Tolly Dolly Posh Fashion
Lost Shapes x TDP
Browsing Tag

stitched up

Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy E. Hoskins

By August 3, 2016 Ethical

I’m not meaning to fill up my blog with book reviews, but I’m back again today with just that! I’ve been dropping notes here and there that I’d be reviewing “Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion” by Tansy E. Hoskins, so that’s exactly what I’m going to be doing. It’s another book based around ethical and sustainable fashion, as well as the effects of fast fashion, as that’s what I’ve been researching and wanting to learn more about recently…

Stitched Up The Anti Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins book review

Stitched Up is a book opening up about the world of fashion and what’s behind the clothes we wear. It flicks between brands and labels like Primark to Karl Lagerfeld as it explores consumerism, class and advertising, to reveal the interests which benefit from exploitation. Tansy delves into the relationship with the planet and with our bodies to uncover what makes the industry so damaging.

Along with advertising, it takes a look at racism and beauty standards and why they exist, as well as what could happen if the industry starts to adapt and change to better itself. It’s filled with accurate information and true insights and truly opens your eyes to why we shouldn’t just be blaming the high street for the effects and disasters happening – we should really be blaming capitalism.

I wasn’t quite sure how to start this review, so I’m going to note down some of the topics that came up and how I responded to them and how I am still reacting to them.

Stitched Up The Anti Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins book review

I’ll begin with one of the most interesting and eye opening chapters for me – ‘Stitching it’. In this chapter, Tansy talks about garment production and the arguments as to ‘why sweatshops have benefits’. There’s one argument in particular which is based upon the idea that manufacturers would flee from developing countries where the sweatshops are based, if there was a wage increase to help and support the workers. Yet the logic fails when you take a look at the statistics and facts, which are all clearly marked out on Page 87…

“The wages of garment workers could be doubled without there being a noticeable impact on the price of clothing. The wages of garment workers account for 1-3 per cent of the cost of clothing – 1.8 per cent in a 2002 study by the economist Robert Pollin. According to experts: ‘for a typical sportswear garment, doubling labour costs (by doubling wages) would result in retail price increases of roughly 1-3 per cent; tripling wages would result in price increases of 2-6 per cent.'”


There’s then an example of a dress Kate Middleton wore by Reiss. Female workers in the Romanian sweatshop producing the dress, were paid only £168 a month (or, 99p an hour). The dress originally retailed at £175, so if their wages had been doubled, the dress would have cost just £178.15. That’s £3.15 more. That’s the price of a coffee in a Starbucks or a Costa. It’s a price that anyone shopping at Reiss would be able to afford, and a small difference that the brand could easily work with. If we’re paying the same amount as one worker’s monthly income for a dress, then surely, something’s not right?

Stitched Up The Anti Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins book review

On the same vein of sweatshops is the quality of garment factories and workshops. After the Rana Plaza disaster, it’s obvious that things need to change, but what’s quite shocking is how easy it would be to do it; Tansy explains on Page 77…

“According to the Workers Rights Consortium, the cost of implementing decent standards in Bangladesh’s 4500 factories would be $3 billion spent over five years. Consider that the five siblings of the Walton family, which controls Walmart, each have personal fortunes of £18 billion. Just 3.5 per cent of their wealth would ensure that the people who slave for them do not die horribly in the process.


Like a lot of these statements that are featured in the book, there are many reasons why these changes aren’t happening, even if the opportunities to do so are there. The main reason is capitalism (hence the name of the book) and how corporations work together to keep profits high and to keep things ticking along in a cycle (more on that in a moment); but that doesn’t make it seem any less simple.

My initial thought was – ‘Imagine that? Imagine if a brand really did that. Imagine if they used what they have, and what they don’t necessarily need, to help what they know is a problem? It would not only be a benefit to the people receiving the help, but it would also be a benefit to their brand and how they’re perceived – no?’ – until another chapter popped up and got me thinking about using change for promotional benefits.

Stitched Up The Anti Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins book review

So many brands these days start up campaigns just for the name of their brand. For example, Marks & Spencer’s have their ‘Shwopping‘ campaign which promotes the idea of donating old and unwanted clothes, yet it becomes totally hypocritical when they start giving out vouchers and membership points for doing so. They’re promoting the idea of out with the old, in with more new. On the surface, it gives their brand a good name for being green and sustainable, yet the actual idea is the total opposite of that. ASOS are also a brand promoting the ‘swapping clothes’ idea; they may not be giving away vouchers in exchange, but the selling point is having more space in your wardrobe – out with the old, in with the ASOS!

We need more brands to be genuinely interested in change and learning more. We need more powerful voices to genuinely take charge, rather than have their PR and Marketing departments decide it would be great to support ‘Green Week’ so that they have a good voice, temporarily. It’s all an illusion, when really, they’re the ones creating the damage in the first place.

I’m going to jump back to the ticking along of the cycle I mentioned earlier with this Marx quote from Page 55 which I’ve already mentioned in my blog post about emotional sustainability to make things a little clearer…

“Fashion is more than just clothes; it is a commodity cycle of newness that makes clothes go out-of-date and keeps retailers in business. This makes consumption the final stage in the production of fashion: ‘A product becomes a real product only by being consumed,’ wrote Marx. ‘A garment becomes a real garment only in the act of being worn.'”


The industry is a cycle which starts with a trend that is produced on mass at low costs. Profits are made and the cycle starts again once that trend has fizzled out, or once the brands and companies have decided it needs to fizzle out so they can start making money from the next big thing. It’s unsustainable. I believe the number is roughly 52 collections per year for a high street brand. That’s 52 different cycles of clothes that are based around temporary ideas.

Just going into a store the other day and immersing myself within the summer to autumn transitional sales made me realise how true this is. It’s only just August and there are already autumnal pieces being sold, with summer pieces starting from €3.99 on discount.

Stitched Up The Anti Capitalist Book of Fashion by Tansy Hoskins book review

Not included in the book, but something I recently discovered through The JUST Project (possibly the best ethical directory there is), is that H&M-owned brand COS is running things slightly differently with two collections per year, each designed 18 months before they go on sale. Unfortunately that doesn’t guarantee perfect working conditions, but at least the sustainable base is being built upon.

Overall, Tansy has really given me some food for thought and has already made me purchase Lucy Siegle’s “To Die For” book for my next bit of research. I’m also taking a deeper look into Karl Marx and his views on capitalism, which I know might seem quite controversial, but when you read and listen to the beginnings of his ideas and ideologies, you can see where he was heading and how his opinions can be taken upon in current times.

I haven’t even touched on the beauty standards and racism side of things, so if you’d like me to talk a little about what I took from that, then please do let me know… or of course, buy a copy of the book yourself so you can have a read! It’s definitely worth it.

Look out for a review of Lucy Siegle’s book once it’s arrived and been read, as well as a review of Vivienne Westwood’s book in the not so distant future.

  Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

You Might Also Like

Emotional Sustainability and Why Sentimental Items Have Value

By July 25, 2016 Ethical

We’re all guilty of keeping a piece of clothing or a pair of shoes in our wardrobe simply for the fact it reminds us of a certain time or moment in our lives, right? When it comes to a spring clean, there’s always that one item that you pick up and say, ‘I’ll throw you out one day’ to (yes, I personify my clothes – you’re probably guilty of that too), but never actually get around to doing so. But upon thinking about it, I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s value in sentimental fashion and clothing…

ethical and sustainable fashion - emotional sustainability

My first pair of Dr Martens // My blue Maid of Honour bracelet // A bracelet bought with my mum // My sister’s old ring // My mum’s old ring

The value is that it’s sustainable. Yes, keeping that dress you’ve had for four years is sustainable, because it’s lasting; it’s staying put and not being chucked away or replaced. So, you might not wear it very often, but you might have stopped yourself from buying something similar that one time because you know it’s there. You’re keeping an item and prolonging its worth, and whenever you see it, you’re being thrown back emotionally to a time you loved and appreciated.

There are some items you might own that you never want to lose, so you take extra care of them when you do showcase them to the world. I own a ring (pictured) which my dad originally bought for my mum many moons ago, and I go into a state of panic whenever I can’t find it – Note to self: always check leather jacket pockets.

These items are irreplaceable. They don’t keep up with the trends. They aren’t part of the profit gaining cycle of the industry. They may not even be long lasting items which were made of the best fabrics, but because we want to prolong the memory; we prolong the item.

ethical and sustainable fashion - emotional sustainability

I remember buying this bracelet from a small little shop with my mum.  It was nothing special in the moment, but she treated me to it and it always reminds me of that day. 

There are also those items that one day you might want to pass onto your children (just like my mum did with that ring). If you buy something of value and quality, it’s more likely to last longer, meaning you can pass it on in the future. Buying an expensive watch which will last several years, gives you that option to then pass it on to your child. “But it will probably be broken by then” I hear you say… repairs are an option, which is exactly why DIY fashion is promoted as sustainable.

For me, I’m clinging on to my first pair of Dr Martens. It sounds ridiculous, but yes, one day I hope that I can pass them on. They’ll remind me of a time in my life and how much I treasured them, and because I know they are of a certain quality (okay, not necessarily of an ethical and environmentally friendly quality), I know that they are going to last just that bit longer and I know that they can carry on being sustainable for much longer than a pair of shoes I could buy some time in the future. They were second hand, they’re being sustained, they can be repaired, and they will be passed on again. It’s a much more beneficial cycle than that of something new and temporary… which brings me to the idea of the sustainable fashion industry as a whole…

ethical and sustainable fashion - emotional sustainability

This silver necklace used to also be my mum’s and I hold it very close to my heart (a pun which was very much intended).

Sustainable fashion is about stepping out of the profitable cycle of fast fashion, and stepping into the cycle of clothes and items that last longer than the trend they were produced for. Fast fashion is all about trends and keeping things ticking along. To quote a line from ‘Stitched Up by Tansy Hoskins‘ (that I will be reviewing soon) – “It is a commodity cycle of newness that makes clothes go out-of-date and keeps retailers in business.”

Sustainable fashion has no sell-by-date or best-before label. It lasts. Buying a product which is made of higher quality fabrics and has been crafted in a way that not only prolongs the item, but prolongs the wellbeing of the earth, is going to be so much more beneficial to everyone (and the children that it gets passed on to).

The idea and meaning behind what a sustainable item is doing, brings us back to sentimentality. If consumers start to be aware of where their clothes are being made and by whom, they’ll start to appreciate their items and will stop seeing them as disposable items. We all need to start seeing our clothes and fashion as a whole as something that lasts longer than one season and a few weeks on a rack. If a moment can keep us clinging on for years, then the stories and effects of what we’re buying should be able to, too.

What’s one item you’re sustaining for sentimental reasons? Have you bought anything specifically sustainable recently? Let me know in the comments!


I hope you’ve been liking my posts recently. I feel like I’m back in the blogging game and really know where I’m going with it. I also hope you liked these pictures in this post! I’ve discovered that I’m in love with ‘Scanography‘ (the art of using a scanner as your camera) and I absolutely love the look and feel of them. I’ll talk to you soon!

Lots of Love… Tolly Dolly Posh xx

You Might Also Like