For fashion designer Shelby Lawrence, a partnership to launch her handmade line of mommy-and-me dresses into stores nationwide is a dream come true. Yet when a tragedy unfolding across the world impacts her line, Shelby realizes her dreams may just be built atop other people’s nightmares.
“Beneath The Seams,” a women’s fiction novel and our May book club pick will open your eyes to the dark side of fast fashion and the interconnectedness of our purchases — no matter how small — with the vast machinery of the global supply chain.
Beautifully evocative, this book makes you think deeply about what you buy, how you buy it, and the unimaginable scope of how very much we buy. Told through Shelby’s perspective and her growing awareness of — and uneasiness with — her complicity in it all, the book gently leads the reader on the same journey, and to the inescapable conclusion that things cannot continue on this way.
As Shelby grapples with her newfound knowledge and travels from Texas to Bangladesh in search of the truth, she must decide whether her dream can be reconciled with her values and whether she’ll be able to look herself in the mirror if they cannot.
Debut novelist Peyton H. Roberts speaks equally movingly of her own growing awareness of the hidden costs of the fast fashion industry. Roberts began learning to sew out of necessity, as most off-the-rack items weren’t designed for her tall figure, before discovering mass-market stores with inclusive sizing. Delighted to have stores that carried clothes that both fit and didn’t break the bank, she shopped. And shopped. And shopped.
Until she, much like her character, traveled around the world and realized the truth.
Roberts, a Navy spouse, was influenced immensely during her time living in Guam during her husband’s tour there (full disclosure – I’ve known their family since our university days) when online purchases came with enormous shipping costs and on-island shopping was extremely limited.
It broke her habit. After she returned to the United States, she saw the rampant consumerism with fresh eyes, and once she did, she couldn’t stand aside.
Carrying forward the tradition of novels that hope to change the world by changing what we see of the world, “Beneath The Seams” examines our ingrained shopping habits and asks us to deeply consider whether they truly match the lives we want to lead.