Worn Out

How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion’s Sins

An insider’s look at how the rise of “fast fashion” obstructs ethical shopping and fuels the abuse and neglect of garment workers

“With years of expertise in the fashion industry, Alyssa’s reporting is consistently deep and thoughtful, and her work on sustainability and ethics has changed how I view the clothes I wear.” —Brittney McNamara, features director at Teen Vogue

Ours is the era of fast fashion: a time of cheap and constantly changing styles for consumers of every stripe, with new clothing hitting the racks every season as social media–fueled tastes shift.

Worn Out examines the underside of our historic clothing binge and the fashion industry’s fall from grace. Former InStyle senior news editor and seasoned journalist Alyssa Hardy’s riveting work explores the lives of the millions of garment workers—mostly women of color—who toil in the fashion industry around the world—from LA-based sweatshop employees who experience sexual abuse while stitching clothes for H&M, Fashion Nova, and Levi’s to “homeworkers” in Indonesia who are unknowingly given carcinogenic materials to work with. Worn Out exposes the complicity of celebrities whose endorsements obscure the exploitation behind marquee brands and also includes interviews with designers such as Mara Hoffman, whose business models are based on ethical production standards.

Like many of us, Hardy believes in the personal, political, and cultural place fashion has in our lives, from seed to sew to closet, and that it is still okay to indulge in its glitz and glamour. But the time has come, she argues, to force real change on an industry that prefers to keep its dark side behind the runway curtain. The perfect book for people who are passionate about clothing and style, Worn Out seeks to engage in a real conversation about who gets harmed by fast fashion—and offers meaningful solutions for change.

Praise

“A scorching exposé. . . . [Worn Out] will have readers thinking twice before they make their next purchase.”
Publishers Weekly
“Deeply researched and profoundly empathetic, Worn Out sidesteps the runway and sashays past the corner office to focus on the most important people in the fashion industry: the garment workers. Their labor is rendered invisible by an industry that prefers to look past the misery and abuse that characterizes their daily grind, and instead pushes them to fill brutal quotas for shockingly low wages. Hardy sees them, though, and through this book, makes it clear that the human cost of cheap fashion is far too high.”
—Kim Kelly, author of Fight Like Hell
“With Worn Out, Hardy encourages even her most informed, impassioned readers to reexamine their relationship with clothing, all while demonstrating how to advocate for those endangered and marginalized communities whom the global fashion industry takes advantage of. Read this book, and be prepared to think critically about how—and why—we wear what we do.”
—Maura Brannigan, editor-at-large of Fashionista
Worn Out is a powerful examination of the ways in which the success of fashion is built on the backs of women of color and immigrants. Rather than shame the individual for their choices though, Hardy proves that we don’t have to sacrifice our own sense of style in order to advocate for the rights of working women all over the world.”
—Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage and author of One Fair Wage
“The workers who stitch our fashion dreams into reality don’t often get the credit they deserve. Bringing their experiences into the spotlight, Hardy balances a genuine love of fashion with sharp reporting on the less-than-rosy environmental and labor realities of the industry.”
—Véronique Hyland, Elle fashion features director and author of Dress Code
“This eye-opening account will almost certainly give fashion consumers pause.”
Booklist

News and Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Read a review of Worn Out in Publishers Weekly.

Goodreads Reviews