What is Slow Fashion?
There's no getting away from the hot topic of sustainability, but with the damaging effects of global fashion consumption dominating the news, it's for good reason. There are so many things we can all do to help make a difference and our wardrobes are a great place to start.
With so many new fashion-related buzzwords floating around at the moment - 'ethical fashion', 'sustainable fashion', 'conscious fashion' and 'slow fashion' to name a few - you may be wondering how to make sense of it all.
Stylecamp's #slowfashion series is here to help. If you're looking for ways to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle but don't know where to begin, then read on for an introduction into the concept of 'slow' fashion, while later in this series you can learn how to create a conscious-fashion wardrobe of your own.
WHAT IS SLOW FASHION?
In short, it's the 'anti-fast fashion' movement. It's the rejection of cheap and low-quality, mass-produced clothing that has a high impact on people, animals and the planet, by making more conscious decisions when it comes to our shopping habits.
"Buy less. Choose well. Make it last."
- Vivienne Westwood
The cheap prices, constant drops and wide availability of 'fast' fashion items tempt many of us to buy what we don't really need and ultimately to excess. It's also believed that the popularity of social media 'Influencers' and the ease of in-app purchases in recent years has facilitated impulse buying habits by taking advantage of the 'see-now--buy-now' generation.
The true scale of the impact fast-fashion has had on the environment has largely gone unnoticed until now, and it's thanks to the media and charitable organisations like Fashion Revolution that we're starting to hear more shocking statistics like these:
Pictures c/o Fashion Revolution - a charitable donation was made to use imagery and statistics
While this high rate of clothing consumption is not only a drain on natural resources, damaging to the environment and exploitative to factory workers, worse still, the disposable nature of these garments after only a few wears or even just one season means that the problem is just piling up.
"Slow fashion is a philosophy. It is a way of thinking about, choosing and wearing clothes to ensure they bring meaning, joy and value to everyday"
- Jane Milburn, TextileBeat
'Slow' fashion endorses the 'buy less, buy better' ideal we've all heard of, yet it's more than just knowing about the ethical and sustainable practices of the brands that we buy from. It's a conscious awareness of personal style, taking stock of what we already own and giving thought and care into extending the life of our wardrobes.
By taking a 'slow' approach to fashion, which doesn't react to trends but strives for longevity, reducing our consumption and investing in pieces that you'll still want and be able to wear for years to come is key. Taking into account fair wages, good quality materials and craftsmanship understandably makes clothing like this more expensive, but ultimately the 'fast-fashion' alternative has a far greater cost for the future.
WHAT MAKES A SLOW FASHION BRAND?
The buck doesn't stop with the consumer, however, as clothing brands have to play their part in reducing the pressure on the environment too. For #slowfashionbrands, 'slow' fashion is about producing lower quanitites of high quality, built to last clothing, that may also support fair trade, sustainable processes and/or use responsibly sourced raw materials.
Despite efforts for transparency among leading fast-fashion brands, the reality is that you can never be 100% sure of how your clothing was made and who will have inevitably been exploited along the way. Thanks to 'slow' fashion, the trend is changing and many smaller brands are putting ethical responsibility and sustainability at the forefront of their collections.
So, how to identify a 'slow' fashion brand? Clothing from self-professed 'slow' fashion brands may be handmade by the business owner or produced locally in small runs, shining a light on quality and traditional craftsmanship. Giving customers more clarity about where their clothes are being made like this also gives a better chance of ensuring good conditions for workers and ethical transparency.
"Good design is sustainable design"
- Imran Amed, The Business of Fashion
Collections are purposeful in design by being less trend-focussed and not overly-produced, resulting in less wastage and ultimately lessening the impact on the environment. Here at Stylecamp for example, all the timeless pieces in the collection are designed to be completely versatile and are only handmade to order, ensuring waste is kept to a minimum.
Making a purchase from 'slow' fashion small traders like Stylecamp not only goes towards supporting local and small businesses, but for you the investment goes further. The knowledge of doing good for the planet whilst getting the best quality and cherishing something you truly love all plays a part in a 'slow' fashion wardrobe. The personal nature of 'slow' fashion also means there's a strong likelihood you won't pass someone else in the street wearing the same thing!
"Call it eco-fashion if you like, I think it's just common sense"
- Livia Firth, Eco Age
It's great to see more and more people getting on board with the 'slow' fashion philosophy and it's clear that if we all start to consider our lifestyle choices more carefully, it will almost certainly make a huge difference to the future health of the planet.
Stylecamp's next Slow Fashion edition will be looking at ways to sort your current wardrobe responsibly, in preparation for creating a #slowfashionwardrobe of your own.