What is Slow Fashion?

slow fashion items in a bedroom with old wardrobe and shelving
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In a world where fast-paced fashion heavily dominates it is now more important than ever that we talk about and raise awareness of the damage this type of fashion is having on both our environment and the staff employed to create the pieces. From air pollution to dyes being pumped into waterways, poor working conditions and low pay, the virgin plastic production used in manmade fibres as well as the emissions created in transport, there is a LOT to unpack when we talk about the impact of fast fashion. It is a topic that I am still learning so much about and with its growth, there is always something new, and often devastating, to discover. The alternative to fast fashion is what we call slow fashion. A simpler way of viewing what we wear/purchase, a kinder fashion for our environment, fashion with ethics and fashion that is far better for your wallet. Let’s take a look at what exactly slow fashion is and why it has become a growing movement in recent years.

Understanding Slow Fashion

Slow fashion is a conscious approach to clothing production, consumption and design that prioritises quality, longevity and sustainability. It’s a movement that encourages consumers to be mindful of their purchasing habits, opting for items that are either already in circulation (secondhand) or made sustainably and ethically, with consideration for both people and the planet.

The Antithesis of Fast Fashion

Slow fashion is the antithesis of fast fashion. The current fast fashion industry churns out cheap, trendy clothing at an alarming rate – Shein for example releases around 10,000 products each day! And this will be at the expense of workers’ rights and environmental sustainability. Fast fashion brands prioritise speed and low costs, in order to generate large sales, resulting in mass-produced garments that are designed to be worn briefly and discarded quickly. It is an industry that has lost control and the more that people feed into this machine, the more it will continue to spit out. It really is time to stop, take stock and make some changes. Here is how slow fashion is VERY different to fast fashion…

The Key Principles of Slow Fashion:

  1. Quality Over Quantity: Slow fashion emphasises investing in well-made, durable clothing that will last you for years, rather than buying cheap, “disposable” items repeatedly.
  2. Ethical Production: Slow fashion brands prioritise fair wages, safe working conditions and transparent supply chains. They often collaborate with artisans and small-scale producers to create unique, handcrafted pieces that are made to order.
  3. Sustainable Materials: Slow fashion embraces eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and recycled fibres. These materials help to minimise environmental impact by reducing water usage, chemical pollution and carbon emissions.
  4. Timeless Design: Instead of chasing fleeting trends, slow fashion focuses on timeless styles that will always be practical and look good. This encourages consumers to build a versatile wardrobe that can be mixed and matched for years to come.
  5. Local Production: Supporting local artisans and manufacturers is a cornerstone of the slow fashion movement. By producing garments closer to home, brands can reduce transportation emissions and support local economies.

How to Embrace Slow Fashion

Education and Mindset:

As I mentioned above, by taking stock of what is happening within the fast fashion industry we can all learn to change our shopping habits. I know it isn’t easy to begin with, I’ve been there, I get that, but by educating ourselves on what is truly going on behind the scenes, reading up-to-date articles and taking in those huge (and shocking) figures we can begin to unlearn what has been pushed on us – hauls, disposable garments, keeping up with the latest trends, having the next best thing – and come to terms with the fact that isn’t good for us OR the planet. Changing your mindset is probably going to be the hardest part of this process but once you take this step you will be better off for it… As will our environment.

Re-Evaluate Your Wardrobe:

Now that you have decided to make this shift in your shopping habits it is time to re-evaluate your wardrobe. Take a close look at the items you own, decide what looks you like on yourself, what items can be easily matched and which ones bring you joy. One of the key components that slow fashion is built on is being able to shop your wardrobe.

Invest Wisely:

Once you have a clear idea of what you like/don’t like and how you want your style to look it is time to invest in high-quality, ethically made, eco-friendly garments that will stand the test of time. With many sustainable clothing ranges now around, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Some well-known favourites include This is Unfolded, Patagonia, Lucy and Yak, Nobody’s Child, BAM Clothing, People Tree, IDENTITY Lingerie, Thought and Rapanui. Some high-street stores now rank more highly in their sustainability efforts such as FatFace, Seasalt Cornwall and White Stuff. You can check out how your fave shops compare by using the Good on You App.

Shop Secondhand:

Another way (and one of my favourite ways) of building up a slow fashion, sustainable wardrobe is by shopping secondhand. From charity shops to eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Vinted, car boot sales or even clothing swap events, there are so many great ways of sourcing secondhand clothes, giving them a new lease of life. Did you know that there are currently enough garments on the planet to clothe the next 6 generations?! Secondhand is the best way to prevent further waste and to help create a positive and impactful circular economy.

Care for Your Clothes:

It is so simple yet so effective, take good care of your clothes. Follow the wash instructions, air dry them rather than tumble dry, hang them up after wearing, de-bobble and repair as required. Proper maintenance will help to prolong the life of your garments slowing down the need to buy new.

Benefits of Slow Fashion

  1. Reduced environmental impact
  2. Ethical labour practices
  3. Supporting brands with a responsible purpose
  4. Higher quality garments
  5. Personal connection to clothing items
  6. Unique looks
  7. Will save you money in the long term
  8. Doing your bit for the planet

Slow fashion offers a fantastic and rewarding alternative to the fast fashion industry, promoting sustainability, ethics and mindful consumption. Clothing should be valued and not seen as another disposable product – we have enough of those! Hopefully after reading this, you will feel a little more inclined to shop in a different and more responsible way.

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