjoy some small parts in the book, simply because, as I said before, I am not the biggest go-greener in the world, I overly loved the book because it made me feel that learned so much.
Siegle kindly leaves you with a whole lot of new-found knowledge about how to appreciate what you are wearing and suggests how you can buy better, albeit slower.
Recommend? Yes, to everyone – I like to surround myself with smart people and this book will leave you feeling somewhat learned.
Negatives? Almost none, perhaps some parts could be shortened but that’s all.
Positives? The whole book – read, enjoy and compare your wardrobe to Lucy’s theoretical “perfect” one, you’ll know exactly how good or bad you are.