Life never stops and fashion trends seem to appear and fade at a supersonic speed, leaving us all with far more clothes than we need and far less money on our bank accounts.
Fast fashion, mass production and consumerism have been shaping our approach to fashion, making a huge impact on the environment and largely contributing to worsening the living conditions of many developing countries by exploiting their resources and the low-cost labor.
That just sounded pretty grim, we know. But the good news is that there’s another way to dress and look good. It’s called Slow Fashion.
What is Slow Fashion?
The term was coined by author and design activist Kate Fletcher and it refers to an approach to fashion more quality-based rather than time-based.
But what really is Slow Fashion and how is it different from sustainable or ethical fashion? To be fair, there’s a lot of overlap between these three movements, but the main difference is that Slow Fashion specifically aims to reduce the production and consumption of garments. Its goal is to encourage both brands and consumers to slow down and rethink their approach to fashion.
Why is it important to reduce the consumption of clothes?
In the past, people sourced and produced their garments locally. Their clothes were durable and usually of good quality, as they were meant to last a very long time.
Nowadays, most of our clothes are produced with cheap materials and, according to independent research, 90% of them are thrown away before they need to be. This means that we generally buy more than we actually need, we don’t make the most of our clothes and we tend to throw them away instead of fixing them.
Slow Fashion firstly asks us to buy less and learn to shop our closet or get into borrowing and swapping practices. Then it encourages us to stop treating our garments as disposable and start repairing or upcycling them. Finally, when it comes to buying, it pushes us to opt for second-hand or invest in good quality clothes, made from sustainable materials and processes.
Why is it important to reduce the production of clothes? Here’s some more data on that: in a 2018 report named Pulse of the Fashion Industry, it was found that 75% of all fashion supply chain material ends up in landfills. That’s a lot of resources that could be reused or recycled, but that instead end up polluting our planet.
Slow Fashion wants brands to take control over and improve their entire supply chain and, in doing so, establish more ethical and sustainable practices. Brands are called to slow down their production schedule and spend more time on the design process to ensure that all pieces of clothing are made with good quality materials, locally or ethically sourced, with zero waste. Slow Fashion pushes brands to explore innovative and sustainable fabrics and methods of production and invites them to be more transparent in their practices. Finally, brands are also asked to stop creating infinite collections and chasing seasonal trends, and invest more in timeless, versatile pieces that will look fashionable and feel good for longer.
How can you do your part?
Now that you know a bit more about Slow Fashion, you may also want to give it a go. And that’s great!
Slow fashion is a very practical, responsible yet exciting approach to fashion that only requires some small changes to your habits, but that will completely transform the way you see your clothes.
Here are some tips to help you get started on the right foot:
- Do your research. There’s a lot of ‘greenwashing’ around, so make sure you read the Fashion Transparency Index before buying from a self-declared sustainable brand. It’s not a shopping guide and it’s not everything there is to know, but it discloses what information brands share about their environmental and ethical practices. The fashion industry is still very secretive, with many hiding where they produce and how they treat their workers. Hold fashion brands accountable and vote with your wallet.
- “Care for your clothes, like the good friends they are”. That’s Joan Crawford’s advice and it’s a great one. Create a love story with all your clothing items, something that emotionally links you to them, so you’ll like them more and for longer. Also, check the labels before washing or ironing, so your clothes will always look good and your love story can last forever.
- Wash your clothes less, so they’ll last longer. Did you know that jeans don’t actually need to be washed, for example? That’s right, you just put them in the freezer every three or four months to kill the bacteria. You can also significantly reduce your environmental impact by using your washing machine a bit less and avoiding the tumble dryer.
- Make and mend! You can learn how to do basic repairs, but also take your garments to tailors or shoe repair shops to get them fixed. And if the damage cannot be repaired, then repurpose your clothes. Your ripped trousers could become a new pair of shorts or be incorporated into a patchwork handbag of your own creation.
- Keep your closet tidy and organized. Using an app, like OpenWardrobe can help you create a digital closet, where you can store all your clothes, so you’ll never forget what you own. Digitizing your wardrobe can also spur your creativity, as you’ll have all your clothes in one place and can mix and match with just a few clicks.
- “Buy less, choose well, make it last”, said Vivienne Westwood and that’s still the motto of all sustainable, ethical and slow fashion movements.
Resist the impulse to go shopping and make a point to buy less. Invest in good quality clothes, made with durable materials. They’ll cost more, but they’ll also last a lifetime, making the initial investment worthwhile.
You can also try the 30 wears test by Livia Firth to help you refrain from mindless buying habits. Will you wear those shoes at least 30 times? If yes, then go for it, if not...well, just put them back on the shelf and we’ll pretend we didn’t see that ;)
- Buy second-hand clothes. Going shopping at charity shops and fairs can be a very fun experience and you’ll also be contributing to a good cause.
- Build a capsule wardrobe by selecting only a few staple items and some statement pieces to create endless outfits, adaptable to multiple occasions. Remember - choose practical, classic pieces, so you’ll always look stylish, no matter the trend or the season.
- Unsubscribe from mailing lists and unfollow brands and influencers who push you to compulsively buy. You don’t need that negativity in your life!
- Learn to care less about new trends and find groups and organizations that want to make an impact and drive the change.
Join OpenWardrobe and connect with like-minded fashion enthusiasts all over the world. You’ll expand your knowledge, learn new sustainable fashion tricks and tips, and have a lot of fun!