In my last article I talked about the social & environmental impacts of the Fast Fashion business model. This time I thought I would take a look at the Slow Fashion Movement and try to break down what that might mean for you as a consumer.
I think there are a number of definitions of slow fashion and I guess in some ways the term may conjure up unflattering images of “eco clothing” and crafty, homemade looks. Basically Slow Fashion is designing and producing garments with quality & longevity in mind. The principles include encouraging slower or tailored production cycles, fair wages, lower carbon footprints and may incorporate theories involving Zero Waste & Upcycling. But Slow fashion doesn’t have to mean backwards or behind the times technologically. It’s a thoughtful approach to a traditional business that involves seeking out better ways to produce fashion & apparel in a more sustainable and ethical way.
For me slow fashion is about considering what & how you’re manufacturing as a business operator and how you make purchasing decisions as a consumer. If you own a fashion business then you will find yourself constantly challenged to meet price point demands from the consumer and at the same time ethically produce your garments within budget. If you fall into the consumer category then it will be a journey to try and learn more and make informed purchasing decisions.
At this point in time it’s so important to support the local talent pools of skilled pattern makers, machinists and cutters left in the local industries. I feel these skills have been devalued in recent decades by the constant drop in the price of clothing. The recent campaign by Fashion Revolution about “Who made your clothes” gives consumers greater insight into how & where their clothes are made and who by. For me, these are valuable skills that we need to sustain if we are to have any hope of keeping our local boutique manufacturing scene alive. We also have to keep in mind that we have an ageing workforce that is not being replaced.
It’s become increasingly difficult for independent designers to manufacture locally yet despite all the problems with fashion production generally, through my business as a textile agent, I’m lucky enough to have contact with some great local businesses here in SE Queensland. Many businesses are doing an amazing job producing ethically made, high quality fashion using progressive business models & the latest technology along with maintaining the old skill traditions. Behind the scenes they pursue best practice on many levels and have set up a thoughtful discourse with their customers. If you look around your local area you will find businesses like this to support and you can begin the road to thoughtful fashion purchasing. I’m sure there are many similar small hubs around the globe like the one here where the fashion is well designed, the websites are great and the brands offer consistent and useful fashion advice for those who seek it. These businesses have to be flexible, agile & market responsive yet bear in mind all the ethical & environmental issues so they are continually reviewing & evolving to deal with the constantly changing landscape.
In many ways the future of fashion is in your hands. As the consumer you will ultimately vote by supporting businesses that appeal to your ethics. You will definitely pay more to buy locally made clothing but often you will find amazing designer treats that you will wear for a number of years because of their unique qualities therefore justifying extra costs. If your budget doesn’t allow for designer price tags then there are very interesting reports such as “2016 Australian Fashion Report – The Truth behind the Barcode” which will guide you through who is making an effort in the marketplace to turn around the ethical issues we face within the fashion industry.