You can reduce your carbon footprint by encouraging fashion designers to use sustainable clothing. Learn how the slow fashion industry combines timeless style with environmentally friendly practices, as well as how to reduce the environmental impact of your shopping habits.
What Exactly Is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion was coined by activist Kate Fletcher in 2007 as a play on the slow food movement, which emphasized the importance of responsibility, awareness, but also pleasure in food consumption. Likewise, Fletcher aimed to promote sustainable fashion practices while also demonstrating how slow fashion benefits the consumer by providing higher-quality clothing.
Slow fashion aims to "slow down" the fashion industry by addressing waste and encouraging conscious consumption. Slow fashion advocates seek out eco-friendly materials, such as cotton and linen, as well as timeless silhouettes that outlast trend cycles. Slow fashion also encourages the use of secondhand clothing and the upcycling of old garments into new ones.
Why Is Slow Fashion Important?
Slow fashion as a business model is a direct response to fast fashion, which is a method of mass-producing trendy clothing using low-quality materials in order to meet consumer demand. Fast fashion does not encourage long-term wear and is made of non-biodegradable materials. Because of these two factors, fast fashion frequently ends up in landfills. To meet the fast fashion industry's accelerated production demands, garment workers frequently work overtime for extremely low wages, often in hazardous working conditions.
Slow fashion disrupts the fast fashion supply chain by encouraging mindful consumption. It encourages consumers to buy less while also being conscious of the environmental and labor practices that go into each garment. As a result, slow fashion advocates prefer locally sourced, ethical clothing from conscious brands over fast fashion brands. This can help to offset the fast fashion industry's carbon footprint by reducing demand from unsustainable businesses.
Slow Fashion vs. Sustainable Fashion
Slow fashion and sustainable fashion have some similarities, but they also differ.
Carbon emissions: The environment is a major concern for both slow and sustainable fashion brands. In general, this means that the garments are free of cruelty, made from sustainable or recycled materials, and do not use environmentally harmful manufacturing processes.
Labor practices: Slow fashion and sustainable fashion define sustainability not only in terms of environmental impacts, but also in terms of the working conditions involved in the manufacturing process. Conscious brands must pay a living wage to all employees or the garment will not be considered ethical fashion.
Sustainable textiles: Both slow fashion and sustainable fashion use deadstock fabrics, recycled materials, raw materials, and other sustainable fabrics. Some fashion companies have adopted a zero-waste model, which means that no material is wasted when creating a garment.
Trends: While both slow fashion and sustainable fashion warn against over-consumption due to fickle trend cycles, slow fashion combats the desire to buy trendy pieces by designing tried and true silhouettes that will always be in style.
Characteristics of Slow Fashion Brands
Here are a few indicators that a brand is part of the slow fashion movement:
A low-volume production: Slow fashion manufactures sustainable clothing in small batches to reduce waste or may even operate on a made-to-order basis to avoid producing extra garments. Furthermore, slow fashion brands prefer local shops over large retailers—short distances between the manufacturer and retailer help keep the process carbon neutral.
Prioritize quality over quantity: Slow fashion advocates prioritize quality over quantity. A brand will most likely have fewer pieces available and will create pieces made of high-quality, sustainable materials.
Use of eco-friendly fabrics: Because brands will prefer long-lasting textiles, you can expect to see garments made of linen, organic cotton, and wool. They can also choose fabrics that are compostable or biodegradable, such as hemp or bamboo.
7 Ways to Build a Slow Fashion Wardrobe
Slow fashion may not be for everyone. Some slow fashion brands are too expensive or do not cater to all sizes, which can exclude certain demographics. Here are a few steps you can take to join the slow fashion movement:
1. Put together a capsule wardrobe. Because slow fashion requires less shopping, buy pieces that complement each other and can be worn interchangeably. To create a capsule wardrobe, pare down your closet to select versatile pieces that you enjoy.
2. Select natural fabrics. Natural fabrics last longer and are more environmentally friendly. Synthetic textiles, on the other hand, are typically derived from petroleum and are more harmful to the environment if discarded in a landfill.
3. Concentrate on investment pieces. The slow fashion movement emphasizes changing your shopping habits to prioritize quality over quantity. Instead of buying cheap, trendy clothes every season, invest in pieces that reflect your style and will last for years. This reduces textile waste while slowing the demand for fast fashion.
4. Look for the OEKO-TEX label. This assures the consumer that the product has been tested and found to be free of chemicals that are harmful to humans or the environment.
5. Make GOTS certification a priority. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) establishes certain environmental and labor requirements for organic textiles. A GOTS-certified garment is a fair-trade item with a low environmental impact.
6. Look after your clothes. When it comes to reducing waste, it is best to stick with what you have. Increase the lifecycle of your old clothes by washing them as little as possible, mending them when necessary, and covering stains or discoloration with sustainable dyes.
7. Thrift. You can shop at thrift stores instead of buying new clothes. You can give previously loved clothes a new home and help keep items out of landfills.