Our top picks for books to learn more about environmental and social issues in the fashion industry — and what you can do to help.
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“Consumed” by Aja Barber
The industry needs to change and this book does a great job breaking down the many complex issues and uncomfortable truths with fashion in a way that is approachable. I was honestly hesitant to pick up this book because often books like this can leave you feeling helpless and overwhelmed with endless doom-and-gloom stats, but that’s not the case with “Consumed.” Aja takes a friendly tone and leaves the reader empowered with critical thinking tools and ways to take action.
“Fibershed” by Rebecca Burgess
Rebecca Burgess pioneered the now-global Fibershed movement with a personal challenge to create an entirely local wardrobe. This book shares her experience of that process, what she learned along the way, and why this farm-to-closet approach can be environmentally and socially beneficial.
This book was a joy to read. I have been researching slow fashion topics for a decade now so at this point it’s rare for me to find books that I learn so much from and feel inspired by! I love Rebecca’s vision for a localized textile system and the chapters on regenerative farming were very interesting. It’s exciting to see this movement growing.
“Project 333” by Courtney Carver
I’m definitely biased because I am actually featured in this book! 😊 But as someone who has been doing capsule wardrobes for years I see a ton of sustainable benefits in them. “Project 333” was what first introduced me to the concept, but even if you aren’t ready for the challenge or don’t see a capsule wardrobe as being for you, this book is about so much more than what’s in your closet.
Courtney shares how changing our views on clothing and consumption can offer so much more freedom, time, and joy in our lives. I completely agree that a capsule wardrobe is so much deeper than the clothing you wear and this book offers some excellent anti-consumerism tools and motivation.
“The Conscious Closet” by Elizabeth L. Cline
Written by journalist Elizabeth L. Cline, this book is great for beginners to sustainable fashion as it offers a wealth of information about the fashion industry — from garment workers to different types of fabrics and so much more. It’s also full of tips including how to mend and take better care of your clothes. “The Conscious Closet” will give you an eye-opening lens on the clothes you already own and will inspire you to invest in higher-quality, ethical clothing when you are ready to introduce new pieces to your wardrobe.
“Wardrobe Crisis” by Clare Press
Clare Press loves fashion — but as a fashion journalist, knows the industry needs to change. Big time. “Wardrobe Crisis” is a critique of fast fashion and a journey through the fashion industry, with a strong focus on the history of fashion, including department stores and some of the biggest and highest-end brands in the world. It’s an engaging read!
“Slave to Fashion” by Safia Minney
Every piece of clothing has a story before it even gets to your closet, since clothing usually takes the labor of many people to produce. If you want to learn more about who makes your clothes and the exploitative conditions clothes are often made in, “Slave to Fashion” is a great choice. A unique part of this book is a section of photos and interviews with garment workers, as well as an actionable toolkit for how consumers can demand better working conditions and pay for the people who make their clothes.
“Loved Clothes Last” by Orsola De Castro
You’ve probably heard the quote, “The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe.” It was written by Orsola De Castro, the Co-Founder and Global Creative Director of Fashion Revolution — and author of “Loved Clothes Last.” Supporting ethical and sustainable brands is important, but first and foremost, we must love and care for our clothes so that they can have a long life with us. Orsola gives readers plenty of tips on how to do just that!
“Fashionopolis” by Dana Thomas
The fashion industry is rife with human and environmental exploitation, and journalist Dana Thomas details many of these issues without the book feeling too dark of a read. “Fashionopolis” is best for people interested in innovations in fashion, including sustainable technologies.
An issue with the book is that the brand recommendations Dana gives is often out-of-reach for the average person — not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on a single sustainably produced garment from Stella McCartney. However, My Green Closet has plenty of more accessible suggestions to help in that regard 😊
“The Curated Closet” by Anuschka Rees
While this is another book focused on capsule wardrobes, I think this book is incredibly valuable as it is all about avoiding trends and instead finding your personal style and building a wardrobe of pieces you love wearing. Personal style is a key part of slowing down fashion consumption — one of the best things you can do for a more sustainable and ethical wardrobe is wearing what you have until it’s unwearable. However, this is hard to do if you don’t actually like your clothes that much.
Anuschka helps readers figure out a wardrobe that works for them, and she does this without focusing on styles and colours that are “flattering,” which I deeply appreciate — it’s about finding the style that you genuinely want to wear for years!
“Mend!” by Kate Sekules
Mending your clothes doesn’t have to be boring — it can turn your worn-out clothes into a fashion statement and give them new life. Author Kate Sekules is a big proponent of visible mending, and her book is filled with plenty of ideas, complete with lots of photos and tutorials. “Mend!” also goes into a history of fabrics and mending/tending clothing. It’s an enlightening and fun read to get your creative juices flowing!
Finally you can check out more books I recommend, including sewing/patternmaking books and sustainability books for children here.