Instant-gratification. Cheap, but trendy. Delivered to your doorstep in 2-3 business days. Fast fashion is everywhere—and it needs no introduction.
This roaring tidal wave of fast fashion has flooded thousands of stores and our modern consumer habits, yet an antithetical fashion mentality exists that has been growing in following—the slow fashion movement.
We’ve increasingly been hearing about slow fashion with retail brands over the past few years. But what does it mean in the scope of fashion?
Kate Fletcher defined the slow fashion movement at the cusp of its resurgence for the Ecologist in 2007:
Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. [It] is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components). Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems.
With its famed parallel in the food industry, the slow food movement, we saw a shift towards caring where our food comes from and what it’s economic and environmental impacts are—rather than opting for what is fast, convenient and mass-produced. Slow fashion mirrors this sentiment. It doesn’t call for instant gratification, but rather an honest reflection of our needs and our intentions when selecting products.
It’s the classic notion of quality over quantity. Let’s unpack the box (a recycled box, naturally) that holds the pieces that make up the slow fashion movement:
Choosing to curate your closet with the slow fashion mentality means to be fully conscious of what you’re purchasing. Instead of acting on the impulse that we all have when we see something online that we aren’t sure we’ll wear but it could be nice to have, it’s taking that extra second to think about whether this piece will add long-term value to our wardrobes. It’s reflecting on what we currently have occupying our closets, assessing what types of clothing are staples in our day-to-day between our careers and lifestyle, and purchasing quality pieces that reflect this. This will, in-turn, add longevity to our everyday looks.
Trends are fun—there’s no denying this. Who hasn’t incorporated a bit of leopard print into their wardrobe this year? While most of these pieces end up in a box in the back of our closets, waiting to see the light of day in a couple years, Slow Fashion stays front and centre through it timelessness. It’s that slim-cut trouser that you can wear any day of the week, or that clean-cut button down that you can style with, well, anything. These pieces are the staples in your wardrobe that you can wear for years because of their style and their quality. They transcend trends in their satrorial nature and long lifespan.
We’ve all experienced this—you find this piece that you absolutely love. You feel amazing in it. Wear it as often as you can. And you build an emotional attachment. And then—the inevitable happens. The wash skews the shape of the garment and, in turn, decreases its value to you.
This is a classic example of what happens to fast-fashion pieces not designed to last. Slow fashion doesn’t want to put you through this. And, it won’t—because slow fashion is about longevity.
Educating ourselves and seeking out brands and designers that value clothing as a craft, rather than something that needs to be created quickly, in high-volume, almost always shows in the worksmanship of each piece.
Though it may feel like a foreign concept to some, taking the time to get a piece altered, repaired, or even created will be rewarding in the long run.
Here are some sobering fast fashion statistics to consider:
- More than US$500 billion in value is lost every year due to under-utilized clothes and lack of recycling
- Fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year
- One garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second
Slow fashion fundamentally sets us up to consume less and waste less by being more thoughtful about each purchase. With timeless pieces, you won’t feel the need to discard them because they’re a little bit too “last season.” Investing in slow fashion is a simple way to help minimize your ecological footprint—not to mention, minimize your “economic” footprint.
S.E.W.T. is a part of the slow fashion movement. Our mission is to be synonymous with being the experts in women’s professional wear and a pillar of a part of your career. We create suits to last by using high-quality fabric and skillful structure.
Let’s look at clothing as a social investment.