What is slow fashion? Slow fashion is a movement that emerged to counteract the cycle of fast fashion - fast, easy, and cheap clothes brought to market quickly to capitalize on trends. Slow fashion celebrates the makers and the handmade goods that they put their time, talent and energy into.
Today, high fashion designers release a collection and celebrities, stylists, VIP customers and buyers attend the shows and order their looks. Also attending the shows are scouts for other labels. Mass retailers send scouts to the shows to get the first scoop on what the trends for the year will be. Often, these scouts are sketching the designs as soon as they can get away with it and sending the sketches back to the pattern makers at their company to copy the looks at a lower price point. Designs hitting the runway used to take months to hit the shelves at fast fashion retailers. Now it takes a matter of weeks.
The process that allows that to happen is called fast fashion. Intellectual property theft aside, there are many other problems with fast fashion. In recent years, production time for fast fashion retailers has shortened dramatically. Often these companies use factories with poor labor practices that don't pay living wages and support deadly working conditions. News stories over the last few years have covered the horrible conditions of garment factories in Bangladesh and others around the world. This also means sourcing and using lesser quality fabrics and materials and getting things out the door as fast as possible. These practices keep the monetary costs to consumers low. That's why you can get a t-shirt for $2 or this season's hottest trend for $12. These garments aren't made to last, which is why they're so cheap. That's also why many of them only end up being worn once or twice before being donated or thrown away. Even when donated, much of this clothing is such poor quality that it cannot be reworn and ends up in the landfill helping fashion keep it's place as the second most polluting industry in the world.
That's where slow fashion comes in. The slow fashion movement celebrates handmade goods, made with labor practices and materials that don't come at such a high cost to society or the environment. These goods are more expensive than their fast fashion counterparts. There is simply no way for them not to be. But when you pay for handmade goods, especially locally made handmade goods, that money stays in your community. That money funds a change in the industry to reflect that consumers want ethically produced goods.
That's why when I made the choice to produce a Ready to Wear collection I chose not to mass produce or use a factory. Sure, for cheaper than you might imagine I could send this line to a factory overseas and get back something sellable. Some may not even be able to tell the difference. But they wouldn't be made with fabric milled in the United States. They wouldn't be sewn by someone getting paid a fair wage for their time and skill, in safe conditions.
In order to make a difference, you have to be willing to be different. The difference starts here. As consumers, we vote with our dollars and I encourage us all to think more carefully about our buying choices. #slowfashion #whomakesyourclothes
Want more info on fast fashion? Check out this Forbes list of why fast fashion is a disaster for Women & the environment.