Are you struggling to match your love of fashion with your social and environmental values? If you adore fashion yet worry about the impact the industry has on the planet, there is a solution – Slow Fashion.
What is Slow Fashion?
‘Slow Fashion’ is the alternative to ‘Fast Fashion’. It is an approach to fashion that prioritises the ethical and sustainable production of clothing.
Slow Fashion values high-quality, long-lasting items made from sustainable materials. At its core is the fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.
Slow Fashion is an essential balancer to the Fast Fashion model – well known for mass producing low-quality clothing whilst paying workers below living wage and churning chemicals and discarded garments into the environment.
What makes a brand ‘slow’?
Some characteristics of a Slow Fashion brand are:
- They use high quality, sustainable materials – long-lastime, enduring fabrics and styles, with low environmental impact. Materials may be recycled or second-hand;
- They often sell through smaller (local) stores rather than large chain businesses – allows for full control over the supply chain process and labor conditions;
- They have slower production schedules, small-batch collections and zero-waste designs – creating long-lasting and timeless pieces and reducing excess textile waste from clogging landfill;
- They use minimal packaging and/or sustainable packaging – where possible reusable and non-plastic options are used to reduce waste.
How damaging can fast fashion be?
Fashion is a trillion-dollar industry with an equally large carbon footprint. The fashion industry is responsible for:
- 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions (approx. 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 per year)
- 1.5 trillion litres of water usage per year
- Extensive microplastic and chemical pollution damaging soil, biodiversity and water sources around the world.
- Severely underpaying 93% of garment workers (paid below a living wage).
Fast Fashion is still the model used by the majority of leading clothing retailers, who rely on the fast mass production of cheap clothing to keep up with trends. They offer low-cost garments consumers freely discard for new season trends.
What are the environmental benefits to slow fashion?
When you practice Slow Fashion values, you’re supporting the environment by:
- Reducing global water pollution
- Reducing carbon emissions
- Reducing excessive waste going into landfill with a long-lasting, versatile wardrobe.
Additionally, you vote with your money for:
- Fair labor practices
- Cruelty-free practices for animals and people
And you get the the benefit of:
- Saving money
- Enjoying your favourite pieces for longer
- Peace of mind, knowing you’ve been a responsible shopper.
How to make the switch from Fast Fashion to Slow Fashion
Excitingly, there is growing support for the Slow Fashion movement, and there is still a long way to go.
You have an important role to play in this growing movement of conscious and sustainable consumerism, where your money is a vote for or against fair, ethical and sustainable fashion.
And, you don’t even need to spend money to get involved.
Actions you can take:
- Spend some time researching your favourite brands to find out more about their values and manufacturing processes.
- Look out for certifications and badges that show a retailer has met certain ethical standards.
- Look for transparency. How much is a brand willing to disclose their environmental and social policies and their supply chain? Do they just say they care about sustainability, or are they actively taking steps to do better?
- Support small and local brands.
- Shop second-hand.
- Buy long-lasting and versatile pieces that withstand changing trends.
- Be part of getting the word out there. Share this article with your community.
Note to self – be careful of greenwashing.