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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Book Review Paperback Row Selection

An investigation into the damage wrought by the colossal clothing industry and the grassroots, high-tech, international movement fighting to reform it....

What should I wear? It’s one of the fundamental questions we ask ourselves every day. More than ever, we are told it should be something new. Today, the clothing industry churns out 80 billion garments a year and employs every sixth person on Earth. Historically, the apparel trade has exploited labor, the environment, and intellectual property - and in the last three decades, with the simultaneous unfurling of fast fashion, globalization, and the tech revolution, those abuses have multiplied exponentially, primarily out of view. We are in dire need of an entirely new human-scale model. Best-selling journalist Dana Thomas has traveled the globe to discover the visionary designers and companies who are propelling the industry toward that more positive future by reclaiming traditional craft and launching cutting-edge sustainable technologies to produce better fashion. 

In Fashionopolis, Thomas sees renewal in a host of developments, including printing 3-D clothes, clean denim processing, smart manufacturing, hyperlocalism, fabric recycling - even lab-grown materials. From small-town makers and Silicon Valley whizzes to such household names as Stella McCartney, Levi’s, and Rent the Runway, Thomas highlights the companies big and small that are leading the crusade. 

We all have been casual about our clothes. It's time to get dressed with intention. Fashionopolis is the first comprehensive look at how to start.

©2019 Dana Thomas (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

“A glimpse into how consumerism, slowed to a less ferocious pace, might be reconciled with sustainability.” (The New Yorker

"[A] Marley's Ghost-style warning of the irrevocable destructions to come.... Thomas is engaging and vital." (New York Review of Books

“If you’ve been paying any sort of attention, you know that fashion is a dirty business. Human rights abuses, environmental devastation, economic devastation - these are just the broad strokes of a deeply broken system. And Fashionopolis seeks to pull the curtain back on that system. But it also wants to show us a way out.” (Esquire

What listeners say about Fashionopolis

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Fascinating!

As a fashion teacher myself, I devoured this book! There is a plethora of useful and clear information presented in a digestible and delightful manner. I was completely absorbed by this! Also this is my first audible book and I loved the experience. Got through the book bit by bit in all of two days! Excellent and Bravo Dana!!! Thank you for this!

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  • cannonwall
  • 2020-01-05

Very informative and optimistic

Great book about the problems in the fashion industry. Highlights key players and what they are doing to make positive change. Super interesting information I had not heard before.

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  • edynaye
  • 2020-06-15

A must-read on sustainability for fashion!

Fabulous, well-rounded view of vital sustainability topics for fashion!!! I have been reading and researching sustainability in the apparel and textiles industry for a number of years now, but this book furthered my understanding of sustainability concepts, the current industry situation, what designers are currently doing, and future suggestions. I highly recommend this book!

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  • Anne Lyth
  • 2020-04-13

Brilliantly told, current and worth reading

This is a book everyone should read/listen to. The message is loud and clear, but not downcasting in all. It has a lot of great information and makes me want to be a better person, changing my buying habits to be more sustainable. I highly recommend it.

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  • Mike Mc
  • 2020-04-06

well researched on fashion and manufacturing

Great stories and facts on the fashion industry, the failings of fast fashion, the rebirth of craft and the future with ecommerce. Well narrated.

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  • karen
  • 2019-11-23

Great book!

This book was enlightening and will definitely make me more aware of how I purchase clothing in the future.

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  • B Jean
  • 2019-10-20

Interesting but limited in scope

The author does a great job of exploring issues in the fashion industry- but unfortunately most of the solutions offered are really only helpful for those shopping in the high end/luxury market. Limits the over all appeal of the book, though I did appreciate learning some more about the fashion industry in general.

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  • Chelsea Lensing
  • 2019-09-11

Everyone who purchases clothes should read this book

Great, informative book. Well researched and compelling. A must read for clothing wearers, designers and clothing wearing humans!

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  • Steph
  • 2022-01-17

Do you really need it, or do you just want it?

I listened to the audiobook, and it's narrated by the author. The narration was ok, a little robotic. I did listen on 1.2x or 1.3x at times because she was repeating herself and I was getting bored a little bit.

There were some interesting bits. There was some history about the beginning and evolution of fast fashion, and new futuristic ways to make it sustainable, environmentally friendly, and make the factories more humane for the workers.

Hundreds of years ago people used to know who made their clothes. Most people had a seamstress in the family, and so people valued the items they wore. They appreciated how it was made.

Today we don't see or know the sweatshop workers, so we don't care. We'd like to think our clothes are made in humane conditions, but most times the production is subcontracted to a factory that is a sweatshop. And then when caught the big labels claim ignorance. Typical.

Even the label "Made in the USA" can be misleading. I never thought about that before. We see "Made in the USA" and think it was made with better quality and by workers who weren't abused. But then the author mentioned that in Los Angeles there are sweatshops that hire undocumented workers. So now I am skeptical of that label. I want to support American made items, but not if they are also abusing people.

Fast Fashion is pretty bad when it comes to human rights, and much of the massive inventory is not used, which is bad on the environment.

I'm not a hysteric nut when it comes to climate change, but I do think people should be more thoughtful and responsible when they make a purchase. Not just for fashion. Is it something you really need, or is it only something you want?

I found the solutions pretty interesting, but am also skeptical of their own unforeseen issues.
Like having robots make clothes. What kind of civil unrest will come out of millions of factory workers being replaced by robots? "The devil finds work for idle hands."

There were some other sustainable ideas brought up (e.g. Rent the Runway), slow fashion instead of fast fashion, and more environmentally friendly ways to dye denim (which is so bad on the earth). Even laundering your clothes is not good for the earth nor for the longevity of the garment. A garment is better off being aired out and spot cleaned by hand.

My biggest criticism of the book is that the author clearly has a political bias. She should have thought about a broader audience. Republicans and Conservatives read books too. Dana Thomas should have called out the policies and downfalls of Democrat politicians just as much as she called out President Trump and other Republicans.

I also could have done without the fawning over Stella McCartney. I find her to be pretentious.

Besides that bias, I did get something out of this book. In recent years I don't buy as much clothing as I used. But from now on instead of throwing something out because of a hole or some other damage I am going to find a way to mend it instead.


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  • NotExMilitary
  • 2021-09-12

Great read for fashionistas

As for the rest of us, an email interesting look at what drives global clothing manufacturing to such excess.

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  • Mariah Gullatte
  • 2021-08-26

Fantastic!

This text is a window into the world of how the clothing industry affects cultures, economies, and the social impact. I love this book!