June 25, 2021News
Slow fashion is a term we’re hearing a lot of right now. In fact, it’s being thrown around in almost every conversation within the fashion industry. But what actually is slow fashion? Why do we need it, and what’s it’s purpose? This guide tells you everything you need to know (and more!) about slow fashion and the philosophy behind it. To understand what slow fashion is, we first have to look at fast fashion, what it means, and the dangers it poses to society and our planet.
Fast fashion is all about the speed of which we consume clothing. It’s focused on the fact that we’re buying more clothes than ever before and wearing them for even less than. To keep up with this growing demand, brands are using inexpensive textiles and developing supply chains that are harmful to the planet. The fashion industry is one of the leading causes of pollution in the environment, doing more harm than both international flights and maritime shipping combined.
Due to the increase in demand and high turnover, clothing production has doubled since 2000 with most of these garments falling into the ‘fast fashion’ category. Clothing that you purchase from stores like ASOS, Boohoo, and SheIn all fall into the ‘fast fashion’ category.
‘Fast fashion’ is a 21st-century invention that has grown astronomically thanks to the rise of social media. Trends are evolving every day. Instead of coming out with one collection a season, brands like Zara are releasing up to 20+ collections a year.
If we were to look at the extent of the damage caused by fast fashion, we’d need an entire series of articles. Here’s some headline stats that can help paint the picture of the harm caused by our love for cheap and inexpensive clothing:
• The fashion industry uses 1.5 trillion litres of water every year, while 750 million people in the world do not have access to safe drinking water.
• Roughly 2,000 different chemicals are used to treat textiles during the garment making process. Only 16 of these chemicals are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
• The environmental impact of dyes and chemicals is most prominent in China, where 80% of groundwater from the major river basins are considered to be “unsuitable” for human contact.
• Out of all the human-made debris that is found on the shorelines of oceans and lakes throughout the world, 85% of the debris is the micro-plastics from clothing.
• 35% of the microplastics in the oceans comes from synthetic textiles such as polyester, which are popular amongst fast fashion brands.
The danger of fast fashion is as much about how we get rid of our clothing as how they’re made. With trends changing virtually every day, we need to make room for the next ‘must-have’ dress or blazer. Fast fashion means short lifespan, quick production, and a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ mentality.
• An estimated 85% of textiles end up in landfills around the world, with one garbage truck of clothing being brought to the landfill every second.
• Three-fifths of all clothing garments end up in a landfill or incinerator within a year of being purchased.
• The environmental group Greenpeace has estimated that 20% of clothing that we purchase isn’t even worn once, with the average wear of each product being as few as four times.
I’m sure we all have clothing in our closet we’ve worn more than four times, but there’ll be significant chunk that fall into the ‘less than four wears’ category. You might even have pieces in your closet that still have their labels on them.
The danger of fast fashion is everywhere you look, with social media putting a spotlight on the need to shift our focus onto slow fashion instead.
Slow fashion is all about slowing down our rate of consumption and taking a more purposeful look at what we have and what we use.
The driving force behind the movement is Gen Z and Millenials. 60% of millennials have said that they are trying to shop more sustainably. Between January 2017 and December 2018, there was a 250% increase in the number of google searches for sustainable fashion, showing that there is increasing demand amongst these demographics for more ethical and environmentally friendly fashion options. It’s this demographic that are promoting thrift shopping, ethical fashion brands, and reusable clothing material.
We’ve all been guilty of taking a trip into Zara or H&M and leaving with an arm full of clothes. We’ve all seen the “I only went in for a pair of socks” memes. Instead of buying clothes and accessories on impulse, slow fashion advocates the approach of stopping to consider whether you really need another dress or pair of black shoes.
With the evolution of ‘slow fashion’, your clothes can still look current and up to date without you having to jump on every momentary trend. Slow fashion is a smart investment, both for your bank balance and the planet.
Slow fashion is about looking at the bigger picture, looking beyond just one or two seasons ahead of yourself. It’s defined by elevated basics that are still contemporary, but that you can wear for years without becoming dated. You can make slow fashion your own, by embracing the philosophy and making it your own. It takes the approach that clothing is an investment, rather than a folly that you can wear one day and throw away the next. Most of us are lucky if we wear something more than once.
You might be wanting to make the transition to slow fashion, but you don’t know how. Ditch fast fashion trends and look for clothing that you will want to wear for years to come. Quality garments will last for years without becoming easily damaged. Opting for slow fashion doesn’t mean your clothes can’t be on trend. You can still wear contemporary (and new!) clothes. You can think of slow fashion clothing as being ‘of the era’ instead of being on-trends. Instead of thinking of seasonal trends, you want to think of what your own take is on overarching trends – like athleisure, flat footwear, and oversized staples.
When you decide to switch over to slow fashion, it doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a day out shopping. If anything, slow fashion shopping is even more exciting. Instead of passively consuming clothing, you can take an interest in every piece.
With its focus on limiting your consumption of clothes, slow fashion promotes researching as much as you can about your clothes. Take an interest in finding out more about the brands that you’re interested in buying from. Brands that use sustainable materials or have ethical supply chains always make a point of including this information on their website, so it’ll be easy to find independent brands that you can support on their slow fashion mission. You can also research different materials and textiles to know what to look for and which ones to avoid. Almost every ‘fast fashion’ material has a more sustainable alternative – like organic cotton compared to traditional cotton.
One of the most popular ways of adopting slow fashion is to create a capsule wardrobe. This idea is focused on clearing out your closet and building it around elevated staples that you can mix and match together to create dozens of looks. When you have a capsule closet, you’ll usually adopt a ‘one in, one out’ approach to your closet. If you want to buy something new, you’ll have to donate or sell another piece in your closet.
The concept of slow fashion is as much about how you treat your clothing as what it’s made of. You want to make a vow to wear each piece of clothing in your closet at least ten times. If there’s something you know that you rarely wear, it might help to keep a log of when you’ve worn it. That way you’ll know when it’s time to take it out for another day on the town.
Along with making more meaningful purchases and changing your approach to how you get rid of clothes, there’s one more thing we can all do to promote slow fashion. If brands know their consumers are looking for sustainable alternatives – and that there’s money to be there – they’re more likely to take up environmental initiatives and change with the times. Thanks to social media, it’s never been easier to get in touch with your favourite brands. Why not drop them an Instagram DM or an email asking them what their environmental policies are and if they’re committed to slow fashion? The more brands see a growing demand for sustainable fashion, the more likely they are to change their approach.
When it comes time to get rid of your clothing, you want to avoid sending it to landfill at all costs. While sometimes this can’t be avoided, you can donate your clothing or sell it through apps like Depop or eBay to make a little extra cash.
The whole point of slow fashion is about taking the principles – sustainability and investing – and applying it to your aesthetic and style.
What do you think of slow fashion? Is it a philosophy you subscribe to? Let us know in the comments below”
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