There is so much of interest to me on the subject of how our approach to fashion has changed over the years that I've had trouble figuring out how to not write about this topic for weeks on end! It is one of those cases where too much information has brought me to a standstill! I'm going to try to keep this to 3 total blog posts as I have lots of other interesting things going on in Zoe's world to write about this month.
Although I have found myself wowed (not always in a good way) and agreeing with much of Cline's book, one area that I can't agree with is her argument that people will spend a tremendous amount of money on a restaurant meal or a nice car but can't fathom spending more than $40 on a dress. All of us choose our priorities in life - for some people, it is good food. For others, it is a nice car. Others love travel. And in today's economy, many people are prioritizing (as they should) their house payment.
I am aware every day that there is nothing at Zoe that anyone needs in order to survive. The items here fall under the "want" category. I would be horrified if I ever thought that someone spent money in the store when they were deeply in debt or were denying their children proper food, clothing, or care. So please know that as I write about this subject, I am focused on our approach as a society to clothing and how it has changed over the years. It is not a critique of anyone's shopping habits/preferences.
One of the statistics that Cline notes in her book is that we as Americans buy (on average) 64 pieces of clothing a year. I find that shocking. What are we buying? And why? In her research, Cline finds that the thrill of deal seems to drive much of our shopping, not need or quality.
Another disturbing statistic noted in her book was that only 2% of the clothing sold in the US is made here, down from an astonishing 50% as recently as 1990. One of the first questions I ask prospective designers or showrooms is where the clothing is manufactured. With statistics like that, it is no wonder that I have a challenge finding US made goods!
Cline also talks about the times in history when good clothing was valued - people bought well-made products and wore them until they wore out. If they needed a repair to keep wearing the item, they did not hesitate to fix it themselves or take it to a seamstress (or in the case of shoes, a shoe repair/cobbler). Today, many people will wear something a couple of times and will discard it (or pack it into a plastic tub).
Next up: My history (and approach) to The High Cost of Cheap Fashion