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 clothes—try 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.
More articles about Slow Fashion can be found here:
“‘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.’”
“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.”
“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.”