In the past few months, I've read many books about fashion and sustainability. Books on how to improve the industry and books that expose the exploitation of people to produce "high quality" pieces or fast fashion ones. In this article, you'll find the books you need to read to better comprehend this intricate world.
Let my people go surfing tells the story of Yvon Chouinard, the founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc., based in Ventura, California. He began in business by designing, manufacturing, and distributing rock climbing equipment in the late 1950s. In 1964 he produced his first mail-order catalog, a one-page mimeographed sheet containing advice not to expect fast delivery during climbing season. In 2001, along with Craig Mathews, owner of West Yellowstone’s Blue Ribbon Flies, he started One Percent for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that contribute at least 1% of their net annual sales to groups on a list of researched and approved environmental organizations.
Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes, by Dana Thomas, is the definitive book on the cost of fast fashion, and a blueprint for how we get to a more sustainable future. Today, one out of six people on earth work in fashion, churning out 100 billion garments a year. Yet 98 percent of them do not earn a living wage, and 2.1 billion tonnes of clothing is thrown away annually. The clothing industry’s exploitation of fellow humans and the environment has reached epic levels. What should we do?
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, by Elizabeth L. Cline. Cheap fashion has fundamentally changed the way most Americans dress. Retailers are producing clothes at enormous volumes in order to drive prices down and profits up, and they’ve turned clothing into a disposable good. But what are we doing with all these cheap clothes? And more important, what are they doing to us, our society, our environment, and our economic well-being? In Overdressed, Cline sets out to uncover the true nature of the cheap fashion juggernaut, tracing the rise of budget clothing chains, the death of middle-market and independent retailers, and the roots of our obsession with deals and steals. She travels to cheap-chic factories in China and looks at the impact of America’s drastic increase in imports.
Fashion industry 2030. Reshaping the future through sustainability and responsible innovation, by Francesca Romana Rinaldi, Matteo Ward, and Matteo Marzotto. The book explains in detail and with many examples the concept of responsible innovation by answering the following questions: How will the fashion industry be in 2030? What can the different stakeholders do in order to speed the responsible innovation? Which will be the role of traceability, circularity, cradle-to-cradle, collaborative consumption, B-corporations? How technologies can catalyze the change? How the consumers interested in sustainability can contribute to this change?
“Made in Italy? Il lato oscuro della moda”, by Giuseppe Iorio. I don’t know if you can find the book in English, anyway, the book is a courageous report of a thirty-year working experience in the world of fashion and textile industry. There is the story of Irina, who hand-selects feathers for jackets; that of Daria, forced to prostitute herself in order to eat. The “good guys”, the small loyal laboratories remaining in Italy, true representatives of the “made in Italv”, and the “bad guys”, including many fashion bigwigs who, with the complicity of unscrupulous entrepreneurs – Italian and foreign – relocate wildly destroying lives and the economy of our country and those in which they realize, at starvation costs, their productions. Nobody, after having read this essay, will be able to look at the great signatures with the same eyes.
Finally, “La rivoluzione comincia dal tuo armadio”, by Marina Spadafora. Also for this one, I don’t know if the English version is available. Luisa Ciuni and Marina Spadafora interweave their voices – of journalist and militant stylist – to narrate the advent of fast fashion and the consequences of low cost, the bulimia of consumption and the consequences of waste, the new slavery, the depletion of resources and the cruelty imposed on animals. Yet, techno-logical innovation is opening up ecological paths, circular economy models make it possible to combine profit and fairness, and among Millennials there is a marked sensitivity to green fashion. If it is true that the revolution starts in our closet, being able to discern between what is sustainable and what is not is the first essential step to ensure a future for our children and our planet.