A few weeks ago I started posting outfits on Instagram every Sunday with the hashtag #slowfashionsunday. Aside from wanting to you know, document that I actually do get dressed in actual clothes at least once a week, this project seemed like a good way to 1. keep myself accountable as I work toward building an entirely slow-fashion wardrobe, and 2. show a different side of a movement thats maybe more commonly associated with pretentiously high prices and a very specific crinkled-brown-linen-and-handwoven-leather-sandals aesthetic. And so far, I really like how it's going.
But obviously the series has raised a few questions. Questions that I'm not sure I can adequately address within the Instagram character limit. Questions that I generally don't feel like unpacking on a busy Sunday morning. Questions that are probably better suited for say, a series of blog posts.
So here we are. Starting a series of blog posts. About slow fashion. And I guess a good place to start would be to talk about what slow fashion even is:
Generally speaking, "slow fashion" is the opposite of "fast fashion", which is a term you're probably a bit more familiar with. If "fast fashion" is the McDonalds of the clothing world, with its cheap and readily available trends, ready to be worn and discarded within a season or two, "slow fashion" is the Whole Foods, where ethically made garments are thoughtfully purchased and cared for in order to withstand years, even decades, of wear.
Slow fashion sounds super totally elitist and unrealistic and out of touch for normal real life people. If you're about to injure yourself with how hard you're rolling your eyes at me right now, I get it. If you're about to come at me with a retort about costs or kids or seasons or trends or any other such objection to slow fashion, I hear you and I would love it if you left your objections in a comment. In fact, I'll probably write a blog post about it. Please leave comments with your objections to slow fashion so I can have ideas for more blog posts.
But back to this blog post, where I've already introduced you to the concept of slow fashion and will now address two more issues before I open the floor to (hopefully) some questions and comments that might be more relevant to whoever is reading this than it is to my own vanity about what I'd like to write about: 1. why slow fashion is so important to me, and 2. a better explanation of how to gauge whether or not an item is "slow" or not.
So first off let's deal with the elephant in the room here, "But Victoria, didn't you JUST graduate from fashion school? I thought you were like, super into clothes. Now you're telling me not to buy them, which is a pretty dumb move since your whole goal is to... sell clothes". To which I say: "Yes, yes I did. Yes I am. No, I'm not really saying that. If you give me a minute I'll explain why it's not dumb".
Here's why it's not dumb: because, as a fashion person that had to study this stuff in school, fast fashion (much like the fast food in my earlier analogy) is just terrible for everyone involved. I won't go into all the details because I don't think you want to read horrible depressing statistics all day (and also I don't want to spend a month researching and writing this blog post), but pretty much the entire supply chain, manufacturing process, and merchandising of fast fashion is super messed up and not something I want to contribute to if i can help it. Sure, $6 shirts seem like a great deal on the surface but there's a huge human and environmental cost behind them.
That's not to say that clothes are bad and stores are bad and everyone should stop buying clothes forever, its just that, rampant compulsory consumption of cheap clothing creates a lot of waste, leaves a bigger environmental impact than necessary and often leaves real life human people hurt in the process. It's one of those things that no one really likes to think about, but at the same time it's something that we all have the power to do something about. This is why slow fashion is so important to me, because it gives literally everyone really simple, tangible, and (probably most importantly) affordable opportunities to try and minimize the negative impacts of their wardrobes.
I also have a second, and entirely selfish, reason for embracing slow fashion: it's made my life about 1000 times easier. Having fewer, nicer clothes means my closet is nice and organized, laundry is rarely out of control, and getting ready each day is a piece of cake since all my clothes match each other. My self-confidence has skyrocketed since I only own clothes that I feel great about wearing. And most importantly, I have a lot more free time and money since I stopped browsing the clearance racks "just in case" there was anything we might need. I'll be the first to admit that I'm lazy, and slow fashion allows me to be a lot lazier about shopping.
So how do you tell if a garment is "slow" or not? I've noticed that humans (myself especially) are big fans of clear-cut labels, and well, unfortunately slow fashion doesn't seem to be a space for clear-cut labels. There are so many variables that go into each garment, each company, each individual that it's pretty much impossible to definitively categorize an item as "slow" or not. I like to think of slow fashion as more of a highly-subjective spectrum that considers both an items origins, lifespan, AND its intended use. Some items seem more obviously slow: vintage clothing, hand-me-downs, or ethically sourced garments made by fairly-paid traditional artisans, while others are a bit more ambiguous: gifted items, high end investment-type garments, concert tees, or even thoughtfully purchased fast fashion pieces intended to be worn for many years.
But these are kind of big generalizations, and obviously things can get kind of tricky. Real life example: the Lululemon leggings that I purchased at full price at the Lululemon store don't seem like a slow fashion choice when compared to the t-shirt I thrifted a few months ago. However, I've had those leggings for about three years, wear them regularly, and have taken proper care of them so they still look new and will probably last at least three more years. That t-shirt though? I wore it once and tossed it. Not exactly my best slow fashion moment. A $6 shirt from Forever 21 could be slow fashion if you take care of it and wear it for several years, and a $600 hand knit alpaca sweater wouldn't be if you only wore it twice. Like I said, its more of a subjective spectrum than a clear definition.
That said, I hope that if you stuck with me for this long that maybe this post has been interesting or informational or given you something to think about, and if it left you with more questions than answers, thats great! I'd love to hear what you think or any questions that you have about slow fashion.
Also, Happy Sunday.