The BLANC bookshelf has been quite full lately, and this time we are talking about all things fashion. With plenty of great reads on this subject, spanning across a variety of different aspects of the fashion and textile’s industry, it was tough to narrow it down - but we have managed to settle on six of our favourites!
Each of these books focuses on a different facet and will help you on your slow fashion journey. Read on to learn more about the fashion supply chain challenges to address in the coming years to improve social and environmental practices and find out about what we, as individuals, can do to have a more sustainable approach to fashion.
To investigate the social and environmental fashion challenges
Did you know? 35 million people are trapped in modern slavery today. Safia Miney uncovers that this is the biggest number of slaves in modern history - fuelled by the demand for cheap labour, which is the workhorse of the fast fashion industry. The author, Safia Minney, developed the “fashion industry’s first fair trade supply chains and has helped to create social and organic standards to improve the lives of thousands of economically marginalized people in the developing world.” So you can rest assured that you are in good hands with this book!
Safia calls on her personal knowledge and experience to highlight the human hardship that occurs when creating clothes, whilst advising what governments, business leaders, and consumers can do to stop this suffering. The book has been beautifully created and includes many easy to read infographics to explain her points and the current state of affairs.
In her book, Lucy Siegle takes a social and economic angle for her commentary, which is part of what makes this book such a great read. When the book was published in 2011, we had just emerged from a global banking crisis, which has put the consumer at a crossroads: “when money is tight should we embrace cheap fast fashion to prop up an already engorged wardrobe, or should we reject this as the ultimate false economy and advocate a return to real fashion, bolstered by the principles of individualism and style pedigree?”
Lucy Siegle takes umbrage not only with fast fashion but also the big-name labels. She is straight-talking when it comes to the honest truth behind cut price, bulk fashion. To Die For sets an agenda for the urgent changes that can and need to be made by both the industry and the consumer. Lucy believes you can be both, equally fashionable and sustainable, simply by “being aware of how and where (and by whom) clothing is manufactured.” Informative, educational and even 10 years later, this book is arguably more relevant than ever.
For actionable tips to reduce our individual fashion impact
Orsola has a very special place in our hearts at BLANC, she is quite a force! Orsola’s bio is full to burst with incredible accolades, but most recently, she is the founder and global creative director of Fashion Revolution and the author of this very good book - ‘Loved Clothes Last’.
The book equips you with a myriad of ways to mend, rewear and breathe new life into your wardrobe to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. Sadly, the fashion industry still has plenty to do to up its game in the way of sustainability, but what’s great about this book is that it is full to the brim with actionable tips. Teaching you to scrutinise your shopping habits and make sustainable purchases, she will inspire you to “buy better, care more and reduce your carbon footprint by making your loved clothes last longer”.
The Conscious Closet is on the slightly lighter side, whilst still bearing in mind the issue at hand. “Whether your goal is to build an effortless capsule wardrobe, keep up with trends without harming the environment, buy better quality, seek out ethical brands, or all of the above, The Conscious Closet is packed with the vital tools you need.”
Inspired by her own journey parting ways with fast fashion, Elizabeth knows exactly how to minimise your fashion impact. She shares how to build a more ethical wardrobe, starting with a mindful closet clean-out and donating, swapping, or selling the clothes you don't love. A great read on how we can start to truly love and understand our clothes again - without sacrificing the environment, our morals, or our style in the process.
Described as “a guilt-free guide to changing the way you shop – for good”, this book makes for quite an amusing read whilst being a very achievable guide to changing your shopping habits. Lauren is very relatable with her previous relationships with fast fashion, but she’s found a “slower, saner way of dressing” and through this book, she is aiming to help you do the same.
This book will help you to adjust your headspace when it comes to your wardrobe by helping you fall back in love with what you already have and find a better, slower and more sustainable way to shop for clothes. “Lauren will inspire you to repair, recycle and give your unloved items a new lease of life without sacrificing your style.”
To understand the bigger picture and explore the history of fashion
This book is less about the sustainability angle of fashion, but looks at the industry through the lens of social and cultural change through the ages. Starting with the 1850’s, the noted fashion historians Daniel James Cole and Nancy Deihl consider the evolution of womenswear, menswear, and childrenswear, decade by decade.
This book looks at how and why style has changed over the years and the intrinsically linked relationship between fashion and popular culture. Sustainability creeps in near the end too, commentating on how the impact of new materials, ever-evolving technology and globalisation continues to affect the environment.
From museum costumes to editorial photography and advertising, this book is full of imagery which offer insights into the clothes worn both by icons and ordinary people and helps us understand how the fashion industry came to be so unsustainable and how the sustainable fashion movement emerged as a response.