Slow Fashion: Trending with the Mindful Consumer
When we think of the fashion industry, we think of new, cutting-edge trends. Clothes are always evolving, and while our style may stay somewhat consistent, there is always an undercurrent of desire for the fresh and upgraded. There is always a demand for more.
In the United States, clothing consumption is particularly high. We are the second largest consumers of clothing after China and on average purchase the equivalent of a mid-priced item of clothing each week.
There are those of us who would like to break free from the mindless adherence to trends. We are starting to consider the impact our clothing may be having on the environment. Waste is a huge problem in the fashion industry. It is the third highest-polluting industry in the world and the second-largest consumer of water. That is the nature of the beast. Trends fall out of style, cheap clothing falls quickly apart, and so the remains are disposed of and the cycle continues. This is what is meant by fast fashion.
What can we, the conscious consumer, do to combat this waste?
The slow movement may bring to mind slow food, i.e. farmers markets and farm-to-table restaurants. But the slow movement can be applied to any industry where waste is a problem. Slow fashion uses a combination of ethical and sustainable practices to create clothing that will last longer than a season. It always takes waste into account by accounting for all parts of the process and making them more efficient.
Slow fashion looks back to how clothing used to be made: quality over quantity, timeless styles, materials that last, and processes that do not harm the environment.
Keep reading to learn some promising facts about the slow fashion movement. Unconventional Nomad was started with these practices in mind. We are all responsible for how our lives impact the planet and choosing slow fashion is an easy way to minimize your fashion footprint.
Trending Toward Timeless
In a way, slow fashion has been a trend all along. Timeless clothing has long been lauded as a trick to being stylish. It transcends trends and is centered around building a closet full of basics that go with everything. Practicality, quality, and simplicity.
The slow movement uses these principles to manufacture clothing that will last, not only physically, but stylistically. We all know the tragedy of buying a shirt from a large fast fashion clothing brand. We love it and wear it every day, but after a month it starts to fall apart. Then all of a sudden, the next season’s clothing is announced and your shirt is the wrong color and has a knot instead of a ruff. You are left to wear your shirt with holes in the armpits or buy a new shirt and try to keep up with changing styles.
Slow fashion solves all of these problems by using timeless colors, simple styles, and materials that are made to stand up to the test of time.
The Meaning of Slow in Slow Fashion
By looking at the source of materials, production, shipping, and longevity, slow fashion takes all parts of the equation into account. Production is based on demand and slow clothing companies have control of every part of the process.
In looking at the whole lifecycle of a piece of clothing, any unnecessary waste is eliminated. When sourcing the materials, slow fashion companies choose a fabric that will stand the test of time. The waste is carefully calculated during the production of clothes. Measures are taken to ensure that once your clothes do reach the end of their life, their impact upon the world will be minimal or non-existent.
This holistic perspective in an industry infamous for its wastefulness is a much-needed consideration. Fast fashion companies who value profit over process are not taking the time to calculate the supply before meeting demand. Slow fashion takes the time needed to ensure that any waste and impact from the process are streamlined and seamless.
Does Slow Mean Sustainable and Ethical too?
Sustainability and ethically-made are buzz-words across the board in consumer-driven industries. Anyone in marketing knows that if you are targeting the younger generation consumers, you want to have at least one of these two in your arsenal.
The fashion industry contributes 10% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Imagine the difference it would make if the fashion industry took steps to reduce its environmental impact.
Sustainability is the practice of maintaining healthy growth and not sacrificing the health of the whole for the creation of a moment. Although slow fashion is not synonymous with sustainability, the two do go hand in hand. Slow fashion looks at the whole picture to eliminate excess but to truly accomplish this, sustainable practices must be used.
Sustainability keeps the environment where the raw materials are grown stable and in balance. Slow fashion looks at the long-term impacts their product use has on the environment to ensure a steady supply of materials over time.
If sustainability focuses on the environment, ethically-made covers that and more, including working conditions (sweatshop-free), fair wages, animal rights, the environment, and sustainable production. To create clothing that is ethical, slow fashion companies need to ensure that the people working on the clothing have reasonable wages and a healthy living/working environment. They need to make sure the environment that produces the materials is protected from pollution, pesticides, soil erosion, and overdevelopment.
The holistic nature of slow fashion is what makes ethically-made products possible. Slow fashion relies on creating small quantities of higher quality products, so it stands to reason that high-quality needs to be maintained throughout all parts of the process. It is not enough to guarantee that clothes are pumped out of a machine with enough frequency. Slow fashion requires human creativity to ensure environmental longevity and careful monitoring of impact at every stage of creation.
Your Power To Choose: Slow or Fast
If you don’t want to quit your fast-fashion habit right away, consider incorporating some of these aspects of slow fashion into your life. Consumers can no longer afford to be mindless. Small differences in the way we consume can turn into significant trends.
Next time you feel the urge to shop, pick a timeless, higher-quality piece that will last longer than one season. Do some research into where your favorite store sources their materials. Transparency is key. If you can’t find the information you are looking for, it may mean that the company isn’t comfortable sharing it. There are so many options out there that chances are one of your favorite brands is already starting to think holistically.
Look for sustainable and ethically-made clothing. Thankfully, things are trending toward sustainability. Look for fabrics made from bamboo, eucalyptus, hemp, lyocell fibers, and model fibers. A lot of companies are partnering with nonprofits and giving a portion of their proceeds to assuring sustainable and ethical practices. Check out this list of ethical fashion certifications and see if any of the brands that use them compliment your style.
There isn’t much regulation to the marketing of sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion industry and so I advise you to be wary. Do your research and you will be surprised by the variety of available options.
If consumers demand sustainability, companies will react with sustainable options. If timeless, high-quality clothing is purchased more regularly, the industry will change to meet it. The flexibility of the fashion industry has been a liability, but it could become an asset.
It is time for slow fashion. We need to demand accountability, transparency and environmentally-friendly procedures. We can’t afford to wait.
Check out Unconventional Nomad’s t-shirts and become a part of the movement.