Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

As a spinner and a knitter and, now, a weaver (more on that later), I know something about the labor involved in making a piece of clothing. It’s significant, in the way getting a college degree is significant. Ignoring the fact that I start after the sheep has been fed and sheared, or the plant grown and harvested, the fiber has to be washed, cleaned and combed. This takes days to do. Then it has to be spun into singles, which then have to be plied with other singles to make yarn. My handspun yarn is always a two ply because of the sheer amount of labor, but commercial yarns vary between two ply and eight ply. Then, the yarn has to be turned into fabric. Knit fabric, by hand, is very labor intensive. A single plain sock can take twelve hours of knitting time, depending on the gauge of the fabric and the speed of the knitter. Woven fabric is a little faster, but then has to be cut and sewn and fashioned into a garment. There can be a lot of variation of labor there there, depending on the quality and complexity of the garment.

And yet, we can go into a mall and buy a cheap t-shirt for less than $15.


Genre: nonfiction