New book reveals how low-cost clothes can mean a high price for humanity and the planet


 FABRIC: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE MATERIAL WORLD by Victoria Finlay (Profile £25, 528pp)

Since Adam and Eve grabbed fig leaves to clothe themselves, we have relied on the natural world to provide us with food, shelter and clothing —and the damage to that world, and to people, is still being done.

Look around your room — at cotton curtains, silk and velvet cushions, woollen rugs — and ask yourself if you know where in the material world it all comes from.

As for clothes… swathed in a pashmina shawl as I write this, I realise I have never considered its exact origin or journey.

Now Victoria Finlay provides a closely woven warp and weft of answers to questions we never thought to ask, and the pictures in her intricate tapestry are dazzling. An intrepid traveller whose best-selling books already explored the magical worlds of colour and of jewels, she now turns her infinitely curious mind to fabric.

Her globetrotting…

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