Enfilade

New Book | Worn: A People’s History of Clothing

Posted in books by Editor on March 21, 2022

From Penguin Random House:

Sofi Thanhauser, Worn: A People’s History of Clothing (New York: Pantheon, 2022), 400 pages, ISBN: ‎978-1524748395, $30.

In this panoramic social history, Sofi Thanhauser brilliantly tells five stories—Linen, Cotton, Silk, Synthetics, Wool—about the clothes we wear and where they come from, illuminating our world in unexpected ways. She takes us from the opulent court of Louis XIV to the labor camps in modern-day Chinese-occupied Xinjiang. We see how textiles were once dyed with lichen, shells, bark, saffron, and beetles, displaying distinctive regional weaves and knits, and how the modern Western garment industry has refashioned our attire into the homogenous and disposable uniforms popularized by fast-fashion brands.

Thanhauser makes clear how the clothing industry has become one of the planet’s worst polluters and how it relies on chronically underpaid and exploited laborers. But she also shows us how micro-communities, textile companies, and clothing makers in every corner of the world are rediscovering ancestral and ethical methods for making what we wear. Drawn from years of intensive research and reporting from around the world, and brimming with fascinating stories, Worn reveals to us that our clothing comes not just from the countries listed on the tags or ready-made from our factories. It comes, as well, from deep in our histories.

Sofi Thanhauser teaches in the writing department at Pratt Institute. She has received fellowships from the Fulbright Program, MacDowell, and Ucross Foundation. Her writing has appeared in Vox, Essay Daily, and The Establishment, among other publications.

C O N T E N T S

Introduction

Linen
1  The Last Linen Shirt in New Hampshire
2  Underthings

Cotton
3  Texas Fields
4  The Fabric Revolution
5  Drought

Silk
6  Yangtze Silk
7  Costume Drama
8  The Rise of Mass Fashion

Synthetics
9  Rayon
10  Nylons
11  Export Processing Zones

Wool
12  Army of the Small
13  Woolfest
14  Weavers

Conclusion

Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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