ethical fashion

Six Books to Read About Intentional & Sustainable Fashion

a stack of fashion books

I should have actually shared this post last week, as it would have been rather perfect for Fashion Revolution Week, but I guess today will do just as well. Fashion Revolution isn’t just applicable for one week in the year anyway, so perhaps this is timely, in case you have been wanting to read further about the fashion industry and how to put “sustainable fashion” into action.

I have a disproportionately large collection of fashion related books, compared to other topics at least, on my shelves. But as nice as social media and blogs can be for inspiration and information, there is still something special about pulling out a book and learning in-depth about a topic. So for today, here are some of my favourite books about sustainable fashion, as well as some of the books that sparked my interest in fashion, in case you are looking to add some books to your own library, or are just getting interested in sustainable fashion and aren’t sure where to start.

overdressed book cover

“Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion” by Elizabeth L. Cline

This is the book that started it all for me. A blogger recommended this book years ago (I think it was in 2012?) and I immediately went and checked it out of the library. It was an eye-opening look at what really goes on in the fashion industry supply chain, and is a deep dive into what happens before our clothing makes its way to the store.

overdressed book open to a page

While I had never been a shopaholic, or even very addicted to fast fashion, this book definitely changed the direction of my wardrobe, since I realized that many of the pieces of clothing I owned were from fast fashion brands. I immediately started looking at my clothing with new eyes- knowing the story behind the pieces- and changed my shopping habits for the better. If you are at all interested in ethical and sustainable fashion, this is definitely the place to start.

the conscious closet book cover

“The Conscious Closet” by Elizabeth L. Cline,

Also by Elizabeth Cline, rather than the investigative style of Overdressed, her follow up book about the fashion industry is more of an instruction manual or guide. I would say that this is probably the second book you should read once you’ve finished reading Overdressed and have become interested in ethical fashion. I have been reading about the cheap fashion industry for almost 10 years now, so this book was probably not as helpful for me when I read it in 2019, as it would have been if I had read it in 2012, because I was already familiar with a lot of the information within.

conscious closet book open to a page

Nevertheless, it does have some very good tips, so if you’re just starting out, this is also a good place to start to put the ideas into practice. She includes tips on how to change your shopping habits, create a more ethical wardrobe, how to sustainably pare back your wardrobe, as well as how to care for your clothes and other steps for getting involved outside of your own personal closet and shopping.

wear no evil book cover

“Wear No Evil” by Greta Eagen

This is another comprehensive “instruction manual” style book that includes many aspects of the fashion industry, as well as the beauty industry. I found this book extremely helpful when I first read it years ago (early on in my sustainable fashion journey) and I actually should read it again. I really like how she gives practical tips for how to move past the “awareness” stage to the “actions” stage.

wear no evil book open to a page

What makes this book so helpful is what she calls “The Integrity Index”, which is a list of sixteen attributes/categories that a garment could potentially fit into. While you are probably not going to be able to find a garment that ticks all of the boxes, you can start somewhere. For example you might not find a garment that is organic, natural fibre, recycled, closed loop, biodegradable, fair trade, and locally produced, but you might find one that checks off three of those categories. I found it so practical and helpful to pick the causes that are most important to you and use those as your guide while shopping, and she includes some very helpful charts and lists with suggestions to make shopping easier.

the curated closet book cover

“The Curated Closet” by Anuschka Rees

I don’t own this book, but I’ve checked it out from the library a few times and mentioned it before here (I probably should just buy it!). Even though I don’t own this one, I wanted to include it on the list because it has been a helpful tool to shape my closet. It’s not strictly a sustainable fashion book, but when you focus on creating a more intentional and curated closet, it is going to be more sustainable by default.

One of the biggest driving forces behind the cheap, fast fashion industry is the insatiable desire of consumers for more and more clothing. These impulse buys, in turn, push brands to create cheaper clothing and more and more trends each year in order to make more sales. But these clothes are often so poorly made that they degrade quickly or are flash trends that fall out of fashion so quickly that they need to be replaced- thus starting this unsustainable cycle all over again. By curating your closet to reflect your own personal style, with items that are thoughtfully purchased, you are going to automatically purchase less items and thus become more sustainable in the process. This is an excellent guide book if you are wanting to create a more streamlined closet by reducing the number of pieces you have as well as changing your shopping habits.

the one hundred book cover

“The One Hundred” by Nina Garcia

I got this book when I was 16 for a Christmas gift, and I have no idea why- I must have paged through it at the store and liked the illustrations. However, it is actually a fun book to read, and it sparked my interest in classic styles. While this book isn’t sustainability focused in any way, this book is about those timeless pieces in your closet that you always reach for over and over again. While some might say that 100 “must have” items is too many for a sustainable wardrobe, I think it’s a good start.

the one hundred book open to a page with an illustration of little black dresses

Rather than following this book as shopping list and going out and getting all 100 items to add to your closet, I think of this as an evaluation of why some items are so timeless and chic, and in finding the value in the items you have in your closet that you always reach for over and above other items. These are the pieces that you love and care for, and aren’t rushing to replace any time soon. Again, a more thoughtful and curated wardrobe is by default a more sustainable wardrobe, so it really is a good idea to reflect on what particular items are your most loved pieces, and why. And, of course, the alphabetical format of the book, witty quotes and illustrations just make this one all the better!

the sartorialist book covers

“The Sartorialist” and “The Sartorialist: Closer” by Scott Schuman

Finally, the last one on this list is the blog/book that started it all. I discovered Scott Schuman’s blog in about 2007 or 2008 (the olden days of the internet) and put his first book on my Christmas wish list when it came out in 2009. I wasn’t a very fashionable teenager because, while I liked fashion (especially historical), I had no idea of how to interpret my interests into a style that was wearable. His blog, and then later his books, about real people’s street-style showed me the value of breaking fashion rules, stepping outside of the norm and then going on to create my own unique style. Even though he never photographed vintage styles, without his blog I don’t know if I would have ever gotten interested in incorporating vintage into my wardrobe on a daily basis. And while I don’t wear strictly vintage looks anymore, without that early inspiration to dress in a different way, I probably wouldn’t have evolved to where I am now with my style.

the sartorialist book open to two photos of ladies

Scott is an excellent photographer and I love to look through these books occasionally to be inspired by all of the unique and different people in these pages. This book is 12 years old, but when I page through it, while I do spot some trends, it still seems as fresh as when it was first released. Again, this book isn’t one that promotes ethical and sustainable fashion in any way, but I think that it really demonstrates this quote by Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashions come and go, but style is forever”. When you aren’t concerned about the latest trends, but instead are choosing to wear your own unique, collected style you are, by default, creating a more sustainable wardrobe that is going to last you longer than any fast fashion trend.

So, there are some of my favourite books for learning about sustainable fashion. If you are wanting to learn about how to turn your wardrobe away from fast fashion, then these are a good place to start- though they are only the tip of the iceberg!

What are some of your favourite fashion books? Have you read any of these? Do you have any other recommendations to check out? 

Fashion Revolution Day 2021

a row of dresses hanging in a closet on vintage hangers

Today is Fashion Revolution Day: the 8th year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory tragedy in Bangladesh. In some ways, it doesn’t seem like that happened 8 years ago; it seems so long ago, yet in other ways so recent. For those who were directly injured by the tragedy or lost loved ones, I’m sure this is an extremely hard day for them.

I wasn’t sure whether to post today, since I’ve posted a lot about Fashion Revolution in the past, and I no longer have social media accounts to participate in the online movement. However, I did think that maybe some of my Readers might not have ever heard of Fashion Revolution, or Rana Plaza, or other issues that are ongoing today. That’s the thing about much of the fashion industry- an awareness of what is happening today in the fashion industry is still very much needed, because, sadly, human rights abuses are still rampant in the supply chains of most of our clothing. Eight years since the event that sparked my own personal dedication to ethical fashion, this movement is still very much needed.

Fashion shouldn’t be something to literally die for.

So here are some articles for further reading about current events, as well as some of my old posts. (And if you want to read all that I’ve posted on this topic, check out the “sustainable fashion” category in my sidebar.)

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Who Made My Fabric?

fashion revolution 2020

Today is the 7th anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory tragedy in Bangladesh. Today I ask, “Who Made my Clothes?” because never again can 1,134 people lose their lives from unsafe working conditions.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about supply chains, because so many people worldwide are involved in the manufacture of clothing and textiles.

Cotton is grown and harvested, spun into fibre in mills, woven into fabric, cut into pieces, sewn into garments and then sold in a shop…it’s a lot of steps and a lot of people are involved along the way.

I don’t buy very many new garments. To be honest, tagging a brand today doesn’t make very much sense.(The last new piece of clothing I purchased was in October.)

The majority of my wardrobe is vintage, thrifted or home sewn, so, I’ve been thinking about the supply chain in my own homesewn garments. What kind of impact does the fabric I use have? Who made that fabric? Who made my thread? Who made my buttons and zippers and snaps…

Fabric in some ways is actually harder to trace origins as there usually isn’t any indication as to where it came from. I would love to be able to walk into a fabric store and easily see where the fabric came from, how it was dyed, whether it was made in a closed loop…

Do I have any answers for how to get from here to there? Not really, but it’s a question I’d like to start exploring more. Just being a bit more mindful with new fabric purchases, taking time to seek out fabric companies that are doing things right, buying 100% natural fibres, and in the meantime using up my stash and seeking out second-hand fabric (this skirt was made from vintage fabric I found in a thrift store!)

How have you taken part in Fashion Revolution this year? Do you have any other ideas for making home sewing more ethical?

Seasons

vintage styled vogue 1044 summer dress and straw hat

I’ve been been stuck in a creative block lately. I look back to last year when I was blogging weekly and posting frequently (if not daily) on Instagram. And here it’s been almost a month since my last blog post. I feel like I just haven’t gotten back into the swing of things. And I wonder why something that gave me so much enjoyment last year, is such a struggle now. I think perhaps I’m just going through a season right now; there’s been stuff going on in my personal life, and it’s not that I don’t have time, I’ve just given myself the permission to take a step back, and take a break. I don’t want something that is fun to start being a chore.

But even though I haven’t been feeling particularly inspired to write and blog and share lately, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been having fun with my wardrobe. I’ve still been experimenting with my clothes, and enjoying my summer wardrobe, and working on sewing one of the pieces from my #makenine list, even though I haven’t been documenting it all.

straw-boater and vogue 1044 summer dress

I’ve been going through a different season in my style lately too, and have been drawn to a more subtle and subdued palette lately. I’ve put some of the clothes that I used to wear in regular rotation to the side, as they just aren’t feeling very “me” lately. As much as I like bold vintage prints and styles, I feel more like “vintage mixing” right now. Most people would probably still look at my clothes and think that they are quite vintage looking, but to me they don’t feel authentically vintage, but more modern with a touch of vintage, and I’m enjoying styling my clothes this way for summer.

andrea shelley earrings-and-straw boater

You all know that I’m an avid thrift shopper, and that I don’t buy very many new pieces, but I recently purchased this new straw hat, and these black pearl earrings. I’ve been drawn to classic, feminine styles lately, and both of these pieces felt very fresh. I love how they go with my existing pieces and add a bit of variety to my current wardrobe, such as this dress, purse and shoe combination which I’ve worn before. This is one of my favourite summer dresses, so I’m happy it’s the season to wear it again!

This boater is one that I saw in the window of a local shop, and popped in to check out…and then ended up buying the next day! (Placing items in shop windows really does work!)

andrea-shelley- black pearl earrings

And these lovely gold and pearl earrings are ones that I bought at a handmade art show. The artist is Andrea Shelley Designs. I saw the earrings, walked around the show thinking about them, and then came back to her booth to get them. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was really going to get them, but there were some other ladies looking at her jewelry- and when they picked them up, I felt that anxious “No, don’t buy those!” feeling, so that sealed the deal. (And those ladies bought some other items, so Andrea didn’t lose out on a sale!) She describes her jewelry as “minimal and feminine”, which is just what I am liking lately. I also just bought some of her tiny pink pearl earrings, and I’m excited to wear those soon too.

Well, look at that. I just said I was feeling a creative block, and here I have written an entire post. I’m not going to promise that I’m going to be posting regularly again….but I do have some other outfits, so we can always hope.

straw boater

summer-floral dress vogue 1044-and-straw-boater hat

vintage button ring

apple blossoms

vintage summer floral style vogue 1044 dress and straw boater

Fashion Revolution 2019

fashion-revolution-2019

Hi everyone! I just wanted to pop on here today and remind you all that it is Fashion Revolution Week this week. Since it came right on the tail of Easter this year, I almost forgot that it was happening, so I thought I’d mention it, in case any of you forgot too. 🙂

In case you’re wondering what on earth Fashion Revolution is, it is a global movement that was created six years ago, to raise awareness and create change within the fashion industry in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse which killed 1,138 people and injured 2,500 in 2013. If you’d like to find out more about it, you can check out my previous blog post here which has more in depth information, or check out Fashion Revolution’s website here.

In past years I’ve done more in depth posts, including ideas for how to dress ethically or ways to reuse textile waste, but I felt like this year I didn’t have anything new to add, so I’ll just be participating over on Instagram, tomorrow by sharing my label and asking the brand “who made my clothes”.

Progress has definitely been made within the fashion industry to increase transparency and improve working conditions within the past 6 years, but there’s still so much that needs to be done.
Change comes only when it is asked for, so if you’d like to join in, simply snap a picture of your clothing label, and then tag the brand with the tag #whomademyclothes. The more people who take part, the better chance we have of things changing!

Have you ever taken part in Fashion Revolution? Are you planning to join in this year?

PS- I just realized that one of my favourite bloggers, Mr. And Mrs. Rat, is publishing a series of posts for Fashion Revolution Week, so if you’re looking for some more reading/ideas this week, you should definitely go over and check them out!