What is Slow Fashion?
Slow fashion is a response to the speed of the modern day fashion industry. Traditionally, the fashion seasons followed the natural seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with a small number of collections produced each year. In recent years, fast fashion companies such as Zara, H&M and Topshop have sped up production cycles, releasing new collections every few weeks.
These fast fashion models of production are characterised by the production of thousands of on-trend styles and fast turn around times. Garments are designed and in our stores within a matter of weeks. Many of the garments produced by fast fashion retailers are low quality and cheap to produce, meaning that they are often only worn for a couple of years at most before being thrown out. These models of production negatively impact the environment as huge quantities of clothing are sent to landfill every year. The pressure from within the industry to keep driving down costs also means that companies are more likely to cut environmental corners and use cheap, toxic dyes and cheap textiles made from plastics. Due to fast turn arounds, there is also a lot of waste within the industry and companies routinely burn and dispose of unsold stock. H&M were notably accused last year of burning 12 tonnes of unsold clothing.
Slow fashion is the antithesis of this, valuing high quality materials and clothing which will last for decades. Slow fashion is slow to produce and values the creative process and the work of the maker. In some ways we are going full circle in our response to fashion as slow fashion reflects the more traditional way our ancestors would have shopped. Before the industrial revolution, clothing was sourced locally and people valued and looked for durable clothing that would last them a long time. They bought clothing and valued materials such as wool for practical reasons because it kept them warm in the winter. Often, they would make their own clothes as most people knew how to knit, sew and mend their clothes. This meant clothing lasted longer as people were able to mend clothes rather than throw them out.
Slow fashion involves choosing the clothing we buy carefully and prioritising quality over quantity. Through embracing slow fashion concepts, buying less and buying better, we can reduce our environmental impacts by needing to shop less regularly and producing less waste.
More and more fashion brands are embracing slow fashion concepts in an attempt to lessen the impacts of their environmental footprint. Many brands produce only a handful of collections each year and try to design garments to minimise waste. Slow fashion is an important concept in our world at the moment as it moves with the seasons and takes the pressure off the environment to keep up.