Sunday, August 7, 2022

Weekend Review: Fashion Manifesto


Fashion Manifesto / Sofia Hedstrom
trans. from the Swedish by Sarah Snavely
NY: Skyhorse, 2013, c2011
184 p.

August is Women in Translation Month, and to celebrate here I'll be reviewing fashion titles this month that were originally published in a non-English form. (for lots of fiction in translation, you can also check out my book blog, The Indextrious Reader, during August, too).

I'm starting with this book from my local library. I've looked through a few times over the years, but realized I've never shared it here. It's very much on trend right now, despite being published almost a decade ago. The author, a fashion journalist, decided to set herself a one year shopping ban challenge, after realizing her purchases were taking over her life and her closet, and that she had clothes stored not only in her own apartment, but her parents' home and even in an ex-boyfriend's parent's place. She was super strict about it, not buying anything new at all for a full year, not even shoes or undies. 

She started her challenge on August 1 so the story of her year of no buying is right on track for this week! The book is fascinating; she's a fashion writer so her style is very engaging and lively. The book is laid out very well, with an intro by Vivienne Westwood, well-known for her motto of "Buy Less, Choose Well". There is an intro of how Hedstrom decided on this project, and then a month by month timeline of her experience -- temptations, alterations, her feelings about the challenge and so on. It was interesting to see the initial 'withdrawal' period followed by more confidence about her existing wardrobe and finally the feeling that her shopping addiction was under control. Creativity came to forefront as she put together new combos of outfits, used things in different ways, learned some mending and dyeing techniques, and borrowed from and swapped with friends. 

Her own story is the main focus here, but she also interviewed other people about their sustainable (or 'style-savvy') shopping habits. The middle of the book is the actual Manifesto, laid out like a cool poster that you can copy and sign and post for your own purposes. And the second half of the book is projects with a variety of people she's interviewed, showing how they maintain and refashion their own wardrobes. It's fascinating, ranging from regular clothing to accessories like shoes and hair stuff, including jewellery. There's a nice mix of young and old, men and women, and some diversity though mostly people on the thinner side.

The projects are great as concepts even if the more edgy, punky ones aren't my style at all. But there are ideas for quilting and mending as well as fishnet jeans or leggings made from sock cuffs. It's interesting to see someone who is travelling around to the high pressure fashion weeks, where it is expected that you'll be dressed in the latest, who is able to redo her existing clothes and not stand out as an oddball. She mentions how not giving in to the temptations for all the latest things helped her sense of self as well as her wallet. Overall, this is probably familiar to you if you've paid attention to the "shop less" sustainable movement of the past decade, but this book is well done and fun to read. I enjoyed it and you might too!

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