Sunday, October 3, 2021

Weekend Review: Loved Clothes Last


Loved Clothes Last / Orsola de Castro
Dublin: Penguin Life, c2021
263 p.

I was really interested in checking out this book when I first heard of it, as the author is a known name in the fashion world, being a founder of Fashion Revolution, an organization that is doing a lot of good in the push for more transparent and equitable fashion across the world. 

It's a collection of essays on a variety of topics to do with reducing one's dependence on fast fashion as it currently exists. This could be a strength, but unfortunately it felt quite disjointed to me, and aimed at a bunch of different audiences. Anyone interested in this topic will already know most of the information in this book, which has fast fashion facts, ideas for mending and fixing minor problems with one's clothes (definitely basic knowledge for sewists), overdyeing, explaining garment care tags, and some social history/history of fabrics. You can probably tell from this list that the topics are jumbled up, and the book design doesn't help with clarity either -- the print is often small, there are lots of sketches and images -- the layout feels like a zine to me in some ways. It's a little frenetic. 

Perhaps if you have started following Fashion Revolution and you don't know much about the issues with the fashion industry, and you don't sew so the idea of caring for your cheap clothes is new to you, this book could be an eye-opener. It might appeal to a younger crowd who isn't already focused on these areas or those who don't automatically fix everything anyhow. 

It's a real shame that this book feels very quickly pulled together, with some factual errors as well (some of these are noted in the reviews on Goodreads). I thought the sewing instruction bits were the strongest, but de Castro doesn't really sew -- these sections were put together by her daughter Elisalex of ByHandLondon. Which may explain why they are knowledgeable! 

I was disappointed because I really love the Fashion Revolution site and all that they do. I like to participate in Fashion Revolution Week and draw attention to the need for fair wages and treatment for garment workers and more environmental responsibility. So I won't write off the organization simply because this book isn't all I hoped it would be. But I'd recommend following the website and its activities over this book if you are interested in these subjects. Assuming that most of my readers are sewists and already aware of issues with fast fashion, you can skip this book without missing much. If you are interested in finding out a little more about the content, though, definitely check out this very thorough review with highlights, by reader Katrina Sark on Goodreads. 

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