16 Essential Sustainable Fashion Books for Your Closet and the Planet

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Are you just starting to learn about fast fashion? Do you want to dive deeper into how fashion, sustainability, ethics and economics are connected? No matter where you stand, in this list you’ll find at least one ideal sustainable fashion book for you.

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Non-fiction books on sustainable fashion are one of the main reasons why we have this platform today.

There are so many brilliant communicators and activists that we should thank for setting their minds to tell the world why the fashion industry is messed up and how we can do better. This is not an exhaustive list of all the books on eco and ethical fashion out there, but it is a breakdown of the books you can’t miss to get started on your susty fashion journey or go deeper into specific topics.

Have you read any of them? Do you have any recommendations we’ve missed on this list? Let us know below.

1. To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

To Die For: is fashion wearing out the world? By Lucy Siegle

by Lucy Siegle

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
352 pages
Find at: Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you want to read about the systemic implications of the fashion industry – why have we normalized dirt cheap clothes? What does that say about our society?

To Die for was first published in 2008, when the conversation on sustainable fashion was far from becoming mainstream, so it doesn’t address the most recent and relevant issues in the industry.

However, we still recommend it. Lucy Siegle is a thought leader and her journalistic and analytic tone is ideal to get an overview of the industry issues that existed in 2008 and are still relevant today.

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

How to break up with fast fashion: a quilt-free guide to changing the way you shop for good

by Lauren Bravo

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
304 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you’re new to sustainable fashion and/or need a practical guide on how to join the movement.

Lauren Bravo nails the “let’s talk about a very intimidating topic making it accessible and fun” vibe. Her book is full of actionable tips and tricks on how to be more mindful about our clothes by, for example, repairing and giving them a second life.

We love this book because it’s honest and it offers realistic tips and alternatives that anyone can try. Lauren admits that the fashion industry is problematic, but arms you with the knowledge to make more responsible fashion choices.

3. Unraveled: the life and death of a garment

Unraveled: the life and death of a garment - by Maxine Bedat

by Maxine Bédat

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
336 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK | Libro.fm

This book is for you if you are already familiar with sustainable fashion and want a deep look into the industry’s supply chains and how they impact people and the planet.

The book follows the life (and death) of a pair of jeans: from the moment cotton is cultivated to their journey into a landfill.

As consumers, we see a pair of jeans as a wardrobe staple. How difficult can it be to make them? How many people are part of their production? Unraveled answers these questions by taking us along to discover every stage of the process and introducing us to all the people involved: farmers, garment workers, logistics workers, waste facility managers,…

4. Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion

Wardrobe Crisis: how we went from Sunday best to fast fashion

by Clare Press

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
336 pages
Find at: Bookshop US

This book is for you if you want an accessible analysis of the current state of fashion.

It’s an extremely informative book, but the lighthearted tone of Clare Press makes it easy to digest.

No matter how familiar you are with sustainable fashion, Wardrobe Crisis is a must if you want to understand how and why we got to where the industry currently stands. We love that it takes us on a journey down the history of fashion, including key moments like the rise and fall of malls, consumerism, and the spread of sweatshops.

If you choose to read it and enjoy it as much as we did, you’ll also love the Wardrobe Crisis Podcast.

5. Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act

Loved Clothes Last: how the joy of rewearing and repairing your clothes can be a revolutionary act - by Orsola de Castro

by Orsola de Castro

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
288 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you want to discover ways to buy better, rewear and mend the clothes you already have and love.

Orsola de Castro is the co-founder of Fashion Revolution and an insider in the sustainable fashion movement. Her book is the perfect balance between information about the industry and its impact, and actionable tips and tricks to make our wardrobes greener.

Our favorite part? It’s not only a how-to manual on how to mend and upcycle. She makes us question the way our economy works by bringing up topics like why there aren’t many business models that hinge on mending and fixing clothes.

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

The Conscious Closet: the revolutionary guide to looking good while doing good - by Elizabeth L. Cline

by Elizabeth L. Cline

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
348 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK | Libro.fm

This book is for you if you’re looking for a comprehensive guide with actionable tips on building a conscious closet.

From how to make your clothes last and build a capsule wardrobe you love to how to make the most of second-hand fashion marketplaces, this book has it all.

Next to all these tips, you’ll also find insights on the environmental impact of different materials, how the industry affects its workers and how to join the movements that are shaking the world of fashion.

7. Wear No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe

Wear no Evil: how to change the world with your wardrobe - by Greta Eagan

by Greta Eagan

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
208 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you want to become a better consumer and wonder how to make more responsible shopping choices, regardless of how familiar you’re with sustainability.

This is another very informative book on how to make space for ethics in your shopping cart, but it’s snappier and easier to read than many others.

In it, you’ll find a low-down on the fashion industry and tips on how to declutter responsibly, define your style and prepare to change your shopping habits.

What we love the most about it is the very helpful Integrity Index Greta created to help us assess the ethics of the brands we love.

8. Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Over-dressed: the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion - by Elizabeth L. Cline

by Elizabeth L. Cline

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
272 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you’re in the mood to analyze our obsession with cheap fashion and rethink your shopping habits.

Elizabeth Cline used to be all about those bargain finds, but realized all her shopping habits did was create a closet full of low-quality clothes and tons of waste.

She explores how we started to see our clothes as disposable, analyzes the impact of our shopping habits on our planet and opens our eyes to the not-so-glamorous journey our clothes take from factories overseas to our wardrobes.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, she offers a few tips to get us out of this cycle: supporting sustainable designers, getting crafty with mending and even making our own clothes.

9. Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes

Fashionpolis: why what we wear matters - by Dana Thomas

by Dana Thomas

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
320 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK | Libro.fm

This book is for you if you’re curious to see what happens behind the scenes in fast fashion.

Dana Thomas gives us a tour of the fast-fashion industry, and its impact on labor rights and the environment.

It criticises the status quo but it goes beyond that with a positive outlook, as she also shines a light on potential solutions, interviewing people who are working to make the fashion industry more sustainable and bringing innovation to the sector.

10. Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-Hand Clothes

Clothing Poverty: The Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-Hand Clothes - by Andrew Brooks

by Andrew Brooks

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
296 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you want to learn about second-hand clothes and what happens to the garments we don’t want anymore.

The book explores the world of second-hand clothes, taking us on a journey with our discarded clothes, from charity shops in the West to markets in the global South.

Our favorite part of the book is the critique Andrew Brooks directs at our fast fashion shopping habits from a perspective we don’t see often: these habits are hurting the sub-Saharan textile sector and, even if African entrepreneurship has been known to be resilient and active, it can’t take people out of poverty.

11. Slow Fashion: Aesthetics Meets Ethics

Slow fashion: aesthetics meets ethics - by Safia Minney

by Safia Minney

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
192 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you’re already into the slow fashion movement and want to learn about it is transforming how business is done.

Safia is the founder of sustainable brand People Tree, so you know you’re in good hands. Her book covers everything from the fashion industry’s impact on the environment and social health, to the history of conscious fashion design.

It argues that the future of retail needs to embrace fair trade, sustainability, and locally sourced products, along with vintage and second-hand goods and business models.

12. The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe

The Curated Closet: A Simple System for Discovering Your Personal Style and Building Your Dream Wardrobe - by Anuschka Rees

by Anuschka Rees

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
265 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK

This book is for you if you want to discover and define your personal style.

Actually, this isn’t a book about sustainability, but we believe that finding your personal style is the key to steering clear of passing trends and embracing slow fashion.

This book is all about helping you have fun while you define your style and create a tailored wardrobe that fits you and your lifestyle and you learn how to shop more thoughtfully.

13. We Are What We Wear: Unravelling fast fashion and the collapse of Rana Plaza

We Are What We Wear: Unravelling fast fashion and the collapse of Rana Plaza - by Lucy Siegle

by Lucy Siegle, Jason Burke

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
45 pages

This book is for you if you’re interested in the story of fast fashion and what it takes for clothes to get from garment factories to our closets.

Many of us became familiar with fast fashion after the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2013, which killed over 1,100 people. Lucy Siegle examines the industry through the lens of our hunger for fast fashion and discusses what needs to change in the sector to become future-proof.

This is a great read if you’re looking for a highly informative but short and digestible book.

14. Foot Work: What Your Shoes Are Doing To The World

Foot Work: What Your Shoes Are Doing To The World - by Tansy E. Hoskins

by Tansy E. Hoskins

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
280 pages
Find at: Bookshop US | Bookshop UK | Libro.fm

This book is for you if you’re especially interested in the footwear industry.

It examines the impact of the entire life cycle of shoes – from design and manufacturing to use and end-of-life disposal – on the planet and people involved in the process.

At a time when we buy more shoes than ever before as they have become signs of status and a cornerstone of passing trends, it is absolutely necessary for us to learn about all it takes to get shoes to our feet. Foot Work does exactly that.

15. Slave to Fashion

Slave to Fashion - by Safia Minney

by Safia Minney

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
160 pages
Find at: Bookshop US

This book is for you if you want to learn about the contribution of the fashion industry to modern slavery.

Safia Minney shines a light on the human cost of our clothes by interviewing people who have suffered the harsh working conditions of modern garment supply chains.

It is a very informative book, but very easy to follow. It includes a toolkit on how businesses, governments and consumers can push the industry to change.

16. The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion 

The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion  - by Tansy E. Hoskins

by Tansy E. Hoskins

Our rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
264 pages
Find at: Bookshop UK | Libro.fm

This book is for you if you want to read about how fashion, consumerism and advertising hinge on exploitation.

The book critically exposes the implications of the fashion industry, with topics such as environmental harm, social and economic inequity, and race and body size discrimination.

The most thought-provoking part of the book is the emphasis put on the idea that true ethical consumption is not possible in a capitalist system.

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