Tag Archives: to die for

Fashion Exposè To Die For

27 Aug


The image “https://i0.wp.com/cdni.condenast.co.uk/426x639/k_n/LSiegleLFitth_V_24may11_getty_b.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
Lucy Siegle loves fashion.

“Few industries are more connected to the natural world”, she writes “yet the fashion industry has barely begun to factor in the consequences of it’s actions on habitat loss, shrinking biodiversity and climate change”. To Die For gives us an inside view of all aspects of garment production from raw materials to treatments such as weaving, dying, spinning to construction and ultimately sale.

Since 2004 Siegle has written an ethical living column for the Observer. With articles appearing in Marie Claire, Elle and Grazia and she has also featured on numerous television shows on the subject of consumerism and ethical living. Concerned that while she was “greening up” the rest of her life consumption of fashion continued to fill her multiple wardrobes Siegle stepped back to question the major shift in fashion from quality lasting garments to vast quantities of short lived fashions under the guise of trends.

Hard-hitting, fast paced and informative Lucy Siegle’s new book ‘To Die For’ reveals the forces that drive fast fashion. A gripping book that serves to disturb and shock today’s fashionista, To Die For is forthright in it’s expose of fashion industry mechanisms. Exploring the way we buy, who is setting and changing the trends and who is behind the scenes making these garments. Siegle reflects back to us the lack of interest and concern harboured by the voracious bargain buyer whose goal of updating styles is aided by cheap production and labour costs.

The astounding changes in our shopping habits are described by Siegle as a breakdown in the distinction between our understanding of the terms ‘garment’ and ‘fashion’. Where once fashion was a world of precious commodities and garments were functional pieces of clothing, today “basic garments have become fashion”, and “we expect everything . . . to be up to the minute and preferably linked to a superstar designer”.

The fifteen chapters are divided up into catchy subsections so that you are propelled forward to the next shocking statistic or revelation. Siegle is not addressing us from an ivory tower, her impulse buys and inadequete storage space re-enforce the fact that we are all prey to the marketing machine. Rapidly changing trends, lower prices and the quantity of imported garments have changed the way we view and consume fashion. With the average Briton annually accumulating twenty-eight pounds of clothes for an average of ₤625, the result is a total of 1.72 million tonnes of garments purchased annually in Britain. Siegle points out, “almost the same quantity of fashion that you buy you will end up dumping prematurely in the rubbish bin”.

Siegle’s research is the result of consumer enquiries, interviews with Cambodian garment workers and travels to factories in Bangladesh and west African factories as well as the cotton pickers in the fields of Uzbekistan. Each new topic is delivered in quick succession, like fast fashion the point of interest keeps evolving to keep the reader looking forward to the next big thing. Other researchers who have also written on the topic or made documentaries are discussed and and we become keenly aware of the global impact and reach of this issue. Most people have already heard of a large fashion company involved in a sweatshop expose. To Die For highlights the real cost of cheap fashion. Abuses of garment workers rights are revealed and our attention is drawn to battery sheep farmed for wool and the 1,500 silkworms it takes to produce one metre of fabric. We are given an indept look at species such as crocodiles farmed for their skins and given botox injections to keep the skin plump and stop it from drying out. Advertising campaigns, celebrity endorsements and designer lines for the high street are revealed as the attractive side of an ugly industry.

High street fashion comes under intense scrutiny. From trend hunters reporting the latest styles to the fashion machine headquarters of high streets head offices, to the contracting of labour in the Far East with extremely short deadlines for huge orders. Fast fashion changes at a rapid pace and it is all about fast, cheap production and subsequent labour abuses resulting in cheap clothes found in supermarket aisles and high street stores sold as fashion items.

The life span of clothes is also analysed. These items are not made to last in terms of fashion and also in terms of the physical make up. There is an overview of where discarded clothes end up and how they are dealt with in thrift shops, often rejected by charities in Africa on hygiene grounds, and extensively sorted at recycled clothes plants.

Siegle uses the latter part of the book to explore the potential for ethical consumerism. This serves as something of a debriefing, giving us an alternative to the horrors described in the earlier part of the book. To Die For is a record of today’s fast fashion phenomenon. Delivering information to the reader to encourage more informed consumerism and to draw attention to the global effects of our choices.

%d bloggers like this: