Fast fashion books are sharpened swords to fight the short-changing fast fashion model and its environmental and social impacts. Fast Fashion enjoys high purchasing power from consumers for its cheap price label. But, its shockingly high cost on our social and environmental lives is threatening.
In a recent Mckinsey report, people across the globe consume an excess of 100 billion worth of clothing in a year1. This overzealous consumption is an answer to the greater variety and cheaper price point of clothing items. Or as this has become known - fast fashion.
Related: What is Fast Fashion?
The issue very much came more to the fore following the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh in 2013. Further exposing the environmental ills and the poor conditions and often exploitation of the garment workers that sew out clothes.
More recently, the pandemic greatly hit Bangladesh as garment manufacturing accounted for 84 percent of its overall exports. This left workers without an income and in destitution as a result of reduced demand and lockdown.
But it’s not just about overseas and out-of-sight labor. Labour Behind the Label, a garment workers’ rights group, stated that garment workers in a Leicester (UK) based fast-fashion giants factories were “forced to come into work while sick with Covid-193”.
According to UN climate change news, the clothes we all wear contribute to about 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. This means that our clothes production consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined.
Apart from its carbon-intensive supply chain and processes, the news also reveals that 10,000 liters of water are needed to grow the one kilo of cotton required to make a pair of denim jeans.
This means that the textile industry contributes to 20% of global wastewater during processing, and in the end, 85% of garments become waste. A report from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation states that the world loses more than $500 billion worth of value yearly due to clothing underutilization and a lack of recycling2.
This report also points out that the hazardous chemicals from fast fashion do not affect the workers alone. It affects us, the wearers of clothes, before escaping into the environment.
When we wash, some garments release plastic microfibres. These are 16 times more than plastic microbeads from cosmetics and around half a million tonnes of ocean pollution.
These adverse environmental impacts and social costs are rising unforgivably with the potential of causing a catastrophe in the future.
The following are quality books about fast fashion that will educate and inspire you to move on from fast fashion for a healthier and wealthier environment.
10 Fast Fashion Books
'How to Break Up with Fast Fashion' by Lauren Bravo
This book is a sustainable fashion book that will help us get rid of fast fashion all at once. It is channeled towards empowering us with the right thinking about clothing to enhance our fashion style and environment.
It will also inspire us to repair, recycle, and spruce up old items and embrace more sustainable habits, such as buying from online thrift stores when it comes to shopping. How to Break up with Fast Fashion will help us on our journey to greener living.
'Slave to Fashion' by Safia Minney
Safia Minney is the founder of the Fairtrade fashion brand, People Tree. Safia writes about interviews and micro-documentaries with men, women, and children caught in slavery making clothes for high-street brands. It offers sad truths and crude realities of the true cost of the textile industry.
Slave to Fashion highlights the terrible reality of millions of garment workers. It offers hope of fair trade and an ethical world to all people. It provides helpful tools on how we should navigate the challenging and difficult fashion world.
The book Slave to Fashion also highlights what governments and businesses should do to call time on this unnecessary suffering.
'Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes' by Dana Thomas
This book results from the author and journalist Dana Thomas' travel across the globe seeking the answers to what we must do about the social and environmental impact of fast fashion and the industry. It offers a blueprint for how we must act if we are to have a more sustainable future.
'Fashionopolis’ is filled with eye-opening facts and does not fail to expose the fashion world's toxicity one page at a time.
'To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?' by Lucy Siegle
This book reveals the inhumane and environmental stories behind the cheap fashion clothes we buy and wear. To Die For is a chilling exposé into the industry, and it includes Siegel's conversations with Cambodian garment workers, visits to Bangladesh factories, and the forced teen labor in Uzbekistan.
To Die For gives voice to the voiceless fashion brands, designers, and garment workers. It allows you to see fast fashion from their point of view.
'The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good' by Elizabeth L. Cline
Journalist and clothing resale expert, Elizabeth L. Cline, offers a definitive guide to building a more ethical and sustainable wardrobe we will love. It begins with guidance on a sustainable wardrobe clear out through to how we can mend our clothes.
The Conscious Closet is not just a guide. It is also a call to action to transform how we think about clothes.
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L.Cline
Elizabeth L.Cline argues that fast fashion, whereas seemingly good to the American middle class, destroys it by draining vital factory jobs. Noting that a reduction in the percentage of clothing produced in America promotes lower prices. But has also decimated the pitching power of the people buying them.
Cline also takes her readers to a factory in Guangdong, China, where low wages and lack of union traps migrant workers. The book provides amply reasons consumers of fast fashion are actually contributors to a labor system reminiscent of slavery.
'Stitched up: The Anti-capitalist Book of Fashion' by Tansy Hoskins
Tansy Hoskins views fast fashion from the Marxist perspective and argues that fast fashion serves corporate interests. She points out that many cases of abuse perpetrated in the fashion industry lie at the intersection of environmental and human rights.
One of her case studies is Uzbekistan's Aral Sea. It is one of the largest bodies of water that dried up from irrigating cotton crops for the textile industry. This act has affected the local environment and has also harmed the lives and livelihoods of the surrounding communities.
'Wardrobe Crisis: How we went from Sunday Best to Fast fashion' by Clare Press
Clare Press explores the 2013 fire outbreak in five unsafe textile factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The case helped unravel the poor working conditions of workers and how many died in these factories.
She uses this case to examine the role of global corporations in stifling labor rights in the developing world and evading accountability to consumers. Apart from the 3,122 workers that died in the Rana Plaza garment factory plaza, different inhumane treatment prevails.
Poor working conditions for fashion designers and garment workers are not limited to people above childhood. Fast fashion industries employ child labor in the UK and the world.
Press begins the story from Dhaka, where news coverage left off, and continues to report several years after the collapse without any brands’ promise of improving working conditions taking effect. Sadly, both wages and factory conditions have remained the same.
The Sustainable Fashion Book By Sandy Black
Sandy Black is a professor of fashion and textile design and technology at London College. She explores the environmental and social impacts of the fast-moving fashion cycle and its forty million people involved in its manufacturing and agriculture. Sandy Black gathered contributions from different people with different opinions. She spoke to people both on environmental and social action, fields, and offices.
This book is arranged with interviews and statements from leading writers, thinkers, and designers. They include Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood, and Hussein Chalayan. It also contains case studies on everything from the life cycle of jeans to smart textiles and fair trade projects. This book is authoritative and information-dense. It has 307 illustrations and 295 in color.
The Sustainable Fashion Book by Sandy Black reinforces the notion that fashion is the most ephemeral, toxic, everyday design art. You can also apply the same thinking to clothing passed down through appreciative generations.
F**k Fashion: 101 ways to change how you shop and help save the planet by the F Team
This is a much-awaited quality book on how to fully be emancipated into a sustainable fashion world.
The top Christmas shopping hack released in 2020 by the team included the following:
- Shop like sherlock: This means that we should all buy clothing items, paying attention to details. We need to be sure of the source.
- Look beyond the high street: This means that we shouldn't restrict ourselves to physical shops. If the high streets aren't selling safely, let's go online.
- Let it go: This means that we should give our old clothes away rather than just abandon them. Let's give out!
- Prioritize the basics: We are to buy the main things and leave out the unnecessary till they become valuable.
- Rent it: if we have something that others need, rent it out and if it is us, let's rent it. It's a two-way thing.
- Tell your friends and family: this means we should all preach the gospel of sustainable fashion. Let's educate them on why fast fashion companies are no good.
As we humans cannot do without wearing clothes for cover and beautification, a conscious effort must be made towards ensuring fair trade and a safe environment for all across the entire fashion ecosystem.
Grab one of the fast fashion books above to learn and help spread the word towards more awareness of what the fashion industry really costs us.
McKinsey & Company Style That is Sustainable: A new Fast-Fashion Formula By Nathalie Remy et al
|Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashions future. 2017.
Labour Behind The Label.Org Report. - Boohoo & Covid-19: The People Behind The Profit