What is ‘slow fashion’?
If the slow food movement is about caring where your food came from and how it got to your plate, then the slow fashion movement applies the same principles to fashion.
It's about choosing sustainability and ethics over the mainstream fashion industry and its questionable practices. It's about choosing beautiful handmade pieces over mass produced ones. It's supporting talented local designers rather than lining the pockets of CEOs who have no regard for the environment or their workers.
Embracing slow fashion is taking the time to appreciate quality production and truly value our purchases.
Ever wondered how Primark manages to look completely different every time you visit a store? Mass production can take a garment from a design on a piece of paper to hanging on your changing room wall in a matter of weeks. This puts pressure on factory owners to force their workers to work harder, faster, and for less pay. It creates huge amounts of harmful chemicals and depletes natural resources. And for what? So I can buy a pair of shoes for £4?
Slower, more thoughtful production improves working conditions for everyone in the chain - especially those at the bottom. It reduces the amount of raw materials used and allows the environment to recuperate.
And slow fashion is better for the individual, for me and you. A well-made, well-designed, organic cotton dress will cost you more than a mass-produced acrylic one - but would you rather have one perfect dress that will last you decades and make you smile whenever you wear it, or five that are not quite right, that fall apart in the washing machine and end up being thrown away after a couple of months?
This year, I’m taking a slow fashion pledge. A pledge to be more conscious of what I’m buying, and how my fashion purchases might affect the environment and the people who have made them. I've thought about three steps that I want to take:
Do I really need to buy something new? Probably not. Despite working in a clothes shop, I often fall into that trap of last minute panic buying, thinking I have nothing to wear to a particular event. But my wardrobe probably isn’t really missing anything. This year, I’ll plan ahead of time and make more of an effort to buy something I really love rather than something that will just do – if I need anything at all.
Other things to consider: clothes swaps, buying second-hand or vintage.
This time next year, I want to be able to say that I have a small wardrobe full of well-made, beautiful, versatile pieces that I’ve fallen in love with – not an over-flowing floordrobe stuffed with pieces that don’t really suit or fit me. I’ll avoid buying into trends and choose unique, handmade garments and accessories that I can wear over and over again.
Other things to consider: washing at low temperatures and drying naturally to make clothing last longer.
I’m not an expert by any means, but I can fix a hem and sew on a button if I need to. But how often does this happen? I have at least one drawer filled with clothes that could do with some attention, and more still that I’ve thrown out or given away. I’m going to think more about doing small repairs like these myself, perhaps setting aside one afternoon a month to do some wardrobe maintenance.
Other things to consider: taking second-hand and vintage pieces to a tailor to have altered; fixing shoes and boots at the cobbler instead of buying a new pair.
What about you? Will you make the pledge, too?