Do you follow slow fashion or fast? Are you hearing the term for the first time? I’d love to tell you more about what it is and how I’ve started to think about it more.
“Slow food” has become a popular term in recent years. It is the opposite of fast food–carefully crafted, better quality, more satisfying, more sustainable and ethical. Slow fashion is the same thing exactly. Slow fashion focuses on quality and best practices in production instead of throw away clothes that last a season if you’re lucky.
Due to space restraints, I started moving towards a minimal wardrobe a couple of years ago. Eventually, all of my clothes fit into one half of the closet. I started wearing out my clothes faster, since I cycled through them more often. It was a good feeling, in some ways–better than just discarding my clothes because I got tired of them. Still, I began to notice certain quality issues–the worst offenders looked like junk after 3 or 4 washes. They were stretched out, pilling, or otherwise not really able to be mended. It felt like I might as well just throw my money directly into the garbage.
I also started to think more about how these cheap clothes were produced, whether the people who made them were paid a living wage or not, whether my inexpensive clothes were costing someone else.
I’m still trying to sort through all of these issues, but here are a few of the things I have learned:
Slow Fashion: An Introduction
Quality over Quantity
I was raised to be thrifty, and I’ve realized that buying cheap clothes isn’t. You can’t mend them, they don’t last, and it’s just better to save up for fewer but better clothes that you can keep using long term. I’m still struggling to figure out how to find clothes that are truly better, not just higher priced.
Classics over Trendy
The idea is to buy clothes that you can wear season after season without looking dated. I struggle a bit with this–I prefer sort of a bohemian, gypsy look to the wool blazers and straight skirts that I think of as “classic”–but I still think it’s a good concept. If you want to be trendy, you can always add a few current accessories to you classic core.
Used over New
Thrift store shopping can be a good way to find quality at bargain prices. Buying things that have already been worn can even be helpful in determining if it will wear well and keep looking good. Moreover, it helps prevent the perpetuation of an industry that doesn’t always treat people well.
Homemade over Store-bought
While you can pretty easily make your own slow food instead of grabbing a drive-through burger, clothes can be another matter entirely. It takes a long time to develop enough skill to make clothes that don’t, well…look funny. I had a handmade business that improved my sewing skills a lot, but I’m still hesitant to make my own clothes. However, it is a skill you can develop and maybe one of the best ways to really know what you are getting.
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If everyone practiced slow fashion, what would happen to the world economy? Would it really help people? I don’t have the knowledge to answer those questions to my satisfaction, but I’m excited to learn more.