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09 Mar

17 Must-Read Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Books

To all the eco-conscious fashion-loving bookworms out there, this one’s for you. Learning about sustainable fashion and the ecological revolutions of the industry is more accessible than ever. It’s easy to keep yourself up-to-date on everything that is going on in the movement, be it on the go throughout the week on your e-reader or a cosy Sunday evening at home with a paperback. But we know sifting through the countless options can be overwhelming. So, we’ve put together a list of our favourite must-read sustainable and ethical fashion books. You can thank us later.

Sustainable fashion books you might want to add to your reading list

To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? – Lucy Siegle

With Lucy Siegle being an ethical columnist at The Guardian and a passionate journalist on environmental topics, it’s no surprise that one of the most straightforward pieces of literature on this list comes from her pen. To Die For aims to shed light on the reality of workers in countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, and Uzbekistan, who are still struggling every day under the pressure of the fast fashion industry. Based on dense and intense research and fieldwork, this book will make you want to have a deep look into your wardrobe—moral dilemma intended.

Want more? Enjoy some of her work for the Guardian here or follow her around on Instagram.

How to Break Up With Fast Fashion – Lauren Bravo

London-based journalist Lauren Bravo strives to make issues of sustainability and ethics accessible to a mainstream, fashion-loving audience. In her book, she tells the story of her search for a slower, saner way of dressing, and helps you do the same. How To Break Up With Fast Fashion will help you to change your mindset, fall back in love with your wardrobe, and embrace more sustainable ways of shopping.

You can read Bravo’s article on traceability for Good On You, and follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism – Aja Barber

Aja Barber is a writer and sustainable and ethical fashion consultant. She does an incredible job of educating people on race, ethics, intersectional feminism and how systems of power affect our buying habits. Consumed is a call to action for consumers everywhere, that asks us to look at how and why we buy what we buy, how it’s created, who it benefits, and how we can solve the problems created by a wasteful system.

You can follow Aja on Instagram or subscribe to her Patreon.

Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment – Maxine Bédat

Denim production can have serious social and environmental consequences. From high water usage, sludge-ridden rivers, and serious labour concerns, denim costs can be pretty hefty. In Unraveled, entrepreneur, researcher, and advocate Maxine Bédat follows the life of a pair of jeans, from the Texan cotton farm all the way to the sewing floors in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, before ending up in the Amazon warehouse where the jeans will ship out from.

The Intersectional Environmentalist: How to Dismantle Systems of Oppression to Protect People + Planet – Leah Thomas

Written by Leah Thomas, a 2022 TIME100 Next honouree and the activist who coined the term “Intersectional Environmentalism,” The Intersectional Environmentalist is a call to action and a guide that examines the inextricable link between environmentalism, racism, and privilege, and promotes awareness of the fundamental truth that we cannot save the planet without uplifting the voices of its people, especially those most often unheard.

Follow Leah over on Instagram to keep up with her fantastic work.

How Veganism Can Save Us – Emma Hakansson

Can veganism really save us? Founder of the non-profit Collective Fashion Justice, Emma Hakansson, says yes. Emma has made it her mission to spread the word about collective liberation in the fashion industry—mainly focusing on the rights of non-human animals. Hakansson’s new book How Veganism Can Save Us takes a wide-angle look at the world of veganism—a growing movement that both abstains from animal products across food, fashion, and entertainment, and rejects the commodity status of animals.

Read Emma’s interview with Good On You, check out her articles, and follow her on Instagram.

It’s Not That Radical (Preorder) – Mikaela Loach

Activist Mikaela Loach broke up with fast fashion several years ago. Since first learning about the industry’s harms by watching “The True Cost” documentary, she’s earned a reputation for speaking out about the big brands’ lack of urgency to address their impacts on people and the planet. But that’s only where her activism begins. A medical student based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Loach is one of the most prolific young voices in the broader fight for climate justice. In her first book coming in April 2023, It’s Not That Radical, Mikaela Loach offers a fresh and radical perspective for real climate action that could drastically change the world as we know it for the benefit of us all.

You can read Mikaela’s Q&A and follow her on Instagram.

Made On Earth – Wolfgang Korn

How exactly does a piece of clothing end up hanging in your wardrobe? How far did it travel, whose hands were fabricating it, whose lives did it touch? This is not only a book on the inner workings of the fast fashion industry but also on the role globalisation is playing in the industry’s mechanisms. Wolfgang Korn, a German journalist and author, uncovers some hard facts that everyone should know. Made On Earth is an honest piece of literature tackling important topics well worth exploring.

Wardrobe Crisis – Clare Press

A list of ethical fashion books wouldn’t be complete without Clare Press. Press is a podcaster, author, consultant, and speaker working in the sustainable fashion space. Her book Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion was named one of the best books of 2016 and is an eye-opening look at the state of the fashion industry—it should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in fashion. Diving deep into the history and ethics behind what we wear, Press puts her insider knowledge to good use, and we highly recommend taking a look.

Check out her other book we love, and follow Clare on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

Loved Clothes Last – Orsola de Castro

Loved Clothes Last is the ultimate guide from Fashion Revolution activist Orsola de Castro on how to love, mend, and repair your clothes in the fight against fast fashion. Learn simple tips and tricks to help you breathe new life into your wardrobe and fall back in love with the clothes you already own—the most sustainable thing you can do with your fashion choices.

Follow her over on Instagram to keep up with her fantastic work, and check out Fashion Revolution while you’re there.

The Conscious Closet – Elizabeth L. Cline

Journalist, fashionista, and clothing resale expert Elizabeth L. Cline’s book The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good is a definitive guide to building an ethical, sustainable wardrobe you’ll love. This book is full of valuable tools you’ll need to revolutionise your relationship with fashion, but it’s also a call to action to transform one of the most polluting industries on earth into a force for good.

Keep up to date with her over on her Instagram.

This is a Good Guide – Marieke Eyskoot

To put it simply, this is a good guide for a sustainable lifestyle (as the title suggests). Author Marieke Eyskoot is a sustainable fashion and lifestyle expert, speaker, and presenter. Her book is full of practical and positive tips that make your transition to green living fun and easy. What more could you ask for?

Follow her over on Instagram for more helpful sustainability content.

Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion – 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.

By the way, her Twitter content is just as impressive: @TansyHoskins.

A Life Less Throwaway: The Lost Art of Buying for Life – Tara Button

Instead of surrounding ourselves with throwaway stuff and appliances with built-in obsolescence, Button advocates a life that celebrates what lasts, what is classic, and what really suits a person. Check this one out to discover the ten steps to master mindful curation, which will see you leading a happier and healthier life that saves the planet, too.

Button is the founder of the minimalist eco webshop Buy Me Once.

Naked Fashion and Slow Fashion – Safia Minney

People Tree is one of Good On You’s ‘Great’ brands, so it comes as no surprise that one of its founders and former CEO, Safia Minney, happens to be the author of two excellent ethical fashion books on the workings of sustainable fashion brands. We love that she is tackling the critical topic of the consumers’ power to support sustainable fashion by making a conscious choice when purchasing new clothing. Just like our ambassador Emma Watson put it: “As consumers, we have so much power to change the world just by being careful with what we buy.” What we love even more is that Minney is not only sharing her knowledge on the topic but also concrete ideas. She gives insight into the workings and concepts of eco-friendly stores in her second book Slow Fashion.

If that is still not enough for you, follow her on Twitter @safiaminney for even more inspirational content.

Wear No Evil – Greta Eagan

Looking good while doing good? Of course it’s possible. Just like we are trying to make your shopping easier by rating as many brands as we can, Greta Eagan shows you how to navigate both fashion and ethics. The makeup artist and beauty professional underlines that personal style and sense of self are far from being incompatible with an ecological approach to fashion. Quite the contrary, Eagan argues that style and sustainability can live in harmony—a statement we couldn’t agree with more. Get your hands on this empowering book and learn about more progressive and ecological answers to the age-old question: “What should I wear today?”

If you would like to hear more from Greta Eagan, have a look at her website. 

Hungry for more? Check out our article on inspirational podcasts, or have a look at our list of must-watch documentaries

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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