An investigation into the damage wrought by the colossal clothing industry—and the grassroots, high-tech, international movement fighting to reform it from a journalist who has traveled the globe to discover the visionary designers and companies who are propelling the industry toward that more positive future.
... a snappy, clear-minded attack on the fashion industry's rampant labor and environmental abuses ... At no point does Thomas shame consumers. But she does ask us to change our ways ... is most flawed when it comes to those consumers that cannot afford slow fashion. The only options Thomas offers are luxury rental, consignment, and resale, which for many remains prohibitively expensive.
Thomas writes with fact-heavy authority, in a series of travelogue-style reports, about the ecological calamity of the fashion industry ... Thomas provides an excruciatingly detailed history of two of the most problematic fashion staples: denim and the cotton it is made of ... Thomas makes an effort to keep the reader from grabbing a set of pinking shears and attacking her book by focusing, in the second half, on fashion players trying to make improvements ... Fashionopolis is primarily a Marley’s Ghost–style warning of the irrevocable destructions to come. One imagines that a more attentive editor might have caught a few of the book’s redundancies. In the moments when she relaxes and allows her own voice to come through, Thomas is engaging and vital, sort of a more taciturn Joan Rivers. But she prefers to quote others pointing fingers and pontificating about the dangers of greed rather than point a steely finger herself. I wished she had allowed herself a little more style and subjective latitude ... With her focus primarily on changing the behavior of the reader, Thomas lets some of the more flagrantly abusive garment industrialists off too easily. That her book doesn’t rabidly name and shame more polluters and human rights violators feels like self-censorship and an overabundance of caution. Dana Thomas is no Ralph Nader ... Thomas never quite lays down the gauntlet and says that multinational conglomerates should be regulated by state and federal agencies in such a way that they are not incentivized to pollute or commit human rights abuses.
... Thomas convincingly connects our fast-fashion wardrobes to global economic and climate patterns and crises ... includes a fascinating account of how NAFTA made possible the international success of fast fashion ... Not all of the book is this pessimistic: There is plenty of bubbliness and glamour for fashion lovers to get excited about. Thomas displays her skills as a culture and style reporter as she visits the visionaries who are attempting to remake the industry ... Among the book’s delights are Thomas’s sketches of her individual subjects ... The author also has a gift for bringing luxury to life: She conjures Moda Operandi’s London showroom so vividly that I felt as though I’d moved in ... However, it is in contextualizing this single industry from a broader climate perspective that the book falls short. Some statistics are exaggerated ... the practical considerations — cost, efficiency, resource limitations — are often left unaddressed ... it is not the goal of Fashionopolis to provide all the answers. Thomas has succeeded in calling attention to the major problems in the $2.4-trillion-a-year industry, in a way that will engage not only the fashion set but also those interested in economics, human rights and climate policy.