Every year, I obsess over the Met Gala in New York City and take a trip there every year to check out their latest fashion exhibit. I always thought that this would be the ultimate fashion experience but that all changed this month when I went to Museo Automovilístico y de la Moda (Automobile and Fashion Museum) in Málaga, Spain. With over 200 pieces of haute couture from over the ages, this museum will not disappoint!
What set the exhibit apart is that alongside the fashion pieces were cars from the same point in time. Cars and clothing both tell us so much about society – how we are advancing and how we are taking risks, for instance. Due to the pairing of cars and clothes, this exhibit is truly one-of-a-kind and you could pass hours learning about the exhibits.
Though these cars look better in person, they are truly unique. They had hundreds, many of historical significance and others of cultural importance, such as a psychedelic car driven by John Lennon. Moreover, they had cars driven by many Hollywood celebrities! However, my favorite part of the exhibit (despite loving cars and cars shows), was the fashion.
The fashion on display was completely break taking and these photos, as pretty as they may be, do not do the museum justice. The size of this museum and the quality of these pieces. I strongly believe there is something for everyone in this museum and you can learn more by going to their website: https://www.museoautomovilmalaga.com/en/
“I bought a ton of cute clothes today and guess what I spent!” This is a phrase that my sisters and I have said dozens of times to each other over the years. The few times I directed my fashion purchases towards my father however, the first thing he would say was, “What’s it made out of? Polyester? They don’t make clothes the way they used to.” This echoed a comment a customer made to me one day when I worked at an Ann Taylor store in college.
Years ago, my customer remarked how she had shopped at the original Ann Taylor store when they first opened in Connecticut and as she felt the material on the sleeve of a blouse, said “Boy, how the times have changed.” Though I could nod my head and accept what they were saying as true, it wasn’t until I read Elizabeth L. Cline’s 2012 book, “Over-Dressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion,” that I truly understood what my dad and this customer understood.
Today, we can go out on a lunch break and instead of opt for a coffee, we could elect to purchase a $10 dress instead. This is a phenomenon that would never had been imaginable in the early 20th century. With retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, and Walmart, bringing new clothes to market at a faster-than-ever speed, we have gone from a generation that treasures clothing, to one that throws it away each season.
Cline’s book was exceptionally shocking so I want to share a few quotes from the book that resonate:
“Carbon monoxide and other pollutants from Asia have been documents on the West Coast since the late 1990s are are actually affecting weather patterns there as well. Global climate change as a result of global industrialization is now a reality no matter where we live (124)”.
“It’s a natural assumption that a book about cheap fashion will cover the grim issues of sweatshops and child labor. A common refrain is that garment workers should be glad to have jobs. Our expectations and standards for ethics in the fashion industry are embarrassingly low, but the potential for change is also grossly underestimated” (159).
“China’s garment industry operates on an intimidating scale. It’s several times bigger than any garment industry…they have more than forty thousand clothing manufacturers and 15 million garment industry jobs [and there are 1.45 million garment and textile industry jobs that United States had at peak employment some forty years ago” (169).
“Not shopping was not a total solution….human beings have been sewing for thousands of years; some peg it to the last Ice Age” (191).
“Localism and more thoughtful, slow approach to eating [like with farmer’s markets] the movement has a huge following, and slowly but surely the movement is spreading to fashion” (208).
Though taking down the whole fashion industry is not a feasible goal, making more educated choices about the fabric and craftsmanship of our clothing is what this book advocates. The above quotes are just the tip of the iceberg for what Cline’s book delves into. She thoroughly investigates the Chinese textile markets, working conditions in mills domestically and abroad, and deeply delves into the ramifications of having so many clothes thrown away. Alternatively, the book discusses how we choose to re-use, mend, and place more thought into pieces that are meant to last.