A lighthearted look at fashion


The rise of fast fashion, destruction of the planet, and a global obsession with materialism and commercialism.

These issues are all a topic for conversation in Wangi Wangi author Joan McCarthy’s latest book, Behind the Label: The Naked Truth.

A lighthearted look at fashion, it exposes the way clothes affect our lives. This happens both personally, as we use our clothes for fun, power and subjugation, and environmentally, as our clothes contribute to the daily destruction of our planet.

McCarthy was inspired to write the book after watching the ABC’s War on Waste series.

The fashion industry has often been cited as one of the biggest polluters on Earth, and the series visually highlighted this fact by piling up 6,000 kilograms of clothing, all of which was destined for landfill, in just 10 minutes in Sydney’s Martin Place.

“That shocked me to my back teeth,” McCarthy says.

“Landfill, and the way we produce clothes, is destructive to both people and animals in terms of polluting waterways with dye and poisoning the land.”

Behind the Label: The Naked Truth asks: Do clothes really make us happy, confident, powerful?

Are clothes needed when being kind, or do they hide our fear? Do clothes kill our creativity as we comply with culture, tradition and fashion?

“The clothes we wear affects our behaviour – power and authority comes from things like a police uniform or a politician’s suit,” McCarthy says.

“With job interviews, we wear certain clothes, which then impacts on how people respond towards us.”

McCarthy points to six Rs – Read, Repair, Rent, Recycle, Repurpose, and Rethink – as meaningful ways to address these issues.

This includes reading the label to choose clothes that heal, rather than hurt, the planet; repairing clothing yourself; renting or recycling clothing; becoming creative to use clothing for things like cleaning rags, dusters or dress-ups for kids; and rethinking whether you actually need all of the clothes in your wardrobe.

Visit Marjo Books’ website for more information on the author and her latest work.