Hi there. I hope you’re doing well. We all woke up to a strange new world a few weeks ago, and with no immediate end in sight, it’s more important than ever to take care of our physical and mental health. Stay home, stay safe. We’re in this together. 💖
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on the fashion industry and sustainable fashion. Since we’re all stuck inside I thought it would be a good time to share a few of my favourite books on the subject. If you have any additional suggestions, please feel free to add them in the comments below. Happy reading! – Annette
The End Of Fashion: How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever by Teri Agins (2000)
Written by Wall Street Journal fashion journalist Teri Agins, this book provides a fascinating glimpse into the marketing of clothing brands and the shift in focus from design to brand recognition, a change that went hand-in-hand with the takeover of fashion houses by multinational corporations like LVMH. Written two decades ago, The End of Fashion nevertheless remains relevant in our brand-saturated world. I recommend this book if you’re looking to educate yourself on the wide-ranging effects of fashion marketing.
Today, a designer’s creativity expresses itself more than ever in the marketing rather than in the actual clothes…In a sense, fashion has returned to its roots: selling image. Image is the form and marketing is the function.Teri Agins, The End of Fashion
Deluxe: How Luxury Lost its Luster by Dana Thomas (2007)
This book provides a fascinating look at how luxury brands have evolved over the last hundred years. I loved reading about the birth of the major fashion houses (Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dior…) and how they morphed into the giant global companies they are today. I was especially interested in the chapter on the “it bag” phenomenon and the marketing machines behind the iconic bags that made it to the top. A very enjoyable read and one that will have you asking the question: are “luxury” goods that are mass-produced and sold at dramatically inflated prices really that luxurious?
The luxury industry has changed the way people dress. It has realigned our economic class system. It has changed the way we interact. It has become part of our social fabric. To achieve this, it has sacrificed its integrity, undermined its products, tarnished its history, and hoodwinked its consumers. In order to make luxury “accessible,” tycoons have stripped away all that has made it special.Dana Thomas, Deluxe
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth Cline (2012)
Overdressed offers an in-depth look at fast fashion: its desirability, its ubiquity, its cheapness, and its tremendous human and environmental cost. Sparked by the desire to know more about how the clothing items in her closet were produced, the author embarked on a journey that took her to New York’s garment district, to clothing factories in China and Bangladesh, and even to H&M with Youtube influencers. It’s an entertaining and thought-provoking read that brings our wear-once, throwaway culture into stark relief.
Building up a wardrobe over time, saving up and investing in well-made pieces, obsessing over the perfect hem, luxuriating in fabrics, and patching up and altering our clothes are old-fashioned habits. But they’re also deeply satisfying antidotes to the empty uniformity of cheapness.Elizabeth Cline, Overdressed
Wardrobe Crisis: How We Went from Sunday Best to Fast Fashion by Clare Press (2016)
Written in a conversational style by VOGUE’s first-ever sustainability editor, Wardrobe Crisis is filled with anecdotes, interviews, and interesting facts about fashion history. The author doesn’t shy away from the ugly side of the fashion industry and is frank in her descriptions of terrible working conditions, toxic pollution, and animal cruelty. I learned a lot from reading this book and recommend it if you are interested in diving deeper into the issues surrounding our global addiction to fast fashion.
Eco is no longer a dirty word. As public opinion swings, it is beginning to look like guzzling resources without thinking about the consequences for people and the planet might make crap business sense.Clare Press, Wardrobe Crisis
Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas (2019)
This is another great read by Dana Thomas, the author of Deluxe (above). Opening with a history and impact analysis of fast fashion, the book goes on to look at businesses and techniques that are revolutionizing the fashion industry. From small-scale ethical clothing production to cutting edge technology and the textiles of the future, this is a fascinating up-to-date look at the current state of the fashion industry and the ethical and technological breakthroughs that are on the horizon. Definitely one to add to your reading list!
The revolution is not only going to be born from the makers. We all have to step up. Buy less. Wash our clothes differently. Repair or upcycle them more. Consider the impact of the material they are made of. Consider the supply chain that produces them. Consider the tenets of the company that created and distributed them. We need to fashion a personal style that does more good for the world than ill.Dana Thomas, Fashionopolis
The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good by Elizabeth Cline (2019)
This is the latest book by Elizabeth Cline (author of Overdressed, above). I enjoyed Overdressed so much that I bought The Conscious Closet on the day it was released. I was not disappointed! The Conscious Closet is a guidebook on how to build an ethical, sustainable wardrobe that you can look good in and feel good about. From finding your personal style and ridding your closet of clothes that don’t serve you to identifying quality fabrics and construction and making minor clothing repairs, this book has it all. (Am I the only person who discovered they’ve been sewing buttons on wrong this whole time?). Having a closet full of clothing items you wear and truly love is life-changing. This is one of those books you’ll come back to again and again.
By buying less, sharing more, choosing sustainably, and acting together, we really can change the world.Elizabeth Cline, The Conscious Closet
xo – Annette