Slow Fashion - what, how and why?
Simply said: fashion = clothes. Especially we girls tend to have a lot of clothes for various reasons.
We love colours and/or patterns.
We love a certain style.
We love the variety and choice of garments so we can wear different things everyday.
Or sometimes we just love trying on clothes and shopping.
Clothes make us happy. Full stop.
But do they make the planet happy?
Or the workers who have to make them?
What about the manufacturing process?
Should we give this more thought?
And do we really need so many clothes?
As we live in this fast-paced world, the everyday aspects of our lives need to be fast, too. Food, cars, fashion... you name it. The fast pace is overwhelming and not good for our brains. So what do we do? We (or our brains) tend to go into autopilot mode. You remember my article about mindfulness?
The trouble with the autopilot mindset is that we do not notice what is right in front of our eyes and tend to be preoccupied with things that distract us. This is our brain's natural protective mechanism when dealing with too much stress and pressure. Fast, fast, fast means pressure, pressure, pressure.
Have you noticed the fast pace of advertisements? It is to trick our mind, keep us in a hypnotic state almost. When we are in the middle of the fast-paced roller-coaster we cannot see that we are trapped. We tend to breathe fast and shallow, feel stressed and overwhelmed and that leads to even more stress. Sometimes it feels like the only thing to break this cycle is to go shopping. Spend money, get lots of lovely stuff. Find a release.
Do I sound like a text-book or a shrink? Well, I am speaking from a personal experience. I've been there - in the middle of the roller-coaster, breathing shallow, stressing out, having almost a physical NEED to buy clothes. Or wool. Or whatever. Just BUY!
This is the moment (of madness) when we shouldn't be making ANY decisions, especially purchasing. Instead, deep breaths. Breathe in, 2, 3, 4..... breathe out, 2, 3, 4. And repeat.... And again...
As simple as it may sound, the reality is that we NEVER need to buy clothes so urgently. We can always take time out (at least a few minutes) and really think about it. Fully focus our conscious mind on the different aspects:
Do I really (REALLY) need this item?
Why do I want to buy it?
Is the make ethical?
Do I know about the manufacturing practices (workers' health, the environment)?
Will I be able to combine this garment/colour/pattern with other items in my wardrobe?
When we take time out to breathe deeply our stress response starts to calm down. We can start thinking clearly, too. And when we ask all the right questions we may discover that we actually have enough clothes in the wardrobe already. Or that although the cut and pattern of the dress is gorgeous we have absolutely nothing to combine it with.
Or that the brand has such low ethics/environmental considerations that we do not want to support it.
Or, we find that the shopping urge is a symptom of being lonely. Or unfulfilled. Or under too much pressure.
Or all of the above.
Casting a vote with our cash
The truth is that every single time we make a purchase we are casting a VOTE with our cash. Whether we support unethical or ethical practices is entirely up to us. You may say, but how can I support the ethical companies when a pair of jeans costs a hundred quid? Or an organic cotton top is 25 pounds, rather than 6, and I need at least 5 different tops?
I hear you. All I can say is that we have to try and do our very best.
When money is tight we try and buy as much as we can second-hand (charity shops, ebay).
As a child I used to get posh hand-me-down's from my cousin and absolutely loved it.
If you are good with a sewing machine or at hand sewing you can alter a garment.
Repairing clothes and darning socks/tights are essential not only to save money but to avoid clothing being thrown out unnecessarily.
And making sure that the things you have to buy are the best you can afford - child-labour and sweatshop-free, made to last etc.
So when it comes to fashion I strongly believe we need to apply the 5 R's:
I have a personal philosophy where if I buy something for pleasure (a pretty dress or a skirt that I don't necessarily need) I have to get rid of an item in my wardrobe (donate to a charity shop or sell on ebay). I apply the same rule to my knitting wool stash. It is a good rule - it keeps the house from being flooded by clothes and wool and it actually feels good to have certain boundaries and say NO (to a purchase).
I buy new items of clothing only when I absolutely have to - tights, underwear, socks. Good boots and a raincoat are essential and my most expensive items of clothing. The rest is second-hand mostly. I have a few companies that I know I can trust with the quality and timelessness of their clothes (Howies and Boden mostly) and I tend to buy their clothes second-hand. Nomads, Frugi and Eko Sense are companies with lovely ethics and care for the environment and it is worth saving up for their clothes. After all, you can feel good about supporting their mission and treasure their beautiful clothes for years to come.
Make your own clothes
The ideal way to live a Slow Fashion lifestyle is to make your own clothes. When you are making your own clothes you become fully aware of how much time, energy and skill a piece of clothing takes to make. This is something we need to teach our children, too. I try to practise what I preach as much as possible - in the photo on the left you can see my boys (8 and 11 years old) learning to knit. They said it was quite difficult. Well of course, it takes skill and time to make clothes. And then there is the cost. When you buy wool for a cardigan that costs £40 - 50, you want to treasure your cardigan while in the creative process and then wearing it for years to come.
There is no reason to throw it out after a season or two. As opposed to the 'buy and throw' fashion - fast fashion.
If we cannot make our own clothes then we need to be aware of what we are buying - second-hand and new.
I fell in love with this cute hierarchy triangle of the Slow Fashion attitude the moment I saw it.
The no. 1 action should be to use what we have. Then borrow, swap, get second-hand, make.
The very tip of the iceberg would be to buy clothes.
Have you noticed the current Slow Fashion challenge event here in the UK?
It is called the Six Items Challenge. You choose 6 items of clothing and pledge to wear only these for 6 weeks. Now that is a sobering thought, isn't it? When you include your coat and hat, that leaves you with about 4 items...
The courageous everyday heroes who have decided to take on the challenge, are raising money for the Labour Behind the Label Trust.
This charity support real workers in their struggles for better rights and working conditions.
The slogan says - Join the Fashion Fast!
As opposed to the fast fashion.
What are your thoughts on fast or slow fashion?
Would you be able to live with only 6 items of clothing for 6 weeks?
How do you practise a Slow Fashion lifestyle?
What are your struggles when it comes to buying or not buying clothes?
Comment below and share your experience.