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About the Author

Virginia Postrel is an award-winning journalist and a visiting fellow at the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University. She is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and has been a columnist for the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. She is the näytä lisää author of The Substance of Style and The Power of Glamour. Her research is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. She lives in Los Angeles, California. näytä vähemmän

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I know next to nothing about textiles, but look at that cover! I was super curious to read about this. We think nothing of buying clothes off the rack at the store or maybe getting an item like a suit or wedding dress, etc. modified for a proper fit. But how we got here, with no longer needing to rely on animal skins or spending forever weaving together cloth to make clothing sounded interesting.

Author Postrel takes the reader through different aspects of textiles, from cloth to dyes to consumers, etc. to how technological advances mechanized how we have textiles today. It was interesting to see how this process evolved over the centuries for something that many of us no longer think about on a day to day basis.

That said, the criticisms are completely on point. There are lots of cool facts here, but in a book that is far too long and would have read better as a series of longread articles. It is also highly Euro-centric, which was extremely disappointing. Textiles clearly have different processes, routes, meanings, etc. in different parts of the world that is not quite reflected here. There is also a significant issue of exploitation and slave labor (that cheap shirt came at the price of someone's hard labor) which is not really addressed here.

So while interesting, it is hard to forget many of the issues that come with textiles. I would not be surprised to see this book in an art history-type class, although perhaps classes on say archeology, social/cultural-related classes, history of fashion, etc. might see this book, too. As a layperson I would guess there are better resources out there and this would be mostly skippable unless you have a special interest.

Borrowed from the library and that was best for me.
… (lisätietoja)
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HoldMyBook | 13 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jun 30, 2023 |
Simply a brilliant and iconoclastic work of nonfiction. The author has a mind for ideas and their consequences and makes a case for the defense of the independent creator.
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jwhenderson | 9 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jan 27, 2023 |
The book consists of seven chapters with a preface and afterward. Each chapter deals with a particular part of fabric production: Fiber, Thread, Cloth, Dye, Traders, Consumers, and Innovators. Each chapter starts in ancient times and ends in modern ones, showing how things have changed over time.

Fabric is one of those things that is so ubiquitous and important for life, and yet is also so ordinary and cheap nowadays that we simply forget about it. The book emphasizes that for most of human history fabric was at the forefront of thought. The amount of time and effort that’s gone into clothing and cloth for other purposes (sails, table coverings, curtains, blankets, etc.) is astronomical.

The book begins with the idea that modern people look at ancient art dealing with women and see a spindle and think, ah, this is a domestic scene. But we forget that the spindle as a means of turning fibres into thread was the start of production, necessary for the home, yes, but also an important industry. Millions of women over the course of history have spun thread and made cloth, whether of flax, cotton, wool, or silk. It was constant work because cloth is always needed. The book also shows how spinning thread was undervalued, partly because it was women’s work, but also because the higher the cost of thread, the higher the cost of cloth. We do the same thing today, keeping the final cost of clothing low so the rich can buy a lot of it, even if that means exploiting the workers who sew the cloth into clothing.

My interests are in ancient and medieval history so I didn’t expect the modern sections to interest me, but they were also fascinating. Learning about how cotton plants were cross bread and a fluke mutation created the cotton plants bred today was neat.

This is an excellent book dealing with a topic that affects everyone, but to which we give entirely too little thought.
… (lisätietoja)
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Strider66 | 13 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 19, 2022 |
This was a very interesting account of the ways in which textiles have played a role in the development of civilization. Virginia Postrel looks at all stages of textiles from fiber to thread to cloth and dye, as well as the roles of traders and consumers, from ancient times to the present day. She concludes with innovators who are driving today’s textile industry forward in ways their forebears could never have imagined.

In every chapter of this book I found “aha moments,” and things that sent me off to the internet to learn more. I had never thought about the parallels between weaving and computer programming, but that explains a lot about why I find weaving patterns so interesting. Postrel unpacks a lot of scientific concepts in ways that make them easier for the layperson to understand. Although I admit some of these interested me more than others (I may have skimmed at times), I found this book fascinating on so many levels.… (lisätietoja)
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lauralkeet | 13 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 16, 2022 |



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