In this episode, I’m sharing the most transformative resources on my personal conscious fashion journey in an effort to share useful resources that you can turn to on your journey!
I also hope this episode highlights that a sustainable fashion journey is just that — a journey — and it’s normal to change your viewpoints as you unlearn and learn more, and also that we can still do our best with the knowledge we do have at any one point. The key is to stay humble and open to learning more!
So, hit play to hear 7 resources that I have either learned the most from or that have shifted my mindset around slow, conscious, and sustainable fashion most profoundly.
Looking for more resources? Grab your free 10 page Google Doc full of sustainable fashion resources (including books, documentaries, and podcasts.) by signing up for the Conscious Edit newsletter!
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Read the Transcript From This Episode:
Hey there, and welcome back to the Conscious Style Podcast, a show exploring what it will take to create a better future for fashion. I’m your host, Elizabeth Joy.
Today on the podcast, I am going to be sharing the most transformative resources on my personal conscious fashion journey. The purpose of this episode is to A, share resources that might be useful for you on your own journey, and B continue to sort of demonstrate that a conscious style journey is just that — a journey — without a set end or finite point.
And to, by being honest about my own journey, emphasize that it’s normal to change your viewpoints on things as you unlearn and learn more about the fashion industry, global dynamics, history, and hear a wider range of perspectives.
It’s normal to not know everything now, or maybe ever, and still try to do the best that we can with the knowledge that we do have. So in the next 30 minutes or so, I am going to break down the seven resources that I have either learned the most from or that have shifted my mindset around slow, conscious, and sustainable fashion most profoundly.
If you want more resources beyond what I’m sharing with you in this episode, I have created a 10 page Google Doc full of sustainable fashion resources, things like books, documentaries, podcasts, courses, and more. And I am continually adding to that document.
And I share this resource guide with all of my newsletter subscribers. It’s all completely free — the resource guide and the newsletter — and you can sign up for everything at consciouslifeandstyle.com/edit. This is also the best place to stay updated and connected with me and Conscious Life & Style.
Okay, a few final quick notes before we dive in. One, the transcript for this episode is available in the show notes at consciouslifeandstyle.com. Two, if you get something out of this episode and think others would, too, it would mean so much if you share it with a friend or shared about this episode in your Instagram stories or elsewhere. And finally, do not forget to hit subscribe or to start following the Conscious Style Podcast on your favorite podcast app so that you do not miss any future episodes.
Alright, now let’s get into the resources!
1. The True Cost Documentary
So the first resource I want to share with you is the very first educational resource that I came across in sustainable fashion. And it’s one that many people mentioned as being a turning point or ‘aha’ moment for them on their own conscious fashion journeys as well.
And you might have guessed it, but that is the documentary The True Cost. So this documentary was a tipping point for me realizing all of the horrifying realities of the fashion industry, how harmful the industry was on an environmental and social level. And after I saw that documentary, it also started sparking ideas about solutions towards creating a better fashion future.
I would say now, I find the solutions in the documentary, perhaps a bit limiting, but it did get my wheels turning when I first saw this documentary, like, I don’t know, five years ago or so. And there are more documentaries now on the fashion industry that go even deeper and focus on specific areas of the industry. River Blue focuses a lot on the toxic chemicals and the water pollution of the fashion industry. But this one was the very first documentary, so I wanted to list it as a very pivotal resource for me.
And if you haven’t seen it, I definitely still recommend checking it out. And I also feel like it’s a really good documentary to suggest to people who are new to this space or who maybe have no idea about the harms happening in the fashion industry. It’s not an end-all be-all. I mean, no single documentary is going to be but I feel like it’s a good documentary as an introduction to the harms of the fashion industry and also some of the pathways forward.
2. Sustainable Fashion Podcasts
And then the second resource I want to share with you is podcasts. So I cannot possibly limit this to just one podcast because there are so many that have been transformative on my journey. But I’ll just go through a few of them.
So years ago, after I saw The True Cost documentary after I started getting into conscious fashion, I was working at a nine to five job and I was commuting a lot of that time so I was a really avid podcast listener. And Conscious Chatter with Kestrel Jenkins was definitely one of the first podcasts that I listened to. I think it was like one of the only ones on this topic at the time. And I also listened a lot to the Green Dreamer Podcast, which is not specifically about fashion, but also about sustainability and far beyond.
And then the third podcast was Wardrobe Crisis with Claire Press. So all these podcasts I was listening to very regularly. I would listen to them on the train on my way to work, and they just kept me really inspired and informed about everything happening in fashion and beyond. And then today, I still listen to these podcasts.
And I also listen to the Crash Course Fashion podcast with Brittany Sierra and Clotheshorse with Amanda Lee McCarty. And stay tuned for interviews with both of those podcast hosts this season. I’m really excited to be interviewing both of them as I’ve really enjoyed each of their podcasts. So the reason that I put podcasts as the number two resource is that A, it was sort of the second resource I came across after The True Cost documentary.
And also because it continues to be such a vital resource for me. I feel like things get so lost on social media — the context and nuance. And so while I love following a variety of accounts on social media, I do just so value podcasts as my primary way of staying informed because I get to hear and better understand the complexities and the layers of these conversations.
And that’s why I started this podcast because I personally got so much out of podcasts as a listener. And I wanted to bring in all of these layers to the content I was putting out with Conscious Style. So I hope that hearing from the guests in these interviews has also been valuable for you. And I hope that listening to these episodes does provide that further context was further layers.
I know I keep using those words, but I feel like they’re the best to describe what I’m meaning. And yeah, that you’ve gotten something out of that podcast, like in addition to maybe if you were following me on Instagram, or reading my articles, I feel like this podcast adds in an additional dynamic, that’s really important.
3. Interviews for the Conscious Style Podcast
And that brings me to the third resource, which is the first-hand interviews with the guests for this podcast. So the third transformative resource that I want to list is basically the interviews that you’ve been hearing here. There’s just nothing that beats being able to have a direct conversation with someone, with a change maker, a thought leader that you really want to learn from, and then to be able to ask them the questions that you want to know.
This is something that I am so incredibly grateful for and just a few years ago this would have been such like a far-off dream. Like sometimes I just get into the nitty-gritty of it and it can be overwhelming managing all the moving parts of a podcast, and it can stress me out at times.
But then I just have to like pinch myself and remind myself that this is something that I would have only like daydreamed about doing a few years ago. So trying to like acknowledge that.
But anyway, I think that these conversations with these people have been just so transformative. And I don’t necessarily have like favorite conversations or favorite episodes, because that would be impossible. I enjoy every single conversation for different reasons. But the ones that I’m going to list out here, are the conversations that shifted my perspective the most or taught me the most new lessons.
So those would be first off, episode 8 and 9 with Sophia Yang of Threading Change was an incredible way to start diving deep right off the bat in Season One. Sophia broke down fashions’ colonialist roots and modern-day realities in part one (which was episode 8) and then in part two, Sophia broke down how we can create a more intersectional future for sustainable fashion (which was episode 9).
And the conversation around colonization’s impacts both historically and presently on the fashion industry. This is a conversation that has really been expanding, but I hadn’t ever heard it explained the way that Sofia explained it. And I just think she broke it down in such an understandable way that I really, really valued.
And then Episode 12, with Nazma Akter of Awaj Foundation was also incredibly powerful. So Nazma was a former garment worker, and she is today a worker activist directly in Bangladesh. So she just brought in such a unique experience and shared a lot that I honestly wasn’t expecting, and I wasn’t aware of. And her stories were just so impactful.
We hear statistics, we read about what’s going on, but to hear it directly from her was just so different. Like I it took me a few hours after that interview, honestly, to like process what I had just heard, and I really listened to that episode several times. I think that one of the things that stood out to me the most was the gender-based violence happening in factories that was just at a level that I wasn’t aware of before.
I mean, again, we hear about these things, we see statistics, but to hear the stories is just is just heartbreaking and also so motivating to take action on. So that’s episode 12, if you want to hear from Nazma. And I hope to bring on more garment workers, or former garment workers onto this show, to bring in that dimension to this conversation.
So the next episode that I want to share is episode 24 with fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell, this was another really perspective-shifting episode. This was an entirely new world for me: fashion psychology or consumer psychology.
You know, this isn’t something that I’ve really learned much about. So it was really interesting to hear about things like why we shop, why people might buy more when they perceive something to be sustainable, why the message of sustainable fashion isn’t reaching as many people as we’d like to and, what’s missing from that conversation. So yeah, if you haven’t listened to that one, I feel like it’s definitely a must-listen, if you’re curious to learn more about conscious fashion.
It’s one of the most popular episodes of the show so far, so you might have already listened to it. And I would love to have Shakaila on for another interview because there’s just so many more questions I have for her on the psychology of consumption and of fashion. So, fingers crossed, you’ll get to hear from her again.
Okay, and then another episode was episode 29 with Lydia Wendt of California Cloth foundry. In this episode, I learned so much about localizing supply chains, organic and regenerative fabrics, natural dyes, and what makes clothing safely compostable versus not.
So this is something that I’ve been so curious about, especially natural dyes. I feel like a lot of the content and educational resources around natural dyes are very scientific, they maybe use a lot of jargon. And so it was really refreshing to hear Lydia talk about it and like more normal language and I felt like she made it really digestible and approachable. So I learned a lot from that.
And then episode 30 was also really, really informative with Nishanth Chopra of Oshadi Collective. So for some background, Oshadi is basically building a regenerative seed to sew supply chain in rural India. There was so much value in this conversation getting a direct perspective of cotton farming in India, and what it really means to build a regenerative fashion system. So that was episode 30, the season finale of season two.
And then the last episode I want to call out here is the premiere of this season with Nikissi Serumaga of VINTAGE OR VIOLENCE. So that was episode 31, and in this episode, Nikissi broke down the realities of the global secondhand trade, and that is just such an important conversation in a circular and sustainable fashion conversation.
Again, I have learned and have loved every single conversation with every guest. But these were the ones that I felt like, either changed my mind on things or shifted my perspective, or maybe gave a new angle that I hadn’t thought about. And they were really transformative.
And of course, I hope that they will be or were just as transformative for you. If you haven’t listened to any of those episodes, definitely go back and scroll back on your podcast app or visit consciouslifestyle.com to check out those episodes.
4. Slow Factory’s Open Education
And then resource number four is Open Education or Open Edu by the Slow Factory. So their slogan is “what school won’t teach you” and I having taken many of their classes, I definitely can say that I learned far more from their courses than many of my university courses.
And they do sort of run it semester style, so you can like sign up for a semester. But they save all the recordings later so you can go back and view all of the previous courses. And if you’re not able to attend the classes Live, which are on Fridays, then you can just watch the courses at a later date. And I will put the link to their classes in the episode description so you can either sign up or watch the course videos.
And there have been so many courses that I still want to watch from Soul Factory’s, Open Education but some of the courses that I’ve attended that were really transformative for me, were the four Sustainability Literacy classes with Céline Semaan.
And then also Céline’s class on Fashion and Colonialism was really, really good. The History of Fast Fashion with Aja Barber was fantastic. Fashion and waste with Liz Ricketts was really good. And Deconstructing Greenwashing Myths with Sophia Li was also very educational.
So I really have gotten a lot out of every class that I’ve taken with Slow Factory, but those were some of the ones that stood out the most.
5. Sustainable Fashion Books
And then resource number five has been sustainable fashion books, or books about the fashion industry showing its environmental and/or social impacts.
So books are a really foundational resource, and maybe I should have put them at the beginning. But I think that it’s really important to have a strong working knowledge about the industry before like just seeing Instagram posts or one-off articles. Like it can be hard to understand without sort of a basis and I feel like books are a really really great way to get started or to sort of re-solidify that foundation.
So some specific books that I definitely would recommend are Consumed by Aja Barber. I think that this is a great book both for beginners but also if you’ve been in the space for a while and want to refresh or just want a deeper understanding of some of the issues.
I think Aja does such a great job of balancing like not shying away from the realities, while also making it like an approachable read. You know, she infuses her humor in there, and her just matter of factness, if you follow Aja on Instagram or part of her Patreon, you sort of know her tone and she brings that into her book, which just makes it a really engaging read.
And then another standout element of this book is that Aja brings an important history about colonialism and fashion’s role in slavery and unjust global trading practices. So it provides really good context into why we are where we are today with the fashion industry. And I think that unfortunately, that was missing in a lot of books about sustainable and ethical fashion or it just wasn’t explored deeply enough.
And if you want a little bit of a preview of Aja’s book, you can listen to episode 22 of the Conscious Style podcast, which is the episode that I interviewed Aja. I really really enjoyed that conversation with her so you can tune into that for a bit of what to expect in this book.
And then another book that was really I would say game-changing for me was Clothing Poverty: The hidden world of Fast Fashion and Secondhand Clothes, by Andrew Brooks.
So this book is a bit more academic and dense and slow-moving, that probably doesn’t make it sound super enticing. But if you’re ready for maybe more of a textbook style book, and you really want to go deep into these issues, and get a lot of research, I definitely recommend Clothing Poverty.
Like if you are writing an essay about this for a school, or you work in the industry, and you want that deeper understanding, Clothing Poverty is really good. It is a tough book to get through. It took me a while to get through it. But it unravels some of these hidden sides of the fashion industry, like the global secondhand or recycled clothing trade.
And that is an area that definitely I learned a lot about in recent — I would say like past a year or two. Because this is an area, as I referenced in the beginning, there are things that I’ve unlearned and had to relearn about the fashion industry and this is definitely one of those areas I was not aware of what was happening to donated or recycled clothes.
I’ve had to like go back and adjust articles that I wrote several years ago because there was maybe not the most accurate information. Like saying that, for instance, if you’re looking for somewhere to send unwanted clothes responsibly, I suggested like H&M’s takeback program, which now I know is not at all what it seems and is really just greenwashing. But yeah, I wanted to be honest about that, because I promised to share a bit about my journey and some of the things that I’ve unlearned on my way.
But anyway, the third book that I wanted to share with you is Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment by Maxine Bédat. And it’s a super well-researched book that follows a similar premise to Clothing Poverty, and that it follows sort of the life and death of a pair of jeans and Cothing Poverty also focused on jeans.
But I would say the style is quite different. So Maxine includes a lot of stories, a lot of interviews, as she goes through the different stages of a typical garment supply chain. And she also has additional areas that aren’t in Clothing Poverty like she goes to a recycling center in I believe it’s New York.
And yeah, it’s really cool how she actually interviews cotton farmers, garment makers, logistics workers, like she interviewed several Amazon logistics workers to get a glimpse into that stage of the fashion supply chain, which isn’t really something that we talk a whole lot about.
So this book also sparked a lot of ideas for further research, like emphasizing that this is a continual journey. Something like the logistic centers of fashion, that’s an area that I haven’t really looked into before. So there is always more to learn. And yeah, I definitely recommend this book.
There were some gaps and some perspectives missing as there really are in every book, I think, you know, no book is going to be totally comprehensive. But I think it’s worth adding to your reading list if it’s not already.
And if you’re looking for more reading recommendations, I have a guide to 15 Sustainable Fashion Books on consciouslifeandstyle.com. So I will link that resource for you in the show notes to make sure you can check that out if you are looking for some reading recommendations.
And then resource number six has been the ethical fashion nonprofit Remake. So you’ve probably heard me talk about Remake before if you’ve been listening to this podcast or if you’re following me on Instagram, but Remake is an advocacy and educational nonprofit that works at the intersection of labor rights and climate justice to create a truly equitable and sustainable fashion industry.
For more on what remake does you can listen to episode 11 of this podcast with Founder & CEO Ayesha Barenblat. She talks about what Remake is doing, and also talks about their ongoing PayUp Fashion campaign. So Remake shares a ton of educational resources on their Instagram and their website. And they also have some short documentaries on their site as well.
And they also do educational programming with schools to try to engage students in these issues. So definitely I would suggest visiting remake.world and following them on Instagram @remakeourworld. They have a newsletter as well, if you are not on Instagram.
And Remake has the latest info on labor rights issues in fashion, and they have campaigns, they break them down into really digestible carousels. They give you a breakdown of the issue and their campaign and then how you can get involved.
So it’s like always the number one resource I list if someone is looking to get more involved with fashion activism or looking to get involved beyond conscious consumption. Remake always offers a lot of tangible ways to take action and hold fashion brands accountable.
And then if you’re looking for a way to get involved in a deeper way, like you’re ready to dedicate some time each week, or at least each month to this movement, I would suggest joining Remake’s Ambassador Community. That was one of the most impactful things that I did in my own journey.
There was a point that I was just sort of reaching what I felt to be walls or limitations and the impact that I could have on the fashion industry. I write about this topic, I engage with this topic, I’m involved with conscious consumerism but I wanted to do more on the activist front. But frankly, I had no idea how to go about that.
And joining Remake’s Ambassador community has been so invaluable to that part of my journey. They have monthly Ambassador calls, where basically you can stay updated on what Remake is doing and learn about ways to get involved. And they have resources like email templates, or social media resources or a list of must-know facts so that you can create your own social media resources to share with your audience, things like that.
And they also have smaller meetup groups to start to get to meet other people in the space because it can sometimes feel isolating to care about these issues as it’s not really mainstream yet. And you might not necessarily know people in your community, or in even in your city that also care about these issues.
So Remake is a really great way to connect with like-minded individuals. And they also have some hubs where you can meet people that are local to you so you can even start to meet people in real life that are also conscious fashion activists. So Remake really offers a lot, and there’s something for everyone, depending on the time commitment that you have.
You can follow them on Instagram, you can sign their petitions or you can take the plunge and join their Ambassador Community, which is available globally, by the way. So no matter where you are in the world, you can join Remake’s community, which makes it really, really incredible. So yeah, I’ll leave the links for all those things that I mentioned in the episode description.
7. “Slow Media”
And then the final resource that I wanted to share with you today is what I’m calling slow media. So slow media is basically not social media. It’s articles on websites or physical and digital magazines.
I do actually learn a lot from social media, but I feel like the best resources are when I learned about something from social media, and then it directs me to learn more in an article or podcast or book and I can really dive deeper into that topic.
Because sometimes things on social media can get oversimplified. And I’m aware that that can happen on my own account @consciousstyle. I feel that I have to reduce things when I’m creating the content, right? I only have 10 slides when I do a carousel and I can’t fit an entire article into those 10 slides — like nobody would read that. So there’s limitations to social media.
I feel like it’s a really valuable platform to raise awareness on things but you’re never going to get the full picture from an Instagram post or a few Instagram stories. So I’ve been trying to lean more heavily into deeper content this year in 2022 and spend less time on social media.
So I thought that I would share some of my go-to resources for sustainable fashion news and educational content with you, if you’re also looking to spend less time on social media. I feel like I keep hearing that from people like so many people are trying to reduce their time and social media. And for me, one of the sort of best ways to do that has been subscribing to newsletters and digital and print magazines to sort of fill this need to stay informed.
So, number one, is Vogue Business’s Sustainability section. So Vogue Business has a mix of free and paid articles. I am a paid member, since I really value their research and I use it as a resource for my work, for my business in content creation, and they have a lot of great articles.
And then number two, Sourcing Journal is another great resource. I would especially suggest it if you work in the industry, or are studying and looking for resources for papers and things like that. And I am hoping to have the Sourcing and Labor Editor of Sourcing Journal on this podcast to talk more about labor rights and sustainability in the industry. So fingers crossed, you can expect that interview in Season 4.
This platform is like a freemium model. So you get three free articles per month, and then after that you do have to pay. But I do find what they put out really valuable for staying updated on the latest news in sustainable fashion. So if you work for a company, maybe you can get them to sponsor that for you as an educational resource but if not, those three articles per month, you can sort of reserve those for articles that look especially interesting to you.
And then number three, I really enjoy following the work of Sophie Benson. She is a journalist who covers sustainable fashion, the environment, and consumerism.
Number four, Ethical Style Journal is a really great resource. They have physical and digital magazines about some really interesting topics in ethical fashion. So I purchased their digital magazines and really, really enjoyed them.
And some other publications that don’t necessarily focus on sustainable fashion exclusively, but have some really great content, are Atmos. they have a category called Refashion specifically where you can see all their fashion-related content.
The Fashion Law has some interesting content on legal issues in fashion like greenwashing legislation, lawsuits that have arisen out of the resale market, and content like that.
And then thirdly, the Guardian also has a lot of great pieces about the fashion industry.
And then we also tried to post a lot of educational content on consciouslifeandstyle.com as well as on our sister site Conscious Fashion Collective, which is at consciousfashion.co.
And additionally, on the @consciousfashion Instagram page, I try to share recent news happening in the conscious fashion space. So that’s something to follow, as well, if you’re looking for more ways to stay updated on what’s happening in the sustainable fashion space.
Oh, and I would also add the Sustainable Fashion Forum’s Instagram, they also often will share some great articles to check out.
And honestly, I could go on and on and on in terms of additional publications or additional educational resources. It’s been really exciting to see so many publications focused on conscious fashion or sustainability come out, or existing media platforms start to dedicate more of their content to sustainable fashion. Like Grist is an environmental publication that has recently been having more articles on sustainable fashion, which is really cool to see.
And of course, there have been more and more podcasts coming out, books in the works, and it’s really exciting to see this space continue to evolve and grow.
Subscribe to The Conscious Edit For More
So this episode was far from being an exhaustive list of resources. As I mentioned in the beginning, if you want a more extensive list of educational resources that I’ve listened to, or read or used on my journey, or have bookmarked to reference in the future, you can sign up for The Conscious Edit at consciouslifestyle.com/edit and all subscribers will receive access to that Google Doc.
And it is a Google Doc link, so it will continually evolve and grow as I learn about additional resources. So it’s not a static list, but a document that I will continue to go back to and update to provide the most value for you.
Wrap Up and Final Notes
So I think that about wraps it up for this week’s episode, I hope that that list of resources was useful for you, all of the links are going to be in the show notes, because I know that was like a lot to keep track of, and you’re probably not going to remember everything that I said. So all of the resources as well as the respective links are going to be in the show notes.
So I hope you enjoy today’s episode. If you want to make sure you don’t miss future episodes, be sure to hit subscribe or follow in your favorite podcast app.
If you are liking the show so far, it would mean so much if you left a rating and or review or if you just shared this episode with a friend that you think would get something out of it.
Thank you in advance for supporting the show in whatever way that you can. And of course, thank you to all of you for tuning in to this week’s episode. I am going to wrap it up here but I will catch you again next Tuesday for another episode of the Conscious Style Podcast.
- The True Cost Documentary
- River Blue Documentary
- Conscious Chatter podcast
- Green Dreamer podcast
- Wardrobe Crisis podcast
- Crash Course Fashion podcast
- Clotheshorse podcast
- View all previous Conscious Style Podcast episodes
- Slow Factory Open Education
- 15 Sustainable Fashion Books to Add to your Reading List
- Remake’s website and Instagram and Ambassador Community
- Vogue Business Sustainability Section
- Sourcing Journal
- Sophie Benson
- Ethical Style Journal
- Atmos: #ReFashion
- The Fashion Law
- The Guardian
- Conscious Life & Style Website
- Conscious Fashion Collective website
- @ConsciousFashion Instagram
- @TheSustainableFashionForum Instagram
- Free Courses and Education to Learn More About Sustainable Fashion
Other Podcast Episodes Mentioned:
- EP8 Unpacking Fashion’s Colonial Roots & Modern-Day Realities With Sophia Yang
- EP9 Creating an Intersectional Sustainable Fashion Future with Sophia Yang
- EP12 From the Frontlines: Fighting for Garment Worker Rights in Bangladesh with Nazma Akter
- EP24 The Fascinating Psychology Behind Fashion and Consumption with Shakaila Forbes-Bell
- EP29 Compostable Clothing, Natural Dyes, and Localizing Fashion Systems
- EP30 Regenerative Fashion & Building a Seed-to-Sew Supply Chain
- EP31 The Reality of the Secondhand Clothing Trade with Nikissi Serumaga
- EP22 Aja Barber on Colonialism, Consumerism, and Changing the Fashion Industry
- EP11: Fashion Activism: It’s Time for Brands to #PayUp with Ayesha Barenblat