Concerns about the ethics and sustainability of fast fashion has been a large topic of discussion over the past few years. In response, a sustainable alternative to fast fashion has emerged: slow fashion.
Here is everything you need to know about the slow fashion movement, including how you can get involved.
Before talking about slow fashion, it is important to recognize the defining aspects of fast fashion. Fast fashion refers to the mass production of low-quality, trend-based clothes. Most fast fashion ends up in landfills with over half being disposed of within a year of production. Along with increased waste, fast fashion factories pollute our water supply with carcinogens and microplastics.
Slow fashion, in simple terms, is the opposite of fast fashion. Slow fashion approaches the production process from a more mindful perspective, considering the ethics and sustainability of every step of the supply chain. This also means that slow fashion pays attention to quality. Instead of making clothes inspired by trends that expire every few months, slow fashion focuses on classic styles. In hope of avoiding landfills and waste.
Originally inspired by the slow food movement, the slow fashion movement began as an attempt to counter overconsumption. Professor Kate Fletcher, known for her work with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, was the first to put a name to this movement. She, along with many others, saw the need for a counterculture in the age of fast fashion.
The core of the slow fashion movement lies in the slow-living mindset. Slow living is a lifestyle based on living intentionally. How does one live intentionally? By making conscious choices and thinking about how your consumption is affecting yourself and others. This especially translates to the slow fashion movement in the form of appreciation for craftsmanship. From this lens, craftsmanship is revered as a form of art, viewing each piece of clothing and its creator with the utmost respect. When viewing your clothing from this point of view, it immediately becomes less disposable.
As the cultural awareness of fast fashion and its harmful effects has increased, so has support for the slow fashion movement. The reflected shifts in consumer demand have inspired new slow fashion companies and created the support for such businesses to thrive.
Since the inception of the slow fashion movement in 2007, fast fashion has become increasingly criticized. Today, 65 percent of people say they would like to start buying more long-lasting clothes, according to a survey by McKinsey & Company. And because of the decrease in demand for fast fashion during COVID-19, it is predicted that the industry’s profits will significantly decline allowing for slow fashion and more ethical brands to take center stage.
Despite the success of the slow fashion movement, fast fashion is still far from over. Being conscious of your consumption is a great way to become involved in the slow fashion movement and help change the fashion industry.
Buying less each time you shop will prevent excess amounts of waste. If you have a hard time limiting your purchases, try shopping less in general or consider buying secondhand. And for the clothing you already have, make sure to treat it well. This will increase the lifespan of your clothes.
If you do decide to shop for clothes that aren’t secondhand, here are some brands that have paved the way for slow fashion:
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