Slow fashion has been an important part of the eco-friendly movement. But what exactly does it mean and what can be included in that?
First, it is easier to understand fast fashion and how it came to be.
Fast fashion is all around us and most of us have been willing participants. These items are easily accessible, low cost and because of that we often feel less guilt about throwing or giving them away; which has turned into fast fashion companies trying to make more at a lower cost. This has greatly impacted the environment by filling up landfills, our oceans are being polluted from the microplastics in certain materials and it has also had a devastating impact on human beings. People (usually women) work in horrible conditions for very low pay just to create these pieces. Who else remembers the devastating fire in Bangladesh in 2012 where 117 people were killed and another 200 were injured? This wasn’t the first and definitely wasn’t the last but it was a wake-up call for many people to start demanding more of the companies they were purchasing from.
So this is where slow fashion comes in. Slow fashion is considered an alternative to fast fashion. Prior to the invention of the sewing machine fabrics and clothing were made slowly and by hand. Purchasing garments was very expensive and people often made their own clothes. Once the sewing machine was invented it was much quicker to create a garment but still, only the middle class could afford them.
During the second world war, the way people consumed fashion changed again. World War II required functional garments that were inexpensive and could be made quickly. This led to the standardization of sizing and creation. Fashion and clothing demands began to evolve from there. In the 1960s young people wanted to find more affordable fashion to be able to keep up with the changing style and trends. Through the 70s and 80s what we now know as fat fashion retailers began to open up across Europe to meet those needs.
People embraced this change and purchasing cheap clothing became trendy. Brands no longer had to adhere to the traditional 4 seasons of fashion, many brands have up to 52 ‘seasons’ in a year to accommodate buyers’ need for variety.
This has led to the issues we see discussed today like environmental issues, labor exploitation, landfills full of unsold and unwanted merchandise. Thankfully people are finally starting to realize that fast fashion is not the answer and we need an alternative.
Slow fashion does not necessarily mean going back to the way things were in the 1800s where we are expected to make our own fabrics and clothing from scratch (however if you’re able to that’s pretty amazing!) It just means to try to focus on the opposite of fast fashion.
- To slow down and find out where your clothes are coming from,
- looking for sustainably made fabrics,
- ensuring workers are being paid a fair wage,
- purchasing ethical products that you know will last,
- caring for your clothes and repairing them instead of throwing them away.
- shopping less often and buying less
- Shopping local as much as possible
This can sometimes seem overwhelming but it’s not about being perfect, it is just about taking some time and putting in a bit more effort than you usually would and luckily there are so many good resources out there to help you and why sites like ours are doing the research for you and giving you the information you need to make an informed decision.
The great thing about this idea of ‘slow’ is that we can apply it to more than just fashion. This can be applied to almost every aspect of your life and you can live more slowly and consciously.
- Slow Fashion - A Guide To Sustainable & Ethical Fashion. (2020, July 02). Retrieved July 13, 2020, from https://sloactive.com/slow-fashion-guide/
- Kowalski, K., Kyle, A., Hunt, E., Ring, S., & Mishra, S. (2020, May 24). What is Slow Fashion (vs Ethical & Sustainable Fashion)? Retrieved July 5, 2020, from https://www.sloww.co/slow-fashion-101/
- Idacavage, S. (2016, June 08). Fashion History Lesson: The Origins of Fast Fashion. Retrieved July 10, 2020, from https://fashionista.com/2016/06/what-is-fast-fashion
- What is Fast Fashion? (2020, June 23). Retrieved July 5, 2020, from https://goodonyou.eco/what-is-fast-fashion/