It’s the fourth year already Karen Templer is hosting Slow Fashion October. We take a month to make up our minds about our closets, style and shopping behavior. Although I’m not actively participating in #slowfashionoctober, it still made me think and I felt like I needed to share some thoughts. I hope to inspire you with them, but if you completely disagree, you’re welcome to tell me why.
(Small disclaimer before we start: first off, I’m in no shape or form an expert in slow fashion and certainly not a great role model. I found the subject very interesting and thought I would take you guys along for the ride and explain my personal perspective and attempts. I know I should learn to take my own words to heart, but writing them down helps me in the process. Maybe I’m the first person you think of who needs a little more slow fashion in their life. Well, let’s start together!)
First of all, a good question to always ask is ”why?”. What is fast/slow fashion and why do we take a month to reflect and work on that? Fast fashion is based on catwalk trends which are insanely fast transferred to stores. New collections are designed, produced and for sale within just a couple of weeks. The focus is on speed, so workers in the fashion industry and the environment frequently suffer. The items created often are of poor quality, and last just one or a few seasons if you’re lucky. A lot of garments are even disposed after only one time of wear! The only advantage (I see) is that it’s cheap and fashionable.
Slow fashion however, is less focused on that high speed, but acts with consciousness towards the effect on the planet and her residents. The garments are made to last longer, if necessary repaired, and are often less trend bound.
Who am I?
To make changes to a lifestyle you have to know yourself. I’m a 24 year old sewist and clothes lover (amongst plenty of other things). I get bored if I’d have to wear the same shoes or cardigan all week (oops). So why do I write this? It’s because I love our planet and her people. But I am afraid we have no or minimal time to save her before the point of no turning back. I think that the earth’s devastation is mainly caused by selfishness, which I hope I can maybe slightly reduce by growing knowledge and awareness. At least in the field of fashion.
What does slow fashion mean to me?
Slow fashion, to me, is about trying to grow my sense of responsibility and the will to act accordingly. Trying to buy less clothes and focus on buying clothes that truly suit me, so I will love and thus wear them more.
It’s about reducing the amount of resources, waste, toxins and unfair labor used or produced, while making all the stuff I buy within a certain time span. (Re)using what I have, wanting to pay a slightly higher (more towards fair) price and aiming for better quality with clothes that last a couple of seasons. It’s also telling myself to wear my jeans until they are completely worn out, instead of maybe almost.
For slow fashion you can think of a capsule wardrobe, which only contains the items you love and will wear for that season. But also sewing and refashioning old items is slow fashion to me, because you are forced to think about what you want and what suits you. That way you get more sense of what’s in a garment, and because of the time and energy invested you will love self created items more, resulting in better treatment, making them last longer.
But how do we get towards that?
What do I do, what more do I want to do, and what can you do to get more towards slow fashion? My first tip is just: be thoughtful. Be thoughtful about what you buy. Be thoughtful about how you treat your belongings. Learn what items you need. Learn what you really wear. But also dare to look back and learn from your mistakes. Why is the tag still that item you completely love and had to have? And why is that jacket you doubted about so often worn after all?
One thing that really helps me in general, is trying to go shopping less often. Once there, I try to avoid stores I think have too cheap clothes, so I don’t get seduced by the nice and cheap items. Since I’ve started sewing I’ve grown a better sense of the amount of materials and time it takes to produce garments. Sometimes I’m really shocked by the cheap price of clothes. Then I refuse to pay that little for my clothes. Don’t get me wrong, fast fashion is really tempting me! So for now, one of my aims is trying to pick out the not outrageously cheap, and longer lasting pieces from the ”normal stores”.
So when shopping, I try to take a closer look at the fabrics and seams of an item I’m about to like. Do they look cheap? Is it crooked? Is the fabric thin or sloppy? Then I must consider to leave it there… Same goes for when I’m shopping for new jeans. I try to feel if the fabric will stretch out quickly or not, because I hate it when that happens. It is also good to consider if you are really going to wear an item. Do you already have (at least two) items in your closet you can combine it with? On what occasions will you wear it? Do you need clothes for such occasions?
But the main thing to keep in mind is to always set reasonable goals to yourself. Start with small, doable steps instead of unfeasible big plans! Small successes will lead you further upwards. Even with low budgets, steps can be taken towards a more thoughtful wardrobe!
I think it’s hard!! It’s so tempting to just buy the nice clothes, especially when they cost so little. The latest trends, nicest colors, prints, new shapes… Sometimes I just fall for it. I tell myself that making mistakes is OK and part of the process. But then there’s the guilt I feel whenever wanting to separate from an item that’s not extensively worn. The only thing that soothes the pain is bringing it to a new home of people not able to afford much clothes themselves. I always hope my bad buys get better moms there.
If you’re into slow fashion and want to buy less newly produced items, there’s some nice alternatives to diversify your wardrobe and looks, if necessary. You can for example borrow clothes and shoes from one another. Especially for party outfits this is a good option, because they’re often only worn once. I also like the clothes or fabric swap parties! With the women of our student association we did this once a year, of course accompanied by a lot of chocolate and tea! Finally, you could visit your local thrift store or vintage shop. The collections are mostly super diverse so you will probably find yourself some nice items.
Were you already somehow familiar with the terms fast and slow fashion? Do you do anything to make the world a better place, fashionwise? What’s is the first step you want to take in your process? Or what have you done and where do you stand now?
I’d love to learn about your interpretation of slow fashion!