Read for the revolution

It’s happened again.

Several months ago I had every good intention of planning a post for Fashion Revolution Week, which kicks off today. An amazing outfit refashioned from rubbish, or at the very least, one of my typical little “look what I found at the opshop” numbers, photographed somewhere interesting instead of in front of my overworked grey brick wall. And then suddenly, April 24 dawned (like, TODAY), and I realised I had done nothing – and this was after last week, when I also missed a post due in part to catsitting in an apartment with (quelle horreur!) no sewing machine and thereby no means of upcycling any of the many garments such as this in my stash.

So instead of visual, fashiony inspiration, here are five recommendations for reading matter that can kickstart a revolution in your very own wardrobe (or in someone else’s, for that matter).

  1. Wardrobe Crisis by Clare Press – as is the case for just about any subject matter, in the wrong hands, sustainable, ethical fashion can be extremely dry and dull. But (to paraphrase a quote about Marilyn Monroe and give me an excuse to reference this excellent photo… scroll down to see it) Clare Press could write about a hessian sack and it would be fascinating AND entertaining. As far as I can recall, she doesn’t mention hessian sacks in this book. She does, however, cover all kinds of history, innovations, conspiracies and anecdotes related to just about every garment we wear, from denim jeans and T-shirts to puffer jackets and fur coats, making this a must-read for anyone who wears clothes, ever (which probably includes you).

    The ultimate in making upcycling sexy… Marilyn Monroe in a potato sack. Whoever said she couldn’t act obviously had never modelled in hessian – I think she deserves an Oscar for looking super-sultry in what would actually be a super-scratchy outfit.


  2. Dress [with] Sense by Redress, Asia’s first environmental NGO focused on the fashion industry. This was in a bookshop I visited last week, and while I only had time to skim it, it would seem to be a good resource for anyone wanting to know more about buying better clothes or even just about getting more wear out of the ones that are already in your wardrobe.
  3. Just about anything Clare Press writes, including stuff on her website.  Is it cheating to mention Clare twice? Well, it’s my list and I will if I want to. From go-to info on ethical basics to an inspiring business funding education for girls in Afghanistan, Clare manages to unearth some great stories and write about them in the kind of effortlessly engaging way that makes you want to share them with all your friends.
  4. If you’re setting out to blow some cash on new stuff for your wardrobe, read up on the Good On You blog, or install their app so that you’ll have ethical info at your fingertips. The onset of winter and my need for comfy shoes means I’ll be visiting them to find some top footwear options soon.
  5. The non-fiction section of your local library! Specifically, either the 600s (for actual sewing and construction of garments) or the 700s (for books about fashion and clothing) along with the magazine section for current publications such as Vogue. Borrowing things rather than buying them is one of the most obviously sustainable habits to get into, and if you’re lucky you might find books that are out of print but nevertheless inspirational. Check out as many as you can in one hit and devour them for ideas about styling pieces you already own, tips on making or buying new items that will invigorate your wardrobe and hints on mending those old favourites.That ought to be enough to start you on a fashion revolution! Let me know if you have any more tips for revolutionary fashion reading.