This expertly researched but routine book was an enjoyable read. It held few surprises, yet I stayed with the author as she traveled the world to trace the history and current state of the fashion industry.
Cline appears self-conscious when she talks about her own experiences in the opening and closing chapters. Younger women might find this approachable, and they are likely the target audience as the most frequent shoppers of those extremely cheap chains that Cline derides. For my part, I wondered how a woman brave enough to impersonate a distributor and travel alone to the Dominican Republic, China, and Bangladesh could be so apprehensive when first using a sewing machine.
The middle chapters are stuffed full of facts, at the expense of a story. No reader could accuse Cline of not having read enough articles or spoken to enough witnesses, but there was no flow to the work. Each interesting anecdote lined up right after the other, like an exceptionally bright high school student's history paper. This book works for an audience whose attention span is so quick that it switches to a new trend every week. A few more pages with vintage dealer Sara Bereket or factory salesgirl Lily would have been welcome.
I found this book at my local library when I was looking for a guide to sewing. My father had worked as a tailor in the Soviet Union, and he had met my mother when she was apprenticed to him. After we moved to the US, he had a small alterations shop and my mother made Renaissance Fair costumes for a pittance. Neither could make a living in the garment industry here, they gave up their practices long ago. I learned to sew a little from them, and made my own barbie clothes and, later, quilts. Sadly, I did not learn enough about garment construction, and now they live on opposite coasts while I'm here in the Midwest. So, I wanted to get a book that could help me sew a summer dress, but the broken shoe on this cover caught my eye.
Despite my criticism of Undressed, I did benefit from it. It revived my appreciation for well-made clothing, and explained why I haven't been able to find good workmanship in the last ten years, even when I've been willing to spend more. Cline's joy in making her own clothes was contagious, and I did start refashioning some of my own least loved clothes. In addition to knitting projects, which are by definition slow fashion, I'll be writing about altering and fitting skirts and shirts this summer. Stay tuned, and meanwhile check out some of Cline's more recent writing. She's hasn't given up the fight for quality clothing.
Update 5/10/18: Sometimes I write my posts a few weeks ahead, and I had just finished this one a week before my father passed away at his home in Sacramento on April 19, 2018. I was thinking about him just before his death, but I didn't call him then. I wish I had spoken to him again then, so if you think of someone maybe just let them know.