Juliet Schor Clothes Encounters (October 2004)


1.      Schor loves clothes, enjoys shopping, and likes to look fashionable

         a.      Won’t admit this to her env. friends who are fashion minimalists

2.      Fashion minimalism

         a.      Clothes are utilitarian objects whose presence in our lives should be tolerated grudgingly

3.      Americans buying/throwing away clothes at record rates

         a.      2002 average American consumer acquired 52 new items of basic apparel (from 42 in 1996)

                   i.       From “Tackling Turbo Consumption”

                            (1)    2003 average American consumer bought 57 pieces of apparel (more than one a week)

                            (2)    1992, it was 34

         b.      Entered era of disposable clothing

         c.      Average household throws away 1.3 pounds of textile waste a week

         d.      A billion pounds of used clothing exported each year

4.      Rock-bottom prices explain this in part

         a.      .99 cent shirts at Old Navy

5.      Price decline due to

         a.      Relentless pressure on wages now as low a seven or eight cents an hour in some Asian countries

         b.      Unaccounted-for env. costs

                   i.       Toxic chemicals used in nearly all dyes

                   ii.      Commercial cotton cultivation is pesticide intensive

                   iii.     Overgrazing and desertification in Asia go along with falling price of cashmere

                            (1)    Are $40 cashmere sweaters a good thing?

6.      She rejects fashion minimalism because it

         a.      Trivializes clothes

         b.      Fails to comprehend our deep fascination with them

         c.      Clothing has been key to class struggles for social status

                   i.       Individuals used fashion to construct own identity

                   ii.      Short skits in the 1920s as a way of flaunting conventional morality

                   iii.     1980s punks style as a statement against hypocrisy of mainstream culture

7.      Nothing shallow about expressing values through what one wears

         a.      Depends on the values? Or if one expresses values other ways too?


8.      Clean Clothes Movement (in Europe) aims to express values of sustainability, justice and solidarity via clothes

         a.      Has resulted in some leading apparel chains committing to principles of labor rights and env. accountability

9.      Schor is a fashion maximalist

10.    She buys clothes that supports her vision for clothes industry that includes

         a.      Re-localization of production

         b.      Growth of small-scale, designer-run workshops

         c.      Anchored in communities

         d.      Shift to higher-priced

         e.      More aesthetic garments

         f.       Made from sustainably produced, nontoxic fabrics

11.    Investment apparel” she owns

         a.      Nicely tailored pants with invisible double button to accommodate fluctuating waistline

         b.      Sumptuous wool scarf doubles as a shirt or headwear

         c.      Custom made linen tops and bottoms sewn by local producer

                   i.       Picks exact colors

                   ii.      Clothes fit perfectly

                   iii.     Repaired quickly and w/o cost

         d.      Wants to show her friends can have personally expressive, ethically responsible wardrobe

12.    Problem is not that contemporary consumers are too maternalistic, its that there not materialistic enough

         a.      When we choose disposability over respect, love, and commitment for the objects we fashion into our material world

Questions Schor, Clothes Encounters

1.         What is the difference between a fashion minimalist and a fashion maximalist and which is Schor and why?

2.         Does Schor think we are too materialistic? Explain why or why not?

3.         Describe what has been happening in the clothes industry according to Schor.

4.         Explain what sort of a clothes industry she want to support though her apparel purchases.