Monthly Archives: June 2014

Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

“If you find what you like, buy it in several colors.” — Elizabeth L. Cline

overdressed

In 2009, author Elizabeth Cline found herself in a clothing crisis.  Following that advice, she purchased several cheap pairs of shoes from a powerhouse national discounter, the same pair of shoes in many different colors.  But only a few weeks later the pairs that hadn’t been worn to pieces were collecting dust in her closet now out dated and replaced by the next trend.  The author of Over-Dressed decided to take a hard look at what consumer shopping habits are, where are clothes come from, and the impact these changes have on a global economy.

The largest change has been the inclusion of foreign manufacturers.  Once New York and LA employed hundreds of garment workers; the United States boasted quality skills and material and created beautiful garments that aged well.  Some companies still employee domestic workers, but nothing like the heyday of American made fashion.  Cheaper labor overseas means companies can save large amounts of money, savings which encourage less investment domestically.

With costs lowering for garments, consumer’s mentalities towards clothing began to change.  We once had to labor for our clothing.  A single suit or dress would take an entire week’s wages.  Those that couldn’t afford to spend a week’s wages made their own clothing.  Consumers knew mending skills, sewing skills, how to use patterns, how to recycle material.  In an entire generation all of those skills are gone.  Ms. Cline discusses growing up with a mother and grandmother who sewed, hemmed, and patched, but she knew none of that.  She is not alone.  Clothing prices have dropped so low that most consumers would rather buy a new shirt than fix a detached button.

Not fixing clothing could also be attributed to not only cost, but construction of the clothing most people wear these days.  Ms. Cline examined all of the top brands and found that in the race for cheaper clothing the overall quality has dropped dramatically.  At one point the author discusses how just ten years ago doll clothing was better made than anything people wear today.  Consumers today have been taught not to care about construction, simply what is in trend.  Trends are so cheap to produce that even if a garment falls apart after a few wears, we can just go buy something new.  This is exactly what fast fashion stores want from consumers.

Fast fashion stores are the big clothing retailers that have revolving product…which all seems to look the same — twenty of the same dresses but in different bright colors; the same shirt in five different patterns — these are the staples of fast fashion stores.  Fast fashion retailers are those that when you begin to look over the racks and racks and racks of cheaply made clothing, you understand exactly how right Ms. Cline is — we are all walking around in the same clothing cheaply made junk.

The garment industry is now a global problem.  Consumers domestically hardly realize how many jobs have been shipped overseas and what that impact has on them locally.  Consumers likely don’t think about the treatment foreign workers receive while producing their cheap garments.  All they know is that they paid a steal for their new clothes.  Nor do they probably realize that with each new piece of clothing they buy because their old ones are not quality enough to last, millions of tons of garbage pile up in landfills.  All of that cheap fashion has to go somewhere.

This seems like a gloomy place to leave consumers (and readers!).  Many of which can’t afford the higher cost of quality, responsibly made clothing while continuing the habits society has created.  Ms. Cline offers simple changes to impact any wardrobe while also being more responsible shoppers.  Look at the material your clothing is made from.  Where is the garment you’re about to purchase made?  If a button falls off- can you learn to replace it?  Mend a seam?  Hem a pant?  Would you look through your closet and downsize?  Do you need five blue tank tops?  Seven dress shirts that all look the same?  If something doesn’t fit just the way you want, learn to take it in, let it out, shorten, and tighten.

Ms. Cline is compelling and down to Earth.  Your wardrobe and wallet will likely thank you for reading Over-Dressed.

 Formats Available: Book (Regular Print)

Reviewed by Lindsay, Southwest Branch

A Belated Review of Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut

“Those who live by electronics, die by electronics. Sic semper tyrannis.” — Ed Finnerty, Player Piano

The following is a selection of articles recently published in well-known publications:

When it is neither possible nor practical to perform an experiment to either prove or disprove a hypothesis or question, one still has an option at his or her disposal: the thought experiment, which involves the theoretical examination of a situation and the use of logic to determine the accompanying results that are possible or even likely.

playapiaNO

In 1952, Kurt Vonnegut published his first work of fiction entitled Player Piano that employed the method mentioned above.  Specifically, Mr. Vonnegut imagined a future for the United States in which labor has been replaced entirely with automated machines, a situation that certainly would have required the power of imagination at the time of its publication.  In this imagined future, consumer need for the entire country is determined by a central computer that directs industry accordingly, thus producing the supply that matches the calculated demand.

American society finds itself divided in to two classes: the engineers and managers, a patrician minority that oversees the machines, and the remainder of the population consisting of a plebeian majority that is in the paid service of the government performing menial work.  For the plebs, life has become meaningless and pointless, since they are unable utilize those innate skills and talents that they would so desperately like to use; disillusionment and despondency is universal.

However, although a sequestered elite, all are not true believers among the engineers and managers.  Dr. Paul Proteus, the son of the chief designer of this Second Industrial Revolution that had relegated so many to listless lives, cannot quash his qualms about the state of society and its division of class.  Through acquaintances both new and old, Proteus navigates the ruthlessly competitive world in which he finds himself a part and becomes involved with the “Ghost Shirt Society” and the rebellion that is brewing.

Despite having been published in 1952, Mr. Vonnegut paints a disturbing and visionary picture of what life could resemble in a world dominated by machines, and when one considers the ever-evolving role of technology in every aspect of life today, there is a good deal to consider.

“And a step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.” — Dr. Paul Proteus, Player Piano

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

Cultural Pass Challenge

cultural pass

LFPL is a participant of Vision Louisville‘s Cultural Pass Challenge for the summer of 2014.  With this exciting opportunity, readers can enjoy many cultural outings with the children in their life.

Here are the rules.

Who:

All Children from Louisville/Jefferson County, KY (0-College) + one adult chaperon if child is under 16 (only one adult admission will be granted regardless of the number of passes).


How: 

Children and parents can pick up a pass from local Louisville Free Public Library branches or Louisville Metro Parks Community Centers. Pass must be presented upon entrance to gain free admission.  The pass will be punched to indicate a visit.


What: 

Pass allows FREE general admission access to child and chaperon (if child is under 16).   Only one visit per pass per institution will be allowed.  Special exhibits and programs are not included with the pass.  Attendees must observe all venue rules and restrictions.


When:

Pass will be valid from June 9, 2014-August 13, 2014.


The Challenge:  

If a child visits 8 sites, they will be entered to win family tickets to the Lion King donated by Louisville Theatrical Association – Broadway in Louisville and tickets for the Mayor’s Box for the Louisville Bats.   Winners will be selected by drawing on or about September 5, 2014.


Official Rules and Restrictions:

  1. Participants must be residents of Louisville/Jefferson County, KY.
  2. Only one adult will receive free entry per visit, if child is under 16, regardless of the number of passes.
  3. Each child is eligible for one pass.
  4. All rules and regulations for specific sites must be followed to gain entry.  Please note special restrictions for some participating organizations printed on the Cultural Pass.
  5. Pass is valid for one-time general admission at each of the participating institutions.  No special exhibits or concessions are included with the Cultural Pass.
  6. Organizations reserve the right to deny entry if rules and restrictions of the Cultural Pass are abused.
  7. The Pass is not valid for group visits at Frazier History Museum, Kentucky Derby Museum, Kentucky Science Center and Louisville Zoo.
  8. Parking for Louisville Zoo is not included.
  9. The Pass is not valid with other institution offers.

 Prize Eligibility: 

Upon completion of the Cultural Pass Challenge, participants must return it to their local Louisville Free Public Library Branch or Metro Parks Community Center no later than August 25, 2014 to be eligible for the prize drawing, which will take place on or about September 5, 2014.


Participating Institutions:

  • American Printing House for the Blind Museum
  • Bernheim Arboretum
  • Carnegie Center for Art & History
  • Crane House – Asia Institute
  • Filson Historical Society
  • Frazier History Museum (M-TH only)
  • Historic Locust Grove
  • Kentucky Derby Museum
  • Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft
  • Kentucky Science Center (M-TH only)
  • Kentucky Shakespeare (Shakespeare in the Park @ Central Park)
  • Local Speed
  • Louisville Ballet (Pass valid for Youth Ages 15 and over)
  • Louisville Youth Choir
  • Louisville Zoo (Monday Only – Does not include parking)
  • Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing
  • Stage One Family Theatre (6/7, 7/12, 8/9 @ 10 am, Main Branch Library, 301 York)
  • Yew Dell Botanical Gardens
  • 21c Museum

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

pariswife

Most people are familiar with Ernest Hemingway’s works of fiction, but many don’t know much about the man behind the stories. Hemingway was married a total of four times throughout his life.  According to many biographies, his first wife, Hadley, was the only one that he truly loved.  The Paris Wife tells Ernest and Hadley’s story from beginning to end in first person from Hadley’s point of view.

Mclain weaves her story from researching biographies, letters, and personal accounts of Hemingway’s life.  She recounts tales from the couple’s move to Paris, France in the 1920s during the era of the Left Bank artists.  The reader gets Hadley’s perspective of many of the famous artists and writers of the era including Ezra Pound and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  The reader also gets a glance of one of Hemingway’s favorite pastimes at the bullfights in Pamplona, Spain which goes on to be a back drop of one of his first novels.

The romance between Hadley and Ernest gradually begins to fade as Ernest gains popularity for many of his short stories and novels.  Hadley struggles with her self-esteem seem to grow even larger, and Ernest’s sudden interest of a new woman in his life that eventually becomes his mistress.  Hadley eventually decides to give Ernest a divorce that allows him to marry his mistress.  However by many accounts, this was one of Ernest’s greatest regrets in life.

Mclain weaves a beautiful fictitious picture of the marriage of Ernest and Hadley, including many true stories from their time together.  While the characters can be confusing sometimes due to so many nicknames, the story still flows effortlessly.

This title is available as a book discussion kit.

Formats Available:  Book (both Large Type and Regular Type), eBook, Audiobook (CD), Book Discussion Kit 

Reviewed by Sara, Okolona Branch