A Beginner’s Guide to Slow Fashion
Have you ever found yourself looking into your closet full of clothes and thought ‘Man, I have nothing to wear tonight’? It’s a common situation to find yourself in. Buying clothes has become so easy (and cheap) that we often find ourselves buying clothes that we don’t ‘love’ but just ‘like’.
What if I told you there is a simpler way of living? A way where your closet only contains clothes that you truly adore, clothes that make you feel great, clothes that make you feel like the best ‘YOU’ you can ever be…
Drumroll please! Here’s to Slow Fashion – a way to look effortlessly chic no matter where you have to go!
Just like many of the clothes we wear, slow fashion is a term that has many layers. Broadly speaking, it is an umbrella movement that addresses many of the issues that the fashion industry contributes to – from the way garment workers are treated, the chemicals that are used in making clothes to the immense amount of waste created by discarded clothes. The ultimate aim of the slow fashion industry is ‘sustainability’.
Read on to see how slow fashion can benefit both you and the environment.
What is slow fashion?
Traditionally, clothes were tailored to fit an individual. Unless you were rich, the cloth was usually locally sourced and made of material that was meant to last. When clothes tore, they were mended and reused. And when they could no longer be used by their owners, they were handed down to someone else or used as cleaning rags. Treasured articles of clothing were immortalized as quilts. You get the picture.
Today the ‘fast fashion’ industry produces over 52 different ‘styles’ or ‘seasons’ a year – clothes bought are meant to be worn and discarded as quickly as your pocket allows. In fact, the U.S. alone generates as much as 15 million tons of used textile waste each year. Only an estimated 2.82 million tons of this is recycled. Synthetic clothing which is the mainstay of the fast fashion industry can take between 20 and 200 years to decompose!
Slow fashion is reversing this trend. It is a movement where clothes are designed, created, and bought keeping in mind quality, longevity and sustainability.
Why is slow fashion better than fast?
Slow fashion is better than fast – environmentally, socially, economically, and for your peace of mind too.
- Less Waste:
Fast fashion encourages us to update our wardrobes every few weeks which results in huge amounts of discarded clothing ending up in landfill or in incinerators. Slow fashion encourages you to treasure your clothes which means you use them for longer which means less waste. Reports suggest that nearly a hundred percent of the fabric that ends up in landfill can be reused or upcycled. Many slow fashion brands also tell you how to upcycle, recycle, or compost your clothes once they are no longer wearable.
- Better for the Environment:
Slow fashion apparel is typically made from organic, environmentally-friendly cloth and dyes which means that fewer chemicals go into its making – right from the pesticides and fertilizers used to grow the fibres. Fast fashion on the other hand often uses synthetic polymers (akin to plastic) along with toxic dyes. Reports suggest that textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally.
Wearing eco-friendly clothing also means you are exposed to fewer chemicals personally.
- Helps create a better society:
Remember the horrific collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh where more than 1100 garment workers were killed? The building was structurally unsound but was still being used. It’s an example of how fast fashion brands keep their costs low.
Ethical slow fashion brands take pride in their workers offering fair wages and working conditions. Often, each item of clothing is accompanied with a note that tells you about the craftsman who created your garment, making shopping an immensely personal experience.
- You can develop your own style:
Fast fashion clothing is typically produced by huge brands with retail stores all over the world. This means that you can buy the same item in a store whether you are in Mumbai, London, or New York. Slow fashion brands are usually local with a limited number of pieces produced which means you can pick and choose your clothes carefully to create your own timeless look.
- It encourages peace of mind:
Having fewer clothes means a decluttered closet which itself is a bonus. Not having to keep up with the latest looks can add to your peace of mind as you will know that the clothes you have are completely and uniquely YOU. Picking an outfit for an occasion becomes a breeze!
How you can incorporate slow fashion in your wardrobe:
Incorporating ethical fashion into your wardrobe doesn’t mean you need to overhaul your wardrobe in one go. The idea is to move towards it step-by-step. For example, I have a friend who upcycles two items of her clothing for every new garment she buys. It’s a great way to declutter and treat yourself at the same time.
Luckily, in India, the practice of getting clothes tailored is common and is inexpensive to boot. One option is to buy organic fabrics online or in stores and have clothes stitched to suit your style. A great plus point of doing this is that you can leave enough fabric in the seams to alter them as you change.
There are also plenty of prêt-à-porter options for slow fashion too. A quick online search will give you plenty of options to choose from. Check out brands like Sui, Chiaroscuro, or Doodlage in India that create sustainable or upcycled clothes and accessories.
At the end of the day, when you put time, care, and thought into choosing what you wear it will make you feel good and if what you wear is sustainable, it will make you feel great!
Here’s wishing you a year full of happy (and sustainable!) shopping sprees,
Your eco-friendly Storyteller