Top 15 Eco-Fashion Books We Love


There are many levels of eco-fashion at this point in the game. So many people are trying to make us understand why we should support it, what we shouldn’t buy and what we should. Then there is the ultimate question of whether the very notion of eco-fashion is a paradox itself?

Honestly, there are times when I too feel like taking a happy pill to get away from it all but the only way to be a part of it is to be educated. So don’t stop now.

These 15 books will take you down many interesting roads on your journey. Be open to it.

1. Eco Fashion by Sass Brown (Paperback)

“This book shows the range of companies making a difference in the area of sustainable design in fashion, exploding the myth that sustainable design is bad design, or at best basic design, by highlighting the range of companies producing desirable and well-designed apparel and accessories with a conscience. It not only demonstrates the range of products available around the globe, but explains the stories behind them and the communities they support, as well as showing how and where they make a difference.” – Laurence King Publishing

2. Future Fashion White Papers by Earth Pledge (Paperback)

“A collection of 30 compelling essays by scientists, retailers, farmers, dyers, models and others in the industry, including Diane von Furstenberg, Julie Gilhart, and Shalom Harlow. FutureFashion White Papers take an in-depth look at the fashion industry and provides a thoughtful, wide-ranging analysis of how a transition to sustainability can be achieved. Diane von Furstenberg notes: ‘FutureFashion White Papers is an exploration that signifies movement towards a more sustainable fashion industry. It is an opportunity to think about and evaluate the fashion industry as it stands today’.” – Earth Pledge

3. The Eco-chick Guide To Life by Starre Vartan (Paperback)

“Every now and then, someone comes along who shows the rest of us how much we take for granted the freedoms of our daily lives. The eco-journalist, blogger and all-around green genie Starre Vartan is one such person. In The Eco Chick Guide to Life, her earth-first program for glamorous but environmentally conscious living, she mines new lodes of guilt, finding gems of awareness and providing detailed eco-wise shopping guides for the body, the closet, the home and the larder.” – The New York Times

4. DIY Fashion by Selena Francis-Bryden (Paperback)

“DIY Fashion is a cool, quirky, and creative guide to making and customizing your own clothes, bags, and accessories. It contains more than 40 thrifty, sustainable, and stylish projects, none of which require prior skill or a sewing machine. From customized hand-me-downs to elegant evening wear, the book is packed with ideas that the reader can adapt to their own taste.” – Amazon

5. Eco-Chic, The Fashion Paradox by Sandy Black (Paperback)

“Sandy Black has divided the book into four chapters: The Greening of the Fashion Industry, Re-Designing Fashion, Fibre to Fabric and Fabric to Fashion. In the first chapter she has profiled six of the most influential players in the UK ethical fashion industry: the inimitable Lynda Grose, the pioneering Fair Trade label People Tree, the mainstream advocates Marks and Spencer, the long-term campaigner Katharine Hamnett and the style leader Sarah Ratty of Ciel. By choosing these six profiles to feature at the beginning of the book Sandy Black has very quickly laid out the complex territory on which the battle for ethical fashion must be fought.” – Treehugger

6. Green Is The New Black-How To Change The World With Style by Tamsin Blanchard (Paperback)

“Tamsin Blanchard is a journalist and writer. Since 2005, she has been the Telegraph Magazine’s style director. Before that she wrote about fashion and interiors for The Observer, and spent three years as The Independent‘s fashion editor. She is contributing fashion editor to the V&A Magazine, and a sometime contributing editor to 10 Magazine. She has also written for Vogue, Marie Claire, US Harper’s Bazaar, and The Daily Rubbish. In the late Nineties, she co-founded “˜it’ a luxury boxed magazine for fashion, art and design. She has taught fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins and University of Westminster and is currently an external assessor at London College of Fashion.”

With a foreword by Lily Cole, and lots of contributions from designers and eco experts, it is an entertaining, inspiring guide on how to be fashionably green. – www.tamsin

7. Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys by Kate Fletcher (Paperback)

“Kate Fletcher is a practitioner and academic who has been working in the field of sustainable fashion for the last 15 years: she has recently become Reader in Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion. Her consultancy within the fashion industry, coupled with her educational experience, makes her uniquely well qualified to write this much-needed text. Fletcher, who has helped to develop the concept of “˜slow fashion’, is at the center of research in this area and calls upon both established texts such as McDonough and Braungart’s Cradle to Cradle and recent research from a wide variety of sources, including her own, to support her writing. The quality of research is high.” – Oxford Art Journal

8. Eco Chic: The Savvy Shoppers Guide to Ethical Fashion by Matilda Lee (Paperback)

“The hottest trend on the catwalk is ethical clothing. Top fashion designers and spokes models including Katharine Hamnett, Stella McCartney and Bono’s wife Ali Hewson are all voicing the benefits of eco chic. But what is this new fad, and what difference can it make to the world? “Eco Chic” gives you the full story on this fashion phenomenon, from which fabrics are harmful to the environment, to how you can create your own eco-friendly fashions through recycling and savvy shopping. You will discover how to spot and avoid garments produced in sweatshops and why supermarket ‘fast clothes’ make both you and the planet sick. This book will allow you to look great but also feel good about your impact on other people and the planet as a whole.” – Amazon

9. Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories: A Collection of Sustainable Design Essays by Jonathan Chapman and Nick Gant (Paperback)

Designers, Visionaries and Other Stories boldly presents alternative understandings of sustainable design, to curate a challenging, sometimes uncomfortable and always provocative, collection of essays by some of the world’s leading sustainable design thinkers. The result is an authoritative anthology that reinvigorates the culture of critique that in previous years has empowered design with the qualities of social, environmental and economic revolution.” – Earthscan

10. The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of World Trade by Pietra Rivoli (Paperback) / (Kindle)

-¦a readable and evenhanded treatment of the complexities of world trade”¦ As Rivoli repeatedly makes clear, there is absolutely nothing free about free trade except the slogan.” – San Francisco Chronicle

11. Threads of Labour: Garment Industry Supply Chains from the Worker’s Perspective by Angela Hale and Jane Wills (Paperback)

“This book gives valuable insights for decision-makers in international clothing brands. Read it and learn how garment workers worldwide are affected by the sub-contracted manufacturing that characterizes this industry.” – Dan Rees, Director of the Ethical Trading Initiative

12. Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles by India Flint (Paperback)

“The essence of plants bursts forth in magnificent hues and surprising palettes. Using dyes of the leaves, roots, and flowers to color your cloth and yarn can be an amazing journey into botanical alchemy. In Eco Colour, artistic dyer and colorist India Flint teaches you how to cull and use this gentle and ecologically sustainable alternative to synthetic dyes.

India explores the fascinating and infinitely variable world of plant color using a wide variety of techniques and recipes. From whole-dyed cloth and applied color to prints and layered dye techniques, India describes only ecologically sustainable plant-dye methods. She uses renewable resources and shows how to do the least possible harm to the dyer, the end user of the object, and the environment. Recipes include a number of entirely new processes developed by India, as well as guidelines for plant collection, directions for the distillation of nontoxic mordants, and methodologies for applying plant dyes.” – Amazon

13. Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style by Christie Matheson (Paperback)

“Matheson slyly steers us toward consumer goods and services that minimize our earth-stomping human footprint. She’s brave enough to say ‘buy less of everything,’ and even the politically fraught ‘buy nothing.’ Matheson’s genius is to make this seem not only doable, but fun.” – Elizabeth Royte, author of Garbage Land and Bottlemania

14. Sustainable Fashion: Why Now? A Conversation Exploring Issues, Practices and Possibilities by Janet Hethorn and Connie Ulasewicz (Paperback)

Sustainable Fashion: Why Now? is a critical read for anyone with ties to the fashion industry: designers, marketers, product developers, retailers, teachers, students, and consumers that want to become involved with balancing the fashion desires of the individual with the need to be a steward of our environment.” – Fashion Practice

15. Fugitive Denim: A Moving Story of People and Pants in the Borderless World of Global Trade by Rachel Louise Snyder (Paperback)

“Smart and ambitious, cosmopolite journalist Snyder maps the global garment industry, beginning in a New York loft where designers plot a line of ultra-pricey, socially responsible jeans that would ensure a fair wage for workers and not cause excessive environmental degradation. From there she visits cotton growers in Azerbaijan, denim specialists in Italy and factories in Cambodia and China. An excellent reporter, Snyder talks comfortably to both sophisticated designers and factory workers, conveying their very different motives as she paints a picture of an industry far more tangled than most consumers imagine. She notes that economic and employment shifts are felt globally, describing Italy mourning the loss of manufacturing to cheaper factories in Asia, where low-paying jobs represent unprecedented opportunity to many workers. If the prose occasionally verges on cuteness, it’s preferable to the jargon of quotas and NGOs ubiquitous in most discussions of global trade. Snyder’s investigation is an essential read for those curious about fashion or the globe-spanning business that produces their clothes.” – Publisher’s Weekly

Photo credit: Book pages by Horia Varlan on Flickr, licensed for commercial use under Creative Commons.

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.