Many of you are well acquainted with Fast Fashion & its benefits: it’s cheap & it’s trendy. Many of you also probably know that Fast Fashion is “bad”: bad for the landfills that get stuffed with waste, bad for the factory workers who are unpaid & overworked in terrible, often unregulated conditions, bad for the independent designers whose creations get ripped off. So, if you prefer to identify as not “bad,” but “good” that leaves you with its opposite – Slow Fashion – as your alternative. And Slow Fashion is almost an ideal substitution in that it truly remedies a majority of the problems in the models of Fast Fashion giants like H&M, Zara, Mango & co.
However, anyone who has attempted not to do something because of its badness, knows that oftentimes being able to differentiate right from wrong is not enough to sway decision making or impact behavior. We still eat chips when we say we won’t; we still hit up love interests who we’ve said we won’t; we still abandon New Year’s resolutions that we’ve said we would never; we still buy pleather booties even though we know that our patronage is literally endangering lives. A lot of us have a lot of trouble putting our money where our mouths are.
Let’s Leave Fast Fashion Behind Altogether & Go Slow
Good news is this isn’t really on you, so much as it’s on the practice of focusing on the negative (i.e. trying to avoid “bad” behavior, rather than moving towards “good” behavior). This small shift is actually quite radical because all of the sudden we’ve just turned the good behavior into something desirable, worth doing in & of itself. Turns out it’s not so hard to make changes that are point-blank appealing, so let’s talk Slow Fashion, what it has going for it, & leave Fast Fashion out of the picture.
Is There A Definition of Slow Fashion?
Slow Fashion is a useful piece pop vernacular, but one that comes without an absolute definition. It can be used as a catch-all phrase to mean something like, “trustworthy” or “on the safe list” & since there is no rigorous set of standards a brand needs to meet to call itself #slowfashion, the term can be misleading to consumers. That said, just about any brand that responsibly wields the term Slow Fashion will have one of the following major selling points to recommend it.
3 Facts Why We Love Slow Fashion:
1. Slow Fashion Lasts
Slow Fashion pieces are made for years of use. Materials & sourcing matter to Slow Fashion brands, meaning that the raw materials & fabrics used are durable. Moreover, much of what make Slow Fashion so slow is that it’s partially or fully made-by-hand and quality assurance is almost always a by-product of handmade items. For example, picture the ancient greek ceramic pots you studied in Art History or 4th grade. Then, imagine a styrofoam picnic bowl withstanding the same test of time. Can you? (I can’t.)
Secondly, Slow Fashion pieces are made for enduring style. Slow Fashion prescribes to the “less-is-more” philosophy; a clean closet is a sign of efficiency & self-knowledge. Most Slow Fashion pieces fit one bill or the other: practical or full of personality. They are chameleon-like wardrobe staples that can be fashioned to fit any number of occasions (think black slacks, a white tee, a knit sweater), or they are pieces that make a statement, that speak to & say something about their wearer (think embroidered loafers, a basket-woven bag, jungle themed suede chaps). Now imagine a closet filled with only with the clothes that make you feel your coziest, your boldest or very best looking? Nice, no?
2. Slow Fashion Tells A Story
Slow fashion brands respect to the process of making a garment or accessory. Many pieces are made by hand, and many brands highlight the fine craftsmanship of the people who make their goods. The where & how (& even the why) is literally built into the fabric of the piece, & so each piece tells the partial story of where it came from. Slow Fashion uplifts & empowers its makers.
Moreover, Slow Fashion helps you tell your unique story. Since a vast majority of Slow Fashion brands are small-scale, indie clothing lines, most pieces are hard to come by. You’re not likely to pass someone on the street wearing your top, & if you do, you may well start up a conversation around your shared clothing piece. Slow Fashion as a movement encourages deliberate shopping & the careful curation your wardrobe to fit your precise needs. A wardrobe of Slow Fashion (upcycled & vintage pieces, included!) is inimitably yours, and only yours, and we all know that when it comes to fashion, different is a very, very good thing.
3. Slow Fashion Builds A Community
Slow Fashion is often equated with the local movement because of both categories’ implicit commitments to sustainability & human interaction, but even when Slow Fashion is connecting makers in Peru to consumers in Sweden – or vice versa – it builds community. Slow Fashion brands often evolve as passion projects or out of a clear mission. Shared passions & purposes are the foundations of lasting relationships whether they be between friends, colleagues or brand & customer. Slow Fashion has an aim of personalizing commerce. Purchasing a piece involves emotional investment; it ceases to be purely a transaction when you buy something from a company or person that you believe in. Instead, the sale turns into something like an investment in your shared vision. This is nothing short of the best for imagine giving your money only to people you respect, who make things you love & work towards putting your shared values out into the world? That sounds a lot like having your cake & eating it, too.
What do you love about Slow Fashion? Let us know in the comments section below!
Susannah Emerson is the creator of The Keep Collection, a clothing line & online journal that takes the concept of "Slow Fashion" one step further by releasing all our items as an edition: i.e. one part an exquisite limited-edition clothing piece & one part the piece's full backstory as told through art, prose, poetry, video, interviews & beyond. Susannah is passionate about sharing the creative process with readers, customers & collaborators. She spends most of her time brainstorming how to run a business like an art project & practicing handstands.