When we talk about sustainable and ethical fashion, we often think about the future — at least I do: we ask every guest that comes onto this show what a better future for fashion looks like to them!
But I also see immense value in looking to the past. To see where we came from so we understand how we got here and what solutions could actually be effective in bringing about change.
So I was intrigued to read the book Worn, a People’s History of Clothing. (Bookshop affiliate link) to understand this history more deeply — and it did not disappoint. I learned so much from this book and I knew I had to get the author, Sofi Thanhauser (@Yesfutureyes) onto the podcast.
And here we are today, Sofi is joining me to talk about some of the key themes covered in the book: like how the industrial revolution spurred mass-production in fashion — and not just from the standpoint of technology — how the rise of advertising helped enable the rise of fast fashion, the toxic shocking history of rayon, the factors that enabled synthetics to dominate garment production, and what we can learn from successful labor movements as we advocate for change in the fashion industry.
This season of the podcast is focused on fashion’s role in our climate crisis, but we don’t take a super narrow view of that theme and I think this episode shows a lot of the overlaps between workers in fashion and the industry’s environmental impacts. We see how lack of worker rights and low wages connects to overproduction, how lack of worker safety is connected to the continued production of toxic synthetic materials, how advertising covers up the realities of how our clothes are made and enables fast fashion to continue to thrive.
We also will be continuing our Green or Greenwashing ending segment in this episode. This week Stella and I will discuss our thoughts on the trend of climate-change ready clothing — do we really need clothes that are, quote: designed for the apocalypse? Are they filling a need or just getting us to buy more stuff. Stay tuned until the end to hear our thoughts on that.
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Links From This Episode
Petition: Tell brands to sign the Accord
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