What is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion, what is it and why is it important?
Heard of slow fashion and wondering what it’s all about? Slow fashion is actaully a really simple concept, it is fashion which actively stands against the fast fashion industry.
The problem with fast fashion
The vast majority of clothing produced today would constitute ‘fast fashion’. It is the model where huge amounts of clothing (I’m talking billions of garments a week) are made as quickly and as a cheaply as possible. It is all about responding quickly to constantly changing trends and having new styles available in stores for consumers every week. All major high street and online retailers are a part of this cycle. But fast fashion has a dark side, there are dirty secrets which are hidden from consumers, partly due the sheer size and complexity of the fashion industry.
Unfortunately producing clothing at this speed and volume is taking a massive toll on the environment. Natural resources are being used at rates which are can’t be sustained, water systems are polluted with chemical dyes and fertilisers, rivers needed to sustain life are diverted to feed into cotton growing fields. Fast fashion is very wasteful, as consumer buy new clothing they will often ‘throw away’ their old ones without much thought. The knock on effect of this is millions of tons of clothing being sent to land fit every year.
To keep the cost of clothes at a minimum production is chased around the world to wherever the labour is cheapest. Sadly this goes hand in hand with poor working standards. Millions of garment workers around the world are exploited and human rights violations happen all the time. Things like forced over time, extremely low pay, child labour and modern day slavery happen every day in the race for the cheapest fashion. This is the true cost being paid so that western consumers can have a constant supply of cheap fast clothing, footwear and accessories.
Slow fashion as a solution
Slow fashion is a rejection of fast fashion, it tries to be everything that fast fashion is not. It is about slowing down and taking time to create fashion of value. Slow fashion respects the craftsmanship and skill that goes into making clothes and acknowledges that there is an impact behind the clothes we all wear. It is clothing made with a considered approach to the environment and the lives of workers in supply chains; as such slow fashion should ideally use both sustainably sourced materials and ethical production practices. Slow fashion brands will often be much more open about their production processes that fast fashion, often being able to tell you who/where/when and under what condition it is made.
I have barely scratched the surface here, there is a world of information out there about the impact of the fast fashion industry. If you are interested in learning more I would recommed the following documentaries:
Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashions Dirty Secrets (available on BBC iplayer)
The True Cost (available on Netflix)
River Blue The Movie (available to rent on YouTube and Google Play)