4 Books on Sustainable and Ethical Fashion to Read This Fashion Revolution Week

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Emily Stochl

Staff Writer

Emily is a proud Midwesterner, living in Iowa. Reading literary fiction has always been her favorite. She also enjoys yoga and tending to her hundreds of houseplants -- you might say Emily is a bit “crunchy granola." She is the producer and host of a podcast about vintage and second-hand style, called Pre-Loved Podcast. She’s really into sustainability, and old things! IG: @emilymstochl

On the April 24, 2013, the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 Bangladeshi garment workers, and injuring hundreds more. Fashion Revolution is a global movement, born out of this disaster, which works across the fashion supply chain to transform the fashion industry into a safer, and more sustainable ecosystem.

Unfortunately, 6 years after the Rana Plaza Factory collapse, many garment workers across the world still live in poverty and dangerous conditions. These workers—many of whom are women—are subject to exploitation, abuse, and erasure, all for the sake of fast fashion.

The first step toward a change in the fashion industry is increased knowledge and transparency. This year Fashion Revolution Week is April 22–28. We’re encouraging you to arm yourself with knowledge. Read these books on sustainable and ethical fashion to learn about who made your clothes, and under what working conditions they were made.

If you want more resources on how to use your voice to call attention to this cause, visit Fashion Revolution and download the citizen action kit.

4 Books on Sustainable and Ethical Fashion to Read This Fashion Revolution Week

Books on Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline

In this fast fashion exposé, journalist Elizabeth Cline calls attention to over-consumption and cheap clothing. This retail phenomenon is called “fast fashion,” and it is a relatively new fashion trend. Essentially, consumers are buying more clothing, at lower prices, and disposing of it more quickly. None of this adds up well for our planet, or the people living here, and Cline asks us to reconsider our retail habit, and to think about the cost of cheap clothing when we shop.

** Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Cline has another ethical fashion book, The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good, due out August 2019.

Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution by Safia Minney

Safia Minney is the founder of the fair trade fashion label People Tree. Naked Fashion explores the idea of making the fashion industry more sustainable, and showcases perspectives from across the fashion supply chain. It features stories from designers, models, and journalists alike—people like Emma Watson and Vivienne Westwood—discussing all that goes into a more green fashion industry.

Books on Sustainable and Ethical Fashion To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? by Lucy Siegle

Lucy Siegle is an ethical living journalist who, in To Die For, explores the impact the fashion industry has on people and the planet. She visits garment worker factories to converse with workers about child labor, unjust working conditions, and the alarming suicide rates in the industry. She explores fashion’s impact on animals in the leather and silk industries. And she exposes the devastating effects of the cotton industry on our Earth. Fashion, the way it is produced today, is wearing out our world. But Siegle believes we can move forward from this, and offers up ideas for how to become an “ethical fashionista” and how to improve each of these situations with our consumer choices.

Books on Sustainable and Ethical Fashion Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went From Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by Clare Press

It used to be easy to explain who was involved in our fashion supply chain. Consumers owned very few garments, and they had them mended by local tailors and seamstresses, or they even made them themselves. The clothes in our wardrobes were cherished and taken care of for years and years. But in recent decades, the rise of fast fashion has changed that idea completely. The idea of holding onto something well-made for many years is just about unheard of. In Wardrobe Crisis, fashion journalist and Vogue sustainability editor Clare Press explores the history behind what we wear, and makes a convincing argument that we need a return to slower fashion.

Clare Press produces and hosts a popular ethical fashion podcast by the same name.

Hopefully this round-up leaves you looking at your closet a little differently this Fashion Revolution Week. Next time you’re wondering about the conditions in which your clothes are made, you’re encouraged to ask your favorite brands, “who made my clothes?” and see if you’re satisfied with the answers.