What is Slow Fashion?
Slow Fashion is a way to identify garment or product solutions, based on the repositioning of strategies of design, production, consumption, use, and reuse, which are emerging alongside the global fashion system, and are posing a potential challenge to it.
In simpler terms, Slow Fashion is the polar opposite of quick fashion. It refers to a fashion awareness and approach that takes into account the procedures and resources needed to create apparel or products. It promotes the purchase of higher quality products that will last longer, as well as equitable treatment of people, animals, and the environment.
It is an alternative to fast fashion in the sense that it promotes a more ethical and sustainable way of living and consuming. It encompasses the whole range of ‘sustainable,’ ‘eco,’ ‘green,’ and ‘ethical’ fashion movements.
This movement is a business model that focuses on both slowing down consumerism and respecting the environment and ethics.
Some elements of the Slow Fashion philosophy include: buying vintage clothes, redesigning old products, shopping from smaller producers, making clothes, products and accessories at home and buying garments or products that last longer.
Consideration is given to carbon miles, energy use throughout the product process, life cycle and longevity of the item. Thoughtful, eco conscious design is a key component.
Why is it important?
Let’s go back to the early days of fashion.
Prior to the industrial revolution, what we wore was sourced locally and produced out of nearby textiles and resources. Durability was the main priority when shopping, clothes needed to last a long time.
Trends were slow moving because clothing for the majority served as a utility or function, not a luxury.
The rich few aside, there was no need (nor the means) to have a continuously-evolving wardrobe.
The Slow Fashion movement takes us back to these simpler, more sustainable times…but without all the plagues and cholera.
Instead of cheap, virgin synthetics, slow fashion clothes and products are made from quality and durable fabrics. Garments and products are produced in small batches, and only have a few styles for each collection.
Most importantly, the designs are timeless and the craftsmanship quality enough to make it last. Longevity is crucial.
Slow Fashion doesn’t mean boring – designs, quality and style are integral to the entire movement.
It’s about saving our planet and the people responsible for making our textile products. It’s absolutely necessary that we stop chasing trends—or we’ll end up paying a lot more than just the price of that cheap product from a chain store.
So here’s some scary stuff!
We’re buying more clothes than ever.
In 2014, we bought an average of 60% more clothes than we did in 2000. We were much quicker to ditch each garment too, keeping it for just half as long.
Part of that blame lies on our fickle sense of fashion and impulsive buying habits.
The rest should be put squarely on the shoulder pads of fast fashion, whose ever-changing styles convince us that the shirt we bought last week is no longer hip. Let’s not forget the cheap manufacturing and planned degradation that keeps us going back for more every time those short-lived pants get a new hole (which is too often).
More clothes are ending up in landfills.
Every single second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of clothes is making its way to a landfill or to be burned. This is enough to fill up 1.5 Empire State Buildings every single day.
Most of our clothes are made of plastic, too, which means they’re non-biodegradable, which also means that they can remain in landfills for up to 200 years.
That doesn’t mean natural fibers are immune to landfill waste.
While things like cotton and wool are biodegradable, they can’t biodegrade properly when buried under mounds of plastic. Instead, they’ll break down anaerobically (or without oxygen) and release methane gas, the most potent of all greenhouse gases.
Fashion is thirsty.
It takes Australian cotton growers around 2400 litres of water to produce 1 kg of fibre. Some may argue that isn’t a lot of water. However, water is a precious commodity and one in short supply – certainly in Australia! By all means, wear the cool tee but please give some thought to the life cycle of your product.
Cheap fashion = unfair wages.
Garment workers are notoriously exploited. One study found that Bangladesh garment workers (primarily women) only make about $96 per month.
A measly sum for working in dangerous factories on the verge of collapse. Don’t forget, it was in Bangladesh that the infamous Rana Plaza incident happened, waking the world from its sweet style dreams.
Not to mention that $96 is when they are paid.
A 2018 report found that child labor and forced labor was rampant in the fashion industry, and reported in countries like Brazil, China, Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Turkey, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Slow Fashion as a solution.
Doom and gloom, it seems, is the new black. But it doesn’t have to be.
We can all be a part of the Slow Fashion movement. We’re at the beginning of a radical transformation of the fashion industry and anyone, on any budget, can play a role.