Clothing and fashion is a multi-billion dollar industry, and is often envisioned as exotic, glamorous, and desirable; but that is far from the truth. In Threadbare: Clothes, Sex, and Trafficking, author Anne Elizabeth Moore uncovers the seedy and appalling realities behind this trade, including waste and pollution, horrific working conditions, and exploitation of all kinds, and which is also inextricably linked to sex trafficking. Moore’s story begins in fast fashion, where models are young, vulnerable, and ultimately psychologically and physically broken. The impact of fast fashion – extremely quick product and line turnaround – floods into environmental issues. Following the threads leads to governmental legislation, ostensibly written to serve the people, but actually lobbied for and only serving the industry. The demand for more and more clothing, faster and faster, has put traditional textile workers out of business, and instead increased the hardships and deteriorated working conditions for textile workers in developing countries, who often turn to sex trafficking as the only alternative; anti-trafficking laws and NGOs frequently do more harm than good.
“The global economic condition of women isn’t a ‘consumer awareness’ problem, nor is it created- or solvable – by any individual. The global economic condition of women is caused by bad policy. And that can, and must, change.”
All these stories are told through the experiences of workers interviewed by the author, and are brilliantly illustrated by members of the Ladydrawers Comics Collective. This comics-style presentation makes the issues accessible and real. The stories are deeply researched and supported; the statistics are grim. The issues are complex and there is no easy solution, but that doesn’t mean there are no solutions, just that we need to look past the initial emotion – whether that is desire, greed, pity, or fear – and find solutions that actually address the true problems, not the problems most appealing to us to solve. This is a startling book that will infuriate you, and hopefully drive you to action – to reject fast fashion and work for real change that truly empowers women around the world.