Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy E. Hoskins.
This book deconstructs the fashion industry thread by thread, delving into the world of fashion to reveal what is really at the core of the clothes we wear every day. Although Hoskins appears to disapprove of the industry throughout this polemic, displaying its social consequences- from workers conditions to environmental costs – she also says that she finds fashion glorious and enthralling. “For every critical word in this book there exists a beautifully handcrafted item that captures the spirit of its time.” It is with this ardour for fashion that Hoskins has the ability to criticise the industry while maintaining a positive view on the art of fashion as a whole.
While exploring the negative impacts that the industry has on society, Hoskins doesn’t only focus on the mistreatment of factory workers, which we so often hear about in the media, but also other industry workers such as models, as well as the general public. “Why does size zero exist?” she asks, looking at the pressures that are placed on models in the industry, which in turn create the ideals which every day women strive to achieve. She explores the harsh racism which is prevalent in the industry and questions why there aren’t more models of colour on magazine covers, catwalks and in advertisements?
Through examples from Primark to Prada, Hoskins reveals the monopolisation that is evident in the fashion industry. Many brands which the general public would think are competitors are in fact owned by a select few multi-national companies who often invest in both high street and high-end fashion labels. What is interesting about this book is how the author places brands from both ends of the spectrum side by side. She doesn’t differentiate between the two but explains how they rely on each other. High street labels will imitate high fashion designs, while high fashion houses rely on the high street to popularise their brand. Fashion is described in this book as a social production.
Full of facts and figures, Hoskins exposes the fortunes that lie within the fashion industry. Moving swiftly back and forth through history she examines how fashion got to the place it is in today. She exposes intricate details of the trade. For example she states how “many products are made in China and then ‘finished’ in Italy, a tactic which allows its origins to be disguised”.
The books final aim is to promote reform within the industry. In the final three chapters – Resisting Fashion, Reforming Fashion, and Revolutionising Fashion – she offers positive suggestions for a revolution against capitalism in the fashion industry. Always intriguing, and a compelling insight into an industry which often appears to be hidden beneath many layers this book is well worth a read for anyone interested, or working, in the fashion industry.
Words: Síomha Connolly.