What is slow fashion?
If you’re no stranger to the realm of fashion then chances are you’ve heard this term. Or similar terms like sustainable fashion and ethical fashion. And you may be confused. I know I was the first time I heard these words.
So I did a little research and it didn’t take long for me to decided that the slow fashion movement was not for me. I couldn’t afford it, it wasn’t easily accessible and it was far to overwhelming and complicated. So I closed that metaphorical tab and never looked back.
I don’t remember what exactly sparked my passion for slow fashion but it is on fire and I want to spread this lovely movement far and wide. So today I will be breaking down these terms, and sharing why this movement is so terribly important.
Ethical fashion covers the design, production, retail and purchasing of clothing. It ensure fair working conditions, fair pay as well as environmental and animal welfare. (Summed up from this post)
Clothing that is manufactured in the most sustainable ways possible. This takes into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. (From greenstrategy.se)
So to put it simply, clothing that is made better to last longer. Using higher quality materials that are chemical free. (organic cotton, hemp, pesticide free, recycled materials etc.)
These clothes are produced with less water and less energy. Therefor, reducing the carbon footprint they leave behind.
So, slow fashion encompasses both of these qualities. It’s an umbrella term for the movement which values both people and planet in the fashion industry.
The environmental consequences of the fashion industry:
Every purchase we make from a fast fashion retailer such are forever21, walmart, target, urban outfitter, etc adds to the pollution problem.
The average pair of jeans uses 7,000 gallons of water to manufacture. Not to mention the energy levels that takes to crank out.
Then there are the chemicals. Chemicals sprayed in the cotton fields and on other materials used to make our clothing like harmful dyes. Not only are these materials and chemicals terrible for use as humans but for the environment.
The fashion industry used to have two seasons: hot and cold. Right now we’re up to over 50 seasons (or cycles) a year.
This is called fast fashion. New trends seem to popup over night causing these giants brands to force labor without taking into account their employees, their health, their working conditions or the planet.
That is how they are able to charge so little for a single item of clothing, it doesn’t cost much to make when there is labor and cheap materials involved.
And then in a few months when the next cycle comes around, we toss what is “no longer in style”.
Where do you suppose those items end up? In landfills. Where they sit for decades because the materials do not break down. So for years and years those chemicals are leeching into the soil, our water and our air.
And when our landfills get too full, they’re shipped over seas to rot in their landfills.
The human consequences of the fashion industry:
With a giant industry as large as the fashion one, companies are looking for the fastest and cheapest ways possible to produce their clothing. This often means forced labor.
And you might be thinking: “But people in 3rd world countries need jobs too, at least they’re getting paid.” (Yes, this is a real argument people use)
Clothes need to be made, I agree. But there are responsible ways to do. Many ethical brands have factories in India or China but you know what the difference is? Those employees are treated like people.
They are not forced to work over time for a few cents an hour, they are not children forced to sacrifice their childhood to provide for their families and they are treated like humans. I’ll repeat it over and over how important it is to treat humans like humans.
Often times these unethical factories that giant brands like forever21 and target use are small, cramped and very unsafe.
in 2012, a fire broke out in a factory in Bangladesh. 117 of the employees were found dead. Many had died by jumping out of windows trying to escape the flames, others died because the factories exits were too narrow to escape. A survivor recounts the fire alarm going off but they were told it was simply out of order and forced to go back to work.
These are the things happening every single day in these factories. Including abuse, rape and much more.
This is why slow fashion is so important.
Slow fashion is a story to ending that “50 cycles a year” fad that the fast fashion industry has going on. By creating minimal, versatile and well-made clothing built to last so you can buy a piece once and never have to buy it again (if you take care of it)
You might not think that buying sustainable pieces makes that big of a difference in the world, let me tell you, it does. Every step counts and adds to the bigger picture. You are telling big brands that you can’t support their unethical ways any more or tolerate the way human beings are being treated.
Now joining the slow fashion movement is difficult. It really is, there is no sugar coating it. It’s a huge switch from the fast-paced, affordable, accessible ways that we know. But it is doable. It just takes some practice.
It’s almost impossible to quit fast fashion instantly. Since starting my journey with slow fashion I’ve made a mistake or two out of convenience. Do not beat yourself up. Every step you take in the RIGHT direction is already huge.
So what is slow fashion? Its a movement, a direction, a way of life. Its casting a vote to better future. Once where people and planet are thriving. But most of all, it is a journey. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s an adventure.
To get my list of over 95 places to get ethical fashion, click here!
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