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Best Books on Sustainable Fashion

The existence of fast fashion has become common knowledge. We might all think that we know what it means, but do we really know what the day-to-day impact of the sweatshop is on a developing economy and its people? And more importantly, do we know what to do about it?

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Why read about sustainable fashion?

Fast fashion and fashion waste contributes to around 8% of global climate impact, and employs some 430 million people, most of whom do not earn a living wage.

Many of us like the idea of a more sustainable fashion industry, but for some reason or other, we still find ourselves stuffing our closets with the same bargain-basement garments that seem to go out of style within weeks.

Maybe we can turn this culture around with the help of some inspiring voices and practical guides?

We’ve put together our favorite books on fast fashion that will galvanize you into action, give you the facts and hidden stories behind the fashion industry, and provide you with the know-how and strategies to implement long-lasting change.

Related Reading: Must-read books on Sustainability / Best Zero Waste Books

Top Books About Sustainable Fashion

From finding out the shocking practices of the cotton industry, to figuring out how to build your perfect capsule wardrobe, there is plenty to learn about sustainable fashion. We list our top recommendations for the best sustainable fashion books.

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Author: Elizabeth L. Cline

The original in ethical fashion books, by award winning journalist Elizabeth Cline. Published in 2012, it might feel a bit outdated now that awareness of the impact of cheap, disposable clothing has reached a mainstream audience, but it’s still a great introduction to the core issues.

The content is well researched and highly engaging, and the wake-up call to society has not quieted with time. If you are looking for a bit of motivation to commit to the cause of sustainable fashion, or perhaps looking to convince someone else, this is the definitive book to start with.

Buy it on Amazon

The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good

Author: Elizabeth L. Cline

In a follow-up to her first book, Cline provides a practical guide to implementing the changes that were called for in Overdressed.

Covering strategies for defining your style and optimizing your wardrobe, as well as suggestions for how to get towards zero waste fashion and shopping more ethically, this book will take you on a step-by-step process to changing your approach to fashion without compromising on style.

A must-read for anyone grappling with the idea of creating an ethical capsule wardrobe.

Buy it on Amazon

Fashionopolis: The Price Of Fashion – And The Future Of Clothes

Author: Dana Thomas

If Cline didn’t get you fired up and outraged, then Thomas’ Fashionopolis surely will.

The book explores the heartbreaking stories behind the supply chains of some of the world’s leading clothing brands, giving a powerful account of the impact on millions of people.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as the second half of the book shifts focus to highlight the positive changes that are taking place in the fashion industry.

Buy it on Amazon

How To Break Up With Fast Fashion: A guilt-free guide to changing the way you shop for good

Author: Lauren Bravo

As a self-confessed former fashion addict, Bravo takes us on her personal journey to finding a more sustainable way to look good.

Filled with suggestions for small changes and witty anecdotes, it will leave you with the sense that anybody can achieve a sustainable relationship with fashion.

One of the most accessible books on fashion sustainability available today!

Buy it on Amazon

Fibershed: Growing a Movement of Farmers, Fashion Activists, and Makers for a New Textile Economy

Author: Rebecca Burgess

Many of the environmental issues associated with the fashion industry come from the production and preparation of textiles.

Fibershed presents an alternative concept to the commercial processes used in cheap clothing, focussing on local farming, natural dyes, and restorative agricultural practices.

Whilst the examples are a little US-centric, the ideas are universal and it is an eco-fashion book that will certainly get you thinking wherever you are in the world.

Buy it on Amazon

Why French Women Wear Vintage: and other secrets of sustainable style

Author: Alois Guinut

Dispelling the myth that well-dressed people own more clothes, this book focuses on how refining your sense of style can help you shop less and look better.

The author provides practical tips on how to refresh your existing clothes and make them work for you, and paired with some fascinating interviews from French women on fashion, it is sure to change your perspective on what it means to be stylish.

Buy it on Amazon

The Travels of a T–Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

Author: Pietra Rivoli

Following the story of the production of a simple t-shirt, this book explores the complex influences that global trade, economy, politics, and commercialization has had on the clothing industry, and presents a balanced, factual view of both the good and bad consequences.

Although it’s not a light read, Rivoli provides engaging insights into the sometimes surprising effects that international trade has on our day-to-day purchases.

Buy it on Amazon

Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-toxic Beauty

Author: Kate Black

Presenting practical ways to implement sustainable fashion practices, this book goes one step further and provides a resource list of ethical brands that are accessible to every budget and style.

With a chapter on every fashion category – from beauty to special occasions – Black gives down-to-earth and informative advice on how to bring sustainable fashion into your lifestyle.

Buy it on Amazon

Sewing School Fashion Design: Make Your Own Wardrobe with Mix-and-Match: Make Your Own Wardrobe with Mix-And-Match Projects Including Tops, Skirts & Shorts

Authors: Andria Lisle and Amie Plumley

Finally, for the ultimate in a slow fashion book, this is a fantastic beginner’s guide to designing and sewing your own clothes.

It is actually aimed at kids aged 8 to 12, but the clear instructions apply to any novice and the patterns work well for adults.

So whether you’re aiming to inspire the next generation of conscientious fashionistas, or have never picked up a needle in your life, this book will start you on your way.

Buy it on Amazon

It’s hard to be a conscious consumer if you’re not aware of the issues that exist behind your choices, or if you don’t know what the alternative options are. Start understanding the fast fashion industry, and what makes fashion sustainable, by reading one of these books on sustainable fashion today!