“Out with the old, in with the new” — a phrase which arguably epitomises the consumerist mind-set prevalent in modern day society. However, in an age of increasing environmental degradation and the rise of child labour exploitation, perhaps it’s time to slow down and rethink our part in this.
The slow movement and its impact on the fashion industry
What is the slow fashion movement?
Before delving into the slow fashion movement and its global impact, it is essential to understand the philosophy behind the growing demand for eco-fashion in recent years. The term “slow fashion” was initially coined in 2007 by, author and design activist, Kate Fletcher. The movement takes inspiration from the ‘slow food’ organisation born in the late 80’s which supports local businesses and overall sustainable food production, the slow food manifesto promotes:
- GOOD: quality, flavorsome and healthy food
- CLEAN: production that does not harm the environment
- FAIR: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for producers
Similarly, slow fashion advocates high quality garments manufactured using largely sustainable materials and in fair working conditions.
Due to this careful selection of materials and improvement in factory conditions, amongst other factors, clothing produced in such a manner tends to have a life span which exceeds that of high-street apparel manufactured in large quantities. To some the slow fashion movement is considered to be a form of rebellion against society’s increasing over consumption of unsustainable clothing, aiming to break the average consumer’s fast fashion fixation.
Both the slow food and slow fashion movements are born from “the slow movement”; a cultural movement which encourages society to savour every moment, even the seemingly menial tasks.
The Importance of Ethical fashion and Sustainable fashion – Who made my clothes?
Why we should care about fair trade
When investigating slow fashion it’s useful to understand the terms commonly associated with the movement, specifically “ethical fashion” and “sustainable fashion”. Ethical fashion is typically viewed as an umbrella term for matters concerning sustainability, fair trade and environmental impact, amongst other related issues, within the fashion industry.
Brands which promote ethically produced clothing often choose to have a higher degree of transparency when it comes to their manufacturing operations, this candour attracts the conscious consumer and ensures the brand is adopting fair trade practices. Fair trade offers protection to the farmers and factory workers within third world countries, the social movement gives such individuals a voice and prevents workers from sweatshop conditions; work places with an unacceptable, usually hazardous, working environment and very low wages.
In a similar vein, sustainable fashion places the focus on our responsibility as humans to protect the environment. Sustainability, specifically when concerning the textile industry, requires the creation of a system which utilises environmentally friendly resources; for example fibres would either be extracted from natural sources, recycled or up-cycled in turn reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more about unfair working conditions and child labour within the fashion industry here.
How you can be a part of the slow fashion movement
Few can resist the appeal of the low-cost, luxury imitations littering the high street, however our excess purchases have evidently caught up to us. Consider the number of jeans you’ve gone through in the past five years, or perhaps that “absolute bargain” you’ve never quite gotten around to wearing. Slow fashion attempts to combat these very problems. Just take a look at Textile Beat’s “slow fashion manifesto” below:
- Spend some time to think about the origins of the clothing sold on the high street.
- Aim to own a lesser amount of high quality apparel over large quantities of fast fashion products.
- Consider putting together a capsule wardrobe the next time you desire a closet makeover.
- Give DIY a go and patch up clothes to help tackle textile waste.
- In the months you hope to spend less, revive pre-loved clothing and think about donating pieces you no longer wear.
Applying just a few of the above principles can transform the way you shop for the better, and collectively we have the power to trigger a much needed shift towards increased ethical manufacturing and sustainability in the world of fashion.
If these sustainable fashion tips interest you, consider taking a look at The Minimalist Vegans advice on living a more sustainable lifestyle here.
Let our top sustainable fashion picks show you just how trendy slow fashion can be: