February 04, 2020
Slow Fashion. One of the 'it' words of the day. Ironically, it's almost so 'in' it's trendy. Yet slow fashion is far from wearing what is on trend.
Let's just take a step back for a moment and look at what slow fashion really means.
Slow Fashion is an awareness and approach to fashion, which considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, particularly focusing on sustainability. It involves buying better-quality garments that will last for longer and values fair treatment of people, animals and the planet.
Just like the slow food movement, which puts a focus on encouraging people to look at where their food is coming from and how it is being produced, the slow fashion movement encourages consumers to consider who, what and how their clothes are being produced and looks at the impacts of this production on the wider world.
Slow fashion ensures that people are being paid a fair wage and not exploited. Slow fashion encourages the use of processes that minimise the harm it does to our world through a more considered use of resources, and limiting the use of harsh chemicals and procedures that are damaging to the environment.
Slow fashion encourages sustainability not only through the fabrics used but also in its design, creating styles that will last more than one season and manufacturing in small batches to ensure that clothes are not wasted and left lying in a heap on the store floor at the end of every season.
But of course, in order to ensure all these things happen, there is a monetary cost and it would be fair to say that slow fashion is often more expensive than fast fashion...but for good reason. It's not just an increase in cost because you're paying for a high-end brand name to be printed on your clothes.
Slow fashion costs, because you are making changes to what has become the standard way of production, which is fast fashion. Fast fashion focuses on efficiency and profit margins with little consideration going towards any impact it may have on its workers and the environment. Fast fashion is designed to last one season. Garments are manufactured in large quantities to decrease production cost per item, often to the detriment of the workers, their health, safety or their physical environment.
The difference in monetary cost between slow and fast fashion can be so great that sometimes it seems ridiculous to buy a top for $50 when you can easily pick up something that looks similar for $5 (or less!) from a discount department store. I mean, why would you pay $100 for a dress that you can buy in the latest print for only $20?
Here are some reasons why you would:
+ Workers are being paid a fair wage for their work
+ Raw materials are being grown using sustainable practices
+ Resources such as water and electricity are being used wisely and efficiently
+ Harmful and toxic chemicals are not being used in production ensuring safety for workers, consumers and for the environment
+ Smaller quantities ensure that less garments are being disposed of at the end of each season, resulting in less landfill
+ Garments are designed to last several seasons and the high quality of workmanship and fabric ensures a better product that will last longer
+ Packaging is minimised and, if used, reusable or recyclable
When you save money from your back pocket, it is very likely to be costing someone or something else somewhere in the world.
The slow fashion movement is not here to make everyone feel guilty about all the options we have here in Australia and the good life that so many of us can enjoy. Nor is it here to point the finger and play the blame game. It's here to raise an awareness in the public about the true cost of fast fashion.
Yes, it may mean that you need to be more considered about the purchases you make. And yes, it is also very likely to mean that you relearn the art of shopping for an outfit, or just buy less but buy better. The positive is that you will end up with a wearable wardrobe. Items you will actually love to wear more than a couple of times a year.
For those of us in the slow fashion industry, we realise that the cost of our garments are great and not always easily affordable. But we also truly believe that our clothes have been made to last season after season, using fabrics that have been developed sustainably and manufactured ethically with the realisation that we are working with real people who have real families to feed. We also understand that our actions have an impact on this world that we live in. And ultimately, we believe that the cost of our clothing is worth everything else that we are saving.
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