How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion’s Sins by Alyssa Hardy

Alyssa Hardy. New Press, $26.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62097-694-4

Journalist Hardy debuts with a scorching exposé of how the fashion industry “works to actively cover up and perpetuate climate change and labor injustice.” With the rise of “fast fashion,” Hardy explains, new styles are marketed to consumers several times a year, while old styles are consigned to landfills. She also documents rampant sexual harassment, low wages, and poor working conditions endured by garment workers, many of whom are immigrants with no power to complain; the environmental costs of toxic dyes and synthetic fabrics; and efforts to address the problems through unionization, consumer education, and activism. One of the book’s most intriguing sections uses the case study of Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers to analyze how celebrity marketers help companies distract consumers from “nefarious labor practices.” Elsewhere, Hardy critiques companies for claiming that their products are organic or “environmentally friendly” when they’re only “marginally sustainable,” and discusses how subcontracting allows brands hide their dependence on sweatshop labor. Empathetic profiles of factory workers and others negatively impacted by the fashion industry bolster Hardy’s call for policy changes to counter the abusive and misleading practices she outlines. This will have readers thinking twice before they make their next purchase. (Sept.)