Slow Fashion

FASHION. We happen to fall in the category of people that love to be well dressed. You could even argue that it’s one thing we enjoy about each other. We like to look good, no matter what we are doing. At work we wear well cut, high quality clothing. We have a great collection of sexy, comfortable, and well made workout/active wear. We happen to believe that you can look good no matter what. We enjoy the diversity that comes from looking good at the office, out in nature, at the gym and now and then, a gala. It spices things up to see each other look so different depending on what we are doing.

The irony is, as much as we like to look good, we share one common focus. Quality – not quantity. There is a reason behind this statement that goes deeper than the potential snobbery for high end items.

Textiles make up 6 % of the contributions to landfills in the western hemisphere. Every year we throw out enough textiles to fill 2-4 sports arenas in every major city. Think about that for a moment.

Why are we creating this vast volume of waste?

In part we can point the finger at “fast fashion”. Often targeted at teens who now seem to have disposable income (and that issue will be a rant for another day), manufacturers are working with shorter production cycles, with some generating up to 15 “seasons” a year. This creates a sense of urgency among shoppers to buy before new stock arrives. Couple that with the explosion of big-box retailers and large-scale overseas production, and a culture of low-cost, disposable clothing has evolved. Although consumers perceive they’re getting a deal, underpaid factory workers, shoddy fabrics with short life spans creating overflowing landfills are the price paid in the end.

Enter Slow Fashion. Like the Slow Food movement that inspires its principles, Slow Fashion values quality, conscientiousness, and long-term thinking. This may sound like high expectation to have for your next pair of jeans, but curbing the volume of clothing that we buy and throw out does require a radical solution.

There once was a time when clothing was handmade and customized to reflect our individuality. Each garment had its own story and it increased our appreciation of it. We still see that from time to time as a wedding dress is passed on, but even that has become rare. Perhaps if we had a deeper understanding of the value of our clothing, we’d repair or update it to suit our changing tastes. And when the time came to replace the garment, we’d find a new home for it or return the natural fibres to the earth and begin the cycle of growing once more. If we made our own clothing, and fabrics we’d really understand.

We know, we know … you’re wondering, where’s the fashion in that!? Good news! There are plenty of forward-thinking designers who are successfully marrying fashion and function, and producing clothing that takes up the challenge of true sustainability.

Look up Makepiece, Precocious, Preloved and best of all Adili. We are certain that you can look around and find a designer that tackles the principles of slow fashion. Remember that local fashion designers are often a great way to go, reducing packaging, waste and fuel consumption as well as supporting local creative talent and having one-of-a-kind pieces.

But the truth is, while specific designers and their business practices may help us to live life in the slow lane, the commitment to sustainable fashion must come from us as individuals. First, we need to evaluate our buying decisions and distinguish want from need. Second, and just as crucial, are the responsible choices we can make in the post-purchase life of our garments.

It isn’t that difficult to stop and think: “Do I really need this?” Yet it’s the toughest part to adhere to. We are bombarded with advertisement, magazines, fashion shows and … in the end we love fashion. We love to change it up. We enjoy the high of a new outfit that makes us feel fabulous.

But let us illustrate the principle on a workable level with a simple example.

One of us had a love affair with purses that almost rivaled her (yes it’s her… come on … it’s purses we are talking about!) love affair with shoes. Then one day, she bought a high end, designer handbag she had loved since she was a child (she had seen it in a Vogue magazine on her Grandmothers coffee table – see attached photo for hint). That day was 5 years ago. The bag is still the bag she uses every day, everywhere. All the other little purses and bags have long gone and her love for this one item is as strong today as it was the day she bought it – it will likely last a lifetime with care. It looks as good today as it did then. That is quality. That is real ageless style. That is amazing workmanship and yes … price. When you buy a luxury item, the rest of the “stuff’ looks, feels and is clearly cheap. What is glamorous about that? Why waste money on it?

Does she still stop and look at the cute little purse in the window, yes. But does she buy it? No. Why? Because the question to be answered is simple, she doesn’t need it! Not with “her bag” on her arm.

If you are going to purchase an item think first. Are the clothing items made with eco-friendly, organic materials? We find cotton and silk to be wonderful options! Consider how far an item was shipped and whether a local product is available. Find out where the item was made and avoid items made in sweat shops. Consider the care instructions of clothestry to avoid dry-clean-only items. Buy durable, well-made clothing that will last. Avoid fashion fads that quickly go out of style. Shop at second-hand and consignment clothing stores for some vintage and retro pieces.

Not only do we buy without thinking, we throw away without thinking as well. Is it really so difficult to repair your clothes rather than throw them away? Donate clothing to a second-hand clothing shop whose sales benefit a charitable organization or donate old clothing to a local designer who reconstructs clothing? And (our favorites), for the good, high end quality cast-offs, why not take them to a consignment store or hold a clothing swap with your friends.

What’s the bottom line? Save your pennies for the better quality items and think before you buy or toss.

Our grandmothers use to say “To be cheap is expensive“. We couldn’t agree more.timeless

More articles about Slow Fashion can be found here:

‘Slow fashion’ is a must-have … and not just for this season

“‘Slow fashion is not just about responding to trends,’ says Adili chief executive Adam Smith. ‘It is a mentality that involves thinking about provenance and buying something that won’t look unfashionable after one season.’”

Keeping ahead in fashion’s slow lane

“Even more important than creating signature hits, these [slow fashion] brands are resolutely focused on a single style and point of view for their products. Fashion brands, particularly fast ones, love a seasonal flip-flop. One minute they espouse aggressive sexiness, six months later it’s nerdy intellectualism, then a dandy becomes the man of the hour, all of which creates seismic shifts in the clothes.”

Tracking the Trouser Cycle

“It says a lot about fashion today that the promise to produce the same reliable thing is a gimmick worth marketing. But thanks to new technologies and the pursuit of new young customers, fashion trends are moving at lightning speed these days.”

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Slow Fashion

  1. Listen guys I have to be honest.
    I started reading with the preconceived notion that I was not going to like this one.
    I’m a terrible dresser!
    Well, as I went through with the post it did get better though and slowly but steadily held my attention. Most importantly it made me think that I’ might not be such a bad dresser after all. I always buy and wear clothes that last long, too long perhaps. When I finally give them away to charity they are in as good a shape as the first day I got them.
    Still I don’t enjoy the ritual of dressing up and only care about looking elegant when I absolutely have to.
    For a guy who’d rather wear jeans, a T-shirt and a favorite 10-year old jacket this was a very interesting read indeed.

    • We want to thank you for reading something you didn’t think you would enjoy. We are honoured.

      It’s a fact that most fashion designers wear white t-shirts and jeans (or black pants and black t-shirt) … so there you have it. The ones creating the trends follow a simple constant themselves. You can dress in simple clothes, and choose to let your abilities and personality shine. I think it’s important to be true to yourself. Don’t try and be a fashion icon among your pears if that’s not your interest or nature. For one of us, fashion is an art form. Like painting or photography. Clothes can express a mood, a personality etc.

      But even those of us that love fashion need to learn that it’s not about quantity but quality. Quantity is a particular plague in North America. The irony is that you can have a lot of clothes and still not dress well. It’s not about how much clothing you have, but what you have and how you wear it. You may well be a great dresser and not even know it – even if you do resent it!

      Good posture, confidence, intelligence and a smile are the greatest of accessories anyway.

      We promise, you will love the next post!

  2. Well, as you know, I’ve never been a fashion guru. I enjoy looking nice but I refuse to spend more money on something than its worth. I won’t pay for a name. I will, however, pay for quality. And I think that that is the key. Just because something is expensive does NOT mean it is good quality. For example…there are some high priced items that are made in the same places as the lower priced ones – just marked up because of the name on it.

    You raise very good points about being conscious of where the clothing goes after its been worn. I rarely throw anything out and am a good supplier of second-hand clothing stores. It’s also important to remember who’s making it and chances are the better quality stuff is not being made in a sweatshop.

    I think the key is to be aware. There can be a real science to consumerism. Many things we should know and make a conscious effort to either support or to avoid. In our fast-paced world it is sometimes difficult to remember to slow down. It is nice to know there is a trend of “slow fashion” setting a new pace and will hopefully be effective enough to influence our buying habits. Great post!

    • We agree that a lot of luxury items are over priced based on a name, some companies even coasting on a reputation long gone as soon as they went the way of sweat shops (ex: Nike, Guess, Coach, Gucci …) As you said – the key is knowing when you are paying for workmanship and when are you paying just for a “label” and/or “bragging rights”. Awareness is the hardest part. Yet, it takes only one moment to look at the tag. 3 weeks ago one of us was on their way to the cash register when we checked the tag … saw to our horror “made in China” (It was Calvin Klein!). We walked out – sans item – with disgust.

      We end up wearing our favourites most anyway. Perhaps our next post should be on tips to keep those beloved items going as long as possible. Would that be a good post?

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