First things first, let us start with the problem surrounding modern fashion industry – because slow fashion is a result of solutions for it. Modern fashion industry can mostly be generalised as fast fashion. It is a product of fashion industry globalisation and partly accelerated by profit optimisation and massive production growth. A consequence of that, in turn, is an increased damage to the surrounding environment, clothing industry employees and even consumer themselves.
You ask how? Well, you might not see this slowly accumulating damage but the consequences of wastewater from the colouring with non-ecological colours, as one example, will not only stay with the industry in China or Bangladesh. The manufacturing process disposes of huge amounts of wastewater which contains chemically active paint, aerosols, chrome, high biochemical and chemical oxygen concentration. All this increases the turbidity of water, which means it increases the density of algae or sediments in lakes and streams which make them unsuitable for recreation and aquatic life. Additionally, this wastewater can slow down photosynthesis, because the paint released during the washing process is particularly resistant to sunlight and not degradable, things necessary for photosynthesis.
Unfortunately, the impact of fast fashion doesn’t end here. Since the amount of new collections increases year by year, fashion labels not only satisfy our demands but also create them. Their marketing campaigns and positioning are designed to train us to renew ourselves and spend more. This reduces the lifecycle of a fashion product by a lot. A study held by the department of materials engineering by the Kaunas University of Technology showed that through the fast fashion industry, the lifecycle of a product can be reduced to only a season. As a comparison, the average lifecycle of a fabric is about 3 years.
Why not just stop here for a second and think about your own behaviour. Have you increased the amount shopped, and even more important, how long do you wear your stuff? Are your clothes long-lasting? Enough.
The opposite of that whole thing just explained is called slow fashion. It is a quite recent phenomenon, or actually, it is more of a renaissance of a process not so long ago forgotten – creating fabrics for wearing as a means to protect our bodies. Its purpose is human health friendly and supports environmental, economic, and social development. Its root is characterised as high quality, authentic, and long-lasting comfortable fashion.
However, by today it became a combination of ecological, ethical and ‘green’ movements altogether. It became a start-to-end process resulting in a completely sustainable product.
Starting with the production process which has to be environmental and human-friendly. Continuing with the creation, design, constructing and manufacturing resource demand which should be minimised. Focusing especially on textile waste between templates, so the waste generated by cutting the raw garment into the perfect fit for the end product, which should be reduced to zero. And ending with ignoring fast fashion trends and so designing timeless style which survives the temptation of renewing one’s closet many times each year.
This is basically it, slow fashion is a very simple principle if there wasn’t a new idea of increasing the impact span of fashion even further. There is a start-up brand called Animals’ Move which took the slow fashion idea and added a principle called direct donation to it. This feature allows buyers to buy a fabric that is sustainable in two steps. First, by being sustainably sourced. Second, by allowing donations towards charities that engage in preserving endangered species. Theoretically, this direct donation system could be applied to fast fashion as well, however, it would lose its authenticity since fast fashion products wear out quite fast and so cannot spread the message as good as slow fashion can. Slow fashion, as a consequence, seems to be a necessity for direct donation to be applied to it.
Direct donation means that one product features one charity and together with it defines one specific and transparent goal to support with each sale. Charities receive funds for predefined projects and are able to manage their expenses more efficiently. Consumers, on the other hand, can ensure their support for sustainable projects and society recognises a voice saying that wearing can be equal to caring.
To sum it up, slow fashion is about offering consumers a second, more sustainable option to dress up. A lot of slow fashion is already explained by the problems of fast fashion, as a solution to it. However, a new system of direct donation by start-up brands like Animals’ Move can mark the beginning of a whole new approach to fashion retailing.
What is slow fashion? 2017. https://msbeltempo.com/what-is-slow-fashion-basic-principles/.
What is slow fashion? And why should you care? 2017. https://www.craftsy.com/sewing/article/what-is-slow-fashion/.
- Antanavičiūtė, V Dobilaitė. 2015. Principles of Slow Fashion Application in Clothing Collection Creation. Department of Materials Engineering, Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas, Lithuania