Note – I received a copy of this book from the publisher through TLC Book Tours in exchange for a honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Hardcover: 182 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (October 16, 2017)
We may not often think of our clothes as having a function beyond covering our naked bodies and keeping us a little safer from the elements. But to discount the enormous influence of clothing on anything from economic cycles to the future of water scarcity is to ignore the greater meaning of the garments we put on our backs. Disrobed vividly considers the role that clothing plays in everything from natural disasters to climate change to terrorism to geopolitics to agribusiness. Chapter by chapter, Tang takes the reader on an unusual journey, telling stories and asking questions that most consumers have never considered about their clothing. Why do banker’s wives sell off their clothes and how does that presage a recession? How is clothing linked to ethanol and starvation on the African continent? Could RFID in clothing save the lives of millions of people in earthquakes around the world?
This book takes an everyday item and considers it in a way that readers may not have previously thought possible. It tackles topics relevant to today, everything from fakes in the museums to farm-to-table eating, and answers questions about how we can anticipate and change our world in areas as far-reaching as the environment, politics, and the clash of civilizations occurring between countries. Much like other pop economics books have done before, the stories are easily retold in water-cooler style, allowing them to be thoughtfully considered, argued, and discussed.
Can what you wear save your life, keep you safe, or kill people across the world? Syl Tang shows that, sometimes, it does. You’ve never read a national security book quite like Disrobed. A fresh perspective about how our individual choices can radically upend societies on the other side of the globe. Do clothes reflect the jagged fault lines between civilizations? Tang’s Disrobed makes a compelling case that it just might. – Aki Peritz, former CIA analyst who tracked the strategy, leadership and international links of Al Qaeda in Iraq; senior fellow at George Washington University’s Center for Cyber and Homeland Security; adjunct faculty member at American University
Syl Tangís Disrobed is a powerful thought-starter that articulates the butterfly effect from the mundane to the crucial. The book unveils an undercurrent of what is happening on the other side of the globe and connects the dots to what is right in front of us. Tang uses non-partisan, fact-based occurrences in worldwide events to show us the power of micro-action, and the potential of clothing as a political tool and predictive instrument. – Yann Marois, Chief Marketing Officer, Grey Goose
I’m probably one of the worst reviewers for a non-fiction book. When I read fiction, I know what kinds of things I want to comment on. With non-fiction, it’s always just fun to learn something new.
And you’ll learn a new perspective with this book! The book opens with a bang, so to speak, with Tang’s reflections on how clothing predicted the results of the 2016 election… and the 2008 election. I was hooked immediately and after reading that introduction was already raving about the book. There were a lot of references to what was coming up and I sometimes found that to be distracting–I’d suddenly want to read the chapter that was being teased instead of the one I was currently in–but I think that’s common in books like this. As each chapter went on, I’d get swept up in what Tang was discussing and loose track of what was ahead. This was a great read to learn more about what fashion can say about what a group of people is thinking and feeling, as well as different ways the fashion industry impacts our environment. If you’re on the fence about the capsule wardrobe/sustainable fashion movement, this book might nudge you to that mindset.
I also appreciated the size of the book. It’s a smaller one, so it wasn’t overwhelming to read. I appreciated that it brushed the surface of each topic. You can read this and get a taste, then decide what you want to read about in more depth. While it may not seem like enough information to some, I think it’s a great way to get an overview of information, and the reader can follow up on the points they were drawn to the most.
About Syl Tang
Syl Tang is CEO and founder of the 19-year old HipGuide Inc. A futurist, her focus is how and why we consume, with an eye towards world events such as natural disasters, geo-political clashes, and pandemics. She has written hundreds of articles on the confluence of world events and soft goods for the Financial Times, predicting and documenting trends such as the Apple watch and other smart wearables, lab-made diamonds, the Department of Defense’s funding of Afghan jewelry companies, the effects of global warming on South Sea pearls, and the unsolved murder of tanzanite speculator Campbell Bridges. Her brand consulting work focuses on helping companies including Diageo, Revlon and the State of Michigan. She is behind the launches of some of the most well-known beauty, beverage, automotive and urban development efforts including category changers such as frozen alcohol and mineral makeup. In addition to developing her site, in 1999 she created the first mobile lifestyle texting product in the market and predicted mobile couponing as it exists today. Her company HipGuide is a case study taught in universities around the world, from Dubai to Nova Scotia to Purdue, through a textbook series.
Find Syl on Twitter.