What is Slow Fashion vs Fast Fashion?
If you’ve been hearing it a lot more lately, you might be wondering, what is slow fashion? Put simply, slow fashion is more conscious of the fact that so many processes are involved in the creation of garments; so many resources are used and extracted from the earth, so many people must be involved in their creation.
At the root of it, slow fashion:
is about producing less clothing and accessories
is about producing higher quality fashion pieces that will last
is about using sustainable materials which are sourced responsibly
- involves designers pay people to craft their products fairly, and these people are not forced to rush through making many thousands of cheap garments
Slow fashion and sustainability
In David Attenborough’s recent documentary, A Life on Our Planet, the naturalist said, ‘anything we can’t do forever is by definition unsustainable’. According to Canopy, today, 70 to 100 million trees are cut down every year to make fabric. 80% of the lungs of the Earth, the Amazon Rainforest, has been destroyed for cattle ranching, so people can wear leather and eat beef. 60% of clothes today are made from polyester, and 85% of our clothing is sent to landfill where these synthetic materials will never decompose. The fashion industry, when perpetuating fast trends, is inherently unsustainable.
Slow fashion brands are in the business of creating conscious clothing and accessories, because the planet we live on is finite. We simply cannot afford to pump out massive amounts of clothes, shoes and bags that are made from unsustainable materials, which are poorly made and so won’t last long. Slow fashion garments and accessories are made of more sustainable materials, they are made with dedicated time by artisans who are paid fairly, and they are made less often, in lesser quantities.
The birth of the slow fashion movement
If you’re wondering then, ‘what is the slow fashion movement?’, it’s the creation of this more sustainable fashion model, birthed from a dismay with fast fashion. Slow and fast fashion are polar opposites. Today in our most intense fast fashion system, there are 52 ‘micro-seasons’. Every week of the year, fast producing brands release new clothes in new styles. Often, they are ripping off these designs from independent, small-scale designers - many such instances have been pointed out by Diet Prada. Having this many clothing seasons is relatively new, with fast fashion beginning only 20 years ago.
Slow fashion is in its simplest form, a return to the past. Before the industrial revolution, all of our clothes were made locally by independent designers and seamstresses. For all of recent history up until the new millennium, there were only four fashion seasons; Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. It was simple, there were new clothes available for each season, as the weather became warmer or cooler and people needed to wear different things. Because clothes were always made with care, they were more expensive, they lasted a long time, and people bought far less clothing, shoes and bags.
Sustainable, affordable fashion wasn’t and isn’t so much about clothes made from sustainable materials that are cheap, but about buying less, and so spending less. Sustainable, slow fashion is about buying better, quality garments that will last you a long time, and that you’ll wear often for years to come.
A list of non fast fashion brands
If you were to create a slow fashion wardrobe, you’d want to curate a careful selection of high quality, sustainably made pieces which you can wear and match together in many different ways. We’ve put together a list of three of our favourite brands and slow fashion pieces from them, to do just that with.
Note though, that true slow fashion and sustainability looks like wearing what you have already. It’s about caring for your fashion pieces, mending them if needed, and not taking part in the fast fashion trends which are marketed to us all the time, telling us we need more.
This coat is water repellent, comes with a detachable faux fur collar to keep your neck warm in winter, and is made to last.
Made from cactus-based faux leather which requires no irrigation watering to grow, less fossil fuels, and less land than cow skin leather, it is sustainable. The faux fur is made from crop-based oil sources, and the jacket is lined with Tencel, from sustainably sourced eucalyptus trees processed in a closed-loop, water and input recycling system. These are wonderful, sustainable materials replacing animal materials, which have no place in a slow fashion system that holds eco and ethical impact dear.
House of Fluff is made ethically, and does not participate in fast fashion trends.
Almost everyone uses a wallet and a bag to carry their things in. Kinds of Grace vegan bags are made in a slow fashion system by a team of skilled artisans, who are paid a living wage, and who work in a small, light filled studio.
Kinds of Grace bags are vegan, which means they are not supporting mass deforestation, the enormous emissions of greenhouse gases by animal slaughtering industries, or the killing of animals themselves. None of this belongs in the slow fashion movement.
With a small collection of pineapple leaf leather bags, and another limited collection of luxury vegan handbags made from synthetic leather (which has half the environmental impact of cow skin), Kinds of Grace has offered a small selection of new styles only, with no intention to produce faster.
Creating beautiful boots locally and ethically in Los Angeles, RAFA is a perfect example of slow fashion.
Using sustainable, vegan materials, like this vegan suede produced from recycled plastic bottles, and reclaimed wool block heels, these boots won’t cost the Earth.
The founder of RAFA set out to create things that helped the environment and people, that were ‘timeless shoes that you can wear today, in five years, in ten years, twenty five years that will still be in good shape and still be relevant’. Now that’s slow fashion.