Have you ever considered the hidden price tag of choosing quantity over quality when it comes to clothes?
When retailers sell the latest fashion trends at very low prices, we are easily swayed to purchase more than we need. But it leads to overconsumption, which has a price.
The definition of fashion is built on constant renewal and depends on globalized mass production. It is called Fast Fashion, which means fast consumption and an even faster production. Sales are tracked electronically and a sample or design sketch is turned into a finished product in as little as 12 days.
Fast Fashion is really about greed; selling more to make more money
Time is just one factor of production that get juggled and squeezed in the pursuit of maximum profits. But fast is not free. Short lead times and cheap clothes are only made possible by exploitation of labour and resources.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Our contemporary clothing industry must become more sustainable. In order to get to that point we need to find new ways, built on respect, for both workers and the environment, when we produce garments. More and more fashion designers think that the merry-go-round of fashion is spinning too fast. They want Slow Fashion, an expression that is getting well-known in the fashion world. Slow Fashion is an approach to clothes that prioritizes fewer garments of higher quality with an interesting and unique design. The Basic Wardrobe is a concept that is being revived among famous designers as well as new brands.
Slow Fashion is based on quality and awareness
Slow is a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities and ecosystems. Slow also means to take the time to sense different colors, patterns and styles, in order to be more aware of how they affect our personal sphere and help express who we are.
Slow Fashion is also about balance
It requires a combination of imagination, future visions and solid professional skills to create quality garments that last for more than a season. Slow Fashion supports our psychological needs to form an identity, to communicate and be creative through our clothes, as well as our physical needs to cover and protect us from the extremes of climate.
Fast Fashion strikes no such balance. Instead it's largely disconnected from reality, with little recognition of poverty wages, forced overtime and climate change.
With the shift from quantity to quality Slow Fashion takes the pressure off time
It allows suppliers to plan orders, predict the numbers of workers needed and invest in the longer term. It gives companies time to build mutually beneficial relationships. No longer will suppliers have to employ temporary or subcontracted workers, or force workers to do excessive overtime to meet unpredictable orders with impossible deadlines.
Of course, quality costs more and we will buy fewer products. Jobs are preserved as workers spend longer on each piece. Slow design enables a richer interaction between designer and maker… maker and garment… garment and user… designer and user. Strong bonds of relationship can be formed and can permeate our lives far beyond the garment manufacturing chain.
Slow Fashion is a glimpse of a different and more sustainable future for clothing
In melding the ideas of The Slow Movement (originally from the Slow Food Movement founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy in 1986) with the global clothing industry, we can build a new vision for clothes in the era of sustainability, where beauty is linked with awareness and responsibility.
Image: Thomas Hawk