The best books for fashion revolutionaries

Who am I?

I'm an internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. My career started as a designer with the pioneering upcycling label From Somewhere, which I launched in 1997. My label’s designer collaborations include collections for Jigsaw, Speedo, and 4 best-selling capsule collections for Topshop. In 2006, I co-founded the British Fashion Council Initiative Estethica at London Fashion Week, which I curated until 2014. In 2013 I co-founded Fashion Revolution, a global campaign with participation in over 90 countries. I'm a regular keynote speaker and mentor, and Associate Visiting Professor at Middlesex University. My first book Loved Clothes Last is published by Penguin Life, Corbaccio Editore in Italy and in France by Edition Marabou.

I wrote...

Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary Act

By Orsola de Castro,

Book cover of Loved Clothes Last: How the Joy of Rewearing and Repairing Your Clothes Can Be a Revolutionary  Act

What is my book about?

On repairs and reparations: how keeping your clothes is a revolutionary act, and a powerful solution for today’s throwaway society. I wrote this book, and it contains my 20+ years of inside knowledge in the fashion industry.

Making changes starting from our wardrobes may seem like a small and insignificant first step, but from repairs can come the impetus for reparations, and broken clothes can be a metaphor for broken systems.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters

Why did I love this book?

It does what it says on the cover, takes you back to where it all started, and puts where we are now in perspective. It put me in touch with my own ancestry, and the ancestry of time immemorial, giving sense to all journeys we have undertaken as inhabitants of planet earth. This book centered me, reminded me of the smallness and hugeness of human life on Earth, and inspired the best sleep routine I have ever attempted: when insomniac, or worried, at night, I imagine myself safe in a cave – and drift back to sleep almost immediately.

By Henry Gee,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Royal Society's Science Book of the Year

"[A]n exuberant romp through evolution, like a modern-day Willy Wonka of genetic space. Gee’s grand tour enthusiastically details the narrative underlying life’s erratic and often whimsical exploration of biological form and function.” —Adrian Woolfson,The Washington Post

In the tradition of Richard Dawkins, Bill Bryson, and Simon Winchester—An entertaining and uniquely informed narration of Life's life story.

In the beginning, Earth was an inhospitably alien place—in constant chemical flux, covered with churning seas, crafting its landscape through incessant volcanic eruptions. Amid all this tumult and disaster, life began. The earliest living things were…

Book cover of Make Thrift Mend: Stitch, Patch, Darn, Plant-Dye & Love Your Wardrobe

Why did I love this book?

The best book on mending, maintaining, and repairing clothes, ever. Beautifully written, inspirational, and easy to use, this is the definitive practical guide to all techniques related to clothing longevity.

I am nowhere near as good at mending as the author of this book, but I have found her techniques to be both practical and fairly simple, and the beautiful images make trying compelling.

By Katrina Rodabaugh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make Thrift Mend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Slow fashion expert Katrina Rodabaugh, bestselling author of Mending Matters, teaches readers how to mend, patch, dye, and alter clothing for an environmentally conscious, reimagined wardrobe

Slow fashion influencer Katrina Rodabaugh follows her bestselling book, Mending Matters, with a comprehensive guide to building (and keeping) a wardrobe that matters. Whether you want to repair your go-to jeans, refresh a favorite garment, thrift-shop like a pro, alter or dye clothing you already have-this book has all the know-how you'll need. Woven throughout are stories, essays, and a slow fashion call-to-action, encouraging readers to get involved or deepen their commitment to changing…

The Golden Thread

By Kassia St. Clair,

Book cover of The Golden Thread

Why did I love this book?

A very detailed and beautifully written history of the textile industry throughout time, this book really underlines how our industriousness has turned into a multibillion-dollar industry, disregarding many of the principles and values it stems from.

As a go-to a history of the textile industry, you can’t read much better than this, an unbroken thread of useful knowledge for whoever thinks fashion is frivolous.

By Kassia St. Clair,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Golden Thread as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From colorful 30,000-year-old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to the Indian calicoes that sparked the Industrial Revolution, The Golden Thread weaves an illuminating story of human ingenuity. Design journalist Kassia St. Clair guides us through the technological advancements and cultural customs that would redefi ne human civilization-from the fabric that allowed mankind to achieve extraordinary things (traverse the oceans and shatter athletic records) and survive in unlikely places (outer space and the South Pole). She peoples her story with a motley cast of characters, including Xiling, the ancient Chinese empress credited with inventing silk, to Richard…

Earth Logic

By Kate Fletcher,

Book cover of Earth Logic

Why did I love this book?

Exploring an earth-centric view of business for the future, envisioning regenerative systems where fashion can support, rather than deplete our planet’s finite resources, this book challenges the concept of growth and offers real alternatives.

This book feels challenging, but is rooted in common sense, it may seem out there and unrealistic, but being about Earth it actually makes it feel not just possible but eminently doable.

By Kate Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Earth Logic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of Consumed: The Need for Collective Change: Colonialism, Climate Change, and Consumerism

Why did I love this book?

Aja’s first book is a must-read, a brilliant personal account as well as a captivating commentary on the fashion industry of today. Aja gives space to other women’s voices, expanding in several scenarios and conversations to condemn the role fast fashion has on people, nature, our culture, and our environment. I could hear her voice as I frantically went from page to page in this important book.

By Aja Barber,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Consumed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'This powerful, speaking-truth-to-power book is an essential read for everybody who wants to stop feeling clueless and helpless about the impacts of cosumerism, and start doing their part to help create a more sustainable world' - Layla Saad

'A critique on what we buy, how it's made and the systems behind it that make an unfair and broken cycle' - New York Times

'The book is a blueprint for anyone who wants to do better' - VOGUE

'SUCH integrity. Aja is no bullsh*t.' - Florence Given

'Consumed takes us through the hideously complex topic of fashion and sustainability, from…

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