The 19 best books about fashion and sustainability

The necessary change in the textile industry and in our society


Many books are written to shed light on shady practices within the textile industry. Such books help us see the true crudeness of these actions as well as discover new and engaging initiatives and shopping practices that allow us to get closer to a more ethical and environmentally sustainable system where people, the environment, and creativity hold equal importance to financial benefit.

There is a surging increase in the number of voices that are denouncing the reproachable practices of the fashion industry. A contaminating and discriminatory industry which we all form part of, treats its workers and the environment with savagery and cruelty through practices that, whether we are aware of them or not, hide underneath the tags in our clothes.



Author: Rebecca Burgess – 2019

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There is a major disconnect between what we wear and our knowledge of its impact on land, air, water, labor, and human health. Even those who value access to safe, local, nutritious food have largely overlooked the production of fiber, dyes, and the chemistry that forms the backbone of modern textile production. In Fibershed readers will learn how natural plant dyes and fibers such as wool, cotton, hemp, and flax can be grown and processed as part of a scalable, restorative agricultural system. They will also learn about milling and other technical systems needed to make regional textile production possible.



Sustainable Fashion in a circular economy 

Author: Kirsi Niinimäki – 2019

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This publication presents up-to-date research about the various levels of circularity at work in the fashion industry. Experts of design, consumption, business and industry explain how circularity in the production and consumption of fashion can be approached in manifold ways. This collection of texts highlights the fresh, critical thinking that is currently influencing the fashion industry to adopt the practice of sustainable transformation within a circular economy.




The conscious closet: The revolutionary guide to looking good while doing good 

Author: Elizabeth L. Cline – 2019

ethical clothing

This book is not just a style guide. From the same author as “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” (see below) this book is a call to action to transform one of the most polluting industries on earth into a force of good, on both a micro level—our own closets—and macro level, by learning where and how our clothes are made, and how to connect to a global and impassioned community of stylish fashion revolutionaries for bigger systematic change.



Fashionopolis: The price of fast fashion and the future of clothes

Author: Dana Thomas- 2019

For people interested in clothes or working in the industry, this book will have two uses. It provides a history of the human and environmental damage done by the mass production of clothes, and it tells the stories of entrepreneurs and scientists who are trying to make clothes with less cruelty and filth. The book has implications beyond cloth and thread. It could, in a sense, have been written about any class of consumer product — food, say, or consumer electronics. The story is globalization, and in particular how it delivers cheap, high-quality goods by externalizing the costs of production while concealing this manoeuvre from the end consumer. It is a pattern infinitely repeated, and it can’t go on.



Rise & Resist: How to Change the World

Author: Clare Press – 2018

Clare Press is also the author of Wardrobe Crisis, described below. In Rise & Resist, the author talks about a new activism that is gaining followers all over the world. The great political march is back, formed by different communities creating new movements in favor of social justice and the environment.

The books narrates passionate stories about people that, through their work, are changing the world we live in; people around the globe that are doing their part in this new revolution.  The formation of a new counterculture that proposes to rethink the way in which we are living today and how to build a more sustainable world for tomorrow.



Fashion. Business. Spirituality: A Call to the Light workers of the Fashion Industry

Author: Farah Liz Pallaro – 2018

This book shouts out to the workers in the fashion industry. Many of those working in this sector were lured by the beauty, fantasy, creativity and glamour that encompasses the fashion world and quickly come to realize that it also involves short deadlines, sleepless nights, stressful situations, critique and a lot of ego.

This book talks about the fashion industry but not necessarily about seasons, trends, or collections. The focal point in this book is the human aspect within the industry, the consciousness and spirituality of each individual. A more scrupulous, harmonious fashion world with higher moral values is, indeed, possible.



This is a Good Guide – for a Sustainable Lifestyle

Author: Marieke Eyskoot – 2018



If you’d like to live a more sustainable lifestyle without investing too much time, effort or money, then this book is for you. This manual on how to achieve a sustainable life is full of handy tips on beauty, fashion, food, home, work, travel and leisure. It highlights how, these days, style and sustainability go hand in hand. In this contemporary guidebook, the author unveils locations, brands, pretty places that support sustainable fashion and lifestyle.





Tu Consumo Puede Cambiar el Mundo

Author: Brenda Chávez – 2017


After working on many fashion magazines, journalist Brenda Chávez presents a thorough essay containing chapters dedicated to fashion, beauty, nutrition, energy and finance. A book capable of easily turning itself into a powerful manual for, through alternate shopping tendencies, a new and more just and ethical redistribution of wealth. We loved this book.





Slow Clothing: Finding Meaning in What We Wear

Author: Jane Milburn – 2017

In an era that is dominated by cheap and synthetic fashion, Jane Milburn came upon the philosophy of Slow Clothing while reorganizing her wardrobe so it made more sense and had historical relevance. The author tells her story and brings about many ideas that can be easily implemented.

Slow Clothing reflects our style and spirit despite the trends in fashion. Our careful purchasing, our skills and the care we have for our garments are reflections of who we are. The reader becomes an original, authentic and ingenious apprentice.



Wardrobe Crisis 

Author: Clare Press – 2016


From famous American designers’ humble beginnings to the creation of multinational emporiums, Clare Press takes us on a voyage of discovery through the ethical aspects of the fashion industry.  Wardrobe Crisis is a complete analysis of the complex world of fashion that takes us through the clandestine studios of high couture while digging up the origins of the current and frenetic culture of disposable clothing.





Where Am I wearing? A Global Tour To the Countries, Factories and People That Make Our Clothes

Author: Kelsy Timmerman- 2016

Kelsey Timmerman, journalist and travel writer, wanted to know where his clothes came from and who made them, so he traveled through Honduras, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China and back again. His book closely describes the relation between the regulations of impoverished textile workers and the materialistic lifestyle of the west.

As Where Am I wearing? introduces the reader into the human element of globalization, by learning the factory workers’ names, meeting their families and their way of life, it links the gap between global producers and consumers. The book narrates a trip to an Ethiopian fair trade shoe store that is changing the lives of its workers and it also discusses how workers around the globe are being exploited due to the rising food cost and decreasing demand due to the global financial crisis.

Both revealing and stimulating, Where Am I wearing? Puts a human face on the globalization of the economy.



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

Author: Andrew Brooks- 2015

Where are your jeans from? Who made them? Where will they wind up? The author narrates the life cycle of a pair of denim jeans taking us through its different phases while untangling the ties between the fast-fashion industry and vintage shops. This book takes us on a tour around the world unveiling the different stages of a system that perpetuates inequality and poverty.




A Practical Guide to Sustainable Fashion

Author: Alison Gwilt – 2015

This book is a practical guide that introduces strategies to achieve sustainability for each step of  design and fashion production. Beginning from the day-to-day in the fashion industry, Allison Gwilt offers advice and alternative practices that focus on sustainability during each aspect of the production of a fashion collection. From design and the use of ecological mono material packaging to non-residual pattern making and re-evaluating techniques, this book profiles the social and environmental impacts garments bring about; it analyzes, through practical means, practices that fashion designers can utilize in the process.

The book contains numerous photographs and diagrams as well as examples from labels that are existing international references on the subject.



Ethical Fashion For a Sustainable Future (Moda Ética Para un Futuro Sostenible)

Author: Elena Salcedo Allende – 2014

This practical guidebook is full of concepts, resources, people, and stimulating initiatives that help us embrace the shift to sustainable fashion. Topics such as using viable textiles, adhering to the regulation of raw materials to minimize shortages, elongating the lifespan of garments, ensuring dignified labor conditions, refurbishing garments for new use. In the day-to-day of the fashion industry, there are endless options and decisions that can be made to achieve a sustainable model.

By examining the lifespan of a product, Elena Salcedo introduces us to a sustainable fashion industry. This book is an expansive and practical review of the various options available in terms of materials, processes, logistics, distribution, and management of its final stages that fit in the sustainable model in fashion.


The Sustainable Fashion Handbook

Author: Sandy Black – 2012

Written by Sandy Black, professor of Design, Textile Technology and Fashion at the London College of Fashion, This manual tackles the problems originated by a fashion industry that prioritizes and favors fast and unregulated consumption. Divided by five chapters replete with interviews and accounts told by world famous fashion designers, this book addresses topics that range from fashion culture to the carbon footprint of each garment. We found it to be a broad and profound reference point for all aspects of ecologically sound fashion. It presents a possible future scenario if radical measures are introduced. Lastly, it offers a list of organizations that participate in promotional campaigns for environmental sustainability around the world.



Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

Author: Elizabeth L. Cline – 2012

Until recently, Elizabeth L. Cline was a typical American consumer accustomed to shopping in malls and discount stores. She bought a new garment almost every week but all she had was an overflowing closet filled with identical, low quality garments. When she purchased the seventh pair of canvas sneakers for 7 dollars, she realized that she was making a mistake.

Low cost consumption has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. The retail market is producing clothes in enormous quantities with the objective of selling them at low prices creating a disposable garment. After all, we have no reason to keep repairing and reusing what we own if styles change so quickly and it is cheaper to just buy more. So then, what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? More importantly, what are we doing with ourselves, our society, our environment and our economic well-being?

This book demonstrates how consumers can make a difference by supporting designers and fashion firms that are manufacturing elegant, innovative and sustainable apparel as well as how to refurbish and repair their wardrobe.


Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution

Author: Safia Minney – 2011

Designers and creatives including photographers, models, illustrators, actors and journalists from around the world are talking about what they are doing to stimulate a more sustainable world.

Actress Emma Watson tells us why fair trade fashion is so important to her.  Designer Vivienne Westwood talks about the textile industry and the high risks involved for the planet.

Any person with an active interest in fashion and on clothes or who desires a career in the field of fashion and communication will find inspiration and advice on how to make a difference.

This book is an invitation to join forces with consumers, entrepreneurs, and professional creatives who are using their talent and experience to create a better world.



To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

Author: Lucy Siegle – 2008


One of the first books about fashion that examines the inhumane and the ecologically devastating aspects behind the clothes that we habitually buy and wear. Siegle analyzes the worldwide epidemic of unsustainable fashion and makes a comparison between our economic health and our moral responsibility in order to expose the traps of fast fashion.




Green Is the New Black: How to Change the World with Style

Author: Tamsin Blanchard – 2007

Essential for those concerned with global warming. Tamsin Blanchard discusses the principles of ethical fashion and reflects on climate change, organic cotton, and biodegradable shoes. This book offers advice, curious facts as well as essential directories for all aspects of living a sustainable life.


Lobao Studio’s work in fashion strives for respectful labor relationships and promotes the return of traditional craftsmanship while continuing to research new trends, textiles and designers. To know more, click here.


(cover photo ©JoyceMccown)