14 Books about Fashion and Sustainability Like OVERDRESSED

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Abby Hargreaves

Staff Writer

Abby Hargreaves is a New Hampshire native living and working as a Children’s Librarian in Washington, D.C. She fulfills the gamut of the librarian stereotype with a love of cats, coffee, and crocheting (and likes a good run of alliteration). Her MLIS degree enjoys the company of a BA in English from Hollins University, making Abby an advocate of women's universities. Her favorite color is yellow.

Several years back, a book with a striking cover that depicted a broken shoe called Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline was published, drawing attention to the issues of clothing and other adornment materials that are meant to be disposable cause. Since then, science has continued to emphasize the damage our wasteful ways do to the environment. While the fashion industry struggles with planned obsolescence that further contributes to pollution and other harmful effects on the environment, some experts have hope in changes that could be made to improve current practices and limit the impact of the fashion industry. Check out these 14 books about fashion for more information on the challenges of maintaining a healthy environment in the current fashion tradition.

14 Books About Fashion and Sustainability

Ecologist Guide to Fashion: A Green Living Guide by Ruth Styles

Ecologist Guide to FashionWith years of experience in the field of ecology, The Ecologist brings their expertise to the fashion arena. Styles is quick to lay out the environmental destruction the fashion industry does, highlighting how the cycle of seasonal styles plays a role in the quick turnover and consequent manufacturing and fabrication of new items, which in turn causes additional and unnecessary negative environmental impact. Styles then imagines a world where our clothing does less harm to our world, guiding the reader through existing efforts and lauding those who endeavor to make the world a better place with fashion.

The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth L. Cline

The Conscious ClosetAnother piece from Cline, The Conscious Closet puts the power in the hands of the people. Cline describes the benefits of her collection method, noting how it helps not only the environment, but those who work in the fashion industry and the consumer. Despite its conscious mindset, The Conscious Closet does not lack style. Cline instructs readers on how to build a fashionable closet while achieving a look they can be proud of.

Source My Garment: An Insider’s Guide to Responsible Offshore Manufacturing by Adila Cokar

Source My GarmentWith a focus on the perspective for clothing business owners, Source My Garment gives readers the power to make ethical decisions in their work. Having served as an executive manufacturing consultant, Cokar explains best practices to to greatest results for all parties involved. While Source My Garment goes beyond just environmental impact and gives an insider look at clothing design and production.

Fixing Fashion: Rethinking the Way We Make, Market and Buy Our Clothes by Michael Lavergne

Fixing FashionWith years of experience in the field, Michael Lavergne explores the enormous world of fashion and clothing production in the context of the harsh consequences the industry has on the earth, the global community, and beyond. Lavergne goes back to colonialist attitudes and their influence on the fashion industry and vice versa and puts it to the consumer to change the trends of disposable fashion.

Wear No Evil: How to Change the World with Your Wardrobe by Greta Eagan

Wear No EvilDivided into three sections, Wear No Evil breaks down how the fashion industry impacts the world, describes practices to pare down your impact when it comes to clothes and accessories, and lists resources for continuing improvement in this goal. Eagan emphasizes the compatibility of attractive fashion and commitment to more ethical and sustainable fashion practices. Instructive and straightforward, Eagan’s book will help consumers to be well on their way to conscious clothing.

Fashion Africa: A Visual Overview of Contemporary African Fashion by Jacqueline Shaw

Fashion AfricaIllustrated with stunning photos of fashion across Africa, Fashion Africa helps the reader to visualize the continent as a place of fashion innovation and a primary player in the industry. Aimed at manufacturers, Fashion Africa guides readers to the many options available to make an authentic and ethical line.

Eco Chic: The Savvy Shopper’s Guide to Ethical Fashion by Matilda Lee and Katharine Hamnett

Eco chicDescribing “eco chic” as a fad in 2007, Eco Chic points out some of the more self-identified ethical designers in fashion and discusses the emergence of ecologically conscious clothing lines. Authors Matilda Lee and Katharine Hamnett coach readers on identifying clothing that does not align with their environmentally and people-friendly values while still maintaining a killer wardrobe that will impress any fashionista.

Sustainable in Stilettos: A Style-Conscious Guide to Navigating the Evolving World of Fashion and Beyond by Tracey Martin

Sustainable in StilettosAcknowledging the dire importance of environmental protection, Sustainable in Stilettos eases readers into the concepts of living in the world of fashion while fostering a sense of environmental consciousness. Martin delivers lessons to illustrate how everyone, regardless of who they are, is impacted by current unsustainable practices, and suggests new ways to build your look without contributing to habitat destruction. A stunning example of books about fashion, Sustainable in Stilettos is practically fashion itself. (I mean, check out that cover. Where can I find that dress?)

The Sustainable Fashion Handbook by Sandy Black

The Sustainable Fashion HandbookTaking a look at the impact of the fashion industry on both the environment and people, The Sustainable Fashion Handbook brings in voices from across the industry to inform on the problem and suggest solutions. Although the content is most useful for designers, consumers can also learn about the efforts of environmentally and people conscious sections of the field to help make informed decisions about the fashion they purchase.

The Dirty Side of the Garment Industry: Fast Fashion and Its Negative Impact on Environment and Society by Nikolay Anguelov

The Dirty Side of the Garment IndustryWith a cover as striking as its contents, The Dirty Side of the Garment Industry takes on its topic with depth and clarity. An expert on the intersection of the environment and investment, Anguelov takes a bold stance on the impact of fast fashion and what we must do to combat the consequences. An excellent choice for getting an in-depth overview of the issues of fast fashion, The Dirty Side of the Garment Industry is a great starting point for any reader.

The Dangers of Fashion: Towards Ethical and Sustainable Solutions edited by Sara B. Marcketti and Elena Karpova, May 2020

The Dangers of FashionThe Dangers of Fashion provides holistic coverage to the damage our modern system in the world of fashion does. With a number of threats posed by the fashion industry, The Dangers of Fashion bring together a number of experts to discuss these threats and what’s to be done about them. This title will be published in May 2020, leaving readers with an up-to-date understanding of the state of the fashion industry in the context of sustainability. When it comes to books about fashion, this one is bound to be a hit.

Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas

FashionopolisAnother take on fast fashion and the hazards it presents to the world in various capacities, Fashionopolis explores both the issues at hand and what is being done to mitigate the effects of fast fashion. Including analysis of concepts such as hyperlocalism in the fast fashion economy and what big-name fashion designers are doing to minimize their impact, author Dana Thomas offers an intensive overview of fast fashion and where we are going. 

Sustainability in Fashion and Apparels: Challenges and Solutions by M. Parthiban, M. R. Srikrishnan, and P. Kandhavadivu

Sustainability in FashionFor the more academically minded, this textbook suggests solutions to the sustainability issues in fashion for designers and other stakeholders in the process of creating clothing. Parthiban, Srikrishnan, and Kandhavadivu pull from a number of research papers to inform a well-rounded take on sustainability in fashion and how the field can evolve to work in more environmentally conscious ways.

Fast Fashion, Fashion Brands and Sustainable Consumption by Subramanian Senthilkannan Muthu

Fast Fashion, Fashion Brands, and Sustainable ConsumptionAnother of the more academic books that take on fast fashion and its impact, Fast Fashion breaks down the actions consumers can take to limit the impact of the fast fashion they purchase. In addition to participation from consumers, Fast Fashion addresses what more manufacturers can do to make fashion more sustainable. While Muthu acknowledges the inevitability of fast fashion in the modern era, he provides a road map to minimizing the consequences on the world and people who work in the industry.

Discover more books about fashion here.