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Who makes your clothes? This used to be an easy question to answer: it was the seamstress next door, or the tailor on the high street – or you made them yourself. Today we rarely know the origins of the clothes hanging in our closets. The local shoemaker, dressmaker and milliner are long gone, replaced by a globalised fashion industry worth $1.5 trillion a year. In Wardrobe Who makes your clothes? This used to be an easy question to answer: it was the seamstress next door, or the tailor on the high street – or you made them yourself. Today we rarely know the origins of the clothes hanging in our closets. The local shoemaker, dressmaker and milliner are long gone, replaced by a globalised fashion industry worth $1.5 trillion a year. In Wardrobe Crisis, fashion journalist Clare Press explores the history and ethics behind what we wear. Putting her insider status to good use, Press examines the entire fashion ecosystem, from sweatshops to haute couture, unearthing the roots of today’s buy-and-discard culture. She traces the origins of icons like Chanel, Dior and Hermès; charts the rise and fall of the department store; and follows the thread that led us from Marie Antoinette to Carrie Bradshaw. From a time when Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein were just two boys from the Bronx, to the world of the global fashion juggernaut, where Zara’s parent company produces more than 900 million garments annually, Press takes us on an insider’s journey of discovery and revelation. Wardrobe Crisis is a witty and persuasive argument for a fashion revolution that will empower you to feel good about your wardrobe again.


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Who makes your clothes? This used to be an easy question to answer: it was the seamstress next door, or the tailor on the high street – or you made them yourself. Today we rarely know the origins of the clothes hanging in our closets. The local shoemaker, dressmaker and milliner are long gone, replaced by a globalised fashion industry worth $1.5 trillion a year. In Wardrobe Who makes your clothes? This used to be an easy question to answer: it was the seamstress next door, or the tailor on the high street – or you made them yourself. Today we rarely know the origins of the clothes hanging in our closets. The local shoemaker, dressmaker and milliner are long gone, replaced by a globalised fashion industry worth $1.5 trillion a year. In Wardrobe Crisis, fashion journalist Clare Press explores the history and ethics behind what we wear. Putting her insider status to good use, Press examines the entire fashion ecosystem, from sweatshops to haute couture, unearthing the roots of today’s buy-and-discard culture. She traces the origins of icons like Chanel, Dior and Hermès; charts the rise and fall of the department store; and follows the thread that led us from Marie Antoinette to Carrie Bradshaw. From a time when Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein were just two boys from the Bronx, to the world of the global fashion juggernaut, where Zara’s parent company produces more than 900 million garments annually, Press takes us on an insider’s journey of discovery and revelation. Wardrobe Crisis is a witty and persuasive argument for a fashion revolution that will empower you to feel good about your wardrobe again.

30 review for Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vashti

    An excellent exposition of our obsession with fast fashion, and all the dirty laundry that our habit comes with. I don't think I've ever been a major fashion victim, and I infinitely prefer quality pieces that last over a bargin any day. Zara and H & M are highly overrated to me (I'm a Gorman and Cue kind of girl). But still reading this book has made me question the impacts of some of my clothing. For example did you know that there are rivers in China that run blue because of all the jeans and An excellent exposition of our obsession with fast fashion, and all the dirty laundry that our habit comes with. I don't think I've ever been a major fashion victim, and I infinitely prefer quality pieces that last over a bargin any day. Zara and H & M are highly overrated to me (I'm a Gorman and Cue kind of girl). But still reading this book has made me question the impacts of some of my clothing. For example did you know that there are rivers in China that run blue because of all the jeans and denim dyed and flushed down the river. That people are still using these rivers as their source of drinking water. Or the toxic and sometimes carcinogenic chemicals that are sprayed on cotton farms in India. Or how in China, geese are live plucked for their feathers (keep them alive so that can be used 4 maybe 5 times before they eventually die). It's pretty shocking stuff, and I will definitely be thinking differently next time I buy any new clothes. Highly recommend to anyone, particularly if you love clothes and fashion. This book isn't anti fashion, Clare Press is a lover of fashion. But we have to change the way things are happening, and our choices as consumers can make a difference. Some of my favourite quotes: "Whether it was a piece of art or a luxury item, it was made by human hands, and celebrating these hands - the artist's or artisan's skill - was an accepted part of the story. To understand how something is made is to add to it's beauty" Simone Cipriani, p177 "explored the idea that if fashion could talk it might say 'I'm a spoilt little girl, I come in a package all wrapped up like a Barbie and I am supported and subsidised by all the poor people in the world'" p301.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Roxane Horton

    Probably the best book on sustainable fashion in the market. Clare makes a potentially difficult subject accessible and funny. I couldn't put it down - and that's saying something for non fiction. Read it if you have an interest in sustainable and ethical fashion, read it if you are designer, read it if you buy clothes, read it if you wear clothes! Probably the best book on sustainable fashion in the market. Clare makes a potentially difficult subject accessible and funny. I couldn't put it down - and that's saying something for non fiction. Read it if you have an interest in sustainable and ethical fashion, read it if you are designer, read it if you buy clothes, read it if you wear clothes!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Elena Antoniou

    This book is an imperative reading for anyone who wants to understand the history of where our thirst for fast fashion has come from, and the detrimental impact it is having on the planet and those who work behind the scenes in the fashion industry. Clare is a well respected and fantastic writer.. I am never bored with her writing! A must for fledgling designers and established brands that want to change the way they see their role in the fashion industry. Loved it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    This was disappointing. Everything interesting in this book was already done, better, in Lucy Siegel’s “To Die For.” The long tangents on the history of French couture houses were strange distractions I honestly didn’t care about. I’m here to read about sustainability (or lack thereof) and fashion’s role in it, not a hagiography about Coco Chanel. It seemed like way too much time was spent essentially saying things were better in the old days. Furthermore - if you’re trying to change how people This was disappointing. Everything interesting in this book was already done, better, in Lucy Siegel’s “To Die For.” The long tangents on the history of French couture houses were strange distractions I honestly didn’t care about. I’m here to read about sustainability (or lack thereof) and fashion’s role in it, not a hagiography about Coco Chanel. It seemed like way too much time was spent essentially saying things were better in the old days. Furthermore - if you’re trying to change how people act, don’t lecture them or speak to them like they’re idiots. The author came across like a posh girl lecturing people who shop at Asda about how awful their personal choices are. Let them eat Edun.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chelsey

    I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn't capture me. The author has a really humorous tone and an engaging writing style, but her organization was all over the place. I also feel like she didn't really reach her thesis, because I left the book not really getting a good sense of how we "went from Sunday best to Fast Fashion." There was certainly alot of information dispersed throughout, but the pieces never came together in a cohesive way. Interesting topic but didn't really hit the I really wanted to like this book, but it just didn't capture me. The author has a really humorous tone and an engaging writing style, but her organization was all over the place. I also feel like she didn't really reach her thesis, because I left the book not really getting a good sense of how we "went from Sunday best to Fast Fashion." There was certainly alot of information dispersed throughout, but the pieces never came together in a cohesive way. Interesting topic but didn't really hit the mark.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Romany

    It started so well, but by the end I thought it came across as bitsy - a bunch of almost unconnected anecdotes and name-drops... a bit boring. The editor must have thought the same, as there were two errors in the last chapter. Still, worth reading if you care about the environment and are interested in fashion, and another argument for becoming vegan and consuming consciously.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    One of the most entertaining and informative books on ethical and sustainable fashion I've read. Can highly recommend for anyone who wants to understand the history and future of fashion. One of the most entertaining and informative books on ethical and sustainable fashion I've read. Can highly recommend for anyone who wants to understand the history and future of fashion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Thessa

    I simply love Clare Press. It has been a while since I really had a role model, but Clare def is. The book was full of information and inspiring people. A lot of new information on top of the things I already knew from the podcast (but it's nice to see where all the good connections came from and to read about familiar names). It took me quite some time to get through it (just a reading slump) and I suppose the messages stick better when reading it faster. I simply love Clare Press. It has been a while since I really had a role model, but Clare def is. The book was full of information and inspiring people. A lot of new information on top of the things I already knew from the podcast (but it's nice to see where all the good connections came from and to read about familiar names). It took me quite some time to get through it (just a reading slump) and I suppose the messages stick better when reading it faster.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This was a really good read, painted a good picture, and seemed well researched/interviewed/annotated. I learned a lot of new things and had other ideas and bits of history I've read about previously added to. This was a really good read, painted a good picture, and seemed well researched/interviewed/annotated. I learned a lot of new things and had other ideas and bits of history I've read about previously added to.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    This book is a really interesting read for everyone. Whether you're interested in fashion, the environment or working conditions in developing nations - it has something to hold everyone's interest. It's pretty eye-opening to the detriment fast fashion has on the world and it's workers, but it's told in a quite factual way. The only problem I had with it was that sometimes the anecdotes meander a bit too much and don't seem to come together at the end of the chapter or quite get to the point, so This book is a really interesting read for everyone. Whether you're interested in fashion, the environment or working conditions in developing nations - it has something to hold everyone's interest. It's pretty eye-opening to the detriment fast fashion has on the world and it's workers, but it's told in a quite factual way. The only problem I had with it was that sometimes the anecdotes meander a bit too much and don't seem to come together at the end of the chapter or quite get to the point, some stories just seem to be stuck in the middle of other stories for no reason other than the telling. I did spot at least 6 errors as well that the editing failed to pick up which is understandable but a little annoying. An interesting read nonetheless and I think everyone should give it a go.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Wardrobe crisis has become my self help book, my favourite conversation topic and the book I most recommend to friends. As a young woman in the 21st century I was all too well acquainted with fast fashion. Reading Clare's book has honestly changed the way I consume. I no longer walk into stores thinking about what a bargain something is if it is only $10 for a dress. I instead think about the social, political and environmental costs for it to be that cheap. While I admit the first part was a li Wardrobe crisis has become my self help book, my favourite conversation topic and the book I most recommend to friends. As a young woman in the 21st century I was all too well acquainted with fast fashion. Reading Clare's book has honestly changed the way I consume. I no longer walk into stores thinking about what a bargain something is if it is only $10 for a dress. I instead think about the social, political and environmental costs for it to be that cheap. While I admit the first part was a little difficult to get into- not the biggest fan of high end fashion history- but it was interesting to pick up tidbits of information about some of the most iconic high street brands. I honestly oils this recommend this book anymore.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ellen McMahon

    Brilliant, insightful, thought-provoking and hopeful (despite the often bleak subject matter). I found Press' writing to be thoroughly engaging and loved the way she approached the topic from a fresh angle: telling the history of fashion and the stories of the designers to give social and historical context to how we ended up here. Fast fashion is serious business. This book left me feeling both informed and inspired. Brilliant, insightful, thought-provoking and hopeful (despite the often bleak subject matter). I found Press' writing to be thoroughly engaging and loved the way she approached the topic from a fresh angle: telling the history of fashion and the stories of the designers to give social and historical context to how we ended up here. Fast fashion is serious business. This book left me feeling both informed and inspired.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Katiuska Clarke

    One of the most important books I've read in a long time. Extremely well researched, entertaining and enlightening. Read this if you want to be transformed from fashion addict to sustainable fashion warrior prince/princess! One of the most important books I've read in a long time. Extremely well researched, entertaining and enlightening. Read this if you want to be transformed from fashion addict to sustainable fashion warrior prince/princess!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This book has really made me stop and think about where clothes I'm purchasing come from, and the chemical used in the process. I feel like I can't go back to blissful ignorance now that I know too much about the awful truth behind 'fast fashion' This book has really made me stop and think about where clothes I'm purchasing come from, and the chemical used in the process. I feel like I can't go back to blissful ignorance now that I know too much about the awful truth behind 'fast fashion'

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Parker

    Absolutely loved this book. So insightful and entertaining. 100% recommend.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sayraphim Lothian

    Loved this book and how it presented the heartbreaking crisis we're currently in with fabric, clothing and textiles. Loved this book and how it presented the heartbreaking crisis we're currently in with fabric, clothing and textiles.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Natasha (jouljet)

    A manual, background primer and call to arms for those of us thinking more consciously about the clothes we wear, who made them, and the impact their volume is having on the world as a whole. Covering a history of fashion manufacturer, to the globalisation ownership of most of the brands we know. From high end fashion, to spotlighting some ethical brands doing impressive things, both for their community and with an environmental mindfulness lens. I will forever look at blue jeans, duck and goose d A manual, background primer and call to arms for those of us thinking more consciously about the clothes we wear, who made them, and the impact their volume is having on the world as a whole. Covering a history of fashion manufacturer, to the globalisation ownership of most of the brands we know. From high end fashion, to spotlighting some ethical brands doing impressive things, both for their community and with an environmental mindfulness lens. I will forever look at blue jeans, duck and goose down, and silk in a different light! Much of my ethical fashion viewpoint has been as a Social Worker, thinking about workers conditions and rates of pay. This read adds to that consideration, with revealing waste, animal use and the environmental impacts of the clothes we buy. Definitely something I want to learn more about, and add to my focus as a buyer of things. Written in such an authentic and accessible voice, it's rich research and example sharing, so frank and witty, is enlightening and clobbers you over the head like a handbag with facts we probably deep down know, but avoid thinking about when we shop. The message is to make conscious changes to our consumerism, with each small step starting a desperately needed revolution.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    I expected a holier-than-thou book with a substantial dose of personal bias and opinion. Instead, this book tracks the path of (mostly Western) fashion from ancient to modern, including myriad anecdotes along the way. I know almost nothing about couture, with only a passing awareness that Net-a-porter exists and appears popular. This book kept me interested in a topic that doesn’t naturally capture me, introducing me to the who’s who in fashion. Along the way, I became aware of the how and why of I expected a holier-than-thou book with a substantial dose of personal bias and opinion. Instead, this book tracks the path of (mostly Western) fashion from ancient to modern, including myriad anecdotes along the way. I know almost nothing about couture, with only a passing awareness that Net-a-porter exists and appears popular. This book kept me interested in a topic that doesn’t naturally capture me, introducing me to the who’s who in fashion. Along the way, I became aware of the how and why of fast fashion without feeling as if any person or group was disparaged. Nonetheless, I’ve walked away with an intent to do better, buy better and buy less.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hayley James

    I really really enjoyed this, especially the historical side of the fashion industry and how the big names got there start but I agree with other reviewers that it felt a bit jumbled and all over the place. It seemed to skip around quite a bit from topic to topic (another reviewer said it felt like a whole lot of journalist articles stuck together and I would have to agree!) although to be fair there is a TONNE of info here, it just wasn’t organised as well as it could’ve been which made for sli I really really enjoyed this, especially the historical side of the fashion industry and how the big names got there start but I agree with other reviewers that it felt a bit jumbled and all over the place. It seemed to skip around quite a bit from topic to topic (another reviewer said it felt like a whole lot of journalist articles stuck together and I would have to agree!) although to be fair there is a TONNE of info here, it just wasn’t organised as well as it could’ve been which made for slightly confusing reading though I did thoroughly enjoy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Worth reading if you’re at all interested in the history of clothing manufacturing and how we arrived at the current world wide practices. An unsustainable supply of dangerously processed textiles are used to create the mass produced, cheap clothing of today. Cheap to produce, cheap to purchase, lucrative for owners and investors, but enormously expensive for the environment and most of the workers at every step along the supply chain.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hanah Williams

    This book made me aware of the "fast fashion" issues in the world but had little direction. I was expecting a book with ideas on how to decrease my footprint on the constant turnover of the clothing industry, but it was more of a history book on fashion which some people may enjoy. The first part of the book was very intriguing and it gave me an appreciation and understanding of the fashion industry but I wouldn't necessarily count this as a sustainability book. This book made me aware of the "fast fashion" issues in the world but had little direction. I was expecting a book with ideas on how to decrease my footprint on the constant turnover of the clothing industry, but it was more of a history book on fashion which some people may enjoy. The first part of the book was very intriguing and it gave me an appreciation and understanding of the fashion industry but I wouldn't necessarily count this as a sustainability book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Having listened to some of Clare's podcasts and thoroughly enjoying her later book, Rise and Resist, I felt this one didn't really tell me much that's new. I'm sure at the time of publishing a lot of the content shocked readers into rethinking how they consumer fashion - at least I hope it did. Worth a read, but I recommend her online stuff over this. Having listened to some of Clare's podcasts and thoroughly enjoying her later book, Rise and Resist, I felt this one didn't really tell me much that's new. I'm sure at the time of publishing a lot of the content shocked readers into rethinking how they consumer fashion - at least I hope it did. Worth a read, but I recommend her online stuff over this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Mahoney

    l don't think the book gives the explanation promised by the title. It's like a bunch of (quite interesting) feature articles shoved together without a clear narrative thread holding them together. Maybe not surprising since Clare is a journalist, not an academic. I did enjoy it, but it didn't hit the mark. l don't think the book gives the explanation promised by the title. It's like a bunch of (quite interesting) feature articles shoved together without a clear narrative thread holding them together. Maybe not surprising since Clare is a journalist, not an academic. I did enjoy it, but it didn't hit the mark.

  24. 4 out of 5

    S Isa

    A fantastic introduction to sustainability and the problems of fast-fashion and mass consumerism. Clare Press is incredibly knowledgeable and speaks to some change makers doing incredible things to solve this crisis.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    A witty & easy to read presentation of a serious subject, full of in depth knowledge about how fast fashion is negatively impacting the lives of the makers and increasing landfill that cannot be sustained for our planet.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paula

    A must-read for anyone who wants to shop less, shop smarter, and understand the environmental cost of fast fashion and cheap consumer goods. The topic is serious, but the author has a great way of writing that keeps you turning the pages.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    One of the few books you read that changes your perspective forever. A must read for anyone wanting to know more about where fashion comes from and how it affects the planet, as well as how to make better choices.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emira

    Highly recommend the book to anyone who is interested in sustainable/ethical fashion. I really enjoyed reading through the evolution of both fast fashion and sustainability - whilst also being reminded of key historical events (fashion-related or not).

  29. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    4.5 stars, this book was super informative and I liked that it was Australian/NZ specific. As someone who doesn't know much about fashion, some if the names and references went over my head. 4.5 stars, this book was super informative and I liked that it was Australian/NZ specific. As someone who doesn't know much about fashion, some if the names and references went over my head.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gill Hutchison

    My book of the year!

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