Fashion matters. To the economy, to society and to each of us personally. Faster than anything else, what we wear tells the story of who we are — or who we want to be. Fashion is the most immediate and intimate form of self-expression.
Did you know that it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce one cotton shirt from ‘crop to shop’? You’ll find this and more fascinating facts about contemporary fashion in Frances Corner’s new book, Why Fashion Matters. Corner, the Head of London College of Fashion, emerges with this book as one of fashion’s premier thinkers and critics. Her lucid verdicts are presented in 101 bite-sized reflections.
Most books aiming to capture the spirit of fashion in a particular time and place read as biased accolades. Appearances must be kept up and glitches in perfection smoothed over, seducing and deceiving the reader. Frances Corner tackles difficult topics with the same certainty and resolution used for the ethically unambiguous sides of the industry. Corner ricochets from fashion’s impact on the environment and eating disorders to inhumane conditions in Bangladeshi garment factories. Her opinions are strong, but leave enough space to draw your own conclusions.
As an academic, unobligated to pander to magazine advertisers, Corner can afford the luxury of being honest. The picture she paints of contemporary Western fashion is realistic rather than glamorous, but strips fashion of none of its lustre. Despite its flaws, fashion is a giant perpetuum mobile, employing millions of people across the globe. It sets in motion creativity and long-preserved techniques.
The book’s minimalist design is reminiscent of blogs — not fashion blogs (there are no images), but those relying on the power of words. Big, bold red titles and short, numbered blocks of text are well laid-out, suggesting that you don’t have to take in the entire book at once. You can return to it later — and you will.
Chock-full of references to pop culture and history, Why Fashion Matters inspires you to make your own discoveries about the issues discussed. As for the skeptics and the uninitiated: if the wealth of facts and figures in the book fail to convince you that this $1 trillion industry is the past, present and future, you’re a lost cause.
The book was sent to me by Thames & Hudson for review purposes.