“From food to fashion, anything of real quality requires a level of skill, craftsmanship and time”
The Cult of Speed
I came to find slow living through slow fashion. For me as a fashion graduate, the current fashion system is just too fast, too flawed. I dream of a slower fashion industry which takes time to create clothes which will last and which values artisan skill and prioritises workers wellbeing. I also believe that garment production should be considerate of the environment and natural resources. Basically everything that fast fashion is not.
Recently I have come to realise that the industry I take issue with (the giant, exploitative global fast fashion industry) is just one small part of complex world which is totally obsessed with speed. We live is a world where speed is the goal, everything and everyone is under pressure to go faster.
Time is Money
Capitalism relies on time, it is the tool it uses to maximise profit. Time is money they say, if you can churn out more product than your competitor in less time then you can beat them. So it makes sense then that in the turbo-capitalist world of today the goal is to always be the fastest, be the best. Don’t get me wrong speed has been important for the creation of the modern comforts we take for granted today but I fear that these days everything has got too fast. We power through natural resources faster than they are being replaced. Humans exist to serve the economy and not the other way around.
Our obsession with speed has crept into every corner of our lives. In the age of the internet and globalisation pretty much anything we could want is available to us whenever we want it. If we want something we want it today, now. Along with this we try do everything that is possible. Between work, exercise, seeing family and friends, dating, travelling, going to art classes or joining a football team, learning a language (the list goes on) we want to do it all, but no one ever seems to have enough time. There’s not enough hours in the day we say. Something has to give. As we rush through life and try to cram as much as possible into our daily schedules we stretch ourselves thinner and thinner, to the breaking point.
We eat unhealthy convenience food as we rush to work, long hours on the job are making people ill and unhappy, stress is now the number one reason that people are signed off work. More and more people are suffering from anxiety. On average we now get an hours less sleep than we did 100 years ago and so we rely on coffee (or stronger stimulants depending on your industry) to power us through. Tiredness (combined with a love of speeding) is one of the main causes for fatalities on the roads. We get annoyed if we have to wait 3 days for delivery of something we want. We hate waiting for the train, if the internet is slow it makes us mad, if the driver in front of us is a fraction slower we see red. There is a constant frustration bubbling under the surface and it comes from our inability to be as fast and is humanly possible every second of every day. And so we multi-task, we rush, and then we miss things and make mistakes.
Im saying it, some things can’t and shouldn’t be rushed. Yes, there is a time for speed, but what we have forgotten is that there is also a time for slow. A lot can be said for taking the time and do things well. Have you to ever tried to watch tv whilst reading something on your phone? I’m certainly guilty of that and I can also admit that in the end I don’t take either of them in properly. In terms of the fashion industry, the continuous acceleration we have seen since the 90’s has resulted in high street stores awash with poor quality, cheap, boring to look at clothes which have often been made in factories which routinely violate human rights.
I don’t dream of some utopia where nothing happens and nobody works. But I do think that in our busy lives is important to remember to slow down sometimes. I enjoy my life in the city but I also think that some of the best things in this world; a long meal with friends and family and meaningful conversation, reading a good book, walking through countryside, require us to take time out of our hectic schedules. Sadly this is the reason these things get put off so often.
And this is what slow living is all about, slowing down enough to appreciate the things in life that mean the most to us. From food to fashion, anything of real quality requires a level of skill, craftsmanship and time. In a world flooded with poor quality goods and frantic running around try and remember to take some time to to be slow sometimes, whatever that is to you. More often than not it is kinder to the environment but perhaps more importantly, it is good for your soul, health and happiness.