Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style

Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style

A riveting look inside the fashion world that exposes the truth about shopaholics, sweatshops, and celebrity closets.

Fashion—from the 00 Prada bag to the Kate Spade knock-off sold on the sidewalk—has been transformed from a commodity reserved for the elite to a powerful presence in mass market culture. As a society, we are obsessed with fashion and style, racking up credit card debt to support compulsive shopping habits, scouring magazines for the latest trends to buy, and focusing more on who’s wearing what at the Oscars than on who’s winning. In Fashion Victim, award-winning journalist Michelle Lee blows the lid off the fashion industry, and spotlights the fascinating—and often disturbing–ways in which it is morphing our culture, our economy and our values.

Dishing on the lords of the label, including designers like Donna Karan, Calvin Klein, and Kenneth Cole, Fashion Victim reveals a world that is sometimes grotesque, sometimes glitzy, but constantly intriguing. From bear hides to the Victorian bustle, Lee traces the role of fashion through the ages, taking us from the dawn of ready-to-wear in 1865 to the modern trend cycles that incite us to clamor after leg warmers, bumster trousers, and Manolo Blahniks. She details the birth of “Speed Chic”—the hamster wheel of style that keeps us stuck in an endless cycle of consumption and has become the crack-cocaine of fashion, providing us with a temporary high until we spot the next trend and reach for our wallets. She also explores the phenomenon of “McFashion,” the uncanny proliferation of retailers like the Gap and Old Navy that are creeping into every town in America and stripping us—and the designers they knock off–of individuality and innovation. And she ultimately probes the human cost of fashion’s decadence, including the distorted perceptions of beauty fueled by high-end designers, the dangers of dry cleaning, and the ugly financial disparity between those who make the clothes and those who buy them.

An unprecedented look behind the runway at the forces and personalities driving this 0 billion dollar industry, Fashion Victim is a stylish, provocative and highly entertaining contribution to the analysis of American popular culture.

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3 Responses to “Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style”

  1. Mary Puerilla Says:
    17 of 18 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Required reading for consumers, February 13, 2003
    By 
    Mary Puerilla (Yakima, WA USA) –

    This review is from: Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style (Hardcover)

    This book truly opened my eyes to the ways fashion touches all of our lives, from the accelerating pace of trends to the dangerous spread of chain stores that the author calls McFashion to the ridiculous physical harm we do to our bodies just to be fashionable. In one example, a doctor quoted in the book talks about how a woman’s toe almost had to be amputated because she wore tight high heels too much. Talk about a fashion victim!

    I seriously never thought about fashion in this way before. An impressive work of reporting, the book is filled with interesting statistics and facts like how 27 percent of women would give up three years to be thinner.

    Lee’s punchy tone is a real treat and makes the reading that much more enjoyable. And she does a good job of including examples that aren’t just aimed at people of one particular age, gender or economic range, opening up the audience to include pretty much anyone. I’d give it a strong A minus.

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  2. "jenedwds" Says:
    12 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Impressive, informative and stylishly written, February 11, 2003
    By A Customer
    This review is from: Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style (Hardcover)

    Finally, someone has written a book to explain the wildly ridiculous and addictive phenomenon of fashion. This book takes an insider’s look at what attracts consumers to fashion and some of the bad things it does to us. I’m not exactly Carrie Bradshaw wearing Jimmy Choos and miniskirts every day, but after reading this book, I realized that I could be considered a fashion victim, too.
    The strongest part of the book has to be the author’s writing style. It’s an easy read but not at all fluffy like how other fashion related books can be. I definitely recommend it.

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  3. Anonymous Says:
    10 of 10 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Honest and amusing, September 18, 2003
    By 
    “jenedwds” (Stamford, CT) –

    This review is from: Fashion Victim: Our Love-Hate Relationship with Dressing, Shopping, and the Cost of Style (Hardcover)

    Michelle Lee proves that fashion writing doesn’t have to be stuffy or boring. I found her so-called “casual” tone to be refreshing; it felt as if she was speaking directly to me. I loved that she shared her own fashion struggles between love and hate with her readers. Ms. Lee’s anecdotes are witty and bring to mind many of my own experiences as a slave to fashion.

    The reporting was informative and insightful. Occasionally, I had a hard time forcing myself to put the book down because I found some of the stories so interesting. As I read, I found myself outraged at the treatment of sweatshop workers, yet embarrassed that I still bought mass-produced clothing anyway. I lamented the takeover of fast, disposable fashions (Lee calls this “McFashion”); yet I rejoice at the ease of grabbing the latest trends off the rack. These are some of the fashion dilemmas that Ms. Lee shares with us. She confesses that she herself is a fashion victim, with a mixture of pride and shame, but offers some helpful advice to those who wish to kick the habit.

    This book was a pleasant surprise and an enjoyable read. I’m not a fashion critic, a fashion writer, or a fashionista. I’m just a regular person with three closets full of nothing to wear. If you’re anything like me, you’ll like this book.

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