Top 5 Books on Sustainable Fashion

There are many different definitions of sustainable fashion, therefore the books on it are wide and varied. If you only have a general understanding, then these top 5 books on sustainable fashion are for you! They will provide you with new, inspiring ideas and might turn you into the next slow fashion addict.

1. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline


Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion provides an inside look at the declining cost of clothing over the last few decades and how consumption has skyrocketed as a result. Clothes made on the cheap from big chains is what Elizabeth Cline calls “fast fashion”. Big brands in the fashion industry have continuously put out seasonal trends and instilled in consumers that they need to change out their closet at least 4 times a year. Customers buy clothes, wear them sometimes, buy new clothes to match new trends and discard the old. Clothing, in a short period of time, has gone from something valued to disposable purchases.

Elizabeth, who uses a very articulate and illustrative writing style, has taken readers to an exploration to the dark side of their addiction to cheap clothes. She reports on how mass production of garment industry has led to cheap products. Resulting in the environment being damaged and increased human rights violations. The book is a wake-up call for customers to change their buying behavior to become conscientious consumers.

For someone who is interested in fashion, Overdressed is an eye-opening must read!

2. Sustainable Luxe: A Guide to Feel-Good Fashion by Jordan Phillips


Jordan Phillips, a personal stylist, consultant and founder of Luxe of Luxe LLC, makes people aware of some very important issues that cause impact, not only on the environment, but also human rights violations. The book has an easy-to-read narrative and presents an argument that people should view their purchases as investments; not investments in the appearance, but in the good for the environment and those who made their clothes.

Unlike other books on sustainable fashion, Sustainable Luxe: A guide to Feel-Good Fashion concentrates on consumers and focuses less on the manufacturing aspects of the fashion industry. The takeaway tips in each chapter help readers to make smarter shopping decisions, like consciously buy less and better quality clothing so that you can wear them longer. Her tips can be generalized into 3 main ways:

  1. Buy new clothing, but 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.

Whether it is her intention or not, it is also a guide to find your own unique signature style. This book is highly recommended for every fashion lover who are seeking for insider’s advice on how to spend well and stand out from the crowd.

3. ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials by Sass Brown


ReFashioned: Cutting-Edge Clothing from Upcycled Materials by Sass Brown is an amazing showcase of 46 international designers’ work on recycled materials and discarded garments to bring new value to old clothes and accessories. With their artistic eyes and skilful hands, used clothing is reinvented into a look that’s “cooler” to prevent it from being thrown away. According to Sass, the book demonstrates two things. First, sustainability is a mature mass phenomenon that applies to fashion; it is appreciated and shared by many designers. Second, upcycled and recycled garments are playing an important role and becoming the future of sustainable fashion.

Filled with very informative and interesting ideas about design and processes, Refashioned has received good feedback. SOMA Magazine commented on their website:

“As a writer, businesswoman, speaker and current Acting Assistant Dean for the School of Art and Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology (New York), Brown provides an educated voice to those seeking to learn more about the world of eco fashion. ReFashioned is an easy read saturated with stunning imagery, easily making it a SOMA favorite. With plenty in store for Brown, we can count on discovering even more international talent while learning how to keep the ultimate design, our planet, beautiful.”

Meanwhile, Amie Zimmer of Insight – The School of Art and Design History and Theory said:

“It’s a pretty book with a punch: Brown doesn’t hesitate to identify as a self-proclaimed fashion activist, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the designers she profiles would, too… The book highlights individuals working across a variety of mediums and focal points in the fashion industry, from bag designers using vintage military kits, tents, and ship sails to jewellery designers using human hair. Each material invokes a different relationship”

Even though the book contains no instructions or general how-to, its strong visual appeal still inspires and informs many responsible fashion consumers and makers.

4. Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution by Safia Minney

safia minney

Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution by Safia Minney, People Tree’s Founder, is a book reaching out to anyone interested in joining the fashion industry. Minney presents the challenges faced and ways in which designers/business owners can provide a solution through ethical business models.

Contributors include a wide-range of artists; photographers, actors, models, illustrators and journalists. Specifically, Emma Watson, Vivienne Westwood, Summer Rayne Oakes, and Liz Jones share their efforts in making a positive impact within the fashion industry and media and why it is so important.

5. Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint


Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint captures the journey of artfully dying clothes and yarn by using natural leaves, roots, and flowers. In this book, India teaches you how to use sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives to synthetic dyes. She shares basic principles for getting the color out of common plants and explains plant-dye methods from whole-dye to color prints and layered dye techniques, with minimal or no harm to the environment.

This book consists of some basic topics, from workplace, plant materials, natural dyes to tips and special effects. You can benefit from interesting tricks she shares; such as freezing flowers or berries to extract the most color. Also it includes a list of plants for getting various colors and what parts to use, which is very useful and will give you an instant excitement to dye something. And one of the most fascinating parts is that you will be inspired by how she gets new eco colors from plants she encounters whilst travelling. Eco Colour will take you to many interesting roads on your sustainable fashion adventure.

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