The best books on workers’ rights in the fashion industry

Who am I?

I'm a journalist and author writing (mostly) about labour rights and the politics of the fashion industry. This work has taken me to Bangladesh, Kenya, Macedonia, and the Topshop warehouses in Solihull. I am the author of Foot Work – What Your Shoes Are Doing To The World, an exposé of the dark origins of the shoes on our feet. My award-winning first book Stitched Up – The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, is available in six languages and was selected by Emma Watson for her "Ultimate Book List".


I wrote...

Foot Work: What Your Shoes Are Doing to the World

By Tansy E. Hoskins,

Book cover of Foot Work: What Your Shoes Are Doing to the World

What is my book about?

In 2018, 66.3 million pairs of shoes were manufactured across the world every single day. They have never been cheaper to buy, and we have never been more convinced that we need to buy them. Yet their cost to the planet has never been greater.

In this urgent, passionately argued book, Tansy Hoskins opens our eyes to the dark origins of the shoes on our feet. Taking us deep into the heart of an industry that is exploiting workers and deceiving consumers, we begin to understand that if we don't act fast, this humble household object will take us to the point of no return.

The books I picked & why

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The Song of the Shirt: The High Price of Cheap Garments from Blackburn to Bangladesh

By Jeremy Seabrook,

Book cover of The Song of the Shirt: The High Price of Cheap Garments from Blackburn to Bangladesh

Why this book?

This is an award winning book by an extraordinary social commentator who turned his anthropological eye to the Bangladeshi garment industry in the aftermath of Rana Plaza – the 2012 factory collapse that killed 1,138 people. This is painstaking and sensitive work documenting the lives of workers and the poverty and instability that drives people into garment factories. It is also a detailed explanation of how Rana Plaza was the latest in a long list of industrial homicides that stretches back to imperialism and the East India Company. It is exceptional.


Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take On the Global Factory

By Miriam Ching Yoon Louie,

Book cover of Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take On the Global Factory

Why this book?

This is such an inspirational book from the heart of the anti-globalisation movement in 2001. It documents the lives of immigrant women working in underground sweatshops not just in the USA but right across the world. It resolutely stands as a monument against the ‘down trodden’ woman stereotype and welcomes you into an often ignored world where workers are fighting back against some of the biggest corporations on the planet.


Labor, Global Supply Chains, and the Garment Industry in South Asia: Bangladesh After Rana Plaza

By Sanchita Banerjee Saxena,

Book cover of Labor, Global Supply Chains, and the Garment Industry in South Asia: Bangladesh After Rana Plaza

Why this book?

This is an anthology of work about the Bangladeshi garment industry in the months and years following the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed 1,138 people. It is rigorous academic work that doesn’t shy away from asking hard questions, and which seeks to tackle the gigantic problem of how to end exploitation in the garment industry.


To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

By Lucy Siegle,

Book cover of To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World?

Why this book?

A classic book on the pain that fashion inflicts on both people and planet. This book does an excellent job of showing how the exploitation of people is inseparable from the exploitation of the biosphere. It is a searing critique of the fashion industry and its voracious appetite for evermore profit, and how this short-termist model is driving us towards disaster.


Slave to Fashion

By Safia Minney,

Book cover of Slave to Fashion

Why this book?

This book is an excellent chance to hear straight from the people on the sharp end of the fashion industry. From India to Cambodia, it is full of detailed interviews with garment workers and workers’ rights advocates. As well as taking you behind the scenes of the fashion industry, it also serves as a best practise guide – from a real industry expert – for how fashion could one day be made fair and sustainable.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fashion, fast fashion, and France?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fashion, fast fashion, and France.

Fashion Explore 34 books about fashion
Fast Fashion Explore 5 books about fast fashion
France Explore 587 books about France

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Brave Girl, Working Girls, and Fabricating Women if you like this list.