‘Slow Fashion?’ Is that when someone is at least like two years slow to catch onto a trend? Oh, I know! It must be what they call whatever attempted style choices are happening in midwestern America. No?
Not even close.
The term ‘slow fashion’ sounds like something any even remotely style-conscious individual would cringe at. Slow Fashion actually refers to an alternative approach to the fast speed with which the fashion industry strives to produce and sell garments and textiles. These garments are also quickly used and disposed of, resulting in ever-higher profits for big fashion companies who capitalize on this wasteful and cyclical consumption pattern.
Regardless of constantly-improving technology, many aspects of the production process cannot be sped up – the growing of the fibre, processing the textiles, cutting and sewing, and laundering the garment – without the exploitation of natural resources and labour. There is little regard for issues such as climate change, working conditions, resource scarcity and myriad other environmental and social concerns.
Slow Fashion is not focused on how quickly it takes to get from an initial design idea to the fashion market but rather it’s about producing high quality, long-lasting garments. It’s an approach that encompasses more than just production but also design, retailing, marketing and consumption. Ultimately, it’s about the need to shift from quantity to quality.
In this shift from quantity to quality, it gives suppliers more time to accurately plan big orders. This way they don’t have to rely on temporary, subcontracted workers to work excessive hours in order to met unrealistic and unpredictable deadlines. Employment is better preserved as workers spend longer on creating each garment, and this all means better investment in the longer term.
Slow Fashion also encourages a deeper relationship between designers, producers and consumers, and this could positively influence all levels of the clothing manufacturing chain in a way that better respects workers, the environment and ourselves as consumers.
More and more designers are beginning to consider the longevity of their pieces. Take for example, the gorgeous Uruguayan label, Ana Livni, which seeks to create pieces that are classic and versatile enough to transcend the seasons. Ana Livni and co-creator Fernando Escuder incorporate the values of Slow Fashion throughout the entire design creation process, “our idea is to produce garments that are not trendy, not commercial, and not associated with the shopping culture”.
Not only is this a welcomed approach with regard to both environmental and social concerns but also it puts the mystery and uniqueness back into fashion. Instead of buying an assortment of ultra-trendy pieces that you wear once and either throw away or let sit in the back of your closet unseen for the rest of eternity, Slow Fashion is more about saving up and waiting to buy that one well-made, beautiful piece that will be a staple in your collection for years to come.
We need to think harder and feel better about what we buy and how we care for it.