Slow fashion: buying less, buying better

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica @jessica.harumi and Sami @wellorderedwardrobe

It’s undeniable that we’re living in an era of fast fashion, where clothes are bought and discarded in vast quantities.

Clothing waste organisation WRAP has found in the UK around £140 million worth (around 350,000 tonnes) of used clothing goes to landfill each year. As a nation, we’re buying more clothes than ever, and when we’re done with them, we simply throw them away. In fact, the average lifespan of an item of clothing in the UK is just 2.2 years.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. A different approach has entered the mainstream: Slow Fashion.

What is Slow Fashion?

Originally coined by fashion and sustainability pioneer Kate Fletcher; Slow Fashion embraces the mantra of quality over quantity. The goal here is to radically reshape the way the fashion industry operates. ­Rather than rapidly producing vast amounts of stock, often at the expense of quality and ethics, Slow Fashion calls for industry to adopt a more mindful approach. As Kate wrote in 2007;

“Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming and living better. Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems”.

Ultimately, Slow Fashion advocates for people and the planet, promoting more ethical conditions and practices at the production stage, through to a more sustainable mode of consumption once the garments reach the public.

In 2020, the fashion industry seems ready for change. Consumer behaviour is changing, with many of us turning to ethical brands and second-hand shopping to get our fashion fix. On social media and in the mainstream press, sustainability is at the forefront, with a huge range of content available to help us reshape our relationship with fashion.

13 years in the making, it seems that now more than ever the industry is taking a step in a slower direction.

How can we incorporate this into our own lives?

While the Slow Fashion movement itself focuses on systemic industry-wide change, there is a growing community of creatives online incorporating these same values into their own wardrobes.

On Instagram alone, there are almost 7million posts under #slowfashion with thousands of users sharing their journeys to a more sustainable relationship with clothes. The emphasis here is on buying better quality items and loving them for longer. Bypassing the need for ‘current’ and ‘trendy’ items, consumers are instead focusing on pieces that will be used and loved beyond the current season.

This week we spoke with two women who have embraced a more considered, mindful approach to fashion. We asked them about all things Slow Fashion, from what inspires them to the most treasured item in their wardrobe.

Jessica @jessica.harumi

Jessica is slow fashion blogger and YouTuber, based in San Diego. She’s passionate about crafting the perfect capsule wardrobe made up of quality basics and embraces a classic, minimal style.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your approach to fashion?

I would describe my approach to fashion as slow and intentional. I’ve used a capsule wardrobe now for two years but have more recently focused primarily on sustainable fashion.

My relationship to fashion really changed with my lifestyle transition from a student to a young adult entering the workforce. Needing a cohesive, budget-friendly and work-appropriate wardrobe was the catalyst for starting a capsule wardrobe. Five years ago, I was wearing a lot of thrifted pieces mixed in with some fast fashion. Now I feel like everything in my closet works together and is true to my personal style, which takes the stress out of getting dressed in the morning.

My number one priority when shopping for new clothes is sustainability. It may seem a bit odd to research into a brand before buying but it’s so easy to find this information nowadays and I feel it’s a responsibility we all have as conscious consumers. The next thing I look for is wearability – whether the piece will work with a lot of other things in my closet, if it’s appropriate for my lifestyle, if it’s comfortable.

What inspired you to change your relationship with fashion?

I was introduced to the concept of a capsule wardrobe by fashion blogger Anna Newton who writes The Anna Edit. Later on, the sustainable fashion community became a major influence for me, and still is. The process has been slow going and I’m always an advocate for integrating these types of changes slowly into your life because in my experience, that’s what makes them stick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to make a change?

If you’re looking to change your relationship with fashion, I always suggest starting where you are with what you have. The most sustainable closet is the one you already have.

A good exercise is to look through your closet and find the pieces you really love and feel great in, and then build around those. My other piece of advice is that building a sustainable wardrobe is meant to be a slow process so take your time and try to do with less for a while, so you know what you really need.

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?

One of my most favourite pieces is an old tourist t-shirt from San Francisco with the Golden Gate Bridge and stars and planets on it, which I bought from a Goodwill store in Georgia as a teenager. I love San Francisco and the fact that I found it in a pile of unwanted clothing on the other side of the country feels so special. I think of it as a bridge between my vintage-loving style as a teen and my more classic, minimal style now. I still wear it almost every week and it’s very well-loved now.

Isn’t that what personal style is all about? Finding that perfect, eclectic mix of pieces that embody your style.

Sami @wellorderedwardrobe

Sami is an Instagram creator based in Southern California focusing on minimalist, ethical style. Her fun, colourful capsule wardrobe is made up of pieces that are both practical and beautiful

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your approach to fashion?

I have a capsule wardrobe, so I spend less time shopping, obsessing over my appearance wondering if I need x, y, or z. Usually it takes me 5 min to decide what to wear in the morning since my selection is so small, which is more time for me to do my 15 minute meditation before going to work to feel more grounded and energized when I encounter others.

It’s taken some time for me to discover which outfits to own and which trends to set aside. I am a people-pleaser, so sometimes it’s hard for me to decide what I like for me. Slow fashion has definitely helped because it encourages classic silhouettes and makes me think twice before a purchase—am I really buying this because I love it, or because I think someone else will?

Fit is my first priority when shopping. I’m super petite (4’ 9”), so first I make sure it is a fit that works for my body. After that, I look at who made it: is it thrifted? Vintage? From a sustainable company? I try to avoid fast fashion as much as possible although I know it is not an option for some.

What inspired you to change your relationship with fashion?

I’m a ‘type A’ person, so I’ve always gravitated towards organization and logical thinking. About two years ago I was inspired by various YouTube videos and Marie Kondo’s book Tidying Up; I decided to become a minimalist and declutter all aspects of my life for the sake of what I valued more.

For me, slow fashion is ultimately a product of minimalism. I realized that my current wardrobe was stressing me out and not allowing me to put valuable energy towards loving other people and thinking less about myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to make a change?

Personally, I started with clearing out my closet first. Start with what you already have. It’s a perfect way to discover patterns of bad buying habits—do you have too many of x garment? Why do you keep buying it?

Conversely, it is also a great way to see if there are any gaps in your closet. Do some research before hitting the stores. Sustainable clothes can be expensive, and you should preferably make purchases over time—this also allows you to test each item out one by one to see if it made your cut.

What is the most treasured item in your wardrobe?

Right now, my favourite piece is my Madewell wide-leg jeans! I only own two pairs of jeans, and I’ve probably gotten about 200 wears out of this pair so far. I feel like they encompass my style and personality—if you have an item like this, hold onto it!

Feeling 100% myself in a piece is a box to check before I buy anything; I never buy anything I don’t absolutely love.

How are we embracing Slow Fashion?

At RubyMoon our model wholeheartedly embraces a slower approach to fashion. Our capsule collection of sustainably made, high quality garments are designed to be loved for a long time. In line with Slow Fashion principles, we focus on creating timeless, versatile designs that every woman can incorporate into their wardrobe.

Right now, we have decided to focus on one single garment, the Sorphea Swimsuit, which we are currently taking pre-sale orders for in order to ensure a less wasteful supply chain. You can read more about the Sorphea here.

Our ethical and sustainable practices advocate for people and the planet. From crafting our garments with regenerated yarn from recycled fishing nets, to investing our profits into empowering female entrepreneurs, every stage of production has a positive impact. As Kate Fletcher writes;

“Slow fashion is a glimpse of a different – and more sustainable – future for the textile and clothing sector and an opportunity for business to be done in a way that respects workers, environment and consumers in equal measure. Such a future is but a garment away.”

Indeed, at RubyMoon we believe that a purchase of one our garments is a vote for a more sustainable, ethical future.

You can read more about our impact here.

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