Thursday, January 17, 2008


This is one of many books published recently which purport to tell us the truth about eco-fashion. The author, Tamsin Blanchard, was fashion editor of the Independent, and with that much information I might have guessed how shallow this thing would be. There are lots of cutesy touches to the layout, but that does not make for substance; the style does not intone much depth either.

The book dwells on cotton, without so much as a single mention of the water needs of cotton, or the fact that organic cotton needs yet more water, thus destroying the livelihoods of more farmers worldwide - or at least in areas that Ms. Blanchard does not reside or visit. She lives in the UK, where cotton has never been farmed, and travels to Paris, NY and other fashion hotspots. No cotton plantations there either, just lots of mad fashionistas destroying the planet with their excess.

So is this book some form of atonement? From the remarks in the introduction, and the foreword by Lily Cole, it does seem that way. If so, it only adds the sins of omission to the sins of comission. The multitude of happy-clappy words here do not go far towards helping the environmental movement at all. And, as some might say is an unforgivable sin, there is no index, and do not expect any source notes. The resource guides serve to promote the businesses of certain parties, such as those who advertise in the Independent or the Telegraph (where the author now works). Katherine Hamnett is praised to high heaven, whilst others are ignored. Again, this might have to do with how much money they spent on papers and their high-flying reviewers.

Hemp is not totally ignored, however, there is mention of it on pp. 16,42,115,155,213,220 & 221. Generally, there is a negative tone towards hemp, which makes it strange that on p. 155 she claims it is her favourite fabric. Is there an editor in the house? She does at least mention The Hemp Shop, but then completely omits this venue in the resource guide - neither does she mention The Hemp Trading Company, Minawear, Sativa, or many other hemp businesses. Enamore, Equa, Patagonia and Howies are given some space, but all of these deal in cotton/silk and other fibres as well.

While Blanchard rather dismisses hemp as a designer fabric, she makes some concession to it as a tough option for luggage, but not much mention of it as bag material, despite the fact that there is a bag war on in London, and that hemp bags have made news upstaging the Anya Hindmach bag - there was even a piece in the Independent in April 2007 about what a disgrace the Anya bag was, but I guess Blanchard does not bother to read what is going on around her.

Ethical silk is mentioned, but again, ignorance is shown here, as she completely omits mention of ethical silk makers other than herself - and does not explain how her farming methods are in any way ethical when she uses artificial mulberry leaves to start with, and then allows the moths to hatch here in the UK where she claims there is not the proper food for them. But the subsequent starvation of the larvae is of no more concern to her than the starvation of the people whose land has been used for cotton, organic or otherwise.

Sad, but not unlike so many other Jane-come-latelies to the eco movement. These new recruits need to go to boot camp and learn some basic facts before they write a book.

1 comment:

GOPbuster said...

Books like this are a waste of trees. The authors are rich kids twits with friends in a newspaper who think every word they say is cool. Not one of them takes the time to research anything.