The Life and Death of a Garment

This book I read circa 5 months ago.

It’s a fascinating and compelling expose of the life cycle of clothing.

Maxine Bedat takes the reader on a trip from the cotton field to the manufacturing plant to the store shelves.

If you wondered like I did how a cotton ball becomes a pair of jeans or a shirt (or how fabric becomes an item of clothing like a coat) Bedat shows us with step-by-step photos of the production process.

This curious glimpse exposes the dirty truth about the toxic working conditions and filthy physical environments of overseas garment manufacturing.

60 women (all women!) sit in rows of tables at cramped sewing machines. One woman sews the jean hem. The next sews the leg. And the next sews the waistband. On down the line it goes.

Giving way to the term “deaths of despair” that occur when work is not meaningful and doesn’t give you a purpose for getting up out of bed.

The root lies in the neoliberal economic policies that offloaded clothing production to other countries.

In the guise of giving the residents a better life. When in fact it allowed American businesses to pay cut-rate wages in order to reap billions in sales.

My tactic is to rarely buy an item of clothing from Zara or H&M. Should I be shopping in those stores at all?

This spring and going into the summer I won’t be buying any new clothes.

On tap is a pair of blue fabric booties I would like to buy. That’s all.

In March I sent donation bags off to the Salvation Army.

In the coming blog entry, I would like to talk about how I finally made peace with my disobedient hair.

Author: Christina Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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