Must Read [Sustainable] Fashion Books

Must Read [Sustainable] Fashion Books

I was recently asked if I read any books that shaped my sustainable fashion journey.

I just so happened to be in my living room, so I immediately jumped up and ran to my book shelf pulling the following books. These are in no particular order but if a title or synopsis calls to you, I'd highly recommend getting your hands on it (local library, AbeBooks, or if you know me, ask, I'd gladly lend it out!).

Fashion is a massive industry, yet it's exclusive ("in crowd" only) nature leaves most of us in the dark about what is actually happening behind the scenes. These books break down those walls and shed light onto the destructive (for people and the planet) industry that it is. 

This list is by no means exhaustive. PLEASE comment with other books you'd recommend!


ANYTHING BY Elizabeth L. Cline

  • The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good (2019)
    • Clothing is one of the most personal expressions of who we are. In her landmark investigation Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, Elizabeth L. Cline first revealed fast fashion’s hidden toll on the environment, garment workers, and even our own satisfaction with our clothes. The Conscious Closet shows exactly what we can do about it.
  • Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (2013)
    • Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Stores ranging from discounters like Target to traditional chains like JCPenny now offer the newest trends at unprecedentedly low prices. And we have little reason to keep wearing and repairing the clothes we already own when styles change so fast and it’s cheaper to just buy more.


ANYTHING by Dana Thomas

  • Fashionopolis: Why What We Wear Matters (2020)
    • We all have been casual about our clothes. It's time to get dressed with intention. Fashionopolis is the first comprehensive look at how to start. Today, the clothing industry churns out 80 billion garments a year and employs every sixth person on Earth. Historically, the apparel trade has exploited labor, the environment, and intellectual property—and in the last three decades, with the simultaneous unfurling of fast fashion, globalization, and the tech revolution, those abuses have multiplied exponentially, primarily out of view. 
  • Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster (2008)
    • With Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster, [Dana] Thomas--who has been the cultural and fashion writer for Newsweek in Paris for 12 years--has written a crisp, witty social history that's as entertaining as it is informative." --New York Times From the author of Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes Once luxury was available only to the rarefied and aristocratic world of old money and royalty. It offered a history of tradition, superior quality, and a pampered buying experience. Today, however, luxury is simply a product packaged and sold by multibillion-dollar global corporations focused on growth, visibility, brand awareness, advertising, and, above all, profits. Award-winning journalist Dana Thomas digs deep into the dark side of the luxury industry to uncover all the secrets that Prada, Gucci, and Burberry don't want us to know. Deluxe is an uncompromising look behind the glossy fa?ade that will enthrall anyone interested in fashion, finance, or culture.


Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-Hand Clothes (2015)

  • Andrew Brooks
    • 'An interesting and important account.' Daily Telegraph Have you ever stopped and wondered where your jeans came from? Who made them and where? Ever wondered where they end up after you donate them for recycling? Following a pair of jeans, Clothing Poverty takes the reader on a vivid around-the-world tour to reveal how clothes are manufactured and retailed, bringing to light how fast fashion and clothing recycling are interconnected. Andrew Brooks shows how recycled clothes are traded across continents, uncovers how retailers and international charities are embroiled in commodity chains which perpetuate poverty, and exposes the hidden trade networks which transect the globe. Stitching together rich narratives, from Mozambican markets, Nigerian smugglers and Chinese factories to London's vintage clothing scene, TOMS shoes and Vivienne Westwood's ethical fashion lines, Brooks uncovers the many hidden sides of fashion.


Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion (2018)

  • Clare Press
    • Who makes your clothes? This used to be an easy question to answer it was the seamstress next door, or the tailor on the high street—or you made them yourself. Today, we rarely know the origins of the clothes hanging in our closets. The local shoemaker, dressmaker, and milliner are long gone, replaced a globalized fashion industry worth $1.5 trillion a year.


The End of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever (2010)

  • Teri Agins
    • The time when "fashion" was defined by French designers whose clothes could be afforded only by elite has ended. Now designers take their cues from mainstream consumers and creativity is channeled more into mass-marketing clothes than into designing them. Indeed, one need look no further than the Gap to see proof of this. In The End of Fashion, Wall Street Journal, reporter Teri Agins astutely explores this seminal change, laying bare all aspects of the fashion industry from manufacturing, retailing, anmd licensing to image making and financing. Here as well are fascinating insider vignettes that show Donna Karan fighting with financiers,the rivalry between Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, and the commitment to haute conture that sent Isaac Mizrahi's business spiraling.


*I have not read this, nor do I own it, BUT it looks really good and is certainly on my personal list now!

Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion (2014)

  • Tansy E. Hoskins
    • As a freelance journalist writing about labour rights and the fashion industry in The Guardian and Al Jazeera, Tansy Hoskins’ work has taken her to places like Bangladesh, Morocco, and the domestic Topshop warehouses. Her book explores consumerism and how phenomena such as ‘size zero’ toxify the relationship with our bodies and the planet. Moving between Karl Lagerfeld and Karl Marx, Hoskins reveals fundamental answers to some of the most urgent questions on fast fashion and capitalism. Reading this will not only educate you on the urge for sustainable and ecological decisions regarding fashion but also on body positivity and the use of clothing to resist.
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