Shannon Minnis from Green and Growing gives us a rundown of ‘Slow Fashion Season’. The article provides tips and information on becoming mores sustainable as a conscientious shopper. For 2019’s Slow Fashion Season, 14,487 participants pledged not to buy new clothes during the summer months. But as the three-month pledge draws to a close, it’s time to turn our attention to 2020.
However, many consumers, even those who value sustainability and ethical shopping, don’t know what ‘slow fashion’ means. And without support from these consumers, fast fashion will continue to reign supreme.
So, what is Slow Fashion Season? And how can you take part in the coming year (and beyond)?
Fast vs. Slow Fashion: What’s in Your Wardrobe?
If you have a passion for fashion or ethical consumerism, you’ve likely come across the terms ‘fast fashion’ and ‘slow fashion’ in the past year or two. But what do these two terms really mean?
Fast fashion and the damage done
Fast fashion was coined to describe trendy, mass-produced clothing. Typically, these items are cheap, with low-quality materials and construction to match.
Right now, most clothing items owned by UK residents could be considered fast fashion. Some of the most popular fast fashion brands include Primark and H&M, though countless more retailers are joining the ranks each year.
The reasons for fast fashion’s popularity are obvious. Consumers want to own the newest and trendiest items, for as cheap as possible. Fast fashion practices allow for this to happen, but at what cost?
Fast fashion is, by nature, disposable. These garments aren’t made to last through years of wear, and many pieces are chucked out after only one or two wears. This equates to countless items piling up in landfills or burning away in incinerators.
In fact, the fashion industry is responsible for about 20% of industrial water pollution and 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But the scariest part is that fast fashion production is only expected to increase in the coming years.
Slow fashion and sustainability
In contrast to fast fashion, the slow fashion movement has grown in popularity in recent years as well. Slow fashion is, essentially, the opposite of fast fashion. Instead of a focus on producing trendy pieces for as cheap as possible, slow fashion aims for sustainability.
Slow fashion can take many forms. Some brands focus on using sustainable or recycled textiles in all their garments. Others strive to keep their production process small and local, eliminating the need for factories and transportation.
Above all else though, slow fashion is about shopping responsibly. This means only buying garments when needed and choosing items that will last (both in style and in construction) for as long as possible.
Yes, this typically means spending more on new clothes. But this extra expense comes with an immeasurable benefit to the environment.
Combined with investing in renewable energy, adjusting our consumer habits is one of the most important steps towards a more sustainable world.
5 Ways You Can Help Support the Slow Fashion Movement
Overwhelmed by the prospect of completely changing your shopping habits? Don’t be. Supporting the slow fashion movement is incredibly easy, you just need to think before you spend.
Here are five ways you can start investing in slow fashion today:
1. Maintain a small wardrobe
The first step to fighting fast fashion is to stop buying these items in the first place. Having said that, buying loads of slow fashion pieces won’t solve the problem, either!
How many items are hanging in your wardrobe right now that you haven’t worn in six months? How many have you not worn in the past year? Finally, how about those that you’ve never worn after bringing them home from the store?
Believe it or not, a consumer survey from 2018 showed that U.K. residents have up to £10 billion worth of unworn clothing sitting around in their homes. And that was just one study.
So, before you worry about buying from sustainable fashion brands or hitting your favorite secondhand shops, take a moment to think about how many clothes you really need to own.
2. Buy from sustainable fashion brands
Obviously, most of us can’t get by in modern society without spending some money on clothing and other goods. But you can still support the slow fashion movement by shopping responsibly.
With more and more consumers understanding the dangers of fast fashion and wanting to make a change, sustainable brands have been cropping up all over the fashion world. Now, everyone can find a sustainable fashion brand to match their personal tastes.
You can find slow fashion brands in local shops and online, but some of our favourite UK based labels right now include*:
Thought is a contemporary fashion brand based in London. They offer both women’s and men’s clothing, including sustainable undergarments and socks.
Madia & Matilda
Madia & Matilda is based in Gloucestershire and offers a range of both office and weekend appropriate women’s attire. They focus on using sustainable or recycled textiles.
Hiut Denim Co.
Hiut Denim Co. is a sustainable jean brand based in the Welsh town of Cardigan. On top of offering sustainably made men’s and women’s denim, this company also encourages shoppers to wash their clothing as little as possible to conserve water.
3. Invest in high-quality staples
In an ideal world, we would all buy our clothing from locally made, sustainable brands. However, sometimes doing our best to support a good cause doesn’t need to be perfect.
If you do find yourself perusing the aisles of a larger clothing retailer, think carefully about the “why” and “what” of your purchase.
Of course, you should strive only to purchase new items when necessary. Impulse shopping is one of the fastest ways to find yourself with a wardrobe full of unworn and, frankly, unwanted clothing.
If you are going to buy from a larger retailer, though, aim to make smart, high-quality purchases.
While the manufacturing process that made your new overcoat, skirt, or pair of shoes might not be the most sustainable, knowing that you’ll be able to wear this item for many, many years will help offset.
4. Visit your local secondhand shop
Why buy new if you can help it? Thrifting is on trend right now, so why not spend a Saturday afternoon scouring your local secondhand shop for the perfect sweater or vintage dress?
Some people hesitate to step foot in a thrift shop because they think all they’ll find is moth-worn jumpers and dingy old jeans. But these same people would be surprised by the gems that you can find secondhand.
With so many consumers buying clothes they rarely wear, many secondhand shops are full of almost new items.
Also, learning the basics of garment sewing can transform your local thrift shop into a treasure trove. Trousers that are too long can be taken up in a jiffy, and once too-wide skirts can be taken in easily.
5. Donate or gift unwanted clothes
The best way to support slow fashion is to shop responsibly. But sometimes the damage is already done.
If you have a stockpile of unworn clothing sitting in your wardrobe, don’t toss them out. Instead, donate or gift them to those in need or who might not be able to afford more sustainable options.
After all, the slow fashion movement isn’t just about eliminating waste, but about minimizing it.
How You Can Participate in Slow Fashion Season 2020
Ready to do your part to fight the fast fashion trend? If so, why not participate in Slow Fashion Season 2020?
Slow Fashion Season is a community pledge not to buy new clothing during the summer months. Once pledging opens, you can do your part by signing up to participate in Slow Fashion Season from June 21st to September 21st, 2020.
After exceeding our goal in 2019 by almost 5,000 pledges, Slow Fashion Season 2020 is aiming to reach 25,000 participants. Can we do it? With your help, we believe we can.
Of course, abstaining from buying new clothes is just a small facet of the slow fashion movement. But pledging your participation is a great way to build good habits that will carry through the rest of your life.
What are your favorite ethical, sustainably sourced, slow fashion brands of the moment? Make sure you share them with us in the comments section below!
*Neither Green and Growing nor WILD magazine are affiliated with any of the clothing brands mentioned in this article.
About the Author: Shannon Minnis is a writer at Green and Growing. She enjoys spending her time in the great outdoors, mostly camping and hiking. She likes to focus on the perks of green living and strives to reduce her carbon footprint to preserve this earth and all its beauty. She continues to write about her outdoor experiences and how she takes steps towards sustainability.