Book Review by Sapphire Ng
Disrobed: How Clothing Predicts Economic Cycles, Saves Lives, and Determines the Future
by Syl Tang
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Copyright September 2017
Hardcover, 182 Pages
A rather well-executed book which examines the convergence between the fashion industry, clothing consumption and related trends with monumental concepts of politics, environmentalism, technology, and global issues, to that of legal entanglements and even of the less tangible, the psychological and the emotional.
I personally most relished parts of the book which simultaneously indulged my passion for fashion and which satisfied my desire to continually deepen my understanding of and knowledge pertaining to, and thus my immersion in, the fashion industry. The book contained multiple examples related to fascinating developments and inventions within the fashion industry that truly excited me, be it those that involved dual-purpose clothing items, fashion lines made of recycled fabrics and materials, statistical facts, or even the name-dropping of examples that constituted specific interesting commercial developments within the fashion sphere.
The book seemed well-researched and was filled with properly structured arguments that informed the author’s various premises. As a self-proclaimed futurist, the author did indeed articulate certain visions she had for the fashion industry that was rather refreshing, thought provoking, and filled with an entrepreneurial touch. Other times however, her ideas were undoubtedly creative but weren’t too convincing to the reader. It was nonetheless rather admirable that the author supplemented the discussions in the book by posing thought provoking, and at times inspiring, questions, and more significantly, by attempting to address boldly prodigious questions, for example “Can Clothing Save the Lives of Millions?”
At the rare juncture in the book, the author seemed to go off on a tangent and gave the impression of being distracted with the need to demonstrate to the reader the abundance of research she had done for this book project. Occasionally, the incredible amount of research included did not seem to be directly relevant to addressing the premise raised. Of course, some readers might justifiably consider this to be a merit of the book, and admittedly, the book did venture into some rather fascinating territory even with the diversions. Personally, the avalanche of facts and information in a different field vaguely related by the author to the essence of the predominant subject matter of the book or premise at hand gave me the sensation as if I was perusing a book alternatively focused on a different topic, and certainly not that of fashion or clothing.
This book remained a promising read as a whole. Closer to heart, the overall potentially meaningful relationship and interconnection established in the book between fashion and the greater international and global community equipped a sense of higher purpose to my passion in fashion. It certainly reassured me that fashion as a medium can be a very spiritually promising field to pursue if one approaches and engages with the right mindset and vision.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Rowman & Littlefield Publishers and TLC Book Tours for this review.