“Slow fashion” is a trendy term in a lot of retail circles. But do most people understand what it really means? The history, weight and importance of the Slow Fashion Movement proves that it is much more than just a trend — it is here to stay and may lay the foundation for the future of fashion.
Putting the Brakes on Fast Fashion
For years, speed and efficiency ruled design houses. Producing tons of garments, in as little time and as cheaply as possible, was the industry norm. This approach to production was deemed “fast fashion,” aptly named because clothing items were being created faster than ever before.
For decades, very few people saw anything wrong with that system — clothes were easily accessible and very cheap. Fast fashion marketing encourages shoppers to buy new items frequently, as they are constantly bombarded by imagery of the next “in” style. This approach convinced consumers that items from the previous seasons — now considered passé or unfashionable —could never be worn again, leading to an endless cycle of overconsumption.
There are some serious criticisms of the fast fashion model:
Environmental impact: The fashion industry has a large carbon footprint as CO2 is released during many of the production stages and for transporting the items. In addition, pesticide use and artificial dyes have led to the pollution of groundwater and waterways, most notably in the Global South.
The throwaway mindset of fast fashion results in tons of clothing items being discarded every year. On average, the American household discards 70 pounds of textiles; clothing waste contributes to 5 percent of total landfill refuse.
- Unfair labor practices: Many fast fashion retailers employ sweatshops — giant factories with poor and dangerous working conditions. Labor is often outsourced to places where there are fewer safety regulations, lack of unions or wage laws. Oftentimes, factory owners and workers continue to work despite obvious risks to health to meet production quotas.
A Different Perspective
As consumers have become more aware and, in turn, more educated about the process by which their clothes are made, people across the world have begun demanding better, more fair and cleaner options.
The specific phrase “slow fashion” was first coined in 2007, in an article by journalist Kate Fletcher in the British publication The Ecologist. Fletcher states it best:
“Slow fashion is about choice, information, cultural diversity and identity. Yet, critically, it is also about balance. It requires a combination of rapid imaginative change and symbolic (fashion) expression as well as durability and long-term engaging, quality products. Slow fashion supports our psychological needs (to form identity, communicate and be creative through our clothes) as well as our physical needs (to cover and protect us from extremes of climate).”
As Fletcher describes, slow fashion borrows much of its ideology from the slow food movement, which supports a holistic approach to food consumption. In reflection, slow fashion takes all aspects of production into consideration: from the making of the products, to the eventual distribution and, finally, the experience of the wearer. The ultimate goal is to encourage a more environmentally and socially conscious approach to fashion.
Tips to support Slow Fashion Movement:
- Let your dollar do the talking – Buy from brands who support their workforce – all the way from production to the retail space. Do some research and find out where their garments are made, who makes them and if they use sustainable methods/materials.
- Repair and reuse – Instead of simply buying new items constantly, mend and repurpose pieces so they may continue to be worn. Proponents of slow fashion also support buying second-hand or vintage.
- Quality over quantity – Purchase pieces that are well-made and meant to be worn for years, rather than several, badly made items that are sure to fall apart after only a few uses.
Visit out our page Our Approach to learn how slow fashion plays a prominent role in our brand identity.