8 Sustainable Fashion Books To Add To Your Reading List
As a retailer with a mission to not just curate ethical fashion but help people understand it, it heartens us to see shoppers demanding more and more information about the things they buy and the clothes they wear. We know firsthand, however, that there are mountains of constantly evolving information on ethical and sustainable fashion, and that wading through it can be one daunting, dizzying task. Enter this crop of eco-fashion experts, who've devoted years of work to helping you better understand these complex but pressing issues. Whether you're looking to build your own ethical wardrobe or simply on the market for some DIY inspiration, these books are required reading.
1. ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials by Sass Brown
A name like Sass Brown belongs on book covers—but that’s not the reason F.I.T.’s Assistant Dean of the School of Art and Design penned her second title. Available in October, ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials takes a look at 46 designers—from emerging talent to names like Christopher Raeburn and From Somewhere—who breathe new life and value into "one man's trash." By showing in beautiful detail how they fashion discarded garments and materials into newly functional and inherently unique pieces, the book is ultimately a celebration of creativity, as well as a source of inspiration for other designers and the public alike.
Brown's first book, Eco Fashion, and its sister blog, Eco Fashion Talk, are also highly recommended reading.
Published by Laurence King in 2013; pre-order Refashioned.
2. Sustainable Luxe: A Guide to Feel-Good Fashion by Jordan Phillips
In Sustainable Luxe, her follow-up to The Lure of Luxe, author Jordan Phillips posits that price points that seem too good to be true likely are, coming at the expense of garment workers, the environment–and our own misspent dollars. To help us use our purchasing power more wisely, Phillips presents a three-prong approach to modern-day shopping: 1) When buying new clothing, choose the labels and retailers you support wisely. 2) Buy vintage, consignment and secondhand clothing. 3) Shop your own closet and take care of what you already have.
At its core, Phillips' message is about self-empowerment. Making conscious fashion choices is not just about valuing the lives of those who are negatively impacted by the fashion industry–it's about valuing ourselves and beginning the process of curating a wardrobe of quality items that will stand the test of time, she writes.
Published in 2013; buy Sustainable Luxe.
3. Fashion Manifesto: The Guide for the Style-Savvy by Sofia Hedstrӧm
Fashion journalist Sofia Hedstrӧm’s book is a how-to guide with heart. Disillusioned by a lack of innovation in fashion and overwhelmed by a wardrobe that had taken over her apartment, Hedstrӧm quit shopping for a year in favor of learning how to reinvent her old clothes. Her ensuing 12-month adventure is told via 50 "recipes" for rehabbing old wardrobe staples. With a foreword from designer Vivienne Westwood and the help of photographer Anna Schori, Fashion Manifesto literally illustrates the benefits of slowing down and experimenting with what one already owns, making this our go-to "cookbook" for recycled fashion.
Published by Skyhorse in 2013; buy The Fashion Manifesto.
4. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline
An instant classic when it was published last year, Overdressed struck a cultural cord for a reason—many an eco-fashion journey has begun with pile upon pile of fast-fashion purchases that have fallen apart or lost their luster after a handful of wears. Author Elizabeth Cline goes beyond relatability, however, and offers a laboriously researched analysis of the industry. Cline's antidote to apathy is a roster of hard-hitting facts, the implications of which can't credibly be denied by even the most ardent fast fashion addicts.
Published by Penguin USA in 2012; buy Overdressed.
5. The Sustainable Fashion Handbook by Sandy Black
If you're seeking an ultra-comprehensive look at the sustainable fashion world, The Sustainable Fashion Handbook is it. A professor at the London College of Fashion's Centre for Sustainable Fashion, Sandy Brown brings together wide-ranging perspectives, essays and interviews that illuminate the issues facing the fashion industry today. Dive deep with case studies on fair trade projects or denim lifecycles; hear from the likes of Stella McCartney and Dries Van Noten; and even read the stories of regular shoppers who've owned and loved items in their closet for years.
Published by Thames & Hudson in 2012; buy The Sustainable Fashion Handbook.
6. Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution by Safia Minney
Hooking us with a foreword by sustainable fashion activist Livia Firth, Naked Fashion provides an insightful glimpse at the eco-fashion industry across the pond–it's written by Safia Minney, founder of London-based ethical label People Tree. Open this book for everything from Emma Watson's take on Fair Trade fashion to style guides, images and stats on why socially and environmentally friendly fashion matters. A lot.
Published by New Internationalist in 2011; buy Naked Fashion.
FOR THE KIDS
7. E Is for Environment: Stories to Help Children Care for Their World–at Home, at School, and at Play by Ian James Corlett
Your little ones may be too young to be schooled in ethical fashion, but it's never too early to instill respect for the planet. Ian James Corlett, a father and award-winning children's television writer, tackles the topic through the loveable Elliot and Lucy. In a series of stories, the aspiring environmentalists commit hopefully memorable mistakes, such as leaving the water running and forgetting to switch off the lights when leaving a room. The lessons may stick with parents, too!
Published by Atria Books in 2011; buy E Is for Environment.
WORTH THE WAIT
8. Wear No Evil: How to Change the World With Your Wardrobe by Greta Eagan
Full disclosure: This book isn’t out yet, so we can’t promise it’s worth a spot on your shelf. But we're not expecting anything other than a compelling read from Fashion Me Green blogger Greta Eagan. Due to be published next May, Wear No Evil is a three-part resource that will introduce the problems with our current shopping patterns, guide readers through a closet-cleansing exercise, and close with real-world examples of sustainable fashion in action, the publishers tell us.
To be published by Running Press in 2014; pre-order Wear No Evil.