Maxine Bédat’s New Book Traces the Lifespan of a Pair of Jeans to Illustrate the Ills of Fast Fashion
In this age of instant gratification, fast fashion innocently presents itself as a way to meet consumer demand. But behind the scenes, the industry’s supply chains are fraught with serious planet- and people-threatening problems. It’s a topic that Maxine Bédat, founder and director of the New Standard Institute—a think tank and resource for clothing designers and fashion brands hoping to make legitimate, impactful changes by 2030—tackles in her forthcoming book, Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment (Portfolio), out next week.
In the book, Bédat, a former lawyer (and the guest on Ep. 11 of our At a Distance podcast), traces the lifespan of a pair of jeans to demonstrate the ills that accompany the processes that produce our clothes. Along the way, she encounters a number of tragic situations, including a cotton farm in Texas struggling to operate without using poisonous fertilizers, dyeing factories in China where harmful chemicals spill onto floors and drain into waterways used for irrigation, and warehouses in South Asia that require workers to perform with machine-like endurance. We recently spoke with Bédat about her eye-opening research, and the importance of building more meaningful relationships with our clothes.
What exactly is the driving force behind fast fashion?